Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grunstein's Sabbath (a short story)


             Grunstein held his dead son’s soldering gun in his fingers.  His hands shook from the arthritis, but also from fear.  Despite the van, the part of the vandal was foreign to him, unnerving, like being the only amateur actor in a play with a fully professional staff.  And how could he read the Talmud by day and break the law by night?  He imagined himself as one of the examples the rabbis would use in the Talmud:  in God’s eyes there is no night and there is no day -- to the Almighty every deed is performed as if in a marketplace at high noon. 
            First, Grunstein practiced with two old spoons. Why ruin the good utensils?  He worked quickly, and soon the spoons were joined together as snugly as Siamese twins.  He then slipped outside.  He never ventured out at night, and was surprised at how light it was: the streetlights burned like a string of supernovae.  The apartment windows illuminated the night like some cosmic effulgence.  But behind the building a dark shadow smeared the parking lot dull gray.  He couldn’t see a thing, and only when he stumbled on the first trap did he know he had found one.   He felt along the side for the locking mechanism.  He found it, took out the soldering gun, and sealed both latch and clasp.  His eyes adjusted to the gray darkness and he found the other traps and repeated the maneuver.  He was in the house in a half hour.  He carried a hot glass of milk to the bed, took two prescription analgesics, and fell asleep with his clothes on, on top of the blankets, exhausted but exhilarated.

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