New York, 197-

Twelve Whistles

Once upon a quarter to midnight, the front door of Lieberman's Doll Hospital began to rattle and shake.

In the back of the shop, a large porcelain doll stirred where she reclined on a high shelf between two antique British teddy bears.

Quickly as it had begun, the rattling stopped.

Probably a Saturday night drunk.

Drunks weren't a problem.

Drunks went away.

The doll stilled.


Angry voices now rose and fell outside the door, and the rattling was replaced by a heavy pounding, which made the inside of the little shop shake like the insides of a tin drum with each insistent blow so that a china poodle fell to the floor with a crash, followed by a set of lead soldiers and a jumping jack.

The doll sat up, brown eyes clicking open as the cuckoo clock over the font door announced midnight with twelve peeping whistles.


The Sabbath over, the doll eased herself down from the shelf, dropping to the black and white tiled floor before pattering through the back-room maze of small tools, neatly labeled boxes of ribbon scraps, and into the front of the shop where she cautiously peered out the knee-high mail slot.

Standing beneath the faded blue and white canvas awning that shaded the storefront was a thin young woman clutching a baby wrapped in a red-stained blanket, beating on the door with her free hand. Behind her, toying with a steel lighter, slouched a sullen young man with ragged white hair and a bloody gash decorating his forehead.

There had been an accident.

They needed help.

She wasn't supposed to be seen.

What to do?

Mentally, the doll skimmed through the list of commands that Papa Jakob placed in her mouth the night he and his twin brother Rabbi Abraham had shaped and prayed over the fine, white English clay that became her body, and halted at: "Kindness is more important than being seen."

So beneath the gaze of myriad blind glass eyes, the doll stood on tiptoe in her immaculate black patent leather Mary Janes and unlocked the front door with it's permanent "Closed" sign hanging from it. With one tiny hand, she beckoned them in.

"See, my Dark Star? See?" cooed the woman with the baby. "I told you the wee little doctor would open the door. There's no need to set the hospital alight to make her come out." She glided across the threshold, feet silent beneath her trailing lace dress, "No need, no need at all… yet."


Dolls talk.

Dolls walk.

Some dolls even say "Mama", but they don't unlock doors at midnight to let you in.


But these people didn't seem to be surprised to see her, a walking, gesturing doll.


There was a baby; there was blood.


Stepping lightly over the remains of the poodle and the other toys, the woman drifted to the front counter, laying her too-still bundle upon it.

"Soddin' waste of time this is." Her companion grumbled as he swaggered in behind her, boots thudding upon the well-swept worn black and white tiles. He scratched at the oozing wound on his forehead before licking at the blood that came away on his fingers with his pale tongue.

Head cocked, the doll studied him unblinkingly. He had a safety pin stabbed through one eyebrow.

"Bloody hell! Stop starin' at me like that, or I'll make like Manchester United and kick you from one end of this rat's nest to the other!" He pointedly walked around the doll, the remains of the poodle crunching underfoot while wiping his bloodied hand on one trouser leg where the side seams had been ripped out and then sutured back together with a long glittering line of more safety pins.

"Ah ah ah…" the woman thrummed, shaking a spidery finger at him. Whispering conspiratorially, she knelt so that she was now blue eyes to brown with the doll: "Ignore that one, little doctor; he's not what's broken." She rose with a laugh that sounded like breaking glass. "The moon told me all about you." She caressed the bundle, "The weeping stars showed me the way."

This made no sense to the doll as she pattered up the ramp behind the counter so that she could examine the bundle. Baby dolls she could fix, real babies… best consult the list again.

While the doll scrolled through the list once more, the woman eased the bloody blankets away, revealing a large porcelain doll with a shattered face.

In mid-list, doll looked up at the woman, who threw her head back and trilled, "Yesss, oh yes," while pushing herself away from the counter and undulated around the bleeding man, who caught her about the waist as she murmured, "Our Miss Edith was a good girl, she knew just what to do, so she did, and died for her mummy's honor!" She bit him lightly upon the ear before pulling away, twisting her hands in their long white soiled gloves while pleading in a little girl's voice. "Please, mummy, bring her back?"


When Papa Jakob wrote the doll's list of commands, he began it with: "To make a child happy, fix a broken toy.", which was simple enough, but this woman was not a child.

Neither was the sullen young man with hair like a bleached porcupine.

Still, a toy was broken.

What was the doll supposed to do?

Wishing wasn't part of her clay, so the doll wasted no time wishing that Papa Jakob was still around to make such decisions for her. Instead she ran through the list of his commands until she reached: "Use your own judgment."

The doll used this command many billing cycles ago when she found Papa Jakob laying face down over his workbench.

Using her own judgment, the doll had stuffed a neatly folded copy of her list between Papa Jakob's lips after painting the same sacred mark upon Papa Jakob's forehead that Rabbi Abraham, his twin, had painted upon hers in Berlin.

The mark and the paper didn't work on Papa Jakob's kind of clay, so the doll accessed another command of Papa Jakob's: "Keep the shop tidy." and buried his body in the vacant lot behind the shop because it was beginning to attract insects.

Insects were untidy.

After that, the doll continued to fix the broken toys as they arrived parcel post at the back door of the permenantly closed shop, working unseen at night, repacking the mended rarities back into their boxes, filling out the forms in Papa Jakob's name, and pulling them to the corner mailbox or the UPS depot before dawn in a little red wagon.

That was easy, but what was she to do here?

She reaccessed her list, returning to "Use your own judgment." once more.


As the doll scrolled through her list yet again, the bleeding man swaggered up behind the woman and took her in his arms, resting his head upon her lean shoulder, eyes closed, face tight against hers, rocking her back and forth. She sagged into him, tears slowly leaking down her pale cheeks, whimpering: "Please mummy? Make it better, please? She's all I have left of Papa Angelus."

"Papa…Angelus? Papa Angelus?" The bleeding man shoved the woman away from him so that she lost her balance and clutched at a rack of wooden marionettes, which clattered to the floor in a tangled heap. "Bloody hell Dru! Baby, it's only a stupid doll!"

Dru! Baby.

The doll stared at the squabbling couple, processing the new information.

"Use your own judgment."

Dru! Baby.

"Use your own judgment."

Baby – a form of child.

The list flashed past the back of the doll's eyes once more.

"Use your own judgment."

A baby was a child.

Children were supposed to be happy.

Broken toys made children unhappy.

Fixing toys made children happy.

Despite her size, this woman, "Dru! Baby", was a child.

"Use your own judgment."

"Dru! Baby" had a broken toy.

"Use your own judgment."

"Dru! Baby" was unhappy.

"Use your own judgment."

Fixing Dru! Baby's broken doll would make Dru! Baby happy.

Papa Jakob's command fulfilled, these two would go away, taking their untidiness with them.

As her unwanted customers screamed at each other amidst the wreckage of the marionettes, the doll put on a tiny apron, tied back her long dark curls, turned on the bright light over the counter, and got out Papa Jakob's porcelain mending tools.

"No Smoking"

The face of Dru! Baby's doll was smashed into hundreds of little pieces and the mechanism that caused the eyes to open and close was bent out of shape. This did not bother the doll: she was built to fix broken toys, no matter how long it took. Boredom, frustration, meant nothing to her.

Not so with Dru! Baby's companion and his safety pins.

Placing an unlit cigarette between his lips he began pacing up and down with Dru! Baby wailing in the middle of the broken toy littered floor. The doll paused while replacing the bent wires for Miss Edith's eyes and studied him, brown eyes unblinking.

You didn't smoke in Papa Jakob's shop.

Smoking caused fire.

Even Papa Jakob would sit in his rocking chair on the fire escape overlooking the vacant lot behind the shop at the end of the day to smoke his meerschaum with her on his lap.

Pointing at the "No Smoking" sign over the cash register, the doll shook her head at him as he slid the steel lighter from his hip pocket. Still bawling, Dru! Baby echoed her. He thrust two rude fingers at the doll but not at Dru! Baby "Soddin' waste of time, this is." while pulling the cigarette from his mouth, sticking it defiantly behind one ear as he knelt down beside Dru! Baby, adding with a pleading note in his voice as he took her red-stained gloves in his black-nailed hands. "Let me get you a new one, poodle?"

Dru! Baby snapped back, "I only want Miss Edith, but you broke her, bad Spike! Bad Spike! You broke Miss Edith with your head!"

The doll looked up from her work. "You broke Miss Edith with your head!" echoing in her own.

Dru! Baby gave Spike a violent shove, screaming, "You and your dark slut, you broke Miss Edith when she hit you over the head with her own brave self with Drusilla's help because you broke Drusilla's heart - now you wear the Slayer's long black coat!"

"Spike" broke this doll - with his head.

Spike caught himself on the edge of the counter, and pulled himself to his feet before yelling at the doll who was watching him, "Bloody hell, don't you ever blink?"

Wordlessly, the doll resumed laying pieces of broken face on the counter, methodically cleaning the blood from each fragment as she went; human quarrels meant nothing to her, blinking even less.

However, the doll, in as far as she could feel anything, did not like toy breakers.

Burning Star

Toy breakers moved in gangs at night and smashed shop windows, dragging the shopkeepers and their families out into the street to beat them.

Toy breakers showed no gratitude, no respect; even for those who did good things for them, such as mending toys.

The doll arranged the fragments of an eye socket out on the brightly lit marble slab, screams and breaking glass replaying in her head - the faces of the boys whose broken toys Papa Jakob had fixed years before scrolling across the backs of her eyes.

She remembered trying to clean up the broken glass at sunrise as Papa Jakob wept over his smashed shop, the scattered tools, the loose glass eyes rolling underfoot, the decapitated teddy bears.

She remembered Papa Jakob gently taking the whiskbroom from her before cradling her in his arms among the smashed dollies, their wax faces studded with broken shop window, his graying beard bloody and his little round hat and rimless glasses askew as he stood rocking her back and forth.

She remembered Papa Jakob gathering what tools the toy breakers left unbroken and pocketing the little tin box of marks and other papers from beneath the front counter before going into the back of the shop and wordlessly burning his little round hat and the yellow star that had been sewn to the front of his coat in the stove before shaving off his beard.

She remembered Papa Jakob dressing her in her little red velvet car coat before carrying her in his arms with a bundle of tools over one shoulder through the dark streets of Berlin and hiding whenever cars appeared.

She remembered Papa Jakob sleeping in haystacks, stealing milk from cows in dark barns and fruit from orchards and leaving coins on the windowsills of farmhouses.

She remembered Papa Jakob slipping aboard a ship, with her hidden in the front of his coat and his bundle of tools still over one shoulder, of him hiding among the crates and boxes in the hold.

She remembered Papa Jakob getting caught, of Papa Jakob making himself useful, washing dishes, mopping floors, mending clothes, with her coming out of hiding at night to help him as he worked.

She remembered Papa Jakob going up on deck one day with her in his arms as he wept, holding her up to see a statue of a woman with a torch against a backdrop of tall buildings, "Look! Look! We're finally safe mein Gretchen, El Shaddai be praised!"

She remembered Papa Jakob walking off the ship, with her in his arms, toolbag back over one shoulder...

She remembered Papa Jakob selling his papa, Rabbi Issac's, gold watch to get money to rent this shop…

Now, after all this time, one of the bad boys, a breaker of toys, had found them.

The doll shifted around as she worked so that she faced "Spike".

David's Star

Spike was pacing again, the cigarette back in his mouth, touching everything he passed, picking things up, putting them down in the wrong place, nervously looking at the slowly lightening sky outside the front window while picking at the half-healed gash on his forehead.

The doll was epoxying one shattered cheek with its damask rose blush when he started to touch the little silver menorah with the Star of David on it that Papa Jakob had brought with him from Germany, tucked away in his tool bag with the smashed white jade mezuzah that had once blessed the front door of his Berlin shop.

The doll stared at Spike, pausing in her careful reassembly of Miss Edith's rose-petal lips; such things weren't for the dirty hands of toy breakers.

Spike snarled: "Don't you ever soddin' blink?" as he touched the Star. There was a sizzle, he yelped and stuck his fingers into his mouth as a wisp of smoke drifted across the shop. "Dru, pet." he grumbled around his fingers, "Sun's comin' up."

Dru! Baby, who was watching the doll work, shook off her motionlessness, "Drusilla doesn't care. Let the sun burn Spike and his smelly old black coat all to ashes. He deserves it!" She waved a languid hand with its soiled glove at him dismissively, "Drusilla is waiting for Miss Edith to rise again. Poor Miss Edith, there will be no candles and flowers for her return."

Spike made an impatient noise and grabbed Drusilla's hand, "Sod the candles, pet, daylight's comin' - I'm bored!"

"Shan't." Dru! Baby pulled her hand out of his and turned her back on him. "Drusilla will see Miss Edith rise perfect as the moon, to be with her because Papa Angelus can't."

"Sod Angelus!" Spike roared, "He's got his… he's not coming back, and that's the end of it!"

"Papa will return, he left Miss Edith to keep his Drusilla from getting lonely until he does!" Dru! Baby eluded Spike once more, overturning a shelf of French dolls.

The doll paused. The sooner she could fix Miss Edith, the faster these two dreadful children would leave.

Problem was, part of Miss Edith's face was missing.

The doll began a long, patient search through the torn blanket that Miss Edith had been wrapped in as Dru! Baby and Spike, the toy breaker, quarreled and broke more toys.

Bitch bitch bitch

Though Miss Edith's upturned nose was still nowhere to be found, at least Spike and Dru! Baby had ceased squabbling.

This was because Dru! Baby had stormed outside and locked herself in the toy breaker's car – never mind seeing Miss Edith's rising.

"Well, sod that," Spike muttered, scratching at the now healed wound on his forehead as he leaned against the counter watching the doll work, "All I did was take on one little Slayer. So I took me sweet time doin' it, not like last time in China, but baby liked to dance - she was a hot little dancer – so we danced a while so Dru, the one now locked in me car, up and whacks me on the bonce wi' damned dolly here when I come home wearin' the Slayer's coat!" He leaned forward on his elbows, jabbing an unlit cigarette at the doll. "You call that gratitude? I don't! And hey, blink you!

The doll said nothing,

She couldn't finish the job without the missing piece. She could sculpt another, but that would take days; days where these two would loiter in Papa Jakob's shop, breaking things, and keeping her from her work, work that Papa Jakob said should never be stopped, it was too important.

"Bloody Angelus, her sire, me grandsire, and a right bastard 'e was, gave this stupid doll to her. Said it was hers to keep forever, righ' in front a me because he knew it would wank me off, him givin' it to her. So what does she do?" Spike paused, scratching at his forehead, "She ups and whacks me over the head wiv it - then blames me for breaking the bloody thing wiv me 'ead on purpose!"

The doll watched Spike's black-nailed hand intently as it worked over the newly healed wound.

"You call that gratitude? I've taken care of that bint for the last hun… 'ere now, what'ya starin' at?" Spike snarled and then pulled Miss Edith's nose out of his forehead with a wet noise.


The doll immediately held out her plump, porcelain hands.

"Wha'?" Spike paused, licking the fresh blood from the nose and his fingers, "Sooooo, you want this, do you now?"

He narrowed his eyes at her, thoughtfully sucking in his cheeks.

The doll stared back unblinkingly, hands still outstretched.

"Blink and I'll give it to you."

The doll stared back unblinkingly, hands still outstretched.

"All right, sod that. So what if I decide to…" he pushed the porcelain nose against the marble counter, "Break it?"

The doll stared back unblinkingly, hands still outstretched.

"Bloody hell, don't you ever bl… you win!" Spike put the nose in the doll's outstretched hands, but just as her fingers began to close over it he snatched it back, holding it up over his head, out of her reach. "You know, pet, I've a better idea…"

He closed his hand over the nose, fine white powder sifting from between his fingers. "Seein' as the last one is now shot all to hell, I say it's time we get a new Miss Edith, one that Papa Angelus never touched… one that walks... she'd like that... you'll do!" he lunged at the doll, face melting, teeth long and sharp.


The doll scrolled rapidly through the list Papa Jakob had written for her as she fled. What was this thing? A dybbuk? She scuttled beneath Papa Jakob's workbench, Spike, whatever he was, kicked over a basket of glass eyes as he tried to get at her.

"Bloody hell, but this thing's fast," Spike laughed as he scrambled to keep his balance on the hundreds of little staring glass orbs, "Get back here, you!"

Dodging loose eyes, the doll ran past him, was this thing a demon? Papa Jakob once told her that demons couldn't touch iron, but this one had touched an iron clown bank earlier, so it couldn't be a demon.

Beside's it wasn't hairy enough. But the Star of David had burned it… what was it? What would make it leave?

She ducked as Spike kicked a wave of eyes from of his path and made another grab for her, only to miss, going to his knees and slamming his head against the edge of a work table, tipping over all but one of the pots of carefully mixed flesh-toned paints so that a human colored rainbow splattered everywhere, spotting his black coat as he clutched his forhead swearing, before landing face down with a thud that shook the entire shop, causing the last paint pot to fall.

There was a quiet "splat" - the doll stiffened.

She teetered, staring glassily out at the world before falling over backwards, eyes closing with a sharp click, the sacred word on her forehead blotted out with Caucasian #5.


Spike sat up, nose bleeding where it had kissed the black and white tiles. He wiped the blood from his freshly opened forehead out of his eyes with one hand while lighting up with the other.

Three crazy slags in one night, one a Slayer, one Drusilla, and one, whatsits that didn't blink, whadda rush!"

Spike exhaled a long blue cloud before staggering to his feet. His own strength had driven him into the floor; he'd be hurtin' for a while, thank you very much. With a grin, Spike walked over to where Miss Edith lay on the floor where she'd landed atop a pile of rag dolls, deliberately treading her face underfoot so that two more glass eyes joined the mess rolling around beneath his Doc Martin's.

"Angelus, me arse!" He laughed, that bloody doll had been with them as a final taunt from Angelus for the last hundred…

"'Ere now, what's this?" Spike kicked Miss Edith's remains aside, "Thought I'd smashed you too, pet, but you're all right." He nudged the doll with one porcelain-dusted boot before kneeling over her, coat blackly pooling around him, "No run left in you now!" He poked at her with one black talon. She didn't move.

He brushed the dust from her, "Swap the dress, swap the shoes, and sack of hammers sulking in the car'll never know the diff - I'm back in!" He leaned back on his heels, face going smooth once as he picked up the now headless Miss Edith and began trading dresses.

Finally Spike held the doll up to admire his work.

Her eyes clicked open and stared at him with cold disaproval.

Startled, Spike dropped her, barely catching her before her head shattered on the tiles.

"Bloody hell, forgot about that," Spike sniggered, "You do blink after all, but I can't have you starin' at me w' those brown-cow eyes like Angelus the night he got 'is soul… Can't poke 'em out, she'll notice somethin' missin' and start complainin' that I broke you when she wasn't lookin'!" Spike teased a piece of black grosgrain from a tangle of spilled ribbons and used it to blindfold the doll, "That's the ticket! If Dru ever notices your eyes are brown and not blue, I'll tell 'er that you've always been like that – she'll never know the diff!"

Satisfied, Spike swaggered out the front door of the shop with the now blindfolded doll beneath one arm, pausing only to toss his fag into a pool of turpentine that dripped onto the floor from the overturned workbench.

The shop was burning beautifully by the time he'd unlocked the driver's side door with the spare key and distracted Drusilla with her new old toy.


Blind and paralyzed, the doll rapidly scrolled through the list that Papa Jakob had given her the night she had been created.

This had never happened before.

She couldn't help Papa Jakob with his work like this. What was she supposed to do? She couldn't wash the paint from her forehead…

… - !

The doll paused.

Beneath "Use your own judgment" there was a single word in Papa Jakob's neat handwriting: "Patience."

It would have to do.

For now.

Note: The doll and her master, Papa Jakob, were part of the November 9, 1938, "Night of Broken Glass or "Kristalnacht", when across Germany, Jewish families and their property were seemingly randomly assaulted as a result of mainstream Germany's anger over the assassination of a German official in Paris at the hands of a Jewish teenager. In fact, German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and other Nazis carefully organized these pogroms. There are many websites available that go into more detail. As to Golems, the traits of Jewish demons, and Jewish names, forgive me. Though these things fascinate me, I am not Jewish and have had to rely upon research for my source material and not actual interviews.