The Fixer: Part IV – Page 1,2,3

Part IV
1. Pages 107-115A month after his arrest, Yakov still feels like he is living in a horrible dream from which he will wake up. He is chained and taken out of the prison under heavy guard, back to the brickyard for a “reenactment of the crime” ordered by Grubeshov. There, Proshko claims that the stable burned to the ground, probably by “Jewish magic.” Proshko also tells all assembled that he knew Yakov was Jewish as soon as he came to the brickyard. He then tells that he suspected Yakov of stealing from Nikolai,  and that Yakov sneaked Jews into the brickyard to make matzos and to perform strange rituals that he witnessed through a window. Proshko also says that on the day Zhenia’s body was found, he saw Yakov sneaking the old Jew out of his rooms; Proshko searched the rooms and found the matzos, the flour, and the bloody rag—all evidence of the crime. He says that he saw the old Jewish man fleeing the stables when they caught fire, implying that the man started the fire to cover up his and Yakov’s guilt. He says that the fire burned unnaturally, with strange sounds and colors.

2. Pages 115-129Next, the group goes to Zhenia’s home, where his mother, Marfa Golov, bursts into tears at sight of Yakov, claiming that he is “‘The Jew Zhenia told me about, who had chased him with a long knife.’” She leads them upstairs to Zhenia’s room, where Yakov is forced to look upon the boy’s things. Downstairs, Marfa fidgets with cleaning things; she says she did not know officials were coming, only a Jew, and why should she have cleaned house for him? When asked to by Grubeshov, she relates the story of Zhenia’s disappearance. She says that she is a hardworking, honest single mother and that Zhenia was an “angel” and wanted to go into the priesthood. She says that he did not come home from school one day, but because she came down with the flu, she was unable to search for him, even though he was missing for a week. Then his body was found in the cave.Bibikov asks how such an attentive mother did not search for a child that was missing for so long. Marfa says that she was terribly worried, but she was too sick to leave the house. Grubeshov tells Bibikov to let Marfa tell her story and ask his questions later. Marfa says that Zhenia and his friend, Vasya, were afraid of the Jew in the brickyard and that they saw Yakov take another Jew to his rooms. Bibikov interrupts to ask how Zhenia knew the visitor was Jewish. She says that his clothes were Jewish. She also that Yakov threatened to kill the boys and had chased him with a knife; Zhenia also saw other Jews chasing boys in the area. Zhenia, she says, had told of seeing a bottle of blood on Yakov’s table. Yakov protests that it was only jam, but Grubeshov orders him to be silent. When asked why she did not report any of this to the police at the time, Marfa claims that she has no time to take off work and lose money to fill out the long forms the police require.Bibikov then gets a chance to question Marfa. He asks whether she traffics in stolen goods, and she denies that. He asks if, a year before, she blinded her lover with carbolic acid. She claims that is a lie. Grubshov commands Bibikov to stop with this line of questioning because such questions do not change the “ ‘weight of significant evidence’” they have uncovered against Yakov. Bibikov asks what significant evidence he means, to which he answers, “‘The evidence we have been engaged in collecting, including the evidence of history.’” Bibikov replies that “‘history is not law’” and then asks Marfa if it is true that she beat Zhenia so severely once that he became unconscious. Grubeshov tells her not to answer that question, and Marfa breaks down into hysterics, wailing for her baby to come home. She begins to faint, but before she does so, she takes note of where her new hat has rolled off to. As Yakov is escorted away, she recovers, retrieves her hat and tucks it away in a drawer, then puts on her black shawl, now that the officials are gone.
3. Pages 129-137The group next moves to the cave in which Zhenia’s body was found. Grubeshov points out how close the cave is to the brickyard; Bibikov points out that it is equally close to Marfa’s home. Father Anastasy, who claims to be an expert on Jewish culture, makes a speech about how Jews have killed Christian children throughout history in order to speed up the coming of their Messiah, Elijah. He describes how Jews use blood for various rituals and potions and cures. He says that while some of these stories may not be true, many must be, because of “‘the frequency of the accusations against the Jews.’” He then spouts information about Jewish ritual murders—the significance of the number of wounds, the time at which killings take place, the eating of matzos containing blood, etc. He claims that Zhenia was killed because he wished to be a priest.Yakov cries out in protest to these lies. He points out that the Bible forbids Jews to consume blood. He says he is not a Hasid or a tzadik, merely a poor fixer, and a freethinker. Grubeshov tells him to quit lying and to confess that he enticed Zhenia into the stable with candy, then he and other Jews stabbed him and drained his blood before dragging his body to the cave. Then they burned down the stable to hide the blood and other evidence.Yakov looks for Bibikov, but he has disappeared.From inside the cave, Grubeshov produces Yakov’s bag of tools. He produces the bloody rag and says Yakov used it to clean blood off the tools with which he stabbed Zhenia. Yakov notices for the first time that Zhenia’s body has been disinterred and placed on a bier in the cave. He counts the child’s wounds and blurts out “‘fourteen!’” Grubeshov then states that fourteen is “two magic groups of seven.” Father Anastasy sinks to the ground in prayer.

AnalysisClearly, the justice system is not going to work properly for Yakov. Even Bibikov, who points out holes in the Prosecuting Attorney’s case, will not be allowed to prove that Yakov is innocent. Evidence has been blatantly manufactured, coincidences turned into damning facts, and shady witnesses treated as sterling citizens. Superstition and prejudice are allowed to twist hearsay into truths. Grubeshov and others are bending the system to find Yakov guilty, simply because he is a Jew and was nearby.