Postby admin » Wed Oct 21, 2015 9:04 am

Chapter 20

"There are more of them," she said to Herb Asher, who stood gazing numbly at the corpse of the goat. "Come inside. I knew by the scent. Belial stinks to high heaven. Please come in." She took him by the arm and led him to the doorway. "You're shaking. You knew what it was, didn't you?"

"Yes," he said. "But who are you?"

"Sometimes I am called Advocate," Linda Fox said. "When I defend I am the Advocate. Sometimes Comfort; that is when I console. I am the Beside-Helper. Belial is the Accuser. We are the two adversaries of the Court. Please come inside where you can sit down; this has been awful for you, I know. Okay?"

"Okay." He let her lead him to the roof elevator.

"Haven't I consoled you?" Linda Fox asked. "In the past? As you lay alone in your dome on an alien world, with no one to talk to or be with? That is my job. One of my jobs." She put her hand on his chest. "Your heart is pounding away. You must have been terrified; it told you what it was going to do with me. But you see, it didn't know where you were taking it. Where or to whom."

"You destroyed it," he said. "And --"

"But it has proliferated throughout the universe," Linda said. "This is only an instance, what you saw on the roof. Every man has an Advocate and an Accuser. In Hebrew, for the Israelites of antiquity, yetzer ha-tov was the Advocate and yetzer ha-ra was the Accuser. I'll fix you a drink. A good California zinfandel; a Buena Vista zinfandel. It's a Hungarian grape. Most people don't know that."

In her living room he sank down in a floating chair, gratefully. He could still smell the goat. "Will I ever --" he began.

"The smell will go away." She glided over to him with a glass of red wine. "I already opened it and let it breathe. You'll like it."

He found the wine delicious. And his heartbeat had begun to return to normal.

Seated across from him, Linda Fox held her own wine glass and gazed at him attentively. "'It didn't harm your wife, did it? Or Elias?"

"No," he said. "I was alone when it came up to me. It pretended to be a lost animal."

Linda Fox said, "Each person on Earth will have to choose between his yetzer ha-tov and his yetzer ha-ra. You choose me and so I saved you ... you choose the goat-thing and I cannot save you. In your case I was the one you chose. The battle is waged for each soul individually. That is what the rabbis teach. They have no doctrine of fallen man as a whole. Salvation is on a one by one basis. Do you like the zinfandel?"

"Yes," he said.

"I will use your FM station," she said. "It will be a good place to air new material."

"You know about that?" he said.

"Elijah is too stern. My songs will be appropriate. My songs gladden the human heart and that is what matters. Well, Herb Asher; here you are in California with me, as you imagined in the beginning. As you imagined in another star system, in your dome, with your holographic posters of me that moved and talked, the synthetic versions of me, the imitations. Now you have the real me with you, seated across from you. How does it feel?"

He said, "Is it real?"

"Do you hear two hundred sugary strings?"


Linda Fox said, "It's real." She set her wine glass down, rose to her feet, came toward him and bent to put her arms around him.


He woke up in the morning with the Fox against him, her hair brushing his face, and he said to himself, This is actually so; it is not a dream, and the evil goat-creature lies dead on the roof, my particular goat-thing that came to degrade my life.

This is the woman I love, he thought as he touched the dark hair and the pale cheek. It is beautiful hair and her lashes are long and lovely, even as she sleeps. It is impossible but it is true. That can happen. What had Elias told him about religious faith? "Certum est quia impossibile est." "This is therefore credible, just because it is absurd." The great statement by the early Church father Tertullian, regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. "Et sepultus resurrexit; certum est quia impossibile est." And that is the case here.

What a long way I have gone, he thought, stroking the woman's bare arm. Once I imagined this and now I experience this. I am back where I began and yet I am totally elsewhere from where I began! It is a paradox and a miracle at the same time. And this, even, is California, where I imagined it to be. It is as if in dreaming I presaw my future reality; I experienced it beforehand.

And the dead thing on the roof is proof that this is real. Because my imagination could not give rise to that stinking beast whose mind glued itself to my mind and told me lies, told me ugly stories about a fat, short woman with bad skin. An object as ugly as itself -- a projection of itself.

Has anyone loved another human as much as I love her? he asked himself, and then he thought, She is my Advocate and my Beside-helper. She told me Hebrew words that I have forgotten that describe her. She is my tutelary spirit, and the goat-thing came all the way here, three thousand miles, to perish when she put her fingers against its flank. It died without even a sound, so easily did she kill it. She was waiting for it. That is -- as she said -- her job, one of her jobs. She has others; she consoled me, she consoles millions; she defends; she gives solace. And she is there in time; she does not arrive too late.

Leaning, he kissed Linda on the cheek. In her sleep she sighed. Weak and in the power of the goat-creature, he thought; that is what I was when I came here. She protected me because I was weak. She does not love me as I love her, because she must love all humans. But I love her alone. With everything that I am. I, the weak, love her who is strong. My loyalty is to her, and her protection is for me. It is the Covenant that God made with the Israelites: that the strong protect the weak and the weak give their devotion and loyalty to the strong in return; it is a mutuality. I have a covenant with Linda Fox, and it will not be broken ever, by either one of us.

I'll fix breakfast for her, he decided. Stealthily, he got up from the waterbed and made his way into the kitchen.

A figure stood there waiting for him. A familiar figure.

"Emmanuel," Herb Asher said.

The boy shone in a ghostly way, and Herb Asher realized that he could see the wall and the counter and cabinets behind the boy. This was an epiphany of the divine; Emmanuel was in fact somewhere else. And yet he was here; here and aware of Herb Asher.

"You found her," Emmanuel said.

"Yes," Herb Asher said.

"She will keep you safe."

"I know," he said. "For the first time in my life."

"Now you need not ever withdraw again," Emmanuel said, "as you did in your dome. You withdrew because you were afraid. Now you have nothing to fear ... because of her presence. She as she is now, Herbert -- real and alive, not an image."

"I understand," he said.

"There is a difference. Put her on your radio station; help her, help your protectress."

"A paradox," Herb Asher said.

"But true. You can do a lot for her. You were right when you thought of the word mutuality. She saved your life last night," Emmanuel lifted his hand. "She was given to you by me."

"I see," he said. He had assumed that was the case.

Emmanuel said, "Sometimes in the equation that the strong protect the weak there is the difficulty in determining who is strong and who is weak. In most ways she is stronger than you, but you can protect her in certain specific ways; you can shelter her back. That is the real law of life: mutual protection. In the final analysis everything is both strong and weak, even the yetzer ha-tov -- your yetzer ha-tov. She is a power and she is a person; it is a mystery. You will have time, in the life ahead for you, to fathom that mystery, a little. You will know her better and better. But she knows you now completely; just as Zina has absolute knowledge of me, Linda Fox has absolute knowledge of you. Did you realize that? That the Fox has known you totally, for a very long time?"

"The goat-creature didn't surprise her," he said.

"Nothing surprises the yetzer ha-tov of a human being," Emmanuel said.

"Will I ever see you again?" Herb Asher asked.

"Not as you see me now. Not as a human figure such as yourself. I am not as you see me; I now shed my human side, that derived from my mother, Rybys. Zina and I will unite in a syzygy which is macrocosmic; we will not have a soma, which is to say, a physical body distinct from the world. The world will be our body, and our mind the world's mind. It will also be your mind, Herbert. And the mind of every other creature that has chosen its yetzer ha-tov, its good spirit. This is what the rabbis have taught, that each human -- but I see you know this; Linda has told you. What she has not told you is a later gift that she holds in store for you: the gift of ultimate exculpation for your life in its entirety. She will be there when you are judged, and the judgment will be of her rather than you. She is spotless, and she will bestow this perfection on you when final scrutiny comes. So fear not; your ultimate salvation is assured. She would give her life for you, her friend. As Jesus said, 'Greater love has no man than that he give up his life for his friends.' When she touched the goat creature she -- well, I had better not say."

"She herself died for an instant," Herb Asher said.

"For an instant so brief that it scarcely existed."

"But it did occur. She died and returned. Even though I saw nothing."

"That is so. How did you know?"

Herb Asher said, "I could feel it this morning when I looked at her sleeping; I could feel her love."

Wearing a flowered silk robe, Linda Fox came sleepily into the kitchen; she stopped short when she saw Emmanuel.

"Kyrios," she said quietly.

"Du hast den Mensch gerettet," Emmanuel said to her. "Die giftige Schlange bekampfte ... es freut mich sehr. Danke."

Linda Fox said, "Die Absicht ist nur allzuklar. Lass mich fragen: wann also wird das Dunkel schwinden?"

"Sobald dich fuhrt der Freundschaft Hand ins Heiligtum zum ew'gen Band."

"O wie?" Linda Fox said.

"Du --" Emmanuel gazed at her. "Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton, deine Musik. Sing immer fur alle Menschen, durch Ewigkeit. Dabei ist das Dunkel zerstoren."

"Ja," Linda Fox said, and nodded.

"What I told her," Emmanuel said to Herb Asher, "is that she has saved you. The poisonous snake is overcome and I am pleased. And I thanked her. She said that its intentions were clear to her. And then she asked when the darkness would disappear."

"What did you answer?"

"That is between her and me," Emmanuel said. "But I told her that her music must exist for all eternity for all humans; that is part of it. What matters is that she understands. And she will do what she has to. There is no misunderstanding between her and us. Between her and the Court."

Going to the stove -- the kitchen was neat and clean, with everything in its place -- Linda Fox pressed buttons, then brought out food from the refrigerator. "I'll fix breakfast," she said.

"I was going to do that," Herb Asher said, chagrined.

"You rest," she said. "You've gone through a lot in the last twenty-four hours. Being stopped by the police, having Belial take control of you ..." She turned to smile at him. Even with her hair tousled she was -- well, he could not say; what she was for him could not be put into words. At least not by him. Not at this moment. Seeing her and Emmanuel together overwhelmed him. He could not speak; he could only nod.

'"He loves you very much," Emmanuel said to her.

"Yes," she said, somberly.

"Sei frohlich," Emmanuel said to her.

Linda said to Herb Asher, "He's telling me to be happy. I am happy. Are you?"

"I --" He hesitated. She asked when the darkness would disappear, he remembered. The darkness has not disappeared. The poisonous snake is overcome but the darkness remains.

"Always be joyful," Emmanuel said.

"OK," Herb Asher said. "I will."

At the stove Linda Fox fixed breakfast and he thought he heard her sing. It was hard for him to tell, because he carried in his mind the beauty of her tunes. It was always there.

"She is singing," Emmanuel said. "You are right."

Singing, she put on coffee. The day had begun.

"That thing on the roof," Herb Asher said. But Emmanuel had disappeared, now; only he himself and Linda Fox remained.

"I'll call the city," Linda Fox said. "They'll haul it away. They have a machine that does that. Hauls away the poisonous snake. From the lives of people and the roofs of houses. Turn on the radio and get the news. There will be wars and rumors of wars. There will be great upheavals. The world -- we've seen only a little part of it. And then let's call Elijah about the radio station."

"No more string versions of South Pacific," he said.

"In a little while," Linda Fox said, "things will be all right. It came out of its cage and it is going back."

He said, "What if we lose?"

"I can see ahead," Linda said. "We will win. We have al ready won. We have always already won, from the beginning, from before creation. What do you take in your coffee? I forget."


Later, he and Linda Fox went back up on the roof to view the remains of Belial. But to his surprise he saw not the carcass of a wizened goat-thing; instead he saw what looked like the remains of a great luminous kite that had crashed and lay in ruins all across the roof.

Somberly, he and Linda gazed at it as it lay broken everywhere, vast and lovely and destroyed. In pieces, like damaged light.

"This is how he was once," Linda said. "Originally. Before he fell. This was his original shape. We called him the Moth. The Moth that fell slowly, over thousands of years, intersecting the Earth, like a geometrical shape descending stage by stage until nothing remained of its shape."

Herb Asher said, "He was very beautiful."

"He was the morning star," Linda said. "The brightest star in the heavens. And now nothing remains of him but this."

"How he has fallen," Herb Asher said.

"And everything else with him," she said.

Together they went back downstairs to call the city. To have the machine come along to haul the remains away.

"Will he ever be again as he once was?" Herb Asher said.

"Perhaps," she said. "Perhaps we all may be." And then she sang for Herb Asher one of the Dowland songs. It was the song the Fox traditionally sang on Christmas day, for all the planets. The most tender, the most haunting song that she had adapted from John Dowland's lute books.

When the poor cripple by the pool did lie
Full many years in misery and pain,
No sooner he on Christ had set his eye,
But he was well, and comfort came again.

"Thank you," Herb Asher said.

Above them the city machine worked, gathering up the remains of Belial. Gathering together the broken fragments of what had once been light.
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