this is in a rough neighborhood, one day a young black kid who's being chased by she extra shitty boys ducks into the synagogue as an unlikely refuge, and presses herself against the back wall right next to Gershom, two outsiders seeking refuge for totally different reasons
He slips out before the service ends, as usual, and she follows him bc he looks like he could scare off literally anyone
she ends up following Gershom to his shop, hangs out for a while, claiming to make sure the coast is clear, and because she's really curious about the strange shop. She comes by again to thank him under the guise of buying something and also bc he's weird and she's curious. She's talkative and bold and asks, so he ends up giving her a job even though he doesn't need an employee, because he likes her.
she's very proud to be making some money like her mom, and gives her mom all of her pay — gershom pays her too much anyway. her mom was angry at first because she was worried that her daughter was doing some unsavory shit to be making so much. she explains how she met gershom and her mom is like
- "WHY do you think he was standing at the back like an outsider? I TOLD you, don't talk to strange men"
- "he's not bad, he's big and strong and like, really really old"
- "he ever touch you?"
- "no way, he never even pat me on the shoulder. he's— he's respectful mama. he respects his customers and strangers and pigeons and computers and—"
- "ok, ok, I get it. i need to meet this man, you might think he's good but I don't trust anybody with my daughter."
she meets him in a park at dusk ("he don't like going out during the day, he's got some kind of skin problem and doesn't like people looking at him")
he's really tall and broad, but she's a powerful 5' and can run in heels (but is wearing dope sneakers) and stands her ground.
- "so you're Mr. Gershom. I hear you been spending time with my daughter."
- "at her discretion, as she wishes, yes. you are her mother." his voice was like tumbling bricks.
- "yes i am. and you better know that means if anyone ever touches her, i will hunt them down and kill them." There was no hyperbole in her tone.
- "you have every right."
there's a pause, as he doesn't argue, flinch, or elaborate.
- she asks "why should she trust you?"
- he pauses, and begins a kind of monologue, "I was once a protector. I was made to stop invaders and tear down oppressors. My people were desperate, choked, and stepped upon, and I fought for their prosperity. Now they do well, and I have not fought in many, many years. Oppressors still oppress, though. Your people have suffered as mine once did, and still suffer, perhaps more than mine still do. I can still be a protector."
- she crosses her arms, unimpressed. "So you think you're protecting my daughter now? You think I can't do it well enough on my own?"
- He pauses for one beat, then two, "on the day we first met, she was running and sought refuge in the house I was also taking refuge in. When I left, she followed me, taking refuge in the intimidation she imagined I exude. I can be a protector, but I can also be little more than a roof. It is her choice to duck under the eves. And yours to disallow her."