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Home Again - Another Interlude: I return from my trip to Israel, but find that I can't put the memories behind me.
Posted by Douglas, Jun 14, 2008. 2195 views. ID = 1384

Home Again - Another Interlude

Posted by Douglas, Jun 14, 2008. 2195 views. ID = 1384
This post was written in 8 minutes.
This post has been awarded 24 stars by 6 readers.
This post is Part 5 of a writing series titled The Bovine Man.

After I returned home from my trip to Israel, I didn't see the bovine man again for several years. That doesn't mean I didn't think about him from time to time; he came uneasily to mind every time I thought about the people and places of ancient Middle Eastern history. By which I mean to say, I thought of him every time I read from my Bible. After a while I began avoiding large chunks of the scriptures, simply because I didn't like being reminded of that creepy little man with the shabby clothes and the wide set eyes that looked like they were staring in two directions at once.

I'm embarrassed to say it, but I half expected to bump into him every time I turned a corner or entered a room. At times I was sure I could feel his dry, hot, gravelly breath on the back of my neck. Then I would turn around abruptly, only to find no one there at all.

At other times, I would be walking down a street, or through a crowded shopping mall, and I would notice a strange vortex of emptiness, a circular no-man's land which the crowds avoided without realizing they were doing so. I would stop abruptly and stare into that no-man's land, looking for a short, stout little man with a bestial face and a deep mewling voice, but there was never anyone - or anything - there. I would push through the crowds, just to see if I could enter that vortex as I had in Tel Aviv, but in crossing the invisible boundary of the circle, it would collapse around me, and the crowds would rush in, like air rushing into a vacuum. Then I would tell myself I was imagining things, and I would hurry on to complete my business and get back to the safety of my own home.

Even the church was not safe from his haunting. On Sundays I would stand with the congregation to sing such cheerful, happy-go-lucky hymns as In My Heart There Rings a Melody, and all the while I would be afraid to hear his mournful, mocking voice rising above the choir of congregants in minor dissonance, singing of death and pain and horror. In the moments of silent meditation and prayer, I was almost certain I could hear the soft, painful echoes of "Lulay Lulay" bouncing endlessly from rafter to rafter above me.

Perhaps you know this: if you're constantly looking over your shoulder, or frantically scanning rooms for faces no one else knows to look for, or stopping to stare at a point of strange emptiness which no one else seems to notice, these are not traits that make you the life of any party. As time went on I found myself gradually easing out of more and more social engagements. What if, I would think to myself, What if I'm out with my friends and he shows up? How do I explain him? Even worse, what if he shows up and I'm the only one who can see him?

When I had those kinds of thoughts, I would remind myself of that moment on the streets of Bethlehem, in front of the Church of the Nativity, when the bovine man broke into mournful song, and all the street paused to listen. Surely he was visible - or at least audible - to them! Yet, the more I thought back to that strange afternoon, the more I thought, I never noticed anyone so much as glancing in his direction as we stood there listening to him sing - is it possible that they were simply in a hypnotic trance, and never knew what was happening to them?

These questions, and many others, troubled me - no, they haunted me - for several years. Until, at last, the traveling bug bit me again, and I set out for distant lands once more.

Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 24 stars by 6 readers.
This post is Part 5 of a writing series titled The Bovine Man. The next part of this series can be found here: Roman Amphitheater.
This is a revised version of a post. Click here to view the original version

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