Shadow Song

It was a wonderful summer, a great memory, the kind of love everybody ought to have.  It changed my life--- or almost did—and I think about it more than I should, but that was a long time ago. 

Amid the breathtaking beauty of the Catskill Mountains, Avrum Feldman listened to the haunting voice of Amelita Galli-Curci ringing over the Shandaken Valley---a voice no one else could hear.  When he died at age one hundred six, his obsession for the famous opera diva had lasted three-quarters of a century.  Most people considered Avrum crazy, someone preoccupied with romantic nonsense.  But Madison Lee “Bobo” Murphy was not among them, for he, too, had a love that changed his life, or almost did: Amy Lourie.

In the summer of 1955, Bobo was a waiter at the Catskills’ Pine Hill Inn; a rural Southerner who had never heard the word meshugge until Avrum – a retired furrier, teacher, and translator from New York City—became his unlikely friend.  For Bobo nothing about that summer ever lost its glow: his first taste of kartoffel suppe; the exotic mingling of Yiddish and German in the dining room; the girl he met and love.

In everyone’s life, Avrum had instructed, there is one grand, undeniable moment of change that never stops mattering.  It came for Bobo in his first meeting with Amy, the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.  He was too naïve to comprehend the gulf between their worlds, and she was too smitten by him to care.  But for a wealthy Jewish girl and a Georgia farm boy, the summer had to end, leaving Bobo to learn the painful lesson of loving someone and believing you cannot be with them.

Now, thirty-eight years later, Avrum is gone, leaving a will that beckons Bobo north to the Catskills once more.  In the places he’d walked so often on the paths of memory, he embraces the ghosts of old friendships and the haunting hints of Amy’s presence, until she unexpectedly appears.  Nothing has dimmed the passion of their youth, yet two lifetimes and a thousand Catskills sunsets stand between who they were and who they have become.  The strikes against them are different now, but mysteriously, miraculously, as Bobo carries out Avrum’s last wishes for a strange Kaddish, he hears the dreams of his youth, of the young man who went forth and became part of a love larger than himself….