“Funny how the necessary seems shallow, but if you go below the surface you begin to wonder why it seems necessary.  The compulsions behind what we do.  It’s easy to say it’s just money.  Why my buddy lost his wife and lives on the streets now, but I don’t think it’s the root of it.  The root of the problem.  It’s the seed that first takes root.  And look how many there are around us!  They’ve fallen everywhere.  That indication of spring.  It’s a fine time, isn’t it?  Spring in New Orleans?  All these seeds fallen from trees.  Wasted on rock and pavement.  Looking for cracks in the earth to bury themselves and grow.  Almost makes you wonder if there’s a psychology to it—a behavior.  What makes a seed a seed?  What makes it do what it does?”

“I don’t think they have a mind to call it psychology…”

“No…  but they have a will.  They do what’s necessary of them.  And they most go deep to fulfill their destiny.  Deep into the earth.  What they’re destined to do…  Do you believe in destiny?”

“No…”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my own life.”

There’s a gleam in this wino’s lazy eye.  A smile to his lips.  He knows David is listening now.  And by making what’s apparent about his story he’s said something that it’s not.

“But there you just said it!  An idea.  An idea has a will—a behavior it follows.  It has a destiny.  Like a seed that’s planted, it grows.  It falls from a tree, another flower, in its conception.  It’s inspired by death—what’s cut down.  But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit…”

“Seeds don’t die.  They were never alive.  They either take root or they don’t.”

“You don’t think something dies in love?  You see my buddy didn’t just fall in love with a woman.  He fell in love with a married woman.  And how does it feel?  When you covet?  Do you make a deal?  A deal with yourself almost like something else is there?  He didn’t tell me how the husband died, but it made me wonder.  Wonder about what became necessary for him.  And we’ve already talked about that, haven’t we?  What seems necessary?  For a legacy?  Why seeds do what they do.  Hah!  And so now I ask you—was he punished?  Cursed?  He stole another man’s wife.  And then he went from job to job until there were no jobs left.  And then the woman did what was necessary.  For there’s a man’s responsibility and a woman’s responsibility.  One’s accountable to reason and one’s not.  So was he punished?  Punished for his passion?”

And David sees a bird.  A bird passes over them.  Low in the sky.  Singing.  David watches it pass over.  His eyes looking up into the sun.  The bird a fleeting shadow.

“Yes…  he was being punished.”

“You would say that?  Even if the man was you?”

“Yes…  I would say that.”

“Why?”

“Because he made a choice…”

“But do you think it was necessary?  Do you think a seed makes a choice?”

“It makes a choice if it takes root.  For then it really lives…”

And that was the story the wino told David.  They were where the wino wanted to go now.  The square where the slaves had once gathered, Congo Square, the future home of an opera house. David waited while he went to meet the man.  He waited in that transaction of buying and selling.  Something was sold to be bought, and something was bought to be sold.  And once it was over the wino didn’t walk back with him.  He didn’t walk with David on his return to his wife.  It was Easter Sunday, 1946, and David wondered if he should be troubled.  For this was a different prophecy—this story a homeless man told him about another man that was homeless.  It wasn’t a warning on lies, but the truth.  And David just wasn’t sure if it was a memory or the moment—the permanence he felt—that question, that age-old question of what was required of him.  All he knew is when he saw her, when he saw Bethany, it was like looking at eyes without a face, and the seed was planted.  He didn’t return empty-handed, and he knew he had already made his choice.

21

Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs.

He takes nothing  from his labor that he can carry in his hand…

                      –King Solomon

             There is a time for everything, and now is the time to speak of fathers—David’s father—in what he dreamed for his son.  In the wife that he would marry.  And the children they would conceive…

Advertisements