Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Father’s Day In Little Aleppo

“I was going to tell you these things, but I didn’t have a chance. I wrote it all down.”

Enrich held up three pages from a yellow legal pad.

“Don’t smoke. Whatever you do, don’t smoke. Worse than drinking, or pot, or whatever. Worse than everything. I did. Eleven years? Twelve? Something like that. Quit when your grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. You never met him. He would’ve loved you. He’s right over there.

“Your grandfather sold bonds. When a town or a city wants to build something, a bridge or whatever, then they issue a bond. It’s like asking for a loan. Investors buy pieces of the bond, and they get paid back with interest. The rates are set. You know how much money you’ll make ahead of time. There are investments you can make that will pay off better, but they’re riskier. Stocks, or real estate, or currency or whatever. You can make more investing in those things, but you can also lose a lot. With a bond, you know you’re getting paid. They’re safe.

“He wore a suit to work every day. Grey, usually. Three-piece. He was skinny, and when he got older he had a pot belly.

“I’ve been thinking about Abraham and Isaac. I didn’t write this down.”

Enrich held up three pages from a yellow legal pad.

“But, I’ve been thinking about it.

“So.

“Yeah.

“It’s not about faith. It’s about being fucked with.

“God said to Abraham, kill me a son. Abe said: God, you must be putting me on. That’s from a song, I didn’t think that up. Somebody else’s words. I was gonna play that song for you.

“Abraham was the first Jew. God picked him all special-like. Lucky Abraham. God came to Abraham in dreams and burning bushes and all sorts of signs. Never came down and talked to him like a reasonable person. Mysterious ways, and all that.

“God told Abraham that there was only one God, and that it was Him. People thought there were a lot of gods back then, but apparently there was only the one. And He was jealous. He was needy.

“He was a mean little asshole.

“God appears to Abraham in a dream, and tells him to take Isaac up Mt. Moriah. There’s an altar up there where animals are sacrificed. Take Isaac to the altar, God says, and he will be your ultimate sacrifice.

“Prove you love Me, Abraham.

“Put Me before all things, Abraham

“And he did. Abraham. He led Isaac up the path to the altar, and they did not speak. Bible stories don’t have a lot of detail, but that part’s in there. They didn’t speak on the way up.

“But once you have that detail, you want more of them. Did Abraham lead, or did they walk side-by-side? Was it pink dawn, or blue noon, or purple dusk? Did they see any animals? Maybe one of them stopped, sat on a rock, crossed his leg over his knee and adjusted the straps of his sandals.

“That’s the thing about stories: the details are important.

“When they got to the altar, Abraham bound Isaac to it just like he would a goat or sheep. Abraham had a sharp knife. Sacrificial rites were made with a slice across the neck, but an angel grabbed Abraham’s wrist.

“We are not told the angel’s name.

“The angel explains that God has seen Abraham’s faith, and seen that it was good, and said that it was good, and it was good. And that Abraham should release Isaac from his bonds, and substitute a goat instead. The angel gestured, and there was a goat where before there was no goat.

“Nothing grew in a large circle around the altar in a giant, weeping circle. Blood is not fertilizer. Just dusty ground.

“Abraham sliced the goat’s neck open, and first the blood was light red, but quickly it was dark and almost black.

“Abraham and Isaac walked back down the path. They didn’t speak coming down, either.

“Everyone else spoke. Everyone else had an opinion.

“I went to the library, Spants Library at the college, and I read some books about the story. Lot of different viewpoints.

“The Jews argued that God was testing Abraham. Some of them, at least. God is Just, they say, and therefore Isaac’s murder was not even a possibility. Other Jews said that Abraham was testing God. That he was, in essence, daring God to let him kill Isaac. Abraham had to find out whether God was Just. Still other Jews thought that God was teaching Abraham a lesson about how human sacrifice was unacceptable.

“There used to be a lot more human sacrifice than there is now.

“Christian thinkers had a different interpretation. Weird, right? They said that Abraham’s faith in God was such that he believed that He would resurrect Isaac. They saw a lot of Christ parallels in the Isaac story.

“Weird, right?

“It’s in the Koran, too. The story with Abraham and Isaac, it’s in the Koran, too. Muslim scholars say that Abraham received the dream, told it to Isaac, and they both accepted the will of Allah. Walked up the mountain with no muss, and no fuss.

“You should remember that a translation of a thing is not the thing.”

Enrich held up three pages from a yellow legal pad.

“I wrote that down. I wanted to tell you that. It all fits into each other, eventually.

“But, uh, I don’t think any of them are right. I’m not smarter than Maimonides, but I still think he’s wrong. I think the story’s about weakness. I think the story’s about caprice. I think the story’s about a God who likes fucking with people. I think God’s a bully.

“Abraham doesn’t have faith. He has fear. If he doesn’t kill his son, then God will kill him and his son and everyone he loves. God’s a blackmailer. God’s a goddamned terrorist, and if Abraham had any balls at all, he would have told God to go fuck Himself.

“It’s a story about cowardice.

“It’s a warning, I think. That’s why it’s so close to the beginning of the book. It’s a warning.

“Your faith will never be enough.

“Your deeds will never enough.

“Not if God takes an interest.”

Enrich held up three pages from a yellow legal pad.

“I got off track. I wanted to tell you some things. Next time.

“Next time.”

Enrich Blitzstein laid three pages from a yellow legal pad on the grass that had grown over his daughter; when he straightened up, he fished in his coat pocket for the stone he had brought, found it, balanced it on the tombstone. He walked to his car without looking back, and did not notice the wind snatch up the three pages from a yellow legal pad. When he got home to the three-bedroom split-level on Crater Road, he took out a pistol and did not kill himself.

And then he did not kill himself for the rest of the night.

The sun will rise, it always fucking does, and there will be chirping and joggers and life going on even if it has broken you and left you behind. The sun rises on the Lord and losers alike in Little Aleppo, which is a neighborhood in America.

3 Comments

  1. Bravo! Enrich-The existential hero.

  2. For others like myself who read this page while they should be working and can not always steal enough time for the Little Alepo posts, there is good news, ToTD seems to consistently “tag” them so the following URL brings them all into one location to read at a later date.

    Click on the tag link at the bottom and it will take you to this url, and viola there they all are.

    http://thoughtsonthedead.com/tag/little-aleppo/

    • NoThoughtsOnDead

      June 19, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      As someone who organizes my life in order to have enough time to read ToTD, this was known to me, but it’s a mitzvah to share it.

      I also have to wonder if this is not my cue to cut and paste all the tagged entries, in order to produce the hoped-for “manuscript.” What says the original author (who probably has a major publishing deal ALL LINED UP, already)?

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