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M i s s i n g

a choose-your-own-adventure novel in progress
by Brian Lemarié

 
Each chapter is a path that forks --<
offering several alternatives for the protagonist to pursue.
YOU DECIDE what happens next by voting for one of these alternatives.



 
 

chapter one
 
Brian Lemarié
read novelization by Brian Lemarié


Ari Lieberman
read comic strip by Ari Lieberman

Carlos Johnson wakes up one morning to find that his left is arm missing. More mystified than alarmed, he takes the day off from work and walks to the park to think about his new condition. He sits there on a bench for several hours, checking his phone from time to time to see if Claudia, his exgirlfriend, has replied to his e-mail. He starts reminiscing about a librarian he once saw, whose exotic beauty (pale skin, dark curls, enormous nose) dazzled him, and whom he never saw again, despite repeated visits to the library. He is accosted by a three-year-old boy, who stares at him but does not notice his missing limb, and by three proselytizing Hassids who (also not noticing his missing limb) try to get him to put on phylacteries. He rushes back home to pack his stuff and leave town, having decided to become a hermit and live in a cabin in the woods like Henry David Thoreau. On the way home, he runs into the librarian of his dreams, but he is too dazzled to strike up a conversation.

YOU DECIDED:

 
 
chapter one results
 

 
 

chapter two
 
Brian Lemarié
read novelization by Brian Lemarié


Ari Lieberman
read comic strip by Ari Lieberman

Carlos follows the librarian to Café Steinhof on Seventh Avenue, where she is having lunch with Beppo, his neighbor, a Holocaust survivor. Carlos takes a seat an observes them, wondering how the hell she knows Beppo. He plans to go up to them and have his neighbor introduce them. Since she is fascinated by the Holocaust, Carlos will tell her about his father, Sam Johnson, who was prisoner at Auschwitz--though unlike Beppo, he never talked about his experiences in the camps and always covered his tattoo. He was so secretive about it that, growing up, Carlos thought his father was a Nazi in hiding. It was only when he died that Carlos discovered his true identity: his birth name was Szmul Joskowicz. Before Carlos has a chance to introduce himself, however, Beppo and the librarian finish their lunch and leave. Carlos snatches her receipt and is shocked to discover her name: Esther Joskowicz. He rushes out and follows Esther all the way to Second Avenue, where she has a studio. She is a painter. He then follows her from her studio to the subway station on Smith Street, and onto the northbound G train.

YOU DECIDED:

 
 
results chapter two
 

 
 

chapter three
 
Brian Lemarié
read novelization by Brian Lemarié


Ari Lieberman
read comic strip by Ari Lieberman

Carlos is taken aback when Esther suddenly puts on a wig, a long green skirt, and a sweater. She gets off at Flushing Avenue, and he follows. On the street she confronts him. He says they're related, and mentions his father, Szmul Joskowicz. She says her husband had a brother named Szmul, but he was killed in Auschwitz. Carlos suggests they grab a coffee. She declines, but agrees to take his phone number. Having nothing better to do, he follows her to her Williamsburg ghetto, a wall-enclosed slum of narrow, winding streets and limestone houses, where the Hasidim are all dressed in green. He attempts to approach her, but is surrounded by a mob of Hasids, who beat him senseless. When he comes to, he is lying in an alley. An African Hasid named Shloyme comes to his aid. Carlos learns from Shloyme that Esther is the wife of the rebbe, the spiritual leader of the sect, a holy man and miracle worker. Carlos asks Shloyme to take him to the rebbe, but Shloyme says that is impossible--to see the rebbe you need connections--and suggests they go to his house instead: Shloyme's mother, an infamous adulteress but otherwise a very fine lady, makes the best kreplach in the world.

YOU DECIDED:

 
 
chapter three results
 

 
 

chapter four
 
Brian Lemarié
read novelization by Brian Lemarié


Ari Lieberman
read comic strip by Ari Lieberman

Shloyme's mother tells Carlos the story of Szmil Joskowicz: He was a great prodigy and a holy man, the Raveh rebbe -- also know as der Shatkn, the Silent One, because he never spoke but only prayed and studied Torah. His younger brother Nusn Nutte, the current rebbe, was a wild child who drank, gambled, chased after shiksas. Then came the Nazis and massacred the entire Jewish population of Raveh. But the two brothers managed to escape to Lemberg, where they were confined to the ghetto. There the brothers underwent a transformation: the holy man renounced his religion and the wayward one became devout. The brothers were smuggled out of the ghetto and lived in hiding for almost a year, till they were captured and sent to Auschwitz. Szmil was exterminated upon arrival, but Nusn Nutte was selected for hard labor, and survived. After dinner Shloyme goes off to pray, and his mother proposes marriage to Carlos. Her cousin Burich shows up just then; it turns out he is the rebbe's secretary. Claiming to be der Shatkn's son, Carlos requests an interview with the rebbe. Burich grants the interview (the rebbe is old and childless, and Burich sees Carlos as a potential puppet-heir). An hour later, Carlos and Shloyme are in the rebbe's waiting room. Carlos is about to sneak out and look for Esther, when the door swings open and there she is.

YOU DECIDED:

 
 
chapter 4 results
 

 
 

chapter five
 
Brian Lemarié
read novelization by Brian Lemarié

Ari Lieberman
read comic strip by Ari Lieberman

Yankl and Yekusiel, the rebbe's nephews and heirs to his throne, confront Carlos at the entrance to the office and accuse him of being an impostor and a fraud. Esther ushers him in and withdraws. The rebbe denies that Carlos could be his brother's son and recounts the story of their imprisonment in Auschwitz. He and Szmil survived the initial selection and were transferred to a sub-camp, Monowitz, to work in a rubber factory. The conditions were inhuman, but he survived thanks to his faith in God and strict observance; his brother, however, who had renounced his religion, was quickly selected for extermination. He then rolls up his sleeve and shows Carlos the number tattooed on his arm. It is 195626. Carlos cries out that his father's number was 195625; he was the rebbe's brother. The rebbe refuses to believe Carlos and has him thrown out of his office. Carlos finds Esther and reveals his discovery. She warns him that if this is true, he should run away never come back, unless he wants to be the next rebbe. For he is a direct descendent of the Baal Shem Tov, and will be crowned rebbe on the spot if the truth ever gets out, but Yankl and Yekusiel will cut his throat before they let that happen. He rushes out and attempts to exit the ghetto, but runs straight into the rebbe's cutthroat nephews.

 
 
Now you decide. What should the rebbe's cutthroat nephews do to Carlos?
__ Cut his throat.
__ Let him go.
__ Lock him up in a cellar.
__ Other: _______________.


click here to vote

 
     
     
     
     

 

     
     
 
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