The Book of Creation: A Novel (continued)

IV

The world was created out of void and waste.

Tell me something I don’t know.

In those days, void and waste was what you did and what you saw.

It was scary.

How would you feel when a fetid pile is pulled from your tush and dropped in a pail?

What is it?

You learn not to ask.

And that was at home.

The playground. This was a different pile of waste entirely.

She put me on the ground with the other miserable kids and went by a bench to talk with her friends.

In Prospect Park.

You think this is neglect?

Who are you kidding?

Who then knew from neglect?

Rolling around in the grass with other kids was a blessing.

It was where I learned the world up close.

Void and waste?

You bet.

Nobody that had a dog had a thought of picking it up.  And the cigarette butts littering the ground with lipstick so red you thought a murder had happened.

And bottles.

Mostly empty.

And then one day.

Shards of glass.

This was interesting.  I had seen glasses.  And I had seen bottles.  But never before had I seen anything quite like this. They lay across the ground, glittering in the sun, sometimes catching its brilliant light, and sometimes just lying clear intensifying the green of the grass.

What were they?

How did they get here?

I put my hand out to grab the light .

And howled.

Howls I heard back, and running feet, and everybody got snatched up except for me.

Who got hit.

And then snatched.

Seriously?   I’m the one who hurt myself.

I’m the one who’s bleeding, and you think it’s a good idea to hurt me more so I know I shouldn’t hurt myself?

I cried.

So would you.

And as she finally picked me up, tears dropped from my eyes into the light and the glass.

Who can remember more?

Don’t ask.

**********

VII

The first one arrived alone.

A lump of clay is all, maybe more like a golem than a man.

Or a woman.

In either case it didn’t do much.

Just lay there.

Like void and waste.

Voided waste.

The angels, whose propensity for gossip and slander already was well-known in the neighborhood, naturally talked about him.

And it wasn’t nice.

Gossip never is.

What was it doing anyway, just lying there?  With all of the trees and the grass, the blue skies and foamy water, the clouds and the creeping things and crawling things and especially the swimming things which were ultra-cool because they looked so graceful and moved so fast, why would anybody with any sense, and especially Him, make such a depressing pile of random mud that looked like a washed over sand castle except it was browner and muckier?  It was nasty, they said.  Get rid of it, they said. And how freakin’ lazy could a creation be?  We’ve been working day and night for what, six days without any rest, and he gets to lie around watching Oprah or something?

Obviously the angels didn’t have enough to do with themselves that they had to sit and complain about somebody who was probably having a tough enough time of it in the first place.  I mean, think of how you would feel.  You so obviously didn’t fit in, and there was nothing you could do about it anyway because you were you and that’s the way you were made and there are some things you can’t change even if you want to, so maybe you were instead a big shot and so much prettier and had wings and stuff that you should appreciate that you were maybe lucky to have and didn’t really deserve at least any more than anybody else who didn’t have them and so maybe you could just be a little bit gracious to someone less fortunate than you for a change?

But who cares about the angels?  It wasn’t nice what they said about the lump, but you should hear what they said about each other.

Behind their backs of course.

Anyway, so this poor shmuck is lying on the ground with nothing to do while things are happening all over the place.  Birds, bees, trees.  Sweet fruit, beautiful flowers, fresh air.  Clear skies, a cool breeze.

It was kind of like paradise.

Except for the lump of shit.

Or whatever.

It wasn’t having any of it.

I felt sorry for it.

What do you mean, how did I feel sorry for it?  What do you mean, I wasn’t there because how could I be there if it hadn’t even got up from the dirt yet? Of course I was there.  If you think about it, you were there too.  All of us were there. Even Bob Dylan was there.  Who was known in those days as Bobby Zimmerman. He changed his name.  

Like that made a difference.

All right, maybe I wasn’t there in the way you’re thinking.  Your stunted imagination is not after all my problem.  But you’re right, I wasn’t there like a lump of shit, or even a miserable three year old lying puking in my bed because the milk was bad because who could remember to buy milk for a week when you had to remember to buy more Scotch and listening to them bitch about the fact that now they couldn’t go to the city because Bubbe was in the mountains with Aunt Rose and Uncle Jack and who could find somebody else to babysit at the last minute when all the teenage girls these days had pocket money from their rich parents and dates on Saturday nights and nobody wanted to take care of a puking kid anyway?

Forget who actually gave me the rotten milk in the first place.

Anyway, I was there.  Not me like me, but like me in light, a shard of light, the same light you were in.  He just hadn’t made the light bulbs yet so we could each maybe have our own space.  And maybe he wasn’t going to make them if he listened to the angels bitching, may all they have to drink be rotten milk.

The angels were nothing if not persistent.  All day long He had to listen to them, one after the other and sometimes in groups. Cliques really. They’d go up and talk to him like so many mean girls complaining to the principal that the sight of the dirt was spoiling their view and the stench – well – how could a person enjoy the smell of the flowers and the fresh air with such a smell like that all the time and couldn’t it go maybe to another school or at least be put in another class?

He’s very patient, you know.  Gracious, merciful, slow to anger, all that.

Or so he says.

Anyway, even He could only take so much.

Sunset was approaching.  Orange yellow red purple.  And you could really enjoy it because you knew it wasn’t caused by pollution.  It was that quiet peaceful time, the time you are contemplating a pre-prandial cocktail, relaxing music, maybe conversation with a friend.

Peaceful except for the shrillness of angels.

Shut up! he thundered. 

            I cannot stand all your bitching and all the noise.
I cannot think.

            And if I cannot think NONE OF YOU EXIST.

Well, as you can imagine, even with your limited imagination, this scared the bejeezus out of the angels.  They got quiet pretty fast.  Actually total silence. But you know what they say about calms before storms. No sooner than it had quieted down than He grabbed off the top of a mountain with one of his hands.  A mountain in his hand?  You bet. His hands were like the size of New Jersey, or at least one of the Kabbalists in the building said so.  You could probably pick up at least a mountain if your hands were the size of New Jersey. And, like I told you, I was there to watch it. So were you, and you would have seen it too.

If you’d been paying attention and had a little imagination.

Anyway, he took the mountain and just smashed it down, just hurled it down near where all the angels were sitting and trembling and waiting for what would come next and thinking that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all to say bad things about another person and complain about him all the time.  The little pussies were so scared that they didn’t even notice that where they were sitting happened to be just by him.

By the lump.

The thing about angels is that they may be pussies but they have moves.

He didn’t.

A lump of clay doesn’t bounce and weave like Mohammed Ali.

So the angels blasted out of the way except that creepy Todd whom I always hated because he acted like you weren’t there and he was kind of prissy and had a voice like a nose so I thought it was funny when he couldn’t skip away fast enough and got clipped by like a 20 ton boulder which took off one his wings which don’t by the way grow back.

The problem is he saw me laugh.

I didn’t think it was such a big sin.

I always seem to get in trouble that way.

Even if I’m not actually talking

People can tell.

That’s for later.

But the lump.

That poor lump.

Spattered to the four winds.

Really, by the time the maelstrom was over there wasn’t a drop of his mud anywhere to be seen.

None of this was a total shock.

We had all seen Him get pissed off before and it wasn’t ever pretty.

But what happened next?

He cried.

He did.

I mean, He really sobbed.

That I had never seen.

Rolling gathering rumbles of sound rose through the valleys and up the mountains.  The birds had figured out they’d better make themselves scarce. The trees trembled.  The ultra-cool swimming things dove deep. It got dark and I mean total black because even the moon and the stars were afraid to come out. So that was one day of creation down the drain.  Rain crashed down on everything.

The angels were of course nowhere to be seen.

It seemed like hours, but who knew from time back then?

In any event, it happened when the crying stopped.

He spoke.

He doesn’t speak much so when he actually says something you listen.

What are you asking me for?  I don’t know what he said.  What am I that he should speak to me?  Me, I’m just a shard of light by now He doesn’t even notice and even if he did I’m not the kind of person He’d be likely to talk to.

But I had eyes.

I saw what He made.

And boy, what He made.

It changed my entire life.

Yours, too.