21 November 2016

Postcard 75

The woman had made empty promises with an honest deceit. To each other they had a scratch-deep desire. He walked away from her, internal in the tumult of the carnival. She was rich on his fingers but cool in his heart. Somehow, after blocks of ambling, his friend Joshua found him. How did he find him in the crowd and chaos of carnival? It is one of the indecipherable mysteries -- perhaps God's own hand, perhaps random chance, fate and coincidence, perhaps the bond between best friend beloveds. "He's dead," Joshua said, "come." Without explanation, he turned and the young man had no choice but to follow. They entered the gate, the old wood door and climbed the stone steps to the study. There, the body was being prepared by four priests while a wizened old rabbi looked on. The young man was shocked. It was not the old Rebbe, but Joshua's father who had died. The young man felt himself standing, alienated, outside the stained glass temple doors for the elaborate funeral ceremonies. When the doors opened and the procession to the grave passed him, the young man made the sign of the cross toward the body. It was as if he did not exist. Later that night, while Joshua mourned his father, and the young man felt helplessly adrift, the old Rebbe came to him and took him to kneel by the fire. From his robes he produced many esoteric objects foreign to both their faiths. He uttered strange quiet words and preformed subtle ceremonies. They sat there, upon their knees, genuflecting before a small fire in a cold dark room full of useless books. The young man began sobbing. He sobbed and sobbed desperately. Though they did not speak, the Rebbe spoke without speaking, "This is our atonement."

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