The day arrived. At nine in the morning most of my workers promptly entered the factory. Our chief inspector, Ivan, appeared as well. Lilia, the representative of the plant under which I worked, came as well. The only one missing was the woman who represented the plant that my brother worked for.

Berel asked us to please delay the inspection until the representative of his plant would arrive, and since we had no phone in our factory, he went out to locate a public phone with which to call her. He wanted her to hurry since everybody was waiting.

My brother was supposed to return in five minutes. Ten minutes went by and he still had not returned. The main inspector said that while we waited for the other representative to arrive, he would go out and buy cigarettes. More time went by and he did not return either.

R’ Michoel Mishulovin, who was registered as a worker in my factory, said that until they all returned and the inspection began, he was going to a nearby lake in order to immerse before praying. He left his pocket-sized Tanya at the office, because he was afraid his clothes might be stolen and the Tanya would be discovered.

He left. The minutes ticked by and now R’ Michoel too had disappeared.

There was something very odd about all of this, which made me uneasy. But in my worst nightmare I did not anticipate what was yet to come.

A half an hour went by and the head inspector returned with a pack of cigarettes. I asked him what happened, and why he had been gone for so long. He avoided answering me, saying that nothing had happened, but I sensed that something was terribly amiss.

In the meantime, the female representative whom Berel had called, showed up, but Berel was still missing. We decided to start the inspection in my factory because it was nearly eleven o’clock. My hands were occupied with producing labels, but my head was elsewhere. I was deeply concerned for the whereabouts of my brother and Michoel, and was frantic over what was taking them so long.

I could not dwell on these thoughts because Ivan Ivanovitch was standing over my shoulder with a stopwatch in his hand, with which he timed how long it took to produce each label. That way, he could calculate how many labels we could make in a day, and how much the monthly salary should be.

After a long while, which seemed like forever to me, Michoel came back. We were in the middle of the inspection and I could not ask him what had happened.