Friday, January 20, 2012

Grunstein's Sabbath (a short story)

Out on the street, Arthur Steinmetz approached Grunstein.  They were the same age, but while Steinmetz’s carriage was erect, Grunstein’s was drawn low and slumped, as if gravity placed unusually heavy demands on him. 
“What’s wrong, Arty?  You were squirming around in there like a grade school kid itching to get out of class.  What gives?”
Grunstein meant to keep it to himself, but found himself giving a disjointed, chronologically unsound version of his struggle with Fishbein and the cats.  Steinmetz listened carefully, without apparent emotion, only pulling at his teardrop-shaped earlobes repeatedly, as if they could be torn off and he was compelled to test them.  When Grunstein finished the rant, Steinmetz frowned and then smiled.
“So what to do, Arty?  At this stage, what does it matter?  You’ve got two wives and a son at Pine Lawn, and may you live to one-hundred-and-twenty, but you aren’t far behind them.  You’ve had a lot of heartache in your life; I’m not saying it ain’t so.  But at eighty-two, are you gonna make Peter Fishbein pay for it all?”
Grunstein stood politely in from of Steinmetz, but was not listening.  His mind was turning.  He had decided:  for the second time in his life, he would break the Sabbath.

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