Maybe Shachaf knew what he was going to do, because Zamir found the note shortly after.
Thank you. Goodbye.
Zamir pulled the note out of his pocket again, to look at them once again. Raz whistled. Haven followed suit, having dozed off at some point during Zamir’s short recollection, but waking up with Raz’s vocals.
“Yer family sounds fucked up.”
He put the paper back with a snort. “That is one way of putting it, Raz.”
“Did you think he might be happier off wherever he’s decided to go?”
Zamir had not. That wasn’t the point. The point was that his brother just up and left on him. “I’m not the rest of our family.”
Raz shrugged, leaning back. “Yeah, I guess.”
Maybe Zamir should have done something sooner. Maybe he should have just said it straight out. He would have to do that when he found Shachaf.
If he did.
She had left everything to Zamir. He didn’t want it.
“This is wonderful, his mother would say. “She loved you so much.”
There was the stipulation. He couldn’t give a single piece of it to Shachaf. Their mother didn’t seem to notice. Zamir ground his teeth. And kept his discontentment to himself. There was no hiding this now.
“Am I an idiot?” Shachaf sat on Zamir’s balcony. Zamir filled up another glass.
“Yes, but that’s besides the point. We stem from idiotic stock.”
Shachaf rubbed his face. “There’s a lot you could do with that inheritance.”
Zamir couldn’t be more irritated. Neither of them cared about the money. They both knew that. “I have a job. I don’t need it.” He wasn’t going to make the choice against his brother.
“True. You aren’t hurting for it.”
That wasn’t the point. That wasn’t it at all. Zamir shook his head and sat down across from him.
Zamir pushed his hair back, the gel once keeping the dark waves from his face long since having lost their hold. “What took you so long? You couldn’t call?”
Shachaf must have realized what that meant, because his urgency fell off the map immediately. He looked away, then back at Zamir. “Car broke down outside the towers’ range. I didn’t even get your message until…”
Zamir sighed. Shachaf cleared his throat.
“Did she ask for me?”
His brother was an idiot. Always hoping for the favour of a woman who had never liked him. Zamir wanted to lie for him too, but he couldn’t do so in the way Shachaf would want. “She didn’t say much, near the end.”
They both stood there. Zamir wished he was anywhere else. He wished he could have been out there, stranded like Shachaf. He would have even done so alone, swapped places with him.
“I’m glad you made it,” Zamir said.
And Zamir would be the only one.
“Everything will be for you.”
That didn’t make sense. It wouldn’t make sense until later. He wanted to be able to tell her that Shachaf was coming. She would be dead soon, if he didn’t show up she would still think he was coming. But not even Zamir had it in him to lie good naturedly to the dying.
“Unlike that no good brother of yours.”
Shachaf loved Parvena. Zamir had never understood it. Especially as he was not here. But his good natured attempt dwindled when he heard her say those words. “He is coming, gramma. He’ll be here soon. For you.”
No matter what Zamir wanted, it didn’t mean anything to her.
He could see her slipping away. “Mother!”
Shachaf still wasn’t there. He wasn’t there as she died.
Then his family changed.
“Of course… my dearest Zamir.”
Parvena liked him. For what reason, Zamir didn’t know. He had never done anything to try to gain her affections more than anyone else in the family. The whole fact she made him uncomfortable was part of that reason. He was simply a good son, a good grandson. He hadn’t put more effort into it than that.
“I am here, gramma.”
“I know. You would be here.”
He sat down next to her bed. She reached out for his hand and he managed not to balk in reaching out to her, letting her do so. “As our one God would wish it.” As he was supposed to say. As was true. Something about it still didn’t feel right.
“Everything will be for you.”
When grandmother Parvena died, Shachaf hadn’t been there.
Zamir tried not to grind his teeth or pick at his sleeves. Parvena wasn’t asleep, not yet. She breathed slowly. But both age and her recent illness had taken its toll. Everyone knew it would be today or tomorrow. Any moment now. That is why the family was here. That was why what remained of Parvena’s closest friends were here. He felt as though any one of them might go too. A couple were older than his grandmother.
Then he chastised himself for the thought. He was upset because mother was upset. Because Shachaf was not here.
“She wishes to speak to you,” mother said, voice tight.
Zamir didn’t want to talk with his grandmother. She made him uncomfortable in life and near death didn’t help. But it was her final moments and he would not begrudge her whatever she wished now.
Zamir went to speak with her.
“No sign of him yet?”
Zamir adjusted his cuffs. He never used to do so as much. It was becoming a nervous habit. He stopped himself. “What are you talking about?”
Raz lazed on the other side of the hotel room. Zamir wasn’t about to change his lodgings for the man, or give up his bed, but Raz looked at the recliner and determined himself absolutely happy about it. He certainly had made a one eighty from his previous disinterest for intended charity. “You’re still looking. You brushed it aside before.”
“Shachaf.” Zamir sat down on the bed.
“Yep.” Raz stroked Haven’s back. She slept on his shoulder, unaffected by the noise around her. “You think if he wanted to see you he would of called. It’s not like you vanished off the face o’ the land or anything.”
“True enough.” But this had nothing to do with what Shachaf wanted, if Zamir was being honest with himself.
The room fell quiet. Zamir knew exactly what Raz was going to say, right before he said it. “So what happened? What was he runnin’ from?”
Zamir closed his eyes.
Zamir would admit, Haven was a rather pretty bird. Raz was certainly smitten with her and the entire process of obtaining her had gone much more smoothly than Raz had made it sound.
“I introduced ya as my police friend, of course.”
“Which is incorrect, technically.”
Zamir’s words once again didn’t matter, as Raz ruffled up Haven’s feathers. She opened and closed her beak next to his finger, which made Zamir antsy, but Raz didn’t seem to mind. Then again, it didn’t look like Haven was closing it with that much force.
With a sigh, Zamir readjusted his suit. “Now what? Going back home?”
“Eh, can’t afford to. Have to feed this pretty now.”
Health forsaken for beauty. It was the first time Zamir had seen it done like this. He sighed.
How had he gotten so wrapped up in this?
“Her name is Haven.”
“Haven?” While he had agreed to hear Raz out, Zamir had the distinct impression he was going to be paying for Raz’s food as well. Just as well he had let Raz pick the place to eat. Zamir might have picked a place more classy, but he would have paid for it with Raz’s large order.
“She’s lived here for the last couple of years, but the people she lived with have split up. Leaving her torn between the two of them unless I do something.”
“Were they her caregivers?”
Raz nodded, wiping his face with a napkin. “They treat her right, I know that. But the fact they both like her makes this all a bit more complicated, y’know?”
Zamir frowned, leaning back in his seat. “What did you come here for?”
“I’m taking her.”
He should have expected that. “Would there be something keeping her from leaving herself?”
“Probably the cage.”
Zamir paused. He paused for a few moments. “What species is she?” he finally asked.
A parrot. That made some more sense. He supposed.
“Okay, okay. I’m here ’cause a friend of mine needs a little help.”
Zamir rose an eyebrow. “I see.”
Raz rolled his eyes. “That you don’t. It’s the bigger picture.”
“Oh? Please do explain.”
That made the other man scowl. “I ain’t lookin’ for assistance on this.”
“Why not? Didn’t you help me without my offering you anything in return?”
That caused Raz some pause. Zamir knew the man wasn’t used to someone owing him, because he appeared to be the type of person who was more used to just taking things ahead of time to avoid it. Shachaf knew how to deal with those people. Without that connection, Zamir doubted that Raz would have helped him in the first place.
Which meant Raz wasn’t used to a situation like this.
“Why don’t you tell me what is going on? If I can help you, what do you have to lose?”