Fiction

Story: Old Clothes

By: Michal Reibenbach


For several years now my friend Shifra and I have been in the habit of collecting old clothes from our family and friends. When we have managed to gather together a substantial amount we load the clothes into my car, then we transport them off to a caravan site where poor immigrants live. At times it can be a little bit scary, but it makes us feel good about ourselves. The caravan site we go to is situated on a beautiful hill called Aircraft Hill, by reason of the fact that an aircraft had once crashed on it. Over time a strange community has sprung up on the caravan site. As well as the immigrants there are now also quite a large number of gangsters who have taken possession of caravans. These gangsters have built brick extensions onto their caravans. They’ve also built tall walls all around the surrounding area. Vicious dogs have been set free to roam these enclosed areas to keep unwelcome visitors away. I feel sorry for the immigrants with so many gangsters as their neighbors.

On this particular late afternoon as we are slowly cruising along towards the small community center, (which consists of a general store, a baby care unit, and a first-aid station) as usual when I came here I am thinking to myself, “This is such a lovely spot, with such a fabulous view.” As I am gazing down a slope to where an Arab shepherd is tending his sheep, Shifra suddenly calls out excitedly, “Stop the car. I saw a little boy peeping out of that derelict caravan over there!”

I immediately jam on the breaks, so that the car comes to a halt. I look over towards the caravan. It’s in a terrible state and all its windows are broken.

“I’m going over to investigate,” with so saying Shifra hops out of the car and marches over to the caravan. I watch her as she knocks on the caravan’s door and as there is no response she begins to pound on it. Then I hear her calling out, “I’m not going to harm you…I only want to give you some clothes.” She bends over to peek through a crack in the door and comes hurrying back to the car. “There’s a woman living in there with two little children,” she says all out of breath then she continues, “Let’s put all the clothes next to her caravan.”

Shifra and I set about going back and forth, lifting the clothes out of the car, carting them off to the caravan and dumping them on the ground in front of its door. Upon finishing the task we come back to sit in the car. Shifra who is endlessly curious says, “Let’s stay and see what happens?”

We wait in silence. All around us the hill is silent. There is no sign of life from the caravan. Nothing stirs except for a couple of straggly cats on their way to the garbage of an enormous overflowing rubbish bin. Dusk falls down quickly and within no time the light outside becomes murky. I’m beginning to feel jittery after all, quite a few gangsters live a short distance away. Eventually, we spy the shadowy silhouette of the woman emerging out of the caravan door. She quickly sets about gathering up some of the clothes then she seems to melt back into its flimsy protection. Suddenly a spot of bright light appears above the caravan, it moves slowly along the sky. As we study the light more closely we are astonished to see that it takes on the form of a ghostly, shimmering figure which looks like a pilot. Spellbound, we watch on until the apparition finally disappears into the night. “That must have been the ghost of the pilot whose plane crashed here,” I say.

“Let’s get out of here,” says Shifra urgently.

Hurriedly, I switch on the car, and when I turn on the lights their beams are enormously comforting. As I speed quickly away, I say, “It’s no wonder that that poor woman is so scared, surrounded by gangsters and ghosts.”

“Maybe she’s an illegal immigrant?” says Shifra.

My whole body is shaking, “People are going to think we’re crazy if we tell them that we’ve seen a ghost,” I say.

We fall silent for the rest of the way home.

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Categories: Fiction

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