This seven-part-serial involves the life, imprisonment, torture and redemption of an American bourgeoisie who has in dreams begun to fully remember the crimes of his past lives and the violence of an impending future.
PART ONE: Rudy Can't Fail ($1.00)
PART TWO: Concrete Jungle ($2.00)
PART THREE: Winter's Dregs ($3.00)
PART FOUR: Camp Concentrated ($4.00)
PART FIVE: Movement Arm Thyself ($5.00)
PART SIX: The Great Escape ($6.00)
PART SEVEN: The Desert People ($7.00)
They are sitting quietly in a Haifa café that is small and dimly lit. The last light of day falls softly on the Carmel. A fleeting splendor ripples over the harbor bay.
The boy is too thin to look American. His eyes have a lean and hungry look and are bad eyed and deeply sunken. They are filled with hate. His clothing is worn and torn. He might even be mistaken for a Russian street kid. The dirty gray corduroy cap on his head is encrusted with sand and sweat. It conceals his natty brown hair and gives him the appearance of a child Che Guevara. The loose, blue pin-stripe suit he wears had been kosher cut in Golder’s Green, but is now a patchwork of torn threads and desert dust. He removes a crumpled green pack of Noblisse cigarettes from the inner pocket, puts one in his mouth and lights it. He takes long drags, like he’d learned to smoke by imitating some noire movie detective.
It looks as though he might cry out at any moment, or lash out across the table throttling the chubby preacher with his bare hands. If he lets down his guard down long enough though, he might have to admit defeat.
Occasionally the boy looks up to stare across the table at the man who is so determined to save him. This true Christian soldier has a cherub-like face even though he is in his forties and sports a brown scraggle beard. The chubby man is a proselytizer disguised as a tour guide. The man is uncertain whether this meeting will lead to more violent outbursts. His last encounter with this boy in Jerusalem was a debacle. The man says a quick prayer and begins to talk in his soft Midwestern drawl.
“I’m sorry,” the preacher says.
The boy looks up. His response is steady and calculated despite his condition.
“They fucked her within an inch of her life before they killed her. They ripped her to shreds. The body was cut into pieces and they dumped her along the southern highway as if they knew there wasn’t even any use in covering the thing up. Where was the man Jesus then? What do you know of good hard pain?”
It is a sharp and biting response. There is a quick pause and the flash of yet another silent prayer as the fat man’s eyes dart up.
“I know plenty about plenty. Do you remember what I said that first evening we met Sebastian?”
The boy’s eyes focus intently. He is uncomfortable with anyone using his real name. No one has used his real name for a long time. Suddenly there is some frustration in his voice.
“Why do you insist on calling me that?”
“Because it is your name.”
“My name is Zachariah Artstien.”
“Your name is Sebastian Adon.”
“There is no such person anymore. If you wish to carry on this conversation you will not refer to me by the name of a man who is rotting in the ground,” he responds sharply.
“You know I don’t like to humor your devils.”
“You know I do not like to humor your just about anything,” the boy retorts. “You cannot save me. I don’t believe in your religion. You are wasting your time on me, yet again.”
“Please calm down, Sebastian.”
The boy gets up to leave.
There is authority in the man’s voice for the first time.
“I told you the first time we met that I saw a well of pain in your eyes that was so deep that you might drown in your own sorrow. The night we met I laid awake praying for hours in the hope that you might find peace.”
“Redemption being some man called Jesus of Nazareth, of course.”
“Could you please stop?”
“What do you really know about me? About this Sebastian you’re trying so hard to save? I grow very tired of people these days. Especially those with penchants for doing the Lord’s work through lost children. There is nothing you can say to me to make me forget everything that has happened.”
“You can forget the past, Sebastian.”
“Well thank you, you quintessential, self-helping faith healer!”
“Not everything you saw happened to you. You are not a corpse, but you have allowed hateful demons to possess your body and speak on your behalf. It is time to go home!”
“My home is a place near two flaming towers where men of finance sacrificed three thousand of my former country men to their false god!”
His words sear the man’s heart as he continues.
“Thank you for telling me what everyone always tells me, just in case I had forgotten the misery and grind of things since yesterday. Perhaps another brilliant cliché is in order like ‘be myself?’ Or forgive my enemies perhaps! I’ve been trying. I swear I have. In all honesty I think your coming here was a waste of both of our time. I have no home at all.”
The man’s tone changes.
“I figure you tell lots of tales. Throw around theology at people and radical rhetoric. You’d tell your secrets to any stranger who’d care to listen if you thought it would teach them something. But that doesn’t make your secrets true.”
“I don’t follow.”
“How many people speak out of your mouth boy? Who’s that imaginary friend whispering in your ear? It’s gotten worse since you arrived here in the land hasn’t it? Can you tell anymore who is talking, you or the devils?”
“So what’s the moral, Brent Avery?”
“What I want you to do is to tell me how you came to be the way you are without Zachariah doing the story-telling. Why are you so angry at your tribe and nation, the world in general and even God himself? ”
“You would never understand that story, Brent. It isn’t set in places where the wind blows lightly on the plain.”
“Try me then, boy. Believe it or not we’re not so different. God cries for us both.”
“Oh really!? I don’t believe that for a second. He spits on us with his indifference! I doubt that there are two people who could be more different than you and I. You have your Lord, your God. You serve him blindly like a sheep. My only higher power is the coming revolt. I will get what I contribute.”
“They are one and the same these powers you speak of.”
“Really, Brent Avery? Do you think I believe that?”
“No. I don’t think you don’t know what you believe in anymore. Other than in the hate that never leaves you, other than the demons whispering inside you to pick up arms and kill without compunction for cause.”
The thin boy smiles with a shit eating, devilish grin.
“At least I can believe in my hate. But if faith is what governs us--you in your God, and me in the coming revolution--what makes you think we should see eye to eye on anything? You play the preacher pray boy and I’ll play the rebel with righteous cause.”
“You should confide in me because we all have nightmares about the things we can’t control. Your demons have taken their toll, Sebastian Adon. An ocean, a new name and some ten thousand miles later ain’t improved your sleep, boy. Is that truth?”
The coffee shop has all but emptied out, still the boy doesn’t answer. The Arab Christian is keeping it open for the sole prospect of what these Americans might buy. He will stay open all night as long as they keep drinking and eating. The Carmel is slow on a Tuesday night.
“You want to hear a yarn?” the boy asks.
“I want to hear a true story.”
“There’s no such thing as a true, Brent. There’s only the mostly true, the heartfelt and remembered past. It’s a long story. It goes well with vodka and cigarettes.”
“We’ve got all night, but you’ll have to settle for coffee. I’m not much of a drinking man. I’ve come a very long way to get you home and I don’t have anywhere else I’d rather be.”
“Well, let us hope this Arab can tolerate the sound of English. It begins with the tale of a rude boy on the last days of summer. It ends with a dead call girl on a lonely desert high way.”
Tough talk from a seventeen year old.
But the boy is corpse with a demon inside him and the lord works in mysterious ways.
Cue nightfall on the city of Haifa. A skinny boy with a gray corduroy skally cap with eyes like a war-torn country is telling his story. A fat man carved by faith listens intently to reaffirm his belief that life is a mission and the devil is indifference.