During the last couple of weeks the building and renovations continued at a steady pace. The roundabout was almost ready and behind tall fences an artist was placing the sculptures in the fountain. In the meantime professor Hubnoth and I welcomed Elia ben Oso-Pardo, a surveyor for the municipal cadaster who had come to help us determine where exactly in the graveyard the dividing line ran between the Christian and Jewish plots.
Elia ben Oso-Pardo was a big man with a wild beard, a full head of flaming red hair and an enormous belly hanging over his belt. He wore leather pants, and a leather jacket and on his nose an over sized pair of glasses that together with his beard and long hair did not reveal much of his face. But he had a great smile, I noticed, when he shook hands with the professor.
“How do you do?”, he said and quite succinctly did not comment on the totally inappropriate flimsy yellow and white summer dress professor Marcel Hubnoth was wearing that day.
“This is about Lorenzo, right?”
We walked to the cemetery and came to Lorenzo's grave. “I see that Isabel was here,” the surveyor said, pointing at the pot of basil.
“What do you think?” professor Hubnoth asked. “Do we have to move Lorenzo?”
“The poor man lies with his feet buried in hallowed Jewish ground, while his head lies uneasy in Christian soil,” Oso-Pardo growled. “But you'll only have to move him about a meter or so to the left.” With a wave of his arm the surveyor indicated an imaginary line running from the post of the gate to the corner of the restored synagogue. “To the left is Jewish, to the right Christian. It's simple.”
“You don't need to measure? You didn't bring any tools with you?”
“I was born here, I know everything thare is to know about this place. No need for tools.”
We discussed what measures now must be taken to move the grave. Oso-Pardo advised us to involve religious authorities of both faiths. Professor Hubnoth sighed. “Really? Can't we just move him? I mean, it's only a meter. Who will know?”
“I will know. You can't just schlep bodies around, not even in this distant windy corner of Andalusia. But don't worry, the archbishop of Seville is a friend of mine and the chief rabbi of Cordoba is my cousin. I'll give them a call.”
We invited Elia for a drink at Shmuel Eregast's fully renovated and refurbished restaurant across the road, but Elia hesitated.
“What's the matter?” I asked. “You don't drink?” And the professor added cheekily: “Or do you find my dress offensive?”
“That's not it,” the surveyor answered slowly and then continued in a solemn voice: “My uncle Shmuel and I, our families, are not on speaking terms. It's a Jewish thing, you know, it goes back ages.”
“It's just a drink, come on,” I said.
“For how long have you not been speaking on speaking terms?” the professor asked. He had surmised that there was more to Elia's refusal than just a row over some insignificant detail.
“It's a long story.”
Professor Hubnoth took Elia's arm and like an old couple they stepped out into the street.
“Come to my place, have a drink and tell us the story. When did it all start, Elia?”