Ersatz Widow, Detective, 92
(Thank you thank you for everyone who wrote asking for another Mrs. Israel story.
And to those people who wanted to know if the story is TRUE – as far as I’m concerned, everything is true, and not.)
Mrs. Israel felt taller ever since she’d discovered, at the age of 92, her very first murderer – an innocent enough looking woman in her own building who’d actually given her cookies twice, for various holidays. She thought to herself that she could have a secret theme song.
When Rodrigo Esparanza of New York One read about what happened in the Daily News, he invited Mrs. Israel, whose first name was Rhonda, a name that means Loud or Grand in Hebrew and Greek. She was named for her grandfather, Rachmiel. Though she was rarely called by anything but Mrs. Israel. Rodrigo invited her to appear as a guest on his show:
Unexpected New York.
She prepared by buying her first new pair of shoes, and they were brown, in over 30 years.
She never deviated from the same black pair: innocuous, comfortable, accommodating bunions. But these brown shoes, although she knew you couldn’t see them on TV, knew too that only she would be aware of her shoes, they had small heels, heels that reminded her that once, her legs were worth looking at. She had only one request: that Rodrigo play HELP ME RHONDA at the end of her interview. Everyone needs a theme song, she thought. That would be hers.
Rodrigo Esparanza was a handsome handsome man. He smiled and asked why, at 92, she had decided to become a detective. To solve a mystery. She offered mild explanations. Because she lived in the building. Because she had felt a certain responsibility to the victim. Because she hadn’t done anything much except laundry for years. And then he said: will you do this again?
Yes she said, without even a small pause. Absolutely yes.
He asked people with unsolved crimes to call into the station and Mrs. Israel actually smiled at the thought that strangers would request her help.
There were ninety four callers.
Rodrigo’s viewers chose their three favorite murders.
Beautiful Jamaican shot a dry cleaners called Better Than New.
The owner, Sol Rabinowitz, urgently asked for help.
A quiet older woman murdered in her own apartment in Washington Heights.
Young girl in the West Village getting her PhD in linguistics.
Mrs. Israel, actually happier than she’d been in years, maybe ever, chose the older woman.
After all, she could have been the one.
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