A Story by Haim Kadman

A sixteen�s century and it�s a work of an Italian, Paolo Uccello his name.� Kaneety heard a female clear and decisive voice behind him.


Get me my wife.’ Ordered Joshua Kaneety his secretary through the intercom, and turned back to the morning paper’s headlines.

The house number or…’

Yes the house number!’ He retorted with a sudden wave of anger. ‘Just where do you think she’s supposed to be at that early hour?’ that temporary replacement of a secretary is killing me! She wouldn’t get down to business before Meital would recover and return to that desk. Joshua Kaneety thought with anger and frustration. Turning meanwhile to the sport’s columns, reading haphazardly bits of phrases here and there, skipping from article to article without much interest.

Well…?’, he asked with growing impatience.

No, there’s no answer, terribly sorry… Allow me to remind you sir the meeting at ten o’clock.’

Thanks, go on trying till I’ll leave. It’s rather important.’

A few moments before ten o’clock he left his office and stopped before his temporary secretary’s desk, whose name he didn’t grasp yet it simply slipped off his memory.

Well she isn’t what one would call a find, though he didn’t have any particular complaints; after all she did all she was asked to do more or less. She doesn’t have the class that suits my company. She isn’t ugly but god what an emaciated body she has! ‘I assume that the meeting will end up in about one hour thirty or two hours at the most, which means I might be back before twelve o’clock. Anyway, try to get her and tell her to be on stand-by, I’ve to talk to her. Is that clear?’

She nodded her head obediently and lowered her eyes. She didn’t raise her face before he turned his back to her and left.

Well, would you believe it, that scarecrow seems to be mad at me… He thought amused on his way to the elevator. But the one who troubles me is my dear wife. A dinner for four, big deal. I’d better calm her down, the sooner the better. But where can she be? She didn’t rush to her hair dresser again, she had her hairdo done just the day before yesterday.

Quite bothered Kaneety left the elevator and made his way in the broad corridor to session hall.


Coming back after almost two hours he stopped at his secretary’s desk.

I’ve got her she on the line.’ She muttered excited.

Well then connect her right away!’ He answered and went to his office. Sitting next to his desk, reviewing his papers with a brisk glance, he pulled out his diary and commenced to write down a summing up of the board of directors’ meeting.

Well and what’s wrong now?’ He asked his secretary angrily through the intercom.

I don’t know I’m terribly sorry, the line is busy again…’ She apologized hesitantly.

Kaneety switched off the intercom and stood up, took his attache’ case and left his office with a decisive step

 He left his office half an hour earlier than he should, for a short stopover at home – to find out what his fair lady is doing. She must be keeping the line busy, updating her female friends… He wasn’t wrong that’s how he found her, in mid phone call. She welcomed him with a broad smile and kept on talking cheerfully.


Good God how long have been talking, cut that call off. ‘I’ve come especially about tonight and I’m in a hurry, I’ve got a meeting in town and I’m already late…’

Dalia, I must hang up okay? I’ll call you a bit later.’ Hanging up his wife turned to him: ‘What have come for? One might think what an event expects us tonight.’ She added shaking vigorously her head, on which the town’s famous hair stylist toiled just recently. ‘I’ve finished everything I’d to do long ago, why are worried then?’

I’m not worried,’ He replied a bit disconcerted. ‘But that hairdo emphasizes your astounding beauty.’ He added and hastened to embrace her.

You aren’t mad at me, are you?’ She asked caressing his nape with her fingers.

No, not at all. Let me have a look at you, by God you look gorgeous.’ He added and kissed her lips excitedly. ‘Wouldn’t it be better if you’ll rest for a short while?’ He whispered tenderly in her ear, and pushed her gently slightly backwards, surveying her new hairdo with a broad satisfied smile.

 I’ve got one more phone call to make, that’s my therapy, and you wouldn’t want me too excited tonight, would you?’

When Kaneety returned home in the early evening hours, he took a refeshing shower changed his cloths, and together with his spouse made a quick survey of the dinning table; and went on embraced both of them to their kitchen, to see how their loyal Philippine cook was doing.

 She’s won’t serve our guests,’ he remarked decisively.

Of course not, I’ll do it. She’ll just push the trolly over, I’ll get along. What kind of people are they?’

He’s okay I gather, how would I describe his character? Oh I don’t know, you’ll see and make your own conclusions. Her I haven’t met yet.’ Kaneety added with a slight cough. ‘Anyway, try to listen to him with much patience. He likes to talk, and he is able to help us quite a lot. It isn’t critical at all, we’re doing well; but with just a little help from him, I could expand our business without any risks.’ He summed it up pinching slightly her cheek with much affection.

Their guests arrived about a quarter of an hour late, and after the usual ethiquette ceremony, they had an aperitif the four them; his wife took their guest’s partner for a short round of their apartment, while Kaneety and his guest stood watching the living room walls.

Well you’re quite serious aren’t you? A real art collector.’ His guest remarked with wonder, watching his host covered walls with numerous paintings. ‘Don’t the costs burden you? It must be a very dear hobby.’

Very profitable tough,’ Kaneety added as if he was completing his guest’s sentence.

With us it’s my wife’s exceptional domain,’ noted his guest. ‘I mean the interest in it, I’ve calmed her down with much effort, it took some time, yes… There’s much joy in such a hobby I presume…’ His guest kept expressing his views, turning to Kaneety with an excusable smile. ‘I’m not an expert or even someone who’s any understanding in it, I’ve never had…’ He added, watching Kaneety’ walls all around him. ‘I like this one, it’s a beautiful painting.’

That’s nothing, a reproduction of some Frenchman, a seventeen century…’ 

A sixteen’s century and it’s a work of an Italian, Paolo Uccello his name.’ Kaneety heard a female clear and decisive voice behind him.

May she… and in my house…?  He was simply furious. ‘Well let’s sit down.’ He invited his guests collecting his wits with much effort, and turning his back to his guest’s wife he led the way to table. After his wife has settled their guests at the table, Kaneety sat at the table’s head with a forced smile on his lips.


All the rest are originals I understand,’ remarked the sixteen century expert, watching his walls with much interest.

Absolutely, this reproduction hangs there out of nostalgic reasons I would say, and if my wife wouldn’t have objected, I would have…’

This was one of the most exciting gifts we’ve ever received.’ Kaneety’s wife barged into her husband’s words.

 ‘…removed long ago.’ Kaneety declared vehemently.

Their Philippine maid arrived pushing the loaded cart before her, abandoned the cart with a humble smile next to their table, and returned right away to the kitchen.

Kaneety started to pour the wine in their guests’ goblets.

This was our first ever painting…’ Remarked his wife proudly as she left her seat to serve the food. ‘It was a wedding present. We got it from our group members, while we were still young Kibbutz members. It’s no more then a valueless reproduction that’s right, but to us it’s much more then just some souvenir.’

   The dinner’s commencement eased Kaneety’s tension, which was caused by his guest’s spouse and his own spouse explanation.   His guest opened up with issues that interested both of them; his wife engaged their guest’s spouse interest with some recipe; the atmosphere was starting to stabilize, just as Kaneety was used to. During such pleasant gatherings Kaneety used to introduce his various guests to his paintings, rather boastfully; the conversation in such occasions dealt almost entirely with his many paintings.

But on that very meeting he preferred to stick to business, and thus avoid unpleasant confrontations with his guest’s ‘connoisseur’ spouse. Although he didn’t manage to sum her up yet, she scared him. The paintings on his walls were not ‘a feast to the eyes’, most of them seemed as if they were painted with a rough unskilful  hand; some were gaudy, some others were dark and oppressive. But his guest’s spouse kept surveying his walls with interest, the delicious food did not distract her.

You do notice that my wife is evaluating your walls, don’t you?’ Remarked his guest turning with a mischievous smile to his own wife. That was the trigger that has loosened her tongue. ‘I’ve seen some abstract paintings hanging at some of our friends, but such ‘advanced avant guard’ I’ve seen only in galleries and Museums. You must be a very brave man.’

Thanks,’ Kaneety answered her dryly. ‘I’m a daredevil in art just as I’m in business.’ He added boastfully, with a meaningful look to his guest. ‘Except the outright dynamic and earthly intensity that my paintings have, they’re quite valuable.’

The clatter of cutlery against plates stopped abruptly, silence fell upon the Kaneety’s living room.

 Could you define your paintings according to their diverse categories?’ Asked their guest’s spouse.

With pleasure,’ Kaneety replied curbing with much difficulty the sense of exultation that swept him. ‘These are dealing with symbolism…’

With a surrealistic touch,’ His guest’s spouse cut in, completing his words.

That’s right,’ he admitted surprised but rather suspiciously. ‘The next group deals with industrial energies and national associations.’ Kaneety hastened to add; ‘while here you can see dialogues with bygone masters …’

Really, through post cards I assume.’ She remarked sarcastically, exposing her teeth with a broad smile.

Kaneety kept his mouth shut and watched her with growing frustration. She mocks me… He thought with a sudden fear.


And that group as far as I understand is geometric constructive abstract.’ She added and broke out with a cheerful laugh.

With an abrupt and involuntary movement of his hand, Kaneety overturned his goblet, and the red dark wine was spilled on the white tablecloth. She’s spilled my blood, so help me… Kaneety fumed.

 Accept my apology.’ She turned to Kaneety with an appeasing tone. ‘Everyone has his own tastes and I don’t underestimate others’ tastes nor their opinions; but that wine is simply excellent.’ She added taking the wine bottle into her hands. ‘Medoc a Bordeaux wine isn’t it? Write it down.’ She told her husband. ‘I want this wine.’

What a poisonous tongue she has, a cobra’s tongue.’ Kaneety’s wife expressed her solidarity with her husband, right after their guests took their leave.

That was quite a shock, what am I saying? That was an ordeal, wasn’t it?’ Kaneety replied embracing his wife with much warmth. ‘But she did us quite a service by embarrassing her own husband, more than she did embarrass us; and that alone would work miracles for us.’


The next day, in mid session while Kaneety was briefing his senior executives, his phone rang. His temporary secretary passed the call against his explicit orders. He picked up the phone with a sudden wave of fury. ‘Oh it’s you… How are you my dear?’ He asked rather softly turning abruptly from rage to sheer joy.

Is there an interesting event soon…? Very talented you say, is she…? Are you ready to guarantee her, you know… What yes…?’ He added quite hilariously. ‘Okay then, oil on canvas her three last works… Yes the sizes suits me… No I’m terribly sorry, I can’t I haven’t got the time. Send them as usual I’ll see it at my place… Bye then and thanks. That’s what I’d call a bargain.’ He muttered aloud and hung up.

© 2009 Haim Kadman

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Added on February 20, 2009


Haim Kadman
Haim Kadman

Petach-Tikva, Israel

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