Pho­to by Bri­an Lundquist on Unsplash

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the 2022 win­ner of the Paper Brigade Award for New Israeli Fic­tion in Hon­or of Jane Weitz­man: Miron C. Izak­son, for Fur­ther­more, trans­la­ted by Joseph Faust. This selec­tion from the win­ning title can be found in the 2023 issue of Paper Brigade.

The Paper Brigade Award for New Israeli Fic­tion in Hon­or of Jane Weitz­man seeks to hon­or an out­stand­ing short work or excerpt of Israeli fic­tion pub­lished in Hebrew. The goals of this prize are to intro­duce Amer­i­can read­ers to new Israeli writ­ers; to help Israeli writ­ers gain access to the Amer­i­can mar­ket; and to inter­est Amer­i­can pub­lish­ers in pub­lish­ing new Israeli fiction.

Miron C. Izak­son is an award-win­ning author of poet­ry and prose, and a pro­fes­sor of Hebrew lit­er­a­ture at Bar-Ilan Uni­ver­si­ty. His nov­el Fur­ther­more is an unusu­al com­ing-of-age sto­ry, whose plot is set into motion when the pro­tag­o­nist — Dudi, a bright but inno­cent boy — encoun­ters Eitan, an inscrutable crane operator.

From the start, the nov­el chal­lenges read­ers’ assump­tions. A stranger offer­ing a child can­dy sets off our alarm bells, yet Dudi instinc­tive­ly feels that Eitan is trust­wor­thy; per­haps that instinct is cor­rect. As Dudi, his par­ents, and his younger sis­ter become tan­gled in Eitan’s schemes with equal parts fas­ci­na­tion and dread, the cranes that fea­ture heav­i­ly in the plot become metaphors for fam­i­ly life: they enable build­ing and cre­ation but also a com­plex pow­er dynamic.

—Joseph Faust


When they brought in the new crane I knew the city would change, but of course I had no idea just how much. For the last cou­ple of years, they’ve been build­ing few­er build­ings here. They used to demol­ish the old build­ings and build new ones, usu­al­ly tow­ers,” Dad told me. But now they have decid­ed to do less demo­li­tion and more ren­o­va­tion and renewal.”

Mom asked if I could think of a way to explain the change, and I asked both of them to give me a few real-life exam­ples and maybe then I could give them a seri­ous answer.

I’m glad we’re actu­al­ly hav­ing a real fam­i­ly con­ver­sa­tion,” said Mom.

I think Dad had intend­ed for this talk to go in a dif­fer­ent direc­tion, but to my relief, he didn’t chas­tise Mom or me.


You can divide a city into streets; that’s obvi­ous. But you can also divide it into com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent things. Ever since I was very lit­tle, I’ve been an expert at con­fus­ing myself. Some­times I’m atten­tive to every detail of my sur­round­ings and divide and add and mul­ti­ply and sub­tract each thing I see. And some­times I’m a dum­my who even for­gets which way home or school is. What always draws me in are large machines that remind me of toys. I know peo­ple usu­al­ly think of it the oth­er way around, since toys are designed to resem­ble real trains, cars, and planes. But I feel like there are some vehi­cles and machines that used to be toys and they just made them big­ger. The most beau­ti­ful vehi­cles and the most impres­sive machines are the ones that remind me of toys. Oth­er­wise, it’s hard for me to under­stand why all sorts of peo­ple enjoy dri­ving cars that have no roof or are red. Even when Dad took me to the Port of Haifa, I was actu­al­ly most impressed by those ships that remind­ed me of the col­lec­tion of minia­ture boats I used to have float­ing in a tub out in the yard.


The main thing about a port is the cranes-to-ware­hous­es ratio. All kinds of mer­chan­dise is exchanged between the ware­hous­es on the docks and the ships’ car­go holds, and the busiest machine in the port is the crane. When I look down on the port from the top of Mount Carmel, I feel like the entire city could be moved onto the ships with these cranes, and even the sea below wouldn’t object. Well, I know I’m exag­ger­at­ing a lit­tle, but almost noth­ing is more beau­ti­ful than the port when you look at it from far away and above. That way you can enjoy the move­ment of the ships and cranes and waves and trucks, and not hear the nois­es or smell the oil or stress out over delays. Just stare in won­der at the grand motion, from which many small­er motions emerge. Mom says I’m sen­si­tive to what hap­pens at the Port of Haifa because I was born in this city and we left it when I was six months old. In her opin­ion, unfin­ished busi­ness from our child­hood comes back to us in all sorts of strange ways.


We’ve been liv­ing in Petah Tik­va for a long time. Dad told me that there used to be a lot of lad­ders in the orchards here and then a lot of small cranes for build­ing hous­es. I don’t know why my par­ents chose to raise them­selves and me in Petah Tik­va, but I’m not at all upset with them because of it. To me, watch­ing the cranes in the city is the most inter­est­ing thing there is, except for some books, but when I’m on the look­out I feel a lot more inde­pen­dent than when I’m reading.

The fact that a crane puts one floor on top of anoth­er con­fus­es and intrigues me. I’ve real­ized that in the past, it took a long time to make a build­ing taller, and nowa­days the floors stack up real­ly quick­ly. The cranes in the city are less impres­sive than the ones I saw at the port of Haifa, but they’re very fast and remind me of my toy cranes even more.


And then I meet the crane oper­a­tor who works in construction.

Almost every day, on my way home from school, I began stand­ing in front of the new build­ing on the street par­al­lel to ours, Ris­hon LeZion Street. I couldn’t stop star­ing at the con­struc­tion being done. One time one of the work­ers even approached me and asked me to back up because the truck dri­vers going in and out had com­plained that I was reduc­ing their free maneu­ver­ing area.” Those were his words, which sound­ed a lit­tle com­pli­cat­ed and maybe a lit­tle scary to me, but I real­ized there was no point in argu­ing. I tried to amuse myself with the thought that this crane could take a floor from one of the neigh­bor­ing build­ings and move it to the new build­ing. That would save a lot of work, but I real­ized it would also cause a lot of destruction.

And then, a cou­ple of weeks lat­er, when the crane isn’t in oper­a­tion, I hear some­one shout from above, Kid, you want some­thing real­ly good?”

I look around, because I don’t know where that voice came from or who it was direct­ed at. Sud­den­ly I see a hand wav­ing from the crane operator’s cab­in win­dow, and the voice yells: This is me, and this is you. There’s no oth­er con­ver­sa­tion going on here. I can see that you’re inter­est­ed in my crane and I’d love to show it to you. The can­dy was just to get your attention.”

I’m excit­ed by him address­ing me and nod firm­ly. Slow­ly, the crane tilts in my direc­tion, and a thin, long chain descends from it. At the end of the chain is a bag tied up with a bow.

The chain stops about three feet above me and of course I can’t get to it.


So do you real­ly want it?” he calls down. If not, then I’m tak­ing the can­dy back.”

Now I have to respond. I do, I do. Thank you.”

I’m star­tled by my own answer. The chain is low­ered fur­ther and stops in front of my face. I take the bag off, but the chain stays where it is, maybe to watch over me. I open the bag and find a choco­late bar and a bag of tof­fees. It’s a lit­tle awk­ward and a lit­tle fun­ny. At once, all of the thoughts in my mind become insis­tent: excite­ment about meet­ing some­one new who brings me joy, sat­is­fac­tion with an unex­pect­ed adven­ture, and Mom and Dad’s anx­i­eties about strange peo­ple talk­ing to me.

Why are you hes­i­tat­ing?” He con­tin­ues speak­ing into his micro­phone and reminds me of an aging singer at a con­cert who enjoys talk­ing but is afraid of singing. There’s no dan­ger here, just an earnest invi­ta­tion to a boy who is inter­est­ed in my crane.”

The chain final­ly moves away from me, and I relax slight­ly. Now the ques­tion is whether to run off or be brave and stay. Sud­den­ly the crane turns away and con­tin­ues its work, as if noth­ing hap­pened. Lat­er, I should think about how one par­tic­u­lar crane builds a house and also hands out can­dy. It con­fus­es me and makes me think of a house that is being con­struct­ed not from ordi­nary mate­ri­als, but from sur­pris­es packed in bags of dif­fer­ent sizes.

You can come up here,” his voice rings out again. Maybe the most inter­est­ing voic­es are the ones that come from hid­ing places. I get clos­er to the crane, but don’t know how to reach the oper­a­tor. And then I see him come out of the cab­in and quick­ly climb down his lad­der. He is old­er than I thought, and his face is unshaven but whatever’s going on there still doesn’t qual­i­fy as an actu­al beard. What do you say? Should I help you climb into the com­mand cab­in? It’s simple.”

But I’m not real­ly one of those climb­ing kids. Run­ning, I can do pret­ty well, but when it comes to flex­i­bil­i­ty I kind of get stuck.” He reach­es out to me. We approach the crane togeth­er, and he helps me climb. Only look up, where we need to go, and not down — not where we’re get­ting away from.”

The way he speaks is a bit fun­ny, even strange. But maybe crane oper­a­tors have their own lan­guage. After all, they spend their entire lives going up and down, low­er­ing car­go and lift­ing it up. There’s almost noth­ing in their world that stays at the same height. It’s pos­si­ble that for a boy in the ninth grade, my behav­ior is child­ish. So is being inter­est­ed in can­dy, and so quick­ly giv­ing into the temp­ta­tion to join him.


He lets me go into the small cab­in before him, and I imme­di­ate­ly see that it’s more com­fort­able in here than I would’ve thought.

When I start­ed work­ing, I thought the crane operator’s cab­in was a minor thing. Like the seat of a car, which you can’t oper­ate unless you’re sit­ting inside it. But for the last few years, I’ve been in love with my cab­in. I bring music and books that I like up here. Some­times I do a bit of read­ing and some­times a bit of lis­ten­ing. It’s fun to be sur­round­ed by things that mat­ter to me.”

Am I the first kid you’ve invit­ed in here?” I ask, and now he laughs, the sound of laugh­ter com­ing from a place that I didn’t know exist­ed in peo­ple until now. It’s great to see that you care about being first. So, yes. You are tru­ly the first one to join me as a guest. I think it was only back when I was learn­ing the ropes that I used to sit in the cab­in with oth­er peo­ple. Ever since, I’ve been here on my own in the crane. Some­times a small crane, some­times an enor­mous one. Some­times I put togeth­er build­ings and some­times I do oth­er things that I might tell you about.”

Now I decide to keep qui­et. Mom told me that once in a while you have to keep qui­et in order to pick up on what’s going on around you. I’m thrilled to be here but also scared. Maybe it’s embar­rass­ing to be scared, but that’s how I’m feeling.

My name is Eitan,” he says with a qui­et smile. I have a son and daugh­ter who are all grown up, and I had a wife, too. I start­ed work­ing as a crane oper­a­tor over thir­ty years ago. I worked in Africa for a few years, but most of the time it was here in Israel. There’s almost noth­ing high up that I haven’t reached.”

I’m struck again by the unique way he speaks. My name is Dudi,” I tell him. You mean David,” he cor­rects me.

I say my name is Dudi; it’s true that the name is David.”

And again he laughs, the laugh rolling out in those spe­cial waves of his. I have to work now, Dudi, but you can sit next to me and take it all in. Maybe, thanks to you, I’ll be able to feel as enthu­si­as­tic as if I was up here for the first time myself.”

I’m guess­ing his cab­in looks a lit­tle like a pilot’s, although I’ve only ever seen a cock­pit in movies, and that one time when I flew to Lon­don with Mom and Dad and peeked inside for a moment when the cock­pit door opened. I won­der if the han­dles in here could even fly air­planes if you just attached them in the right places. Now we turn around and that move­ment feels strange to me because of the loca­tion and the height. Eitan is con­cen­trat­ing on his work, check­ing the var­i­ous dials and screens in front of him. The thing that scares me the most,” he sud­den­ly says in a very low voice, is the idea of hurt­ing peo­ple who work with me, or even a passer­by down there. Imag­ine, Dudi, the crane acci­den­tal­ly hit­ting a person’s head because I didn’t eval­u­ate the dif­fer­ences in height and dis­tance cor­rect­ly.” Eitan opens a small draw­er and takes out a bot­tle of water and a jar full of cook­ies. Have some,” he says. It’ll be a spe­cial expe­ri­ence, eat­ing and drink­ing in a crane operator’s cabin.”

I want to ask him if he feels any affin­i­ty for his crane, like how a pilot or dri­ver might feel about the machine they oper­ate. Sud­den­ly it cross­es my mind that it’s hard­er to feel affin­i­ty for a crane since it’s put togeth­er from vary­ing parts, so it doesn’t have a per­ma­nent shape.

You have to enjoy your expe­ri­ence in my cab­in,” he says to me in his unusu­al, low voice. If you keep think­ing about oth­er things, you won’t be able to focus on what you’re see­ing here.”

I’m guess­ing his cab­in looks a lit­tle like a pilot’s, although I’ve only ever seen a cock­pit in movies, and that one time when I flew to Lon­don with Mom and Dad and peeked inside for a moment when the cock­pit door opened. I won­der if the han­dles in here could even fly air­planes if you just attached them in the right places.


On my way home, I con­sid­er what I should tell my par­ents. Since Dad is sup­posed to come home late, I have enough time to think, because I def­i­nite­ly won’t only tell Mom. On the one hand, it’s child­ish to share every expe­ri­ence I have with my par­ents. On the oth­er hand, I don’t want to let them down and hide what I’m doing. I have to admit to myself that I need their help.

You’re home late,” Mom says to me, and asks what’s new at school. You don’t know how incred­i­bly fun it is for me to be home with you. Not only do you make me hap­py, but also I have a good excuse to stop work­ing and be with you.”

Mom is a com­put­er pro­gram­mer and all sorts of com­pa­nies give her projects to do at home. She must be excel­lent at her work because they give her new assign­ments almost every day. She asks every­one who con­tacts her to tell her when they need the project done, and from that moment on she refus­es to be pres­sured. Her respon­si­bil­i­ty and self-dis­ci­pline are very strong and some­times scare me, and I think they even scare Dad a bit, too. Dad lives a more diverse” life, as he calls it. He has a small vine­yard in Binyam­i­na that has been in the fam­i­ly for three gen­er­a­tions now, and he’s a tal­ent­ed painter. I think he curates exhi­bi­tions for oth­ers, too, but he bare­ly talks about that, maybe because he’s dis­ap­point­ed that not many peo­ple show inter­est in his own work.

What do you think about cranes?” I ask Mom with­out hav­ing planned to.

If you mean their mech­a­nisms or their shape, then I don’t know much about that. I do like how they work so con­stant­ly and quietly.”

Today I sat for about an hour in a crane operator’s cab­in. His name is Eitan and he works on Ris­hon LeZion Street on the con­struc­tion of a res­i­den­tial build­ing.” That’s it, I’ve said a lot of words, and now I’m sup­posed to relax.

For some rea­son, Mom doesn’t rush to respond. When it seems like she’s about to have an angry out­burst, she almost always has a kind of delayed action mechanism.

Come on, Dudi. Let’s have this tuna sal­ad I made and you can tell me about your adven­ture. I have to say it’s still unclear to me whether you’re just prank­ing me or are actu­al­ly serious.”

I tell Mom almost all the details dur­ing the meal. That is excit­ing and inter­est­ing,” she says, but also real­ly con­cern­ing. Since when do you climb things with strange peo­ple and sit in their cab­ins? Someone’s gone a lit­tle crazy here, Dudi. I’m going to ask you not to have any more con­tact with this crane oper­a­tor, not until Dad and I under­stand all of this more.”


At night I dream that my father is a crane oper­a­tor. I sit on his lap (it’s been years since I’ve done that), and he allows me to con­trol the crane. Sud­den­ly I see Mom, who looks espe­cial­ly small, call­ing out to us from inside the res­i­den­tial build­ing we’re con­struct­ing. I’m here, sil­ly geese, what’s up with you con­tin­u­ing to work?” Dad jumps down and lands beside her, and then she disappears.

In the morn­ing the three of us sit in the kitchen. Dad has a huge cof­fee mug, and Mom and I are drink­ing tea out of glass cups.

Who wants to see the paint­ing I fin­ished last night?” Dad asks, and his face red­dens like a baby’s. Mom and I say Me” in a cho­rus and leap from the table before he does.

Well, we can wait until the end of the meal,” he says, but he quick­ly ris­es from his seat to lead us to his work area. He unrolls a large sheet of paper before us, reveal­ing the paint­ing. I make out a for­est with par­tic­u­lar­ly high trees. In the dis­tance, a cou­ple is embrac­ing, their backs to us. The main, almost the only, col­or in the paint­ing is orange. I’ve nev­er seen such strong light com­ing out of a paint­ed sheet of paper. I think you could put up Dad’s paint­ing as a replace­ment for the light fix­tures in one of the rooms. The dis­tant cou­ple sud­den­ly looks a lot clear­er to me, as if they walked back­ward toward us.

You’re very, very tal­ent­ed.” Mom kiss­es him on the head.

Dad, this is the most beau­ti­ful paint­ing you’ve paint­ed to this day,” I say, and I think he almost cries.

You want to tell us some­thing about the paint­ing?” Mom asks, and Dad whis­pers, Not now. First, let’s spend some more time togeth­er in the kitchen, and tell each oth­er all the inter­est­ing things we’re going through.”

Now it’s clear that they’re expect­ing to hear more from me about my crane oper­a­tor friend. You’d think I had crossed the bor­der into a hos­tile state, or tast­ed poi­son. They don’t say a word, but it feels to me like it’s all laid out on the floor, like the con­tents of an apart­ment after a burglary.

Some­time you could come with me to see Eitan’s crane. Right now it’s not that impor­tant.” And with­out wait­ing for their response, I just leave for school.


To my sur­prise, I man­age not to tell any­one at school about my crane expe­ri­ence. Two or three times, I start to say some­thing but some­one inter­rupts me and talks about the upcom­ing math test. Maybe it’s a sign for me not to tell any­one about Eitan, but I don’t want to fol­low these kinds of signs. I once heard Mom warn Dad that we shouldn’t mix up our thoughts too much, because they’re experts at mix­ing them­selves up and there’s no point in adding excess weight to the brain,” as she described it. She was prob­a­bly giv­ing him a hint about some­thing more seri­ous that was going on with him, but I didn’t feel com­fort­able inquir­ing. Mom says a lot of sen­tences with hints for Dad, and I feel like she’s pret­ty crit­i­cal of him. My younger sis­ter, Ruthi, isn’t inter­est­ed in the things I do any­way (yet), so I haven’t told her any­thing. Maybe it would actu­al­ly be a good idea to tell her things she won’t com­plete­ly under­stand — that way I could both have a con­fi­dant and not wor­ry about her reac­tions. Some­day, I should think qui­et­ly about who I pre­fer to tell impor­tant things to, and whether my pref­er­ences change accord­ing to the subject.

When I arrive at the con­struc­tion site, the crane is silent. I won­der what all of its pow­er does in times of inac­tiv­i­ty. Come here, Dudi.” I hear Eitan’s voice, and final­ly see him sit­ting on a bench eat­ing cake. I sit next to him and wait for him to tell me when we’re get­ting on the crane to con­tin­ue the work.

The archi­tect hasn’t arrived, and the con­trac­tor got held up with a com­pli­cat­ed ques­tion about the plans.” He con­tin­ues to chew slow­ly, with­out drop­ping any crumbs on the ground. It’s a bit weird to me that he eats with­out leav­ing a trace. For some rea­son I pre­fer it when evi­dence is left behind.

Today I’m leav­ing here ear­ly to go to a dif­fer­ent crane I’m oper­at­ing. Want to come with me?”

His abil­i­ty to be involved with two dif­fer­ent con­struc­tion sites con­fus­es me. It’s like a den­tist fill­ing cav­i­ties in two mouths at once. Isn’t it strange for you to work in two places at the same time?” I ask.

Not at all,” he answers, only after swal­low­ing anoth­er piece of the cake. If I was mov­ing this crane from site to site on the same work­day, it would dri­ve me crazy. But when there’s clear sep­a­ra­tion, there’s no rea­son to get confused.”

He gets into a small car and I sit beside him. I’m still a lit­tle stressed out. Even if Eitan seems like a decent per­son, I’m not so com­fort­able being in his car. We dri­ve to the city cen­ter and park next to City Hall. You see this enor­mous crane?” he asks, point­ing to the crane in front of us. The way I treat this crane is com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent, as if it’s part of a dif­fer­ent chap­ter of my life.”

I can’t explain it, but the crane smells like fresh dough. There’s a small ele­va­tor inside it, which you can only enter after a care­ful elec­tron­ic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of your fin­ger­prints. The ele­va­tor moves slow­ly and qui­et­ly. After the ele­va­tor ride we climb a lad­der, and Eitan unlocks a gate so we can get in.

Now, this is like the com­mand cen­ter in a ship,” he says proud­ly. Every­thing here is bright and pops out. These are rare cranes, which can oper­ate espe­cial­ly long rods, dozens of meters long.”

But where is the house you’re build­ing here?” I ask him.

Oh, you’re impa­tient,” he replies. Just look around qui­et­ly for a few moments. The idea is pret­ty sim­ple. You can watch the street, and actu­al­ly oth­er streets in the area, too, from my crane. My self-appoint­ed job is to improve pub­lic order. You see the kids try­ing to play soc­cer, for exam­ple? In the cen­ter of their makeshift soc­cer field there’s a bar­rel inter­rupt­ing play, but they’re not strong enough to move it. We’ll just inter­vene and do that for them. Maybe even find a place for it that helps stop the balls, so they don’t fly too far away. What do you say, Dudi? Give me your win­ning idea now, quickly.”

I get real­ly enthu­si­as­tic. I try hard to get a good look at what’s going on over there, and luck­i­ly, Eitan gives me binoc­u­lars to help. The large bar­rel looks to me like it’s lying right here next to us, inside the crane operator’s cab­in. I’m not sure I have the courage to be involved in such an excit­ing action.

Maybe you can han­dle it your­self,” I whisper.

Why would I? You sure­ly know more about soc­cer than I do, and this is your oppor­tu­ni­ty to help me in real time.”

I focus on the binoc­u­lars. My eyes are a lit­tle con­fused; maybe they want to get away. I get them under con­trol and direct Eitan. He press­es a few but­tons, and it reminds me of movies that depict the launch of mis­siles from a plane or submarine.

Now watch and enjoy,” he tells me. These are our impor­tant moments, the times I work hard for.” The cable descends and reach­es the large bar­rel. Eitan press­es a but­ton again, and ropes come down from the cable and wrap around it. I’ve nev­er seen such a sophis­ti­cat­ed crane. The rod ris­es and the ropes are wrapped around the bar­rel in a secure hold. The chil­dren stop play­ing, run off to the side, and hud­dle togeth­er. Eitan laughs and even roars, and it’s excit­ing and scary.

Care­ful not to let the bar­rel fall on any­one,” I whis­per again, and he doesn’t respond. Maybe he’s offend­ed. He moves the bar­rel to an aban­doned field and leaves it there. The ropes release it and roll them­selves back into the crane’s cable.

What do you say?” He’s still joy­ful, though some­what restrained. One sim­ple action that changes the entire game. Imag­ine the children’s excitement.”

Maybe I’ll go there to tell them what hap­pened here?” I ask him.

Of course not! Our role is to main­tain order, not to start dis­cus­sions and con­ver­sa­tions. They don’t need me for idle ban­ter. And that’s beside the fact that it might hurt our job per­for­mance if we per­son­al­ly got to know the peo­ple involved.”


I feel tremors in my body. I don’t know if they were already there before and I didn’t notice, or if they only start­ed now. They’re tremors of both excite­ment and fear. Final­ly, some­thing thrilling is hap­pen­ing to me — not just to strangers I hear or read about. Eitan ruf­fles my hair and pours me soda.

Dur­ing fes­tive moments in my cab­in, we only drink soda. Some­thing more fes­tive than water, but still not an over­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed drink.” Once again he speaks in that dis­tinct style of his. I won­der if he would’ve worked as a teacher or doc­tor if he knew a dif­fer­ent language.

See what hap­pened over there, Dudi?” Once again, he almost roars. Quick­ly — look through your binoc­u­lars and check what’s changed in the area we just han­dled.” I’m star­tled. I direct the binoc­u­lars and see a small pil­lar of water right at the spot where we removed the bar­rel. The chil­dren are still stand­ing off to the side, hug­ging each oth­er. They haven’t even brought the soc­cer ball with them, and it remains by itself.

That looks like a foun­tain,” I say.

Well done, Dudi. You have an impres­sive gift for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. I assume some­one once placed the bar­rel on a per­fo­rat­ed pipe in order to pre­vent a flood, and now that we’ve removed the bar­rel, the water is flow­ing again,” he shouts, some­what embar­rass­ing­ly. Don’t be fright­ened by my jubi­la­tion. I think you’ve pan­icked a lit­tle. I have to calm my body down from the stress of this respon­si­bil­i­ty I’ve tak­en on. I can’t be in full, strict con­trol all the time. So some­times, I let out these sounds to unwind.”

But the chil­dren over there are real­ly fright­ened,” I say to him.

Why would they be? You, Dudi, are a bit star­tled by the fact that sud­den­ly you could have an effect on oth­ers, but the chil­dren them­selves will calm down in a few moments and have fun play­ing. I also assume that the strong flow of water from the pipe will stop if some­one final­ly shuts off the main valve.”

I feel tremors in my body. I don’t know if they were already there before and I didn’t notice, or if they only start­ed now. They’re tremors of both excite­ment and fear. Final­ly, some­thing thrilling is hap­pen­ing to me — not just to strangers I hear or read about.

All at once, he stops show­ing inter­est in the chil­dren and moves his elec­tron­ic binoc­u­lars, which are attached to the cabin’s win­dow. Come on, let’s find our­selves anoth­er task for today, and then you’ll go home. Tomor­row I have to start work­ing very ear­ly at a site on Ris­hon LeZion Street. The build­ing over there doesn’t inter­est me much, but they’re pay­ing me well, and if I don’t make a liv­ing from the reg­u­lar jobs, I won’t be able to afford to con­tin­ue our spe­cial ones.”

I’m watch­ing through my own binoc­u­lars now, mov­ing my head very slow­ly. I’m not sure I’ll sug­gest anoth­er task to Eitan, because I’m scared of the poten­tial con­se­quences. But he doesn’t leave me a lot of time to delib­er­ate any­way. Dudi, come look through my binoc­u­lars. You see the green car over there? Some­one is try­ing to steal it. I’m telling you, that’s def­i­nite­ly it.”

Maybe the car is his?” I ask awkwardly.

Stop, stop. This is not the time for hes­i­ta­tion. Look how much trou­ble he’s going to in order to open the lock with some long piece of iron. I’m sure this is theft. Come on, direct me, Dudi, there’s no time and no choice.”

And even before I start to direct him out loud, the crane pounces. Out of one pipe, anoth­er emerges, longer than any I’ve ever seen. A chain descends, catch­es the man by both under­arms, lifts him up, and then stops.

So what do you say, Dudi, should we leave him up there until he calms down? Shake him so he changes his ways?” Again he laughs, although this time it sounds more like a clogged machine. You have to have fun too, Dudi. You can’t do our impor­tant work with­out hav­ing fun every now and then.”

Only now does he move the rod a great dis­tance and then let down the man who tried to be a thief. His feet touch the ground, the chain ascends, and he starts to run fast into one of the near­by streets.

I think he won’t be steal­ing any­more today. As for tomor­row, that I can’t guar­an­tee. The ques­tion is, how long is he going to feel the pain from the grip of the chains?” And Eitan glances at me, nei­ther sad­ly nor hap­pi­ly, but like a per­son who is direct and clear, a lit­tle like Dad, a lit­tle like a teacher, and like oth­er things I don’t know how to define. I wish he’d explain to me how the crane’s mech­a­nisms work, and what’s the dif­fer­ence between a hoist and a crane, and oth­er impor­tant things. I think all he’s inter­est­ed in are his accom­plish­ments in and of them­selves, and that he feels like a her­ald of a cer­tain impor­tant idea.


Mom and Dad don’t rep­ri­mand me for com­ing home late, but they do give me a fun­ny look. For­tu­nate­ly, my lit­tle sis­ter Ruthi is refus­ing to go to bed, and they’re busy com­ing up with solutions.

Dudi, maybe you can calm down Ruth-Ruth?” Mom asks me, and I’m sur­prised by the fact that she uses my favorite nick­name — Ruth-Ruth” — which she’s rarely used in the past. I have an oppor­tu­ni­ty I can’t afford to miss here — a chance to both help with some­thing and delay the expect­ed con­ver­sa­tion with my parents.

Sure, Mom, I think Ruth-Ruth will be hap­py to go on a short walk near the house with me.” I leave the house with Ruthi, hand in hand, which I think is appro­pri­ate when it comes to a fouryear-old girl. Per­haps anoth­er day I’ll ask Mom why they wait­ed so many years before bring­ing anoth­er child into our home.

The days are long now and there is still sun­light at this hour. Ruthi pulls me in a par­tic­u­lar direc­tion; I’m guess­ing she hopes I’ll play with her in the play­ground near­by. I sug­gest the swing and she responds hap­pi­ly, at least I think so. I’m more care­ful than usu­al and push the swing with a gen­tle touch, like some­one who is on top of a tow­er and could eas­i­ly fall. Sud­den­ly, I feel like we’re being watched.

Good evening, Dudi,” I hear Eitan the crane operator’s voice. I’m not here to inter­rupt your qual­i­ty time with your sweet sister.”

What are you even doing here?” I ask him, and imme­di­ate­ly feel embar­rassed by my unfriend­ly greeting.

I thought you’d be glad. Nev­er mind. I, too, some­times pre­fer not to be remind­ed of work dur­ing the evening. All I want­ed was to bring you up to date on the main issues: Tomor­row I have to spend the entire day at the con­struc­tion site on Ris­hon LeZion Street, and maybe it’s best if you don’t come. For one thing, the work is entire­ly rou­tine and you won’t miss out if you stay home. For anoth­er, tomor­row is the day of the month on which var­i­ous plan­ners arrive to check the progress of the work on site, and you might feel awk­ward or out of place. But what’s impor­tant is the fol­low­ing day, the day after tomor­row. From 4:00 pm until 10:00 pm, there’s a lot of work to be done in the large crane, and we can do impor­tant things togeth­er. So bring your­self some tasty drinks and snacks and get ready for sev­er­al fas­ci­nat­ing hours.”

I must thank him. After all, he went to the trou­ble of com­ing to my neigh­bor­hood to give me an update, tell me what’s going on. Thanks, Eitan. Sor­ry that I was a bit star­tled to find you stand­ing next to us at first. I didn’t think you knew where I lived.”

It’s all good.” He smiles, and his whole face takes part in the smile. I would’ve react­ed in a sim­i­lar way.”

Ruth-Ruth is start­ing to get drowsy. That’s good news, though it does mean that the time I have to go back home is draw­ing near. The ques­tion is whether I should get her off the swing now or wait until she falls com­plete­ly asleep. Grant­ed, the seat of the swing is prop­er­ly secured, but I’m a bit wor­ried about what will hap­pen if she falls asleep in it. I gath­er her in my arms and enjoy hold­ing her close to me. On the stairs of the house I tight­en my hold on her, again feel­ing more scared than usu­al that she might fall and get hurt. I’m no longer sure what deter­mines my degree of fear, whether it’s accord­ing to what I’m wor­ried about, or whether there are fixed lev­els of fear with­in me at cer­tain hours of the day, regard­less of what’s both­er­ing me at that time.

Dad opens the door and kiss­es us both as if we’ve returned from a long trip to a far­away place. You see how many good things live right here with us in the house?” Mom says to me, and of course I agree with her. Now, put Ruth to bed just the way she is, and come eat with Dad and me. We’re hav­ing one of your favorite things.”

So what’s new at school?” Dad asks.

Same as always when the end of the year is com­ing,” I reply. On the one hand a lot of tests, and on the oth­er hand, the hol­i­day can already be felt inside the classroom.”

Only you know how to define things in such depth,” Mom says. And again Dad asks a ques­tion: And what about the crane? Have you invit­ed your friends to join you so they can see how a build­ing is con­struct­ed, or are you keep­ing that expe­ri­ence to yourself?”

I didn’t expect this to be their way of mak­ing con­ver­sa­tion about the crane, and I’m also not sure exact­ly what they know. Peo­ple almost always know more than I think they do, espe­cial­ly par­ents. I don’t think Eitan, I mean the crane oper­a­tor, wants more chil­dren around. He has his lim­i­ta­tions, and I’m just a guest inside the cab­in.” I speed up eat­ing the mush­room omelet and hope I can leave the table soon.

Look, Dudi,” Mom says, We’re impressed by your curios­i­ty, but we would rather you only con­tin­ued your vis­its to Eitan after vaca­tion begins. I am sure Dad will be glad to join you some­time, and maybe that way we’ll get a new paint­ing for our wall, too.”

I stare at Mom. She’s down­right pant­i­ng. Dad glances at her and then checks to see whether I’m both­ered by this, too.

Mom, there’s noth­ing to wor­ry about. Like you said, I’m only a vis­i­tor there, like how you vis­it a muse­um.” The three of us almost laugh.

I put off my pon­der­ing of Dad’s con­cern for Mom’s health. I think because of this con­cern he rarely argues with her, even when she lets him down. I want to know what they talk about when they’re alone. Some­times I think most of their con­ver­sa­tions take place only in my presence.


As Eitan asked, or sug­gest­ed, I show up on the appoint­ed day at four o’clock. He comes down to help me climb the enor­mous crane. If I wasn’t embar­rassed, I’d tell him that the crane looks larg­er than I remem­bered, and that maybe with­out Eitan know­ing, some­one else has been adding parts to it.

Incred­i­ble. What do you say, David?” he whis­pers to me when we’re sit­ting up high in the cabin.

Where do we start today?” I ask him, and he almost leaps.

That’s the spir­it! I’m real­ly pleased with you, Dudi.”

Eitan sug­gests that we both remain vig­i­lant and on alert” while look­ing through our binoc­u­lars, until we dis­cov­er some­thing inter­est­ing. While Eitan’s elec­tron­ic binoc­u­lars are a lot more sophis­ti­cat­ed, my binoc­u­lars can pick up tar­gets, too.

Now, hur­ry,” he sud­den­ly shouts. This is the kind of sit­u­a­tion where you can’t hesitate.”

Let me see,” I roar, too, and he press­es his binoc­u­lars against my eyes. Now he whis­pers again, as if some­one in the dis­tance might hear us. You see, Dudi? That’s an out­right brawl between the two young men. If we don’t inter­fere imme­di­ate­ly, this could end in a dis­as­ter.” He grabs the binoc­u­lars back, and because of how quick the motion is, I get a light scratch on my cheek.

It’s pret­ty obvi­ous that the large fel­low is the dan­ger­ous one. They must’ve been fight­ing each oth­er even before we dis­cov­ered them, and now the sit­u­a­tion has devolved into seri­ous violence.”

But what does that have to do with us?” I whis­per to him, and he doesn’t respond.

He moves one of the parts of our gigan­tic crane, and with incred­i­ble speed, low­ers a kind of large ring that I haven’t seen before. The ring descends, as if in a sprint, toward the two young men and touch­es one of them.

No, that’s not the one I want­ed,” he whispers.

He press­es his but­tons again and the ring clos­es around the oth­er man, whom he calls our thug.” I can see the arms and legs of the man caught in the ring mov­ing. I think it might resem­ble the way some ani­mals start con­vuls­ing when their end is near, and I’m also remind­ed of a movie about fish­er­men at sea that I once saw on tele­vi­sion. Now the ring is ris­ing, clenched around our thug, who is wav­ing what­ev­er limbs he can still move inside the trap. I can clear­ly see his mouth open and close on the crane’s big screen. Maybe he’s scream­ing some­thing, but I can’t hear it from such a great dis­tance, of course. Sud­den­ly I ask myself how you can even be so close to some­thing that’s hap­pen­ing, and yet remain so dis­tant in oth­er ways.

This isn’t the time for your unique thoughts, David,” Eitan tells me, now in a nor­mal voice. In times of emer­gency, we can’t waste our strength. And now, what do you sug­gest we do with our thug?”

I don’t know how to respond. I’m afraid the man may be fright­ened to death and slip out of the ring and fall.

If we just take him away from the area and don’t do any­thing more, he might return and attack the oth­er man.”

But we don’t have any oth­er option,” I reply. We aren’t the police or a court, who could lock him up somewhere.”

There are always addi­tion­al options. But I agree with you that we should focus on the essen­tials. Mean­ing, the fact that we’ve prob­a­bly saved some­one from a seri­ous injury and even death.”

Mean­while, our thug is still caught inside his ring. The crane’s rod isn’t mov­ing, and more peo­ple are com­ing clos­er and look­ing at him in amaze­ment. The man who was beat­en up ris­es from the ground and runs off slow­ly, like some­one who doesn’t want to draw his pursuer’s attention.

I’d like to hear prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions,” Eitan says to me, and I decide not to answer for now. For­tu­nate­ly, I’m once again remind­ed of Mom teach­ing me that you don’t always have to answer.

Well, then, if you don’t have any orig­i­nal ideas, we’ll just let our thug down on the far­thest pos­si­ble street and hope he calms down thanks to the air tour’ we arranged for him.” Indeed, the crane’s rod moves toward a qui­et side street, the ring descends slow­ly, and I wait to see what will happen.

I feel like we have a bit of a prob­lem with open­ing the ring, Eitan sud­den­ly whis­pers to me, and I get very tense. We may have to go over there to free him.”

I ask Eitan to try again.

What are you so wor­ried about? I was pulling your leg. Some fun is always in order after an impor­tant operation.”

Our thug exits the ring and sits down on the side­walk. I hope it’s just in order to rest, because now he doesn’t remind me of a fish caught in a net, but of a bird whose wings were clipped. The peo­ple who gath­ered on the scene are still stand­ing there, and I also notice that a police car has arrived. Eitan seemed entire­ly relaxed and is already look­ing for new tar­gets through his binoculars.

So how do you feel, being with me in this small cab­in where great actions take place? I think we’re allowed to view our­selves as the redeemers of the city. There are cer­tain peo­ple spoil­ing it, and we are here to make things right.”

Eitan turns off the lights and only leaves a small flash­light on in the cab­in. He uses elec­tric pow­er to gath­er the crane’s rods togeth­er. With­in a few moments, the crane looks a lot less intim­i­dat­ing. I love this mon­ster of mine so much,” he whis­pers to him­self and per­haps to me, too. Anoth­er time, Dudi, I’ll show you our secret map. Sev­er­al sites in the city, where oth­er cranes of mine lie ready for action, are marked on it. Do you real­ize that with so much com­bined pow­er, we can make an impact on the city and fix it far more than any of those plans by the munic­i­pal­i­ty and the police would? If we have enough peo­ple work­ing in shifts, we can respond quick­ly to many cas­es and pre­vent thefts, assaults, and oth­er wrongs. With the small reg­u­lar cranes, we’ll con­tin­ue build­ing hous­es in the city, and with my enor­mous advanced cranes, we’ll main­tain pub­lic order.”

I’m pret­ty stressed by his mas­ter plan. Grant­ed, thanks to him I have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be part of fas­ci­nat­ing things with­out draw­ing atten­tion to myself, but the ten­sion with­in me increases.


In the morn­ing, Mom and Dad show up in my room togeth­er and sit down on my bed. I can’t remem­ber the last time that hap­pened. They’re star­ing at me. Dad glances at the walls, per­haps check­ing if the paint­ing of me, which he paint­ed when I was ten, is still hang­ing there, then imme­di­ate­ly resumes look­ing at me. I think Mom is teary-eyed; there’s some­thing dif­fer­ent about her eyes, in any case. Sur­pris­ing­ly, she’s the one to speak. We heard about a crane hunt­ing down peo­ple on the news. Does that have any­thing to do with you, Dudi?”

I’m shak­ing now. Per­haps it’s shame, but their words are unpleas­ant for me. I was with Eitan yes­ter­day after­noon, maybe some of the evening, too. He says we’re fix­ing the city. There are those who wreck it, and there’s us who are doing the right­eous oppo­site.’ I think that’s the expres­sion he used.”

I don’t even under­stand what you want with this bizarre man.” Dad is close to shout­ing. He’s a com­plete stranger to us. I don’t know what his plan is, nor do I care. We’re not inter­est­ed in him. We’re here to save you, not our city.”

Now Mom is look­ing at him and not me, and that’s bet­ter. I think Eitan is a spe­cial man and that being with him is real­ly fas­ci­nat­ing, Dudi, but this has turned from a nice adven­ture into some­thing dangerous.”

Very dan­ger­ous,” Dad says and once again looks at my paint­ing, his paint­ing. They’re still sit­ting on my bed, per­haps think­ing that their weight will pre­vent me from fly­ing away to anoth­er place. I’m not mad at them, but I feel shak­en and lone­ly. What’s clear, Dudi, is that today you’re com­ing straight home from school. Both of us will be wait­ing for you here and we’ll go out and have fun together.”

Now it’s get­ting bet­ter. If this is about clear actions, I can just agree. I don’t have to argue with them about dif­fer­ent inten­tions or explain myself. It’s clear to me that they’re tak­ing Eitan’s work too seriously.

Miron C. Izak­son is an Israeli writer of poet­ry and nov­els, and a pro­fes­sor of Hebrew lit­er­a­ture at Bar Ilan Uni­ver­si­ty. He has been award­ed the President’s Prize (2001), the Natan Yonatan Prize for Poet­ry (2012), and the Bren­ner Prize for Poet­ry for This Time (2013).

Joseph Faust is an Israeli trans­la­tor and edi­tor. He has trans­lat­ed one Miron C. Izak­son nov­el, The Can­di­date, and is cur­rent­ly trans­lat­ing a sec­ond, Fur­ther­more.