A door opened; he was looked at and considered, the door did not close and the man turned slightly to face it. His eyes blurred. His stomach rumbled with hunger. He was handed a book with a bookmark, then a plate of food was put down. His eyes clouded in a familiar swirl as his mind struggled for identity of that which was before him; the book sank into his hands and he saw nothing, and he felt nothing and he was faint, he stumbled and fell for a moment and was pulled up, and straightened and he pushed his hand out to the table to hold onto it. He pawed blindly at the cover of the book, that his fingers could see what he could not, and then at the pages inside. The Book of Evil? Why him, why should he be holding it, and with panic he thought, and now, why now? The Book of Evil is the last book of the Bible but at some pivotal point of history, at a time when men feared evil and knew it, saw it and could identify evil when he did see it; a time when it wasn’t tolerated to see evil and not know it, did someone with the framework upon identification see and delete the Book of Evil and by doing so did delete the memory of evil that lived among us? His mind played games with him: how could he remember what never was remembered? Searching, and trembling, his fingers pawed at the pages, turning, turning them, every day a day of his life turning and ending, then ending with the last page. His fingers groped; searching, searching, searching every page, every paragraph, and every line. Was it all lost? Was it man who deleted the last book? Or was it God? A heavy chair with a padded tapestry seat and two polished wood arms that matched the carved legs was pushed across the floor with a scrape and it brushed against his pant and then rubbed at his leg behind his knee and he sat down into the comfort of it, not knowing that he did and his mind with invisible fingers rummaged through files of little cards, filed away one after the other, stuck in a rolodex of all memories: looking; looking for that forgotten slip of information, and not found; and the book sank into his lap with great weight. The book was taken from his hands. He looked out the window as a man turned the corner. “What are you doing?” he called. I am looking for rye, the stranger answered. We have need of rye. “Nothing grows here, we are lucky the grass grows. There is no rye,” he snapped a retort. The stranger did not leave but stood in the same spot, at the corner of the house, where he asked the question and was now waiting for the answer. The man in the room was weak and knew he could not argue with the man in the yard who said he was looking for rye. The man sank further into the luxury of the chair, as if it was made for him and him alone. He pummeled again, Was it man who deleted the book? Or was it God?
God? There is no God!
The Book of Evil is not the last book, the last chapter, or the last pages of the Bible, there is no final discerning act of beings, good or evil, outcast, killed, dragged from the paradise we didn’t see around us and before us. Evil is living in our paradise and has been. We forgot the paradise that once surrounded us with great comfort. It suckled us, cared for us and nurtured, but slowly, one small furtive unnoticed act followed another, then more brazenly but never stopped, evil slowly and in the open walked into Paradise and was never asked to leave, no identification was checked, no swords were held up in protest, but entered Paradise as if Paradise was always its natural residence and birthright. Long ago we were smothered by love yet somehow forgot. We exist, surrounded by evil, not asking what is evil and what is not, who is evil is and who is not but instead we tolerate the fog that settled on us, in us, around us; smothering under the transience of time that passed too quickly in echoes of being busy we are burdened and growing old under it and with it. In Paradise evil now sleeps in the best beds and shares the same pillows comfortably, sometimes so comfortable it snores loudly yet is never shooed from the bed because it has grown too cumbersome and it requires too much effort for it to be rolled from the bed; and so Paradise and Evil share the same pillow and the same blanket and the same bed.
The man would not have thought this, except in his journal he recorded the important events of the day and those he wished to be recalled in the future, which for some reason in this melancholy moment he sat to read, page by page, back to front, slowly, back and forth reading and rereading every word page by page and every paragraph and every phrase: the melancholy filling him deeper and deeper from the roots of his being and upward. April 12th the entry was made into the journal that evil let its presence be known, and on April 12th the man asked the question if he was in bed with evil. Evidently he didn’t know the answer because he neither changed the bed, changed the locks on the door, never cried for help, nor made a report, because knowing that he was in bed with evil, and for whatever crimes evil committed, he was also guilty; so in bed, later that same evening although he saw how the bed was different, it was one he made and the one in which he must sleep, and did sleep. Now with that realization, the ultimate problem, if it was a problem at all, he asked himself, even if he should acknowledge the bed, and he hadn’t as of that point come to full acknowledgment, if he did acknowledge there was a sharing of pillows should he report the problem, and to whom would he report it; he then wondered what if any of the responsibility was his. They would want particulars, the party he was reporting to: the what the when the where the who the why; and such a demand would layer an additional and impossible burden on him since he didn’t know the answers, he only knew he was in bed with evil and it was unwittingly done. The man as he thought of it now dazed, deluded and confused, thought perhaps he was not sleeping with evil, perhaps it did not creep into the Garden of Eden, regardless if it was done in broad daylight or the dark of night. He considered next with all his pulled together rationale that evil was always here, always in Paradise, that he was blind and refused to see it. Which was worse- to be blind and not see it or to see it and be blind? If he was blind it was evil who lured him into bed and not him who lured evil; and this was of some kind of comfort to him and came with great relief. The man realized with a sudden clarity and an ephemeral of vision, that all men have free will: If God let the Book of Evil be read would mankind have killed themselves refusing to live with the evil, be surrounded by evil or consumed by evil, and in doing so with their death be leaving God and themselves without a legacy? Or would mankind, rather than choosing death, choose to live with evil and be the victor in the end? Everyone wants to win in the end; no one really likes to lose at anything. No one wants to die. How could God hold a man responsible for his selfless acts of self-preservation? If God meant for man to live with free will, and in choosing so, did God, knowingly destroy with his own hand the last book of the Bible?
The man realized it was too late to change any of it, change any of the questions, change any of the answers or change any of the choices, since it is now settled history and we are in the same bed, the same garden, the same paradise. All he could do, and does do is lay his head down and dream: dream whatever it is that he’s allowed to remember to dream and to push back the nightmares that wake him with cold sweat and shivers. And all the thoughts and all the nightmares are forgotten by morning because in the morning he has to be at the office early, and the necessities to perform the necessary rush at his first opened eye: the alarm clock is the first rush and from that the scuffle of feet everywhere to get to where he must be and be timely.
In the darkness, he pulls up the blanket, and the breath of evil is on the man’s neck, but he is tired, he doesn’t feel it, and he falls asleep to deep sleep remembering: This is the same paradise we all share, and it is best for me to learn to dream only when I am asleep; with that he closed his eyes; but, as always, he won’t remember to dream, but being exhausted he does fall to a unknown time of unwakefullness only to realize it is morning and it is the clock that is causing the pounding between his eyes, and a person holding a cup of coffee is offering to choose the day’s attire. With the day’s attire chosen, he is stripped of his nightshirt and stripped of the night. The bed is made with fresh sheets and a fresh blanket and the meal not eaten from the night before is also stripped from the room and replaced with another plate which the man did not see put before him, but he is hungry and his stomach was rumbling. He is handed the book with others and they’re shoved into his arms until they pressed against his chest and he grabbed onto them to not drop what he was given to hold. The voices in his head speak a little louder as the man’s footsteps push forward to walk away from all that, all that dreaming and thinking of dreaming and dreaming to think, and he takes then a step into the world that lies at the threshold, and the man steps into it, once again, again unaware and having forgotten why the first step was taken with temerity fastened at his heel, and in taking this step crossed from one reality to another; the man did not hear the voice in his head that said he was going to die and it would be a slow and gradual death day by day rotting with festering sores from the inside out until he would be unable to breathe and would then die of asphyxiation.
At the threshold, the man looked to what was before him and he was tired and shoved the pile of books to his hip and he wiped his brow and rubbed his eyes. He pressed his hand against his forehead to ease the pounding pain of a headache, he was weak and the books slipped from his fingers; would you like help, he was asked, yes, he answered and he took a step and then another step and a voice told him he would never die and he need only take the first step to live and the man stumbled and looked at his feet as if they were not his feet that made him stumble; forgetting everything that blurred his mind he stepped without temerity and he took another step and then his first which was light when it rose from the pavement.