Sunday, 16 November 2014

...of distance

When Mendel Singer had finished the letter there was a vibrant silence in the room that seemed to melt into the stillness of the late summer afternoon, and out of which all the members of the family seemed to hear the voice of the emigrant son. Yes, Shemariah himself spoke over there in faraway America, where in this hour it was perhaps night or morning. For a moment they all forgot Mac's presence. It was as though he had become invisible behind the distant Shemariah. He was like a messenger who delivers a letter, goes on, and disappears. He himself had to remind them of his presence.
He got up and reached into his trousers pocket like a magician who begins to conjure something. He brought out a pocketbook, and took out of it ten dollars and two photographs. One depicted Shemariah with his wife Vega on a bench in a park, and in the other he was alone in a bathing suit on a beach, one body and one face among a dozen bodies and faces, no longer Shemariah but a Sam.
The stranger handed the money and the pictures to Deborah, after he had looked them all over as if to assure himself that each one of them believed in his trustworthiness. She held the note folded in one hand; with the other she put the pictures on the table beside the letter. All this lasted a few moments, in which everybody remained silent.

[Job: The Story of a Simple Man, Roth, J.]

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