As he said the name over and over again, he lashed on the table with his human hands, and I heard the sound of chains rattling on the side of the desk and I realized that his whole diatribe was a sort of incantation he was involuntarily performing on himself. I wondered if the Dragon would wake up in the next room, but there was not a sound in his office, except for his subdued meowing and the chains.
I felt in me a feeling I had never felt before. It was the feeling of my mouth being unzipped at the very moment that I tried to scream something – anything – to make the demon shut his mouth. I tried to scream, knowing that I would be unable to scream anything. But as soon as I moved up in my chair, I said, “Shut your mouth! Shut it!”
And the shrieking stopped. And the chains were silent. I stood with my feet on different stairs. My arms were to my side. And I stood there in the darkness and for the first time I smelled the burning paper. The whole office smelled like burning paper and I had the image in my mind of black leaves flying in the heat. Then I heard the fire. It was as if the entire office had no doors, but was a box that sat in the middle of a fire that did not consume it.
In the darkness, with the shrieking stopped and the chains silent, I heard my breath and the heavy breath of some other creature. That heavy breath ended each time with a soft thud, like a brick thrown on a pillow.
I walked down the stairs towards the breath. I walked down the stairs toward the light and the desk. I walked down the stairs towards the pair of hairy hands. I walked down the stairs towards two eyes glowing in the darkness. I walked down the stairs past the rows in the amphitheater. I walked down the stairs full.
I came to the desk so that my belt buckle rested on its surface. I stood there and watched puffs of hot breath come out of the darkness and into the light.
“I want to know something,” I said.
The breath in the light, a nose poked into the light with its nostrils flared. Eyes above it.
“What do you want to know?” said the scribe.
“What is your name?” I asked.
A face in the light. The face of a goat, blank eyes.
“My name?” I watched the scribe say, his lips pronouncing the words and his white teeth.
“Yes. Your name,” I said. I put my hands on the table next to his. The tips of my fingers touched the tips of his fingers.
“My name. My name. My name. My name…” he muttered, something and closed his eyes, his square blank pupils. “You do not need to know my name.”
“Tell it to me. Tell me your name.”
“What name do you want?”
“What should I call you?”
“The scribe,” he said.
“What did God call you?”
“What do you call yourself?”
“Legion,” he said, opening his eyes and his pupils contracting.
“Belwal, I am going to ask you a question.”
“Ask it, Abe.”
“What would you have written?”
He said nothing, but leaned back into the darkness.”
“Abe, Abe, for you I would have written something great. I had it all planned out. It was going to be my masterpiece.”
I sat down in the front row, so that my eyes were at the same level as the glowing eyes behind the light.
“Abe,” he said, sliding his arms across the table and the chains dragging with them. They were attached to his hairy wrists. “I would have written something not unlike what has been written. You married Lucy. You had Elijah. You joined the church and became a religious man. But mistaking the women in your childhood as women and not civilizations, you exchanged your knowledge for hidden lusts. Your next promotion brought you and your family to Illinois. You worked long days and had little time to think of anything besides work. When you came back home at night, when Lucy sat at the kitchen table with two cups of tea, you did not sit down and talk to her or even drink the tea. You showered and went straight to bed. Earlier in your marriage, she would have said something about this behavior, but years in she found no reason to. If she had to make you see that she was dying and that Elijah was dying, then it proved to her that you no longer loved either of them, or knew how. She did not want to be harsh. She knew you were doing what you thought was best for the family. And so she did what she thought was the best for the family. She raised Elijah, quietly…
…I had my head between my legs and my arms crossed over my knees and I wept. The scribe was silent and he let me weep. Finally, I brought my head up and asked him what my life would be like from now on. He said that his authority was taken. He told me not to rejoice in this, but that I should rejoice that my name is written in heaven.
The whole room was filled with light and I saw the scribe in his suit and he raised his arms up and I saw the chains and he began to shriek and he asked me for forgiveness and the whole room shook and I wondered if the Dragon was being awakened and he said no it is not but that I was being awakened and then he tells me that of all creatures he and his fellows are to be the most pitied for they are the only creatures made by Yahehwei who are under the burden of the strict legality of predestination and then Belwal cried out to God and said Lord if you are a Lord of mercy take away my reason and my senses and make me nothing but a tool why does a tool need to feel when it cannot act on its own Lord just take away this eternal pain and make me a tool of muscles and flesh and mind make me unable to distinguish good from evil or kill me now.
I woke up with pastor Rick Wilder and Lucy looking down at me. “Abraham? Abraham?”