June 1, 2014 by The Citron Review

By Naomi Telushkin


“It could have been the perfect crime. A wealthy heart surgeon from Long Island injected his 48-year-old invalid wife, the mother of their six children, with a lethal dose of a painkiller. The death certificate recorded the cause as a stroke… But the police were suspicious from the start because the surgeon had signed the certificate himself and immediately shipped the body out of state for burial.”
—The New York Times, 2009

Women must have sleeves. Women must cover their knees.
—Sing Sing waiting room sign.

You don’t want men like that looking at you.
—Daddy. Outside Sing Sing.

I’m sorry I’m late. [kissing Mommy on both cheeks.] I got in trouble with the guards—I left a few grapes on the windowsill. [Laughs.] Prison policy.
—Dr. Charles Friedgood. To Mommy

New York Times: I won’t belabor this too much longer, but when you gave her this shot, this extra dose, did you think or hope that it was going to kill her?
Friedgood: No. I was glad that she went to sleep and she wasn’t hollering at me anymore: “do this, do that.”
—The New York Times, 2007

He made deals with the Mafia, who brought corpses to the hospital. They paid Papa to sign off the bodies as having died of natural causes.

You look back, you know, you can’t believe how sometimes things happen. It was completely unnecessary. If you don’t want to be with a woman anymore, you divorce. You know, you don’t have to resort to murder.
—Dr. Charles Friedgood

He performed illegal abortions. He kept the fetuses lined up in jars in the basement.
I was captivated by them as a little girl, milky white creatures, tiny perfect fingers. They reminded me of floating down a well.

Are you studying science in school? You know, I was a doctor and know a lot about science.
—Dr. Charles Friedgood. To me.

The White Jew Doc. [grinning.]
—Inmates in Sing Sing.

“Dr. Friedgood had a mistress, a Danish nurse who cared for Mrs. Friedgood and with whom he fathered two children…He was arrested, prosecutors said, as he prepared to flee to Europe and join his paramour.”
—The New York Times, 2007

No Papa. I remember that you asked me to take them to the town pool. When I was a teenager. And I refused because it would be a humiliation for Mama, because everyone at the town pool knew who those children were, and I couldn’t do that to Mama. And your eyes turned black. I’ll never forget it. Your eyes turned black and you ran to me and tried to strangle me.
—Aunt Esther.

I keep every letter you write and hang them on the wall of my cell. They make us turn the lights off by a certain hour, but I sneak a candle in and hide it under my blanket so I can read your letters.
—Dr. Charles Friedgood. To me.

He installed my mother’s pacemaker for free! [kissing Mommy’s hand.]
A wonderful cardiologist! He saved my father’s life.
—Chasidic Jews who don’t read newspapers.

Antisocial personality disorder signs and symptoms may include:
• Persistent lying or deceit
• Recurring difficulties with the law
• Child abuse or neglect
• Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
—The Mayo Clinic

Now. It is late at night. You are angry at your wife. What happens next?
—The hypnotist.

How can you begin the process of change?
—The rabbi.

When you caught me smoking a cigarette Papa, you strangled me until I couldn’t breathe. When you released me, you said: Next time, I won’t let go.

New York Times: As a person of faith, do you think about her?
Friedgood: Every day. Every night I pray that she should forgive me.
—The New York Times, 2007

I’m waiting in Heaven to throw my dead body across him.
—My grandmother though a psychic. To me.

See who your old grandfather really is?
—Dr. Charles Friedgood. To me.

 is pursuing an MFA in Fiction from Arizona State University and recently taught creative writing at the National University of Singapore. Her work is published or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, Tablet, and The Potomac, among others. 


One thought on “Quotes

  1. 1claypot says:

    I just read “The Healer” by Leonard Leavitt. Wow! I’m guessing you are Debbie’s daughter? Quite a story …..quite a family history!

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