The man in the white suit

by Hagai Cohen

Artwork: Hagai Cohen

This free e-book was created with

Create your own amazing e-book!
It's simple and free.

Start now

The man in the white suit


Artwork: Hagai Cohen

I am a frustrated author who until the discovery of Ourboox was forced to self-publish on my blog
  • Joined Dec 2013
  • Published Books 15

Jerusalem December 27 1947
It was the afternoon and the weather was fair but brisk.
I was sitting on a bench in an empty playground waiting for my friend Yehuda to return home. It was atypical of me to sit on a bench doing nothing especially in the winter, but I had a mission to attend to, Yehuda was a new immigrant and I was assigned to help him with his homework.

From my position on the bench I could watch the gate of the playground and also the entrance to Yehuda’s apartment building. A man, who had approached silently from behind, took me by surprise. He appeared three meters to my right. I looked back; there were only bushes. “Had the man been hiding in the bushes?” I wondered.


The man was dressed in a neat white suit and was wearing a white hat. He stopped short, two meters from where I was sitting and said: “Would you please, young man, be my Saving Angel, and help me to find my way in this labyrinth called Jerusalem? I am lost; I need directions to get to Amos Street.”

Nobody I knew walked around wearing a white suit in the afternoon. The fashion at that time was Khaki slacks and matching color shirt. And nobody I knew used this clumsy Hebrew. It was somewhere between the biblical language and Shalom Aleichem’s Hebrew. The man raised my hackles. Something did not seem right. What was he doing in this empty playground? When did he enter the yard? Why was he asking directions from me and not from people in the street? I was silent while pondering how to deal with the situation. The man moved and sat on the bench next to me.


“Amos Street is three blocks down this street on your left.” I said dryly without any enthusiasm and moved a little to the left. The man felt my suspicion,” don’t be afraid”, he said “you probably go to school, I myself I am in the ‘education business”.

It sounded phony, what does he mean ‘education business?’ Is he a teacher, a headmaster or even a school nurse? I wondered. “In which school sir, are you acquiring your education”? He asked, again speaking in his archaic style. I did not like the way he spoke and I did not want to give him any information. I pointed to a school building a block away and said “Ma’ale.” It was not the name of my school.

The white suited man responded “I just came from a class in…. ‘Bait Hinuch.”


At that moment I knew the man was lying. ‘Bait Hinuch’ was a school on Amos Street. He gave the name of a school that was different from the school that I said I attended and it was on Amos Street. I became very suspicious, but did not move.

“I teach sex education to boys.” He said after a pause,” to eighth graders, but you are too young. You probably don’t know what I am talking about. Is my Hebrew too sophisticated for you? I don’t think so, you seem to be an intelligent smart boy and you will definitely comprehend it. Please allow me to be your mentor.”

He looked at me with a smiling yet questioning face and then added, “Let’s go to a quiet place for our first session.”


I was about to jump up and run away when, with a swift motion, the man grabbed my right arm, halting my attempt to escape. He yanked me forcefully off the bench and pulled me towards the bushes located a few meters behind the bench. The change in the man’s face and body was frightening, while his forceful grip of my arm made me livid. I resisted as strongly as I could and when he pulled me again, I gathered all of my strength, and used my arm as a pivot and with a right swing hammered my left fist into his testis. The man folded over in pain. He needed both of his hands to grab his testicles and released my arm. I ran the sprint of a lifetime, until I finally reached my home.


The first time ever I told this story, was on a radio show. My interviewer was my friend M.R., also a professor in a prestigious university.

“As you know” he told me before the interview “I am a ‘collector of people’. In fact his inner circle of friends was the unique, the talented and the creative people. Or as he once put it “I am interested in the fish that swim in the opposite direction”. He even has a copy right on the expression, the “mis-fish” that describes the curious and nonconformist person.


During the interview I was encouraged to talk about my life. I spoke about my projects and my inventions. He wanted me to tell the audience at what age I had started creating and inventing things. I said it started when I was Ten years old and described some of my projects. While saying it aloud I succeeded in surprising myself. What encouraged me as a ten years old to build various gadgets and where did I learn the skills?

Towards the end of the show professor M.R had promoted me to unveil a personal story, one I had never told before. I was ready for the question but I had not prepared a story in advance. I chose the story about the attempted sexual assault just because I felt it had some relevance to the time frame of the questions in the interview.


After hearing my story my friend was unusually quiet for a few seconds before he launched a barrage of questions:

“Were you traumatized?

“What did you do?” Did you complain to the police?

“Did you tell your parents?”

“How did they react?”

“After the incident, were you afraid of people?”

“Did you ever meet that man again?”

“Were you aware of similar incidents at that time?”



I felt at that moment that I did not have the answers. My memory had many blanks and I felt that my brain was full of holes like a Swiss cheese. I was preoccupied with the interview for several weeks, especially with the unanswered questions. I asked myself the same questions again and again and step by step the puzzle pieces fell into place.

When I met M.R. a few weeks later I was ready to complete my story.

While I was sprinting home I decided not to say a word to my parents. I was okay but was not ready to deal with their reaction. So before entering home I stayed in the back yard for fifteen minutes to get my breath back. I did not like my interaction with the man in white.


I was enraged and angry with myself. Why did I stay so long with him? My instinct had told me to be more careful. I was suspicious and for an unexplained reason I had recklessly endangered myself. I went over the story in my mind over and over again. Every time I backed up a little, increased the ‘distance’ and changed the point of view. Each time I reviewed it I felt a little better. As I said I was angry in the beginning but telling the story to myself more than a hundred times finally made me feel proud. I had dealt with a monster and survived. That was not everything; I knew that my friends would never have believed this story if I had told them. I could not imagine any of them in my situation behaving as I did. I became a hero in my own eyes and I was pleased.

Was it really over?


The day after the incident my temperature shot up. Two more days were required for the measles to show. Strangely enough I was the happiest kid with measles ever.

My measles came with textbook complications and I was sick for over four weeks. I was quite weak after the long sickness and one of my concerns was my ability to run fast in case I would ever run into the man in white again. Would I recognize him in a different outfit? I wasn’t sure. I decided it would be better to stay home as much as possible. My problem was what to tell my parents. To avoid interrogation I did everything I could to please them.


My day started early. I got the milk from the milkman and boiled it. While the milk was boiling I read the morning newspaper. I prepared my breakfast and left for school always with a large group of kids. Later after school my routine was homework and reading. I read all the books I could lay my hands on. I read the ten volumes of the children’s encyclopedia cover-to-cover several times. I learned about the human organs from an anatomy picture book where all the layers of the human organs could be removed. I read all the books written by prominent leaders of the socialist and Zionist movements. I even read ‘Das Capital’ by Karl Marx. My mom was very happy with my urge to learn. She taught me to cook and to bake simple cakes. She taught me to make various sauces and the secrets of slow cooking.


My mom was also technologically inclined, so she showed me how to use tools and how to solder. With those skills I built various gizmos, a battery, an electric motor, a Morse signaling lamp, and a steam engine. During the siege of Jerusalem I built an outdoor stove to cook on wood and of course a fire extinguisher to go with it I did not go to any playgrounds nor join any soccer team. Instead I joined a private sports-club and took parallel bars gymnastics and long distance running. The last was to increase my survival skills. (I could take swimming but I preferred running.) I trained five times a week, 10 kilometers each time.


I read a lot of good literature, improved my English and practiced the piano. The apex of my achievements, at the end of this period was the construction of a huge kite capable of lifting me off the ground. I found a folded parachute of a British soldier and used some bamboo poles to build a hexagonal kite. I was lucky, it worked. A successful liftoff pulled my 24 kilos to an elevation of ten meters. As I was beginning to enjoy the scenery strapped by the original parachute harness, one of the bamboo poles broke. The kite vigorously banked to the right and crashed on a pile of soft garbage. Unfortunately, the soft pile was full of broken bottles. I walked home on my own feet but multitude stitches were required to fix me up.


This period of my self-segregation ended about a year later on November 1948, after the State of Israel was founded and the War of Independence ended. Retrospectively, I am sure that the time I spent with books and tools paved the path of my life over the last sixty four years. The few minutes I spent with the pedophile in white, shaped my life.


During the years I had no recollection and no sense of the details of the incident. Everything was archived somewhere in the cellers of my brain.

One of the reasons the pedophile incident had low priority in my conscience was probably the events of the hectic year of 1948.

A few days before the incident, the 16 years old brother of my friend Yehuda was shot and killed by a British Police officer.


I knew about the brother while waiting for him. I did not know that I would never see him again. Then there was the war of independence, the siege on Jerusalem, the nonstop shelling, the food, water rationing and more.

The magnitude of my fear of the pedophile crept up on me sixty five years later. slowly while I was talking to my friend M.R. the story returned to life.

In the weeks following our radio conversation, I finally acknowledged the latent impact the pedophile incident had on my life.

This free e-book was created with

Create your own amazing e-book!
It's simple and free.

Start now

Skip to content