SIDNEY FEINGLASS, DETECTIVE- CHAPTER V

I am not always conversant with what my husband does for a living. I know that he is a plastic surgeon and that he has many clients, some of them not in this country. He has his own clinic, where he does most of his work. I have been there numerous times and know almost all of his staff and co-workers. What I don’t know is his clients. I assume that plastic surgery involves so many different parts of the body. The popular conception is that it involves the face and breasts. I have since come to understand that it is much more than that.
Ralph talks about his work very frequently. Almost every time we have dinner, or are alone in the house, he tells me about his work and how things have turned out. He does not, however, talk about the patients that he works with outside of his clinic. I have seen his name in a number of medical journals, so he is pretty well known. I assume that he does well financially. We have no worries about money at all.
We do not have any children. It is not a mechanical problem. We both agreed, at the onset that Ralph’s work was so enveloping that he would not have time to be a proper father. I was sad about that, but understood what he meant. We do spend time on vacations every so often and we do not stint on anything. We have a couple of very expensive cars, lots of fine jewelry and a beautiful house with expensive furniture. I assume that Ralph’s investments allow for all of these things.
Although we have been married for ten years, I have not been able to ascertain some things about Ralph’s upbringing. He told me that he was raised by his grandmother, who passed away before I came on the scene. His parents were killed in an accident soon after he was born.
There has always been something strange about his background. I have found small discrepancies about where and when he was born and in what part of the U.S. I have not followed up on any of these things. Although he appears to be a very religious Jew, he does not follow the rules of Kashrut (Kosher), or goes to the Temple that often. He does, however, spend time with my father, in what he calls kind of a seminar on Judaism. We go over to my parent’s house and the two men closet themselves in my father’s den and supposedly discuss the torah and the commentaries (the Gomorrah).
I sometimes ask Ralph what the topic of discussion was that evening. He tells me that it would not be of interest to me and kind of shoos me off. I have never tried to prod him. He is really a to himself kind of guy.

SIDNEY FEINGLASS, DETECTIVE CHAPTER IV

There is something going on here, Coopersmith thought, as he scanned the Friday evening crowd and saw this Feinglass person. The name meant something to him, but he could not place where he had heard it. It also came at the same time that he was a bit worried about his daughter and her questioning of where he went from time to time. His wife told him that it was just innocent wondering by his daughter Amy. However, now that this visitor to his congregation was upon him, he wondered if there was any connection. Where had he heard the name before?
When he got home that evening he went into his study and called Ralph Feldman, Amy’s husband. Feldman answered him on the first ring. “Gut Shabbas,” Feldman intoned in a sprightly manner. “How are you doing, Rabbi?” “Ralph, is there anything going on that I should know about?” Feldman paused for an instant and said that he was worried a bit about Amy. She was asking many questions about his frequent out of town assignments and conferences.
Coopersmith, held his beard in his hand and asked Feldman, “Have you ever run into a man called Sidney Feinglass?” There was a long pause. Feldman answered, “Rabbi do you remember all that mishigas (crazy stuff) at Har Zion about stolen money?” “Yes, I do Ralph, what of it.” Feldman barked, “The man, or should I say private detective, who solved the case was Sidney Feinglass. He is one of the best private investigators in the city. What did he want at your shul this evening?” The Rabbi answered, “He said that his is not affiliated with any shul and that he was just visiting to see where he might join. Now I wonder what he really wanted. He was just trying to size me up, I guess. Who do you think hired him?”
“Not sure what this is all about.” Replied Feldman. “I cannot imagine that Amy went through all that trouble to hire someone to check on you or me. She really does not have access to pay anyone the fees that they charge. All of our checkbooks are in both names and I keep pretty close tabs on what goes in our out. I am now wondering if it has to do with any of our clients. After all we have not always satisfied them. They may be trying to get something on us.”
The conversation went on for about fifteen minutes. Each of them trying hard to figure out what this Feinglass guy was doing snooping around Coopersmith’s synagogue. They concluded that they needed more information. Feldman said that he would approach Amy in a subtle way and try and get something from her, if there was anything to get. He was about to find out that there were many things of which he was not aware.

CHAPTER III- SIDNEY FEINGLASS, DETECTIVE

When I left the company of Amy Coopersmith Feldman, I could hardly remember anything that was said. I had this picture in front of my eyes of one of the most beautiful women in the world, in my estimation. I was beginning her case with two hands tied behind my back. I could not speak with either her father or her husband. This was going to be a bit complicated.
I knew something about Rabbi Coopersmith. Since I did not belong to any shul (synagogue), I decided to go to services at B’nai Nebbish the following Friday night. I sat through the service. Rabbi Coopersmith was certainly a well-oiled machine. There was absolutely no hitch to his davening ( prayer saying) nor his discussion of the parsha ( part of the bible), which was parsha B’rashit, the first parsha in the book of Genesis.
His explanation of the meaning of the 6 days of creation and the resting on the seventh day was truly inspiring. He concluded by saying that some people think that we are still in the seventh day and that God is resting yet. That is why so many horrible things are going on in the world at this time.
He also said that the word rest (Shabbat VYeenawfash), really means respirited and not rest. I was truly intrigued by what he had to say. I had never heard such explanations before. When we went down for the Oneg Shabbat (a gathering for the congregation which includes some honey cake and some spirits- mostly Seagram’s 7), I managed to get close to the Rabbi and express my appreciation for his sermon. He seemed very thankful and asked who I was. I told him that I was Sidney Feinglass and that I was not a member of any congregation.
He looked at me oddly. It was as if he was ticking off a list of people in his mind and wondering who I was. He finally looked over the rest of the people and kind of left me there. Others wanted to congratulate him and I was kind of pushed to the back of the social hall.
I did notice that the Rabbi kind of scanned the crowd and every so often his eyes met mine and he had a quizzical look in them. As I looked more closely at the Rabbi, it seemed to me that my first view of him was incorrect. He wasn’t looking at me quizzically; it seemed to be more like, “What are you really doing here?”

CHAPTER II SIDNEY FEINGLASS, DETECTIVE

If I am going to continue to be an Orthodox Jew, I must adhere to the rules of Kashrut (Kosher). So, when I go out to a non-Jewish place, I always carry with me part of a meal so as not to embarrass either the waiter or waitress or the person I am dining with. In this case, I was carrying an egg salad sandwich in a brown paper bag when I ate at Slovenly’s. Since I did not know what the woman looked like, I had to wait at the door until she came in.
I guess she noticed me because of my payes. She was probably the most beautiful woman that I had ever seen. She had a figure that can only be described as flowing. She was tall, not too thin, with gorgeous blue eyes, a set of high cheekbones, graceful limbs and a mouth to die for. If she was not married, I would have asked her to marry me on the spot. Even if beauty is skin deep, I could live with that beauty for a long time. She said hello in a voice that was as smooth as her body. She gave me a slight smile and kind of edged me over to a booth way back of the restaurant.
I introduced myself to her, just to get the conversation going. She hesitated for a moment and whispered.” I am Amy Coopersmith Feldman. My husband is Ralph Feldman. You may know my father. He is Rabbi Hyman Coopersmith of Temple B’nai Nebbish. I am here with you on my own without their knowledge.” I looked her square in the eyes for two reasons; to show her that I am a good listener and just to look into those ice blue crystal pools.
It is really hard for me to concentrate on what a beautiful woman is saying. I know that is not politically correct to say, but I can’t help it. I got lost when she told me her name. After that it was a blur. However, I am not a jerk and got myself into my attentive mode quickly. “So Mrs. Feldman, I guess that the problems that you have relate to your husband AND your father.
She said,” They told me you were the best and you have already come to the conclusion about my problem. You are a genius.” I hated to tell her that she had pretty much told me that her husband and father did not know of her meeting with me, so it was clear that the problem was theirs.
“When I first met my husband Ralph, we instantly knew that we were meant for each other. It was love at first sight. Our families were not too happy with our decision to get married within the next few months. They eventually came around when they saw how much we meant to each other. Three months later we were married. My father did the service. We had it at my parents’ home in the back of the house. It was a great wedding and everyone seemed to have fun. That was three years ago,” she continued.
“We had been married a year, when it dawned on me that my father and my husband had known each other before we met. I did not know that. Neither one of them had ever said that to me. When we would have dinner at my parent’s home, Ralph and my father would always have time to speak to each other alone. I was not concerned about it at first, but soon it began to annoy me. I am not a person who asks too many question, nor am I a detective type person. It really seemed out of place for two people, who barely knew each other, to spend so much time in private conversation.
When I asked Ralph about it once, he was not too happy. He told me that he and my father had a great deal in common and that they enjoyed each other’s company.”
I was still not sure what this woman wanted from me. All that she told me was not either unusual or suspicious. There had to be more to this story than this. I was hoping that Mrs. Feldman would be a bit more concise about what she wanted from me. “Mrs. Feldman, I am not sure that anything that you have said so far is out of line, “
“Mr. Feinglass, that isn’t all. My husband is a plastic surgeon. He is as good as they come. We live very comfortably. We do not have any children, as yet, so our home has not been filled with children’s things. It is almost cavernous. When Ralph isn’t home, sometimes I get a little edgy. I sometimes go over to my parent’s house when Ralph is not home. My mother cooks for us and we have a grand old time talking about all kinds of things.
I am not really a social person, Mr. Feinglass, so my mom is my confidant and best friend. It has been that way since I was a little girl. The fact that I am an only child brings us even closer. I began to notice that when Ralph was away at some conference or other, or was consulting with another plastic surgeon out of the area, my father was also away. It did not occur to me, when I went over to be with my mother, until it happened for the third time that they were both away simultaneously. This has been going on for three years.”
I stopped her right there.” Are you saying that there is some connection between your father and your husband that cannot be explained by their relationship with you? She replied, “That is not the only thing. One evening when I was over at mom’s house, I casually mentioned that Ralph was presenting a paper on some esoteric part of plastic surgery in New Orleans the following week. My mother said that was a coincidence, because my father was going to New Orleans to make a presentation to the Interfaith Alliance of New Orleans.”
“O.K.” I said, that certainly a bit curious. How many more times has this happened over the three years of your marriage? “More than ten times,” she replied. This, then, was more than a coincidence. I told Mr.Feldman that I would go some checking and see where this all leads. I told her about my fees and expenses. She said that was certainly able to handle it. She said that she had a private account which was kind of shielded from her husband and anyone else.

SIDNEY FEINGLASS, DETECTIVE

My name is Sidney Feinglass and I am an Orthodox Jewish Detective. That means that I don’t work from sundown on Friday nights till sundown on Saturday nights, plus the high holy days. If I were to describe myself, physically, it would go like this. I am 34 years old, have curly brown hair, payes (sideburns turned into ringlets), and a regular undistinguished face. I am 6 ft. 1” tall, and weigh about 180 lbs. I work out quite a bit and am in pretty good shape. I am qualified on a number of weapons and carry a Smolensk 38. This pistol is good for 50 yards, not a long distance gun, but good enough to ward off the schwarz yar, who might want to take advantage of me. I actually had to use it a few times. By the way, I am not a gun control person. I would, however, like to see our country not turn into a shooting gallery.
If you think that I am one of those mystery book detectives, you are very wrong. I take very few exciting cases and most of them come from the Jewish community. That means that they are mostly about how one person cheated another person. The investigating part of my job is more about notifying the offending party that I am on the job watching him or her. That usually does the trick and I get paid my $500 a day.
I stick to my guns. It’s 500 a day plus expenses. The expenses usually consist of a pastrami sandwich at Sollys’, on the corner, or some gas money. I try not to take advantage and go to the uptown restaurants. My reputation was made when I caught a local Rabbi, at Temple Har Tzion, taking advantage of his congregation by siphoning off some of the donations into a charity that really was his bank account.
I brought the rabbi to justice and got most of the congregation’s money back for them. They were very grateful and. asked me if I wanted to join their congregation. I politely declined. I am still trying to figure myself out, as a Jew, and have not managed to do so. Although I am strictly Orthodox, I have not belonged to a Shul since I was bar mitzvahed.
So I sit in my office on Canal Street, now in the heart of Chinatown and play games on my computer just to keep my mind sharp and listen to old Moshe Koussevitzky records and some Aaron Lebedoff. There is nothing more invigorating than listening to Romania Romania a few times. I still don’t have all of those sounds right.
I also look at my email, which consists of advertisements, threatening letters from my former wife Malke, about support payments, and once in a while a legitimate question from a prospective client. It was one of those particular emails that began a series of events that would almost get me killed. I shudder to think of it and wished that I could go back in time and not answer it.
The email I told you about came to me one morning in a pile of spam and advertisements. When I looked at it, I saw that the subject of the email was “Need you right now.” At first I thought it was one of those ads for erectile dysfunction. I never realized how many men in this country can’t have sex because of their problem with ED. When I opened the email, I realized that it was a plea from a local woman in the Jewish community who seemed to be in trouble. I answered her and told her that I would be glad to meet with her. We decided to meet the next day at a non-Jewish place in midtown Manhattan. The place was called, “Slovenly.”

A CONDOM IN MY WALLET

If you are close to my age, 74, and can remember your teenage years and maybe a little afterwards, this will not be new to you. From the time I was about 15, I carried a condom in my wallet. I am not sure how I knew that I should do that, but it became something that most of my friends did. I am not sure how long it remained there, unused and becoming something other than rubbery, but it was in my wallet for a long time.
If you went to a pharmacy to buy one, you had a choice of three- Sheiks, Ramsey’s and Trojans. You had to ask the person behind the counter (sometimes that was even me when I worked at a pharmacy) for the condoms. It was always an embarrassing situation, as it was with women who were buying Kotex in plain brown wrappers.
You had to approach the counter with you head down and speak in a lower register and ask, “Can I have a pack of Trojans?” The person behind the counter would always smirk or even say something wise (in those years that meant snotty). He (and it was always a he) would shout out something like, “Did I hear you correctly, did you want a pack of Trojans?” By that time I was as small as a mouse and just had enough breath in me to say, “Yes.”
If you had an older friend, in the late 50’s you could get them to buy you one from a machine in their bathroom at college. Those would come out, for a quarter, in a college crested package; with Latin words on it like, “Serafanun Banum Protaginatorum Con Cranum,” which loosely translated into “Use your brains.”
There was always the chance that your condom would develop some pin sized hole in it. So, there came a time when you became one of the “Better safe than sorry” boys or you two condoms in your wallet. That was not such a great idea. Wallets were then pretty thin (later they got fatter) and it would be annoying to take out your wallet to pay for something and have one of the condoms drop out.
What exactly were the condoms used for. In my memory, they were used to express your manhood and your experience with women. Really sharp guys insisted that women had condoms for your use. Since there were no birth control pills, a prophylactic device was needed. You could even show it to a girl and impress her that you were a gentleman and had no intention of getting her pregnant and no intention of actually going to bed with her. It was just a badge of honor.
Not sure what the modern teen is doing. Sounds like they are totally disinterested in birth control of any sort. Haven’t checked with my grandchildren (the 17 year old one) to see if he carries such a protective device in his wallet. Since the whole world has changed since the 1950’s, I assume that he doesn’t.

THE BUS

Puerto Vallarta is a town (city) of about 325,000 on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It is very far down the road from all of the drug stuff up north. It was a sleepy fishing village in 1964 when John Huston and Elizabeth Taylor came down to make the movie, Night of the Iguana. They actually bought homes there. E.T.’s is in the old part of town and Huston’s is way far away along the southern coast of the Bay of Banderas. It has been our vacation place for the past eleven years.
We came down on a lark in 2002 and have gone down every year since (except for my heart surgery). We do love it there and have had some fun times and some sad times. We stay at a place called Costa Sur, which was the first time share in the area. We are on the south side of the old city. The new city, called Nueva Vallarta has all of the new hotels, the Wal-Mart, the Cineplex, the Mall and all of the other things that look like any American suburb. That is why we stay far away on the south side.
The city itself is really old style with cobblestone streets. It is still a place where you can get a haircut for 70 pesos (12 pesos to a buck) and some great food. Carol and I both say that we have not had a bad meal in Puerto Vallarta in eleven years. I know that sounds far-fetched, but it is true. We have eaten at a couple of fancy places, but mostly local joints. I have still not grown used to the heavy duty salsa, but I love Tortilla soup and huevos rancheros.
We stay about five miles or so outside of town. Our place is not a self-contained vacation club. It is a couple of old style buildings with breathtaking views of the Bay. We can sometimes see dolphins and whales while on our balcony. There are two pools (one heated, the beach, which is now enclosed and a restaurant. It had been going downhill but Moises is back from another place and it is to die for. Our first meal this year was the best meal yet.
We have grown to know some of the people. The man who sold us the time share, Hugo D’Alba became our friend. His grandparents came from Russia in the 1920’s and landed in Chile and then came to Mexico. Hugo has two children, Alexei and Irina. We have gotten very fond of them. Alexei came to stay with us for a few weeks two years ago. He had never seen snow and we ferried him to N.Y.C. in a blinding snow storm. Irina will be visiting with us this Christmas. She is 21 and Alexei is 23.
Hugo passed away a year and one half ago. We feel some responsibility for Alexei and Irina. They are both living with her mother, who was estranged from Hugo and is married to someone else and has a small child. We kind of keep an eye on them through friends of Hugo- Gil and Lucy, who own a curio shop in P.V. They are interesting people in so many ways. Gil writes funny books about traveling and Lucy runs the store and does the purchasing. They have lots of weird stuff there.
Since we live about five miles from town, we must take some conveyance into town. When we started, it cost 6 pesos to hop a rickety old bus into Centro. You really took your life in your hands riding with chickens and musical fellows, workers and young moms off to work. We went down a large mountain hill at careening speeds, holding on for dear life. Even the local people looked very uncomfortable. Now, the road is smoother, but the ride is just as death defying.
If you are there at Easter Time, the bus is packed with Mexican tourists going to the beach at Mismaloya (at one time one of the most beautiful beaches in the world until a storm chopped it up). There are still the musical people on board. They range from Mariachi singers with costumes and guitars, violins and trumpets, to young men with guitars singing and selling CD’s. Then there are the older folks who carry around smallish boom boxes with audio tapes. They sing to the audio tapes and drive everyone wild. One fellow was on our bus trip four times in two weeks. He cleared out all of the wax in my ears twice and stumbled over my feet once, even though they were not in the aisle.
I believe and I have suggested it to the proper authorities that there be tryouts for these troubadours. Some are adequate, some a very good and some are terrible. They are all trying to make a living by asking for dough. It is hard not to give it to them. I had given to the boom box man three times. The fourth time I told him that I had given at the office.