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November 24, 2009

In the early days of May I had a dream, a reckoning of a sort.

In it, I sailed upon a calm sea with a steady breeze at my back and a briny beef in my jaw. My skiff ran aground on a sandbar, one of those mystical ones that surprise sailors in the middle of the Atlantic.

To my right an unnoticed fog parted, and I saw standing there a sturdy building constructed by masons with rough hands and sinewy backs. As I approached it on foot, defying gravity’s underwater tug, I noticed a loose bit of mortar. Picking at it only made it worse and I eventually pulled one red brick free and watched it fall slowly toward the waves.

Before I could truly contemplate the meaning of the shattered bits floating away from me on the never-ending current, the entire façade shuddered and collapsed in on itself in a cartoon fashion leaving only a pile of rubble and a settling dust cloud soon to reveal the hidden treasure of corpses still holding brass goblets in mid-celebration.

From the wreckage I pulled a gilded banner in an ancient tongue that I could easily read but whose meaning escaped me. It was as if I saw the word ‘brown’ but couldn’t comprehend the concept of color.

I turned to kiss my blonde companion as if she had been with me since the beginning and then I awoke.

That morning I sought out the nearest rabbi and propounded my experience, begging for an explanation. He immediately reminded me that I was not Jewish, but still he smiled and sat me down in his red suede wingback chair with the dozens of hammered pushpins lining the front of the arms. And then he explained:

“In a desert not so far from your birthplace, two dogs fought over a scrap of meat. After many battles, the meat had been torn asunder and disappeared, but the dogs fought on having forgotten the original matter at hand, so accustomed were they to hating one another. Soon enough, an eagle happened upon them and chastised the two for such nonsense. The majestic fowl pointed out that they had fought over nothing whilst a great treasure lay beneath their feet. The eagle left, feeling quite proud of its ability to solve the dispute of these poor dirty animals. As it left, the dogs began to fight over their new found treasure, this bone buried in the sand.”

“Before long, the eagle returned to check on the mongrels’ progress only to find them even more rapt with mutual hatred. The bird’s keen eyes recognized the bone they had dug up for what it really was and immediately attacked the stronger of the two dogs, cutting off its head and kissing the bloody neck with promises that the body would survive. While the beheaded dog bled and the remaining mutt stared in stunned riot, the eagle grasped the bone and flew away.”

The rabbi smiled as he finished, as if to say See? It is all so simple.

I apologized for letting my gentile mind prevent me from seeing the wisdom of his tale. I promised to study his answer until I understood.

For one thousand, three hundred and seventy one days I pondered. Finally, one night, I returned to my oceanic sandbar and my pretty blonde companion. The two of us settled down upon the pile of rubble and watched the dust cloud fall slowly around us, on us, in us. We breathed in the foul stench of the Corpse Gala and spouted Socinianistic philosophies as the sound of growling canines bore closer and closer still.

As the sun set on this, my second and final reckoning, in the middle of a calm sea, an eagle dropped a shard of bone in my companion’s lap before falling headlong, feathers ablaze, into the salty water and vanishing. The dogs stopped their whelping and settled at our feet and the sea slowly rose to swallow us. Oy vey!

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