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The man wakes up to find things are slightly different than they were in Becomes the Happy Man. Those differences inspire the man to take a journey to find God.
What is God? Why is the idea of God universal to the human experience while the particular expressions of God are so diverse in human culture? What does the distinction between a universal and a diverse God mean for a person's belief in God? How does that belief change the way a person relates to other people? These are the questions for which the man seeks answers.
As in Becomes the Happy Man, the man as a young man and the man as a boy also make appearances.
The young man contemplates his experiences in the gathering of believers for the celebration of the supreme being, and he also learns to relate to one of the girls who lives and works in the house where the old woman lived before she died.
The boy falls asleep and finds himself on a spaceship with an important task as dictated by someone claiming to be God. His arrival on a distant planet and the completion of his task bring a surprise that not even the boy as a man could have anticipated.
Becomes God's Silent Prophet
It was still night when the man woke up.
The man woke up and opened his eyes. He closed them again and rubbed them.
The woman was not beside him.
But this time the man already knew what had happened to her and why...
* * *
...and that changed everything.
* * *
The man remembered the threats that the other woman had brought from the other man's brother. Apparently the woman had not taken those threats seriously--or at least not seriously enough to keep from trying to fix things.
The man knew that without a large bag of currency the woman would not be able to fix things and would come to the same end as the first time around.
But the man could do something to fix things--as long as he could get there in time.
The man jumped out of his sleeping place and ran out of the place where he lived at the top of the hill.
The man did not see the woman's beast, and he did not think about the woman's beast.
The man ran deep into the trees and found the place where no one else had found the large bag of currency he kept buried there.
The man did not know what time it was. The stars were bright, and the moon was new.
In the darkness, the man put the large bag of currency over his shoulder and ran through the trees. He ran through the trees until he descended a hill and found the bank of the river.
The man did not stay at the bank of the river. He did not stop and check the temperature of the water. He did not stop to think about anything regarding the river except that it was his means of getting to the woman and perhaps saving her life.
The man splashed into the river and swam to the other side.
He ran down the riverbank and through the trees.
When the man came to the place where the other man's brother lived--the place where the woman had lived until two weeks before--the man approached cautiously.
The man waited for beasts to appear. He waited for alarms of any kind, but he heard nothing except the wind through the trees.
Light poured out of the windows of the place where the other man's brother lived. Light poured out of the windows, but no one was inside.
The man hollered. The man shouted, but he received no reply.
The man ran to a building behind the place where the other man's brother lived. The building was the headquarters of the over-efficient political party that the other man's brother led.
The light in the building poured out of the windows. The light poured out of the windows, and everyone was inside. The woman, the other man's brother, and the many over-efficient political party members. The only one who was not inside was the man. The man was outside looking through a window and observing the situation.
The situation that the man observed was the woman crying while the over-efficient political party members assembled a large wooden contraption of some sort under the supervision of the other man's brother.
The man pounded on the window and showed his large bag of currency. He went to the entrance and the door cracked open.
A squeaky voice--from one of the over-efficient political party members no doubt--asked what trouble the man was bringing at that hour of the dark night.
The man said he had not brought trouble. He said he brought currency--a large bag of currency--but they could have trouble if they wanted it.
The door closed.
Voices mumbled within.
The door opened again and a small man invited the man into the building.
The other man's brother asked the man how much.
The man said it was double what the other man had not been able to find in the man's homeland. The man's homeland and the woman's homeland.
The other man's brother said to show it.
The man showed it.
The other man's brother told one of his over-efficient political party members to count it.
The over-efficient political party member began counting it.
While the over-efficient political party member counted the currency, the man asked the woman how she was.
The woman smiled and said she was fine. She said the man looked worried.
The man said he had sensed something terrible was about to happen to her. He had sensed it as soon as he had woken up and found her missing.
The other man's brother laughed and said the man wasn't much of a man if he couldn't keep the woman in his bed. He said but then again the woman was not the man's woman.
The man said he knew it very well.
The other man's brother said she did not belong to the man.
The man said the woman belonged to herself.
The other man's brother said the man could think that if he wanted. He said the woman knew the score.
The over-efficient political party member finished counting the currency. He told how much he had counted.
The man repeated that it was more than double what the other man had not been able to find in the man's homeland.
The other man's brother said it was exactly how much the woman had promised him if he would let her go live with the man for a couple weeks as though she was his lover.
The man said he was her lover.
The woman said not anymore.
The man said the other man's brother would have decapitated her if he hadn't brought the large bag of currency. He said wasn't that the decapitation machine the over-efficient political party members were assembling.
Everyone in the room laughed. The other man's brother said it was a printing press.
The man told the woman she was in grave danger.
The woman said the man could see for himself she was not in any danger.
The man said nothing. He looked around the room.
The other man's brother thanked the man for making things right with the large bag of currency.
The man said everything was wrong. He said things were not how they were supposed to be.
The woman said how did he know how things were supposed to be.
The man said he did not know. He asked the woman if she was staying with the other man's brother.
The woman asked the man if he had any more bags of currency--preferably large bags of currency.
A scratching sound came from the entrance that had turned into an exit.
The man said he had nothing left.
The man used the exit as it was supposed to be used.
The woman's beast entered when the man exited.
The man was glad to be rid of them both. The woman and the woman's beast. But he would have happily suffered the woman's beast if the woman had been earnest in her affection for him.
The man did not like to be bitter. He did not like feeling glad to be rid of anyone. If she was not happy being a good woman with him, then he should accept things as they were and release the bitterness in his heart. He didn't know how things were supposed to be. She had been right about that. The man wondered how she had known to say that at that moment.
The man thought about another question that another woman who had brought broken love into his life had asked him. His mother had asked him how he knew what was real.
The man asked himself how he knew how things were supposed to be and how he knew what was real. Everyone else behaved as though they knew the answers to these questions.
The man was not used to such abstractions except while he worked. He did not feel like swimming the river again in the darkness, so he wandered downriver to the bridge and crossed it. He did not pay any attention to where he was going. He only sensed a faint feeling of mortification when he passed over the side of the river where the woman's brother's body ended up the first time around. The man was losing sense of what was supposed to be, but what might have been still had a slight hold on him.
How did he know how things were supposed to be and how did he know what was real. Two questions. Two women. Both broken in love.
The man had a sudden impulse to take a journey. He decided to take a journey to find something even though he did not know exactly what he wanted to find. Long into the future he would remember that moment when the impulse first hit him.
The man headed directly home, quickened by the sudden sense of purpose. He laughed at himself for being susceptible to such a whimsical idea, yet he could not deny its power to awaken him. Perhaps it would dissipate by the time he got to the place where he lived alone again at the top of the hill. Perhaps he was just over-tired and overwrought from the woman's treachery. The man decided to keep going until this sudden impulse played itself out.
And then it struck him what exactly he was supposed to find on his journey. And he almost wept.
The sun broke over the horizon when the man arrived at the place at the bottom of the hill where the other woman and the other man lived.
The man signaled his presence.
The other woman opened the door. She looked at the man and his bag and she said things had changed.
The man agreed that things had changed. He said this time he remembered from the beginning.
The other woman said she could see how it would help. She asked about the woman.
The man said the woman was fine. He said she wasn't fine but she was safe.
The other woman offered the man some food.
The man said he had plenty of food. He asked the other woman if she remembered, and if she did remember, how much did she remember.
The other woman said this time she remembered everything too, and she even remembered more than he did.
The man asked the other woman about what she remembered that he didn't.
She said she remembered that the man could change the future but not the past.
The man said everyone could do that.
The other woman said she remembered that too.
The man asked if the other man was home yet.
The other woman said he would not be home for two more days, just like the first time around.
The man said he had a hard time remembering the future but he felt better now that he could remember much of the past.
The other woman again offered the man food.
The man said he had enough food for his journey.
The other woman asked where he was going.
The man said he was going to find God.
The other woman said the man had always said he did not believe in God.
The man said he had always said he didn't know.
The other woman invited the man inside.
The man went inside. The man smelled a faint odor of cooked kidney. He wondered if the other woman could really remember the future.
The other woman offered the man food once more.
The man asked if she had any cooked kidney.
The other woman said no. She told the man to sit.
The man sat. He said he could not stay long. He said he had planned to leave at sunrise. He had planned to leave at sunrise, and the sun had already broken the horizon.
The other woman said God was a metaphor.
The man said he did not believe in metaphors.
The other woman said he just hadn't found his yet.
The man said maybe that was what he was trying to find.
The other woman invited the man to stay with her until the other man returned.
The man said he could not. He said he needed to find a desert and he asked the other woman if her homeland had a desert.
The other woman said the man did not need a desert to find God. She said her homeland did not have a desert.
The man said he would find a desert.
The other woman kissed the man and invited him to stay with her.
The man had never known the other woman to be so forward. Despite their history of intimacy, she had always been demure. The woman had been the aggressive one.
The man said he would accept the food.
The other woman drew away. She went to the place where she prepared food.
The man said he would leave soon.
The other woman did not hear him from the place where she prepared food.
The other woman returned with the food. She wept.
The man thanked her for the food. He said she had changed.
The other woman said everything had changed.
The man said except the past.
The other woman said yes only the present and the future had changed.
The man ate the food the other woman had given him. He ate it standing up. He ate it near the exit so he could leave as soon as he finished eating.
And when he finished eating, he said he would go.
The other woman asked the man to stay and repair some of the things he had repaired the first time around.
The man said the other man would be home soon and he could do his own work in his own house.
The other woman said it was beginning to rain.
The man said he could travel in the rain. He said he could work in the rain and travel in the rain. That much had not changed.
The other woman said the man would not find God in the rain.
The man asked the other woman how she knew.
The other woman said that sounded like the kind of question the man was interested in answering for himself.
The man said he would find God in the desert if he found God anywhere.
The other woman said the desert was a metaphor.
The man said he did not believe in metaphors.
The other woman asked the man what he did believe in.
The other woman tried to kiss the man, but he pushed her away.
The man said that's what he was going to find out. To find out just what he did believe in.
And with that, the man drew the other woman close to him, gave her a kiss that neither of them would ever forget, and stepped out into the rain. He unconsciously kicked his foot out as though to stop the woman's beast from yapping at his heels, but the woman's beast was nowhere around. The man wondered what had made him think that the woman's beast would be at the place at the bottom of the hill where the other woman lived with the other man, the other man who would return home in two days.
The man went into town. The rain clouds had obscured the morning sun and returned everything to near darkness.
As the man passed the place where the law enforcers worked, he noticed light pouring from the windows. He noticed the other law enforcer working inside.
The man could not remember the future, but he could feel vague memories. He had no idea that they were memories of the future. He simply experienced them as impulses. As common impulses no different from any other impulses he had felt in his life.
The man desired the other law enforcer. The first time around, he had desired her in extreme circumstances, and perhaps this intensified his present feeling--although without disclosing its source.
The man entered the place where the law enforcers worked. He smiled and said hello to the other law enforcer.
The other law enforcer said wasn't he the man.
The man said yes.
She said wasn't he the man who worked hard down by the river in any weather.
The man nodded and said yes.
The other law enforcer said wasn't he the man who walked to and from the place where he worked by the river every day with what looked like the weight of the world on his shoulders.
The man said it sounded like she knew him very well.
She said that was all she knew about him. She asked him what she could help him with. She asked if he was on his way to work.
The man said no. He said he had decided to go on a journey and he wanted to know if her homeland had any kind of desert anywhere.
The other law enforcer asked why he wanted to know that. She said they didn't have any deserts but it was a strange question to ask of a law enforcer.
The man said she wouldn't believe him if he told her why he wanted to know that.
The other law enforcer said it wasn't her job to believe. She asked him why he seemed so happy today. She said he looked different than when she had always seen him carrying the weight of the world.
The man said he had decided to get help with the weight of the world.
The other law enforcer asked if he expected help from her.
The man said no, from the desert.
The other law enforcer said the only desert she knew of was in the land to the north, the land of snow and ice.
The man said that didn't make any sense.
The other law enforcer said it depended on your definition of desert.
The man said he understood. He said he would not go there because of the repressive government administration.
The other law enforcer said the land to the north, the land of snow and ice, had had a revolution a while back. She said some of the repressive government administration had taken refuge in her homeland.
The man said he was looking for a traditional desert, but he was glad to hear his one-time enemy had finally fallen.
The other law enforcer asked the man why he kept smiling at her.
The man said she wouldn't believe him if he told her why he kept smiling at her.
The other law enforcer said she had heard every line in the book and if he wanted to find himself locked up, he could continue; otherwise, he should just go on out and find his desert.
The man decided desire could only get you so far. At some point cooperation was necessary and this one appeared to be in no mood to cooperate--unless she was one of those who--but no, better not risk it given her position of authority.
The man left the place where the law enforcers worked. He left the place with a smile. He looked into the window once more and desired the other law enforcer once more.
She winked at him.
Perhaps she was one of those after all.
But once in the rain and on his way to the bridge, to the road beyond the bridge, on the road to the village near the sea, the far off sea, he put his desire aside and set his mind on finding God.
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