Two Stories by Avital Gad-Cykman

The Hippie Things

Everybody knows that the couple in the corner house used to live in a hippie commune near San Francisco, USA, or Sao Paulo, Brazil, somewhere far from here, and that they practiced free love and went back to nature, but now they have a TV set in the living room, a car, (not even a jeep), and two Rottweilers they call Ruthie and Wailer.

We also know that the woman has lately retired after teaching art at some faraway school. The man builds small machines with spindles and guillotines, and a truck comes by to collect them.

Every afternoon they roll down the bamboo blinds and stay in until five, then they throw balls across their yard for Ruthie and Wailer.

Our children climb the fence to watch it and laugh. When one kid threw a stone, once, it landed in a dog’s pile and created scaled mosaics. The kid’s mouth dropped downward as if he was going to cry. The man held the woman’s shoulder and looked at us as if we should have given the child a better education. What kind of hippies want good manners?

The woman turned her face away. She never had her own babies, so she isn’t maternal, and this is one of these hippie things we resent.

Every evening, we watch them from our busy kitchens. They sit on easy chairs and hold hands, their dogs at their feet, and they talk quietly as if they were alone in the world.

We, who met our spouses at work, parties or blind dates, wonder what made the couple give up fraternity and freedom, all that communal sex and love. We feel the existence of a far and desirable turning point, where other people make wrong choices.


He translated his name from Wolf to Zeev, like opening a dictionary for the local Israelis to understand him. He’s left the snow for the desert wind, and it’s dried his breath and flesh. He kept thinking, there must be something else, somewhere, but there wasn’t. Nobody noticed him in the booth of the parking lot, even when they said “How much is it, Brother?”

He didn’t believe in numerology or astrology, and he still doesn’t, but names work miracles. Take, for instance, his cat, this fearful creature. The couple who left to Australia passed on to him both their rental flat and their cat. They said that Kishta meant go away! and Kishta did go away every time the doorbell rang. Afterwards, Wolf discovered that every Lillian was cheerful, every Ron kept searching, and every Catharina ordered him around. After a while, he changed from Wolf to Zeev.

Armored with the unflappable tie between name and personality, he went looking for a pack in his new land.

When I found him near a dwindling stream of mountain water, his drooped shoulders and grey face suggested he was wounded or sick. I stopped in my track and sniffed. I’d heard I shouldn’t act without thinking, but I liked the smell. A bitten wolf is dangerous. Unless you are like him.

Avital Gad-Cykman`s work has been published in The Literary Review, Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s, Prism International, Other Voices, Michigan Quarterly Review and other magazines. It has also been featured in anthologies such as Sex for America, Politically Inspired Fiction (Harper/Collins) Stumbling and Raging, Politically Inspired Fiction Anthology (McAdam/Cage), You Have Time for This Anthology (Ooligan Press), and The Flash (Disease Press), among others. She lives in Brazil, where she has completed a novel and a draft of another.