Departure Delayed

Issue 23 by Peter Oppenheim

Departure Delayed

“. . . sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!”

—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “O Ship of State”

“. . . the true pilot must give his attention to the time of the year, the seasons, the sky, the winds, the stars, and all that pertains to his art if he is to be a true ruler of a ship, and that he does not believe that there is any art or science of seizing the helm.”

—Plato, Republic 488a

I had been avoiding him for weeks, the delivery boy. I caught word of the summons he was charged to convey to me, and I was not overjoyed at the prospect. I had only a few days before our next embarkation, and if I could evade the summons, I might escape its fate . . . at least for one more voyage.

Yet, he pursued . . . no! He stalked me—everywhere! Just when I would obtain a moment of solace and repose, again he would appear. I began to consider that I could not outrun him forever. The stress became intolerable. I could kill the cur, but at what cost? This act would create more problems than solve—though the thought did more than cross my mind. I felt I could do nothing but run. And, yet, I could not leave the town. Nor could I take the ship. The crew had only just touched land a few days ago, after a long voyage from Europe. They would not hasten to launch, not for me, at least. Not yet. I had to stay.

I resolved to outwit him. This was no easy task. He took a fancy to wearing disguises and lurked in the crevices and corners of alleys and other dark places, always at the precipice of shadow and light in order to fool my poor eyes and incept in my psyche bouts of paranoia.

The ridiculous fool would wear outfits he thought concealed himself from me: ones clearly borrowed or purloined from our local theatre. Fortunately, few in town publicly don the accoutrements of the stage so garish and gauche they escape the gaze and tongue of hungry onlookers. The town is far too small for that! Word spread around of the absurd young man chasing the old.

Ours was a game of cat and mouse. Friends and strangers alike were enlisted as, at times witting, at others less so, spies for our respective causes. For instance, one might sight a beggar at inopportune moments pleading for bread or currency precisely when one would be least amenable to pause. At such a moment, the fiend would strike and advance towards me! Or, an “old friend” would hap to cross a road smiling and waving at just the instant where open passage to sanctuary his sudden presence would close. He would give me the briefest moment to duck and crawl away behind a large tree or wall. But, as days, like candles, melted my will to the nub, my light to flee him began to flicker. You see, I am old. I could not keep up the ruse indefinitely. I knew, always, that either he, or I, or both must cease this dialectic and find closure to our story. Alas, his youth prevailed.

It was early evening one summer afternoon in August, and the sun turned a great burnt orange, when I completed work and descended the rotted and warped gangway to the dock. I recall the groan the wood made with each lumbering step I took. I felt it in my bones. My eyes were shot with blood, and my flesh felt swollen and tender. I was exhausted.

I had spent the day assisting the crew with cleaning the ship, my pride and joy, the once illustrious trading vessel, Etat1, now turned in her age, weather and adventure beaten by years of wear and service. The poor girl had seen better days. I am, in part, to blame. Over the years, I hit upon a series of grave misfortunes that afflicted investors, trading partners, and crew alike. With each one, the patience of the aforementioned interested parties’ waned, and suspicion and aspersion were alike thrust upon me. I felt I needed to regain the trust of my men. Thus, I endeavored to put on a show of solidarity, and labored with them at their tasks. It was at the close of such a day that the young fellow caught me. At the edge of the dock there was no escape. One could choose a wet defeat or a dry one.

“Are you Captain Richard Krapptauer, Captain of the Etat?” he asked me.

“Indeed, I am, lad,” I replied. “You’ve finally caught me.”

“I am here to inform you you are summoned to the courts.”

“Thank you,” I grumbled and accepted the papers at his hand.

I felt the lead up to this drama’s exchange was somewhat anticlimactic. I believed the boy and I had developed some sort of relationship over these past weeks, and I hoped for a more dramatic denouement. I anticipated, nay, desired, something along the lines of, “formidable match, sir!” or “well played!” “You present yourself quite the opponent!” Something to that effect. But, that did not materialize. Instead, the young man smirked as he handed me an envelope sealed in wax and walked unceremoniously away.

I examined its imprint and squinted, for the glare from the sun was strong as it bathed the evening in orange. Indeed, it was the summons I avoided. I read its contents:

From the people of the great state of —
To the Honorable Captain Richard Krapptauer.

Written and executed for delivery this day, August 18th, 18—,” it is hereby written that you are summoned by the People of this great state to subject yourself to the court. You have one week upon receipt of this letter to appear. Failure to do so may result in fines or imprisonment.”

The letter was signed and a note verified that copies were disseminated to various other parties. It was already several days beyond the date printed. I wrote my attorney, and two days later we stood before a judge.

The justice was a grave and solemn man, and he spoke little. He sat before a great carved seal, the image of which, one would recognize, was growing more and more popular in our parts after the publication of Thomas Smith Webb’s2 absurd little treatise. It was the image of an eye situated within a pyramid and surrounded by a circle with a Latin inscription carved around it. It read some nonsense I could not understand: “Ubi est Deus cæcus, et ducunt bonis vision.”3 Why, I thought, do we bother with Latin? Or Greek for that matter?

The judge did not mince words. I discovered, as I had anticipated, that due to several accidents aboard the Etat, suspicions arose as to my aptitude to command. More precisely, concern arose as to whether or not I could see. I could, of course, see just fine. I hit upon a series of mere accidents. They could have happened to anyone. There truly was no need to examine this case any further. Besides, I never had any complaints about my vision before, and I managed to navigate the routes of life and trade satisfactorily.

(I hasten to add for the critically incisive reader that, fortunately, there was no question as to my impairment from drink—for I never drank. And, while I am advanced in my years, I am not so ancient as to draw suspicion regarding senility either. My mind and body, as my eyes, are in perfect working order).

Nevertheless, his Honor was clear. I had temporarily lost my captaincy and my ship, until I underwent evaluation with an optometrist. And, if, and only if, the optometrist finds my vision satisfactory or corrected will I be able to return to my post and end this brief suspension.

I now had three days to appeal to the court to reinstate my licence before Etat would deport. This was deeply troubling news. This next voyage was of severe import for me. I had been researching routes that would allow me to hasten the usual duration of our voyages and provide myself and those for whom I sail larger financial returns through the cutting of the typical expenditures a journey presents. We have made great strides so far in this regard, albeit we have done a little to frustrate the crew. They whinge at having certain luxuries of travel curtailed. They must learn that working men cannot expect to eat as kings when working sails.

I had promised an interested investor to depart to and return from the Western African coast within two weeks time. I had a vision and direction, and the local people of my township, who participate in partially backing my voyages through the collective public insurance fund, positioned themselves in antagonism to the interested investors. It was on the behalf of the insurance fund that the courts intervened.

My attorney warned that I must act quickly, and that I must be weary. “It is furthermore decreed that you must submit yourself to the Law once more for a determination of the doctor’s results in regards to dissemination of any future indemnity,” he said. In short, I was pressed for time.

“There is no manner in which I can avoid this indignity?” I inquired.

“None,” he replied. “If you wish to regain your licence, you must return to the courts with a note of clearance from the doctor.”

I arrived at the doctor’s building a little after eight in the morning the following day and walked through the front door. I found his office to be less than reassuring. It was incredibly dark inside. It took a moment, but my eyes finally adjusted. I noticed materials were waylaid everywhere. It was as if a gale wind picked up his things—papers, pens, frames, glasses, monocles—and had strewn them violently about. How could such a person who evidences a clear disregard for medical sterility and order be qualified to pass learned judgment upon my ocular biology? I shuddered and spoke into the void in hopes the doctor would appear. “Hello!” I called. Nothing. No response.

I looked around the room some more and noticed a large, beautiful bookshelf with many volumes upon it. There were many scientific books on the study of sight and eyes. There were also many other randomly assorted volumes of literature, philosophy, history, poetry, and law, some of which drew my sight to the printed letters on their spines. I squinted to focus my vision at the words, and I searched for a candle I might light to help me see. I found none. So, I drew up close, and tried to read some titles. “Republic, Homer’s Odyssey, Criticism of Akkadian Laws and Legal Thought, Pindar’s Poems, Paradise Lost, Three Theban Plays, Panopticon, King Lear, Hamlet, The King James Bible, a newer title—Moby Dick, and Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789, etc. I pulled the newest title from the shelf and opened it to where someone had placed a marker. “The Fountain,” it read. Something about a whale. Idiotic creatures. The title was not very appealing. I closed it and placed it back on the shelf.

I waited for a moment longer, lingering there in the darkness, and was about to leave when someone walked in through the front door behind me, cast light violently into the room, prompted me to turn, and temporarily blinded me.

“Hello, sir, can I help you?” someone asked. I turned abruptly.

“I am Captain Richard Krapptauer, sir. I am here to see a doctor. . .” I hesitated and looked down at my paper. I squinted as my eyes adjusted back to the darkness as he closed the door. “. . . a doctor Alitheia4, doctor of Ophthalmology and Optometry.”

“I believe I can help you,” she said. “I am Dr. Alitheia.”

“But you are a. . . No. This cannot be. I am here to see a Doctor.”

“Yes, I am she.”

“There must be some mistake. Is there perhaps a Mr.? Dr.? A doctor. . .Alitheia?”

“No, sir. There is only one Dr. Alitheia here, and I am she.”

I was in shock. This was simply not possible. There must have been some mistake. A woman? My next impression was that she looked much like her office—dishevelled. Her hair was short, like a man’s, and it stood on its ends, uncombed, greasy. Her smock was stained and yellowed with wear and sweat. Her glasses were unevenly cocked. Her dress was common and unfashionable. She was the very image of anarchy; in short, she was deeply unattractive. I bristled to think that this. . .this. . .woman was what stood between me and my journey in a short few days time.

“Well, madam. . .”

“Doctor,” she interjected.

“Well, Doctor, I am here at the behest of the Law to undergo an examination. I wish to have my vision cleared by you and a report written to this effect, posthaste. I am scheduled to leave port in two days, and unfortunately, urgency is of the utmost importance.” I handed her the court order.

The doctor took the paper, read it, paused a moment, then demurred.“I hate to inform you, sir, but there is no time frame for this order. I also must advise that should you need vision correction, the process for producing your prescription may take several weeks.” This news sent scorching vibrations through my nerves, and my face bubbled with heat. “This, doctor, is unacceptable,” I shouted. “My position is far too important. There are far too many who depend upon me. I must be tested and cleared immediately! You will find no need to fill a prescription for corrective lenses, and we should be able to complete this transaction in a matter of hours.”

Dr. Alitheia smiled, and said, “Sir, why don’t you come with me into the next room, and we’ll initiate the exam. I’m sure you will be pleased with the result. I wish you to know that I mean you no harm, and I will do everything in my ability to help you with your vision needs.” Something was not quite right in what she said, but I could not place it.

She lit a candle, led me into the next room. I followed.

The next room was darker than the first. There were no windows. There were two chairs. Dr. Alitheia lit some candles around the room and positioned her chair in front of mine. Near her chair were several ocular instruments, metal, heavy, large. She also had papers in a pile near one corner. I took a seat in the chair she gestured me towards with her hand. I heard something crinkle, and I lifted my bottom. I reached down and picked up a pamphlet. “Support the Merchant Sailors!” was the title on the cover. Rubbish! I stopped reading immediately, crumpled it in my hands, and placed it in my pocket. What kind of doctor supports such incendiary literature? I knew somewhat of this material, as I recall, I had seen it and been warned against it by the minister recently. Perhaps a patient left it by, and the doctor, as the evidence of her office’s comportment suggests, never noticed it amidst the disseminated multitude of scattered things. It was best I removed it for her, I decided.

The doctor moved her chair closer to mine and initiated the procedure.

“Mr. Krapptauer . . .”

“Captain!” I interjected.

“My apologies. Captain Krapptauer, have you had an ocular exam before?”

“Never,” I declared.

“Very well,” she continued. “It is quite simple. First I will administer a series of tests to check the scope and field of your vision. It will determine the distances at which you can see clearly, and whether or not there are any obstructions to your field of view. If all checks out, you will not need corrective lenses. But, I assure you, even if you do, most lenses do not take the full two weeks to craft, of which I warned you earlier. I made this statement as a precaution. However, I do feel strongly that my patients should be aware of certain exceptional situations where exceedingly challenging cases cause the time to produce corrective lenses to extend into weeks.” I felt somewhat relieved to hear this. Not entirely, of course. She continued, “Part of this exam will require me to reflect the light of some of the candles I brought in here through a mirror into your eyes. This will be unpleasant. It will be bright and painful. I will ask you, sir, to keep your eyes open during the process, and I will instruct you as to when you can blink. Do you have any questions before we begin?”

I replied, “None.”

“Very well,” she stated, “we shall begin.”

She carefully grabbed the ocular equipment I noticed earlier and unfolded it into what looked like a series of large black griddles with mirrors inlaid into them. She then positioned a candle in front of one of them set upon a table, and the light passed through several oculi until it reached its final destination as a concentrated, well-lit circle upon the wall. The apparatus squealed and screeched in its rusted metallic hinges as she turned and moved it into place just in front of my visage. I cringed at the sound.

First she projected several words of various heights onto the wall and asked me to read them. I did as instructed.

“I have selected a few random, familiar clusters of lines which I ask my patients to read. They bear no other import other than that they are convenient and should be readable. Could you please read the top line?” She asked.

“Yes. ‘It is easier for a camel.’ Wait, what is?”

“Very good. The line comes from Matthew. It is one of Jesus’ sayings to his disciples. Now please read the line below.”

“Render true judgments, show kingness and enmity to one another.”

“Hmm. Can you try that one again?”

“Render true judgements. . .and. . .show. . .king. . .kingness. . .to one another? No, King, no, kinship? On my honor I could swear it says ‘kingship.’ I cannot tell. Strange. That was not correct?”

“No,” she replied.

Tests of this sort continued for some time. I could not tell if I was truly misreading the letters in front of me, or if that woman was playing with me. Dr. Alitheia gave me no information either way. I also felt formidably ignorant about what her various, “hmm’s” and “ah ha’s” signified, and so I was none the wiser about her assessments. As far as I could discern, I was reading everything perfectly. Yet, I could tell that something was not quite right.

Then, Dr. Alitheia asked me to stop reading, and positioned the beam of light directly into my eyes. To do so she coaxed her apparatus to screech its horrific song until the blinding light burned directly into my eyes. I cringed again as she repositioned the machine. Goosebumps set upon my flesh and my hairs stood on end. Then she repeated, “Captain, I will now ask you to keep your eyes open until I permit you to blink. You may find this difficult, but I will need your cooperation as best you can provide it.” I obliged her as best I could. I teared up immediately.

As she proceeded, I felt my eyes burn, both from the unnatural light, and from having my eyes wide open for so long. The process felt like an eternity, and again, she continued with her idiotic “hmm’s” and “ah’s,” all while tears streaked slowly down my face.

Next, she placed blinders, first in front of one eye, then the other, and asked me to read from new lists. I was exhausted and frustrated. I was ready at this juncture to get up and leave; I would not have endured this indignity a moment longer except that I depended upon a satisfactory conclusion to this exam and the critical note to liberate me from the misperceptions of others. This alone stayed my impatience.

At last, the doctor concluded and wrote down her observations and measurements onto some papers. This process took several minutes, and I waited patiently. I rapped my fingers against my knee and focused upon my breathing while I attempted to stop my eyes from watering. I appreciated the moment as I needed it to refocus now that I did not have reflected lights incinerating my corneas.

I rubbed my eyes for several moments, which had the paradoxical effect of impairing my vision more than repairing it. The feeling it produced, however, was comforting. I continued rubbing them, then stopped again. I caught myself in a cycle. My eyes only felt better when I rubbed them, which also paradoxically made them feel worse. This cycle continued until the doctor interrupted my efforts.

“Captain Krapptauer,” she called which jarred me. She placed her pen next to her papers. “I will be direct. I must provide you news you may find troubling.”

“What is it?”

“My tests indicate there are complications with your vision.”

“Impossible!” I shouted. “You must do the tests again!”

“I’m afraid the tests are correct and accurate. And, I will have you know I did repeat them, several times.”

“Well, then, what are you saying?”

“My diagnosis is as such. Your right eye carries a scotoma and . . .”

“A what?” I interjected.

“A scotoma. A blind spot. It is a localized blindness within your field of vision. Your right eye does not see portions of what is directly in front of it.”

“This is impossible!” I shouted.

“Sir, it is very possible,” she replied. “In fact, it is all too common. Many have this affliction, especially with their right eyes.”

“Is this all?” I asked.

“Sadly, no. There’s more. Your right eye is also myopic. Near-sighted. You can see only those things which are near to you. Together, your right eye is quite afflicted, and you will need corrective lenses to see better.”

“Are such lenses easy to produce? Do you have any readily available?” I began to become very concerned.

“I hate to tell you, sir, but there is still more yet.”

“More!” I was exasperated. “You tell me there’s more?”

“Yes, sir. Your left eye also exhibits symptoms of serious issues.”

“Divulge your diagnosis immediately and completely! Speak and tell all!”

“Please calm down, sir. There is no need to be upset. Your left eye is what we call, for lack of better words, ‘lazy.’”

“Lazy?!”

“Yes, lazy. What we mean by this is that your right eye, which your brain has become accustomed to using almost exclusively, has allowed your left eye’s power of vision to become weaker and weaker over time.”

“What does all this mean?” I asked.

“It means, I will have to craft you lenses to correct your right eye’s sight, and you will also need to blind your right eye completely at times in order to strengthen your left” she replied.

“And this can be done today, correct?”

“I’m sorry, but no.”

I was incensed. No, I was furious. My blood boiled, and I began to shout, “No, sir. . . madam!, you do not understand. This is unacceptable! I need these lenses immediately! I demand you to provide me your signature upon the court’s documents, or I will report you for malefaction!” I noticed my words had no effect on her. I tried again. “How can you even claim to assess my eyes when you are clearly a doctor of no intelligence! Your office is abhorrent and disgusting. It is as if a vagrant were occupied upon your grounds! What kind of professional treats his own office with such disregard for order? You are a fraud madam! I shall not accept this diagnosis and I shall report you to the courts!”

Dr. Alitheia again was untouched by my words. She replied, “Captain, please compose yourself. I am not bound to the courts. They are bound to my findings. Furthermore, I am no fraud, and I will not sign your documents except to disclose your condition. You cannot captain a ship in your current state. It is simply unsafe. You may harm your sailors. Is this what you wish? You must be patient.”

My mind began to race, and I considered several options. The doctor did not seem to flinch at my reasoning. Perhaps she will be amenable to coin. “Very well, how much will it cost for you to be satisfied that my vision is adequately correct for the court’s satisfaction? I have brought some bill-notes with me today, and I could be very reasonable.”

“Unfortunately, sir, as much as I appreciate the offer, I cannot accept it. I will, as I mentioned, be happy to help you to correct your vision, and it will take some time,” she prattled. I felt as though she smirked at me while she stated this. I thought of the boy at the docks.

“How long do you think it will take you to craft the lenses?” I inquired.

“I imagine several weeks, actually,” she replied.

“Several weeks!”

“Yes.”

“I leave in two days! I must have the paper signed before the close of the day tomorrow! I cannot wait weeks! The Etat will have to find a new captain, and the voyage will be postponed! Our investors will hear about this!”

I got up to pace the room. I leaned against the wall for a moment and heard the crinkle of the pamphlet in my pocket. I recalled again the literature inscribed on the page, and I suddenly remembered that it was not at church that I had heard of the workers organization. It was a syndicate of men who petitioned the law against me. They were organizing. This doctor, this monster, was with them! “They conspired against me! You conspired against me! This is all a ruse! I knew it from the moment I stepped off the ship! I have evidence here to substantiate my claims and to ruin your business!” I pulled the pamphlet out of my pocket, rolled it out and smoothed it over, then I threw it at Dr. Alitheia. She took the pamphlet and looked it over.

“Indeed, I have heard of you before, Captain. This evidence merely indicates that I am aware of some complaints lodged against you. Sir, there is no conspiracy. Please calm yourself. I am a doctor, and I am here to help you. Now, if you please, go into the next room, and I will fill out your court documents.” She gestured to the door that led into the front room and turned away from me.

I shook uncontrollably. I felt awash, nay, saturated in my fury. I stomped my feet as I paraded into the next room and paced, back and forth, thinking of what to do next. I could not leave. This woman clearly wanted to dangle my life and career in front of my eyes. At the same time, if I stayed and waited for the court documents, then I would have a chance at destroying them. But, then there’s the issue of the doctor and the court still. She could arrive at the courts and speak to his diagnosis, and thus further delay the reissuance of my licence. Or, the Law would not hear me out without a paper from the doctor. Thus, I would have to return to Him—again—for another copy of the form that would deny me permission to sail. Or, the courts will require the doctor and her report together. I could try to simply return to the ship, but I know the crew would not sail with me without documentation of my clearance. The only way I see myself aboard the Etat within the next day set to sail is if. . . If I . . . If I could just . . . No! How could I think such a thing?

As I paced, Dr. Alitheia entered the room and interrupted my thought.

“Captain Krapptauer.” The fiend smiled as she walked arrogantly towards me. Suddenly, red blotted out my vision. I panicked and looked about the room and grabbed a volume from off a nearby shelf. I picked it up, and impulsively, I thrust it in the doctor’s face. I saw her nose gush, and a violent stream of crimson-black syrup rushed down and out of her nostrils. She took two steps back and stumbled, clearly shaken from the strike. She tried to speak, but all she could muster were incoherent words. Then she keeled over and lost consciousness. Suddenly, there was silence. I paused and looked down at the heavy dictionary in my hands. Some of the blood transferred to the text.

A few seconds later, I heard her arms and legs thrashing and I turned to look. My body froze and my heart stopped. It appears the blow to her face did more damage than anticipated. Finally, she ceased. She was still. I took a deep breath. I went over to her and checked her pulse. She was . . . She was. . .

When I regained consciousness I found myself enclosed in darkness. I began to hear noises which I later recognized as cheers, clapping, singing, and banging. My eyes began to adjust slowly, and I noticed a small slit of light coming from high up one of three walls in a cold, gray, heavy stone cell. Someone must have discovered me and taken me away from Dr. Alitheia’s offices. It was night. It was cold. I could not tell what time it was; nor did it seem to matter.

As I came to, I also heard other screams and mutters from what must have been adjacent cells. One man muttered incessantly about a wall he rapped again and again while police searched for his missing wife. Another kept screaming about a heart. My head thundered and I thought it would throb into eternity. I tried to concentrate on the noises outside to discover what the cause was of the celebration. Surely it could not be for me.

I tried to reach up to the slit to peer out and see the commotion, but I could not. So, I climbed back down and sat upon the cold, hard ground. Then I leaned against one of the walls.

Sometime later, how long I could not tell, I heard heavy, soled-boot steps slowly, methodically, rhythmically approaching via a long corridor. It started faint and quiet but hammered louder with each step as it drew nearer. It felt as though I were in a coffin being nailed shut, and each step nailed me to my permanent enclosure. After a time the steps stopped nearby, and I heard a voice call out.

“Captain?” It summoned.

“Yes. Who is it?”

“I have been sent to you to be with you.”

“By whom?”

“It does not matter.”

“What do you mean it does not matter? It matters to me. Who sent you?”

“It does not matter.”

“Then why are you here?”

“I am here to talk with you.”

“Yes, clearly. But about what? Why?”

“I am here to give you reprieve before the end.”

“What reprieve? What end?”

“May I sit?”

His body was enveloped in darkness. I could not see his face. I could not even be sure it was a man despite the deep voice. I thought his question absurd as I could neither offer him a seat, nor see if one were nearby.

“Please, take any seat you wish!” I replied and waved him off.

“Thank you,” he said.

“You’re welcome!” This made me smirk. “Reprieve? From what?” I asked.

“From the end.”

“What end? What are you talking about?”

“You were discovered next to the body of Dr. Alitheia. When the authorities arrived, they concluded you had murdered her.”

“I see,” I stated. “So what will come of me?”

“Your time is coming to an end.”

“Will there be no trial?”

“You have already been tried. You have been found guilty.”

“How is this possible?”

The crowd outside grew louder. I could hear the banging of large drums and clapping and singing through the stone underneath my body.

“It does not matter anymore how this is possible. You have been sentenced, that is all. Your end is imminent.”

“You mentioned a reprieve when you approached. What do you mean by this?”

“I mean that I will be with you for a while, and my time with you delays your end.”

“This means you have some authority over my life? Then you can stay the sentence and set me free!”

“No. I do not dictate the time you have left on this earth. Others do.”

“What others? How? Who are these others?”

“They watch you, and they keep close watch over you.”

“Are you suggesting I am protected by the very people you tell me usher me to my death?”

“Yes.”

“And you stay my death, but you do not stay my death? This is ridiculous! This is impossible. I demand to know who these people are!”

“You will never know them. They will know you.”

Again, the crowd outside shouted and celebrated.

“Who are these people outside? They make such terrible din. My head aches.”

“Tonight the people you hear have come to this town to celebrate an holy day, an ancient celebration.”

“Are they here for me?”

“No. But, they are here, next to, alongside you. They are here for the holy day.”

“What holiday is this? I know of no holiday for this season!”

“The Hebrews have come to this place to celebrate with others, for the first time in many, many years. They call today, Shmita Yobel. This moment brings together slave and slaver, poor and rich, woman and man, and all others of all types. A moment of reckoning has erupted, and the unlikely are paired. This moment will not last long. When it is over, you will meet your end.”

“What? How is this possible?”

“It is not. It is impossible. Yet, they are there, outside. And, they celebrate.”

“When will it end?”

“Soon.”

“When?”

“I believe you know. That is why I am here, to be with you until the end.”

“Which is soon, correct?”

“Yes.”

“And then what?”

“That is for them, there, to decide.”

1. “Etat “is French for State.

2. Author of Freemason Monitor. His books and other writings are distinguished by their repeated imprint of the Eye of Providence on their covers.

3. “Where God is blind, let good vision lead.”

4. “Alitheia” is the Greek word for truth.

5. Jubilee. On this day, all debts are forgiven.

About the Author

Peter Oppenheim

My name is Peter W. Oppenheim, and I am a decent English teacher and terribly mediocre writer living in Sacramento, California, with my wife, Jennifer, and three animals. I have dog named Redford, and two cats: Gus--a loud, dissatisfied jerk, and Tallulah, a kind, sweet, and patient creature sent to remind me to be kind and patient myself, mostly with Gus.