MONDAY OF EASTER WEEK
“Right on the front page and not a word of
truth in it.” –Marvin Gardens
A tall, pale man was in the kitchen. He was sitting in one of the straight backed chairs drinking coffee and reading a newspaper. He had a moustache that was thin and well cared for—like David Niven. His hair was curly and receding. He was wearing a yarmulke that had been lovingly crocheted, like a doily on my grandmother’s end tables.
“Hey, Reed,” he said, “would you like some coffee?”
Reed told him he’d like some coffee very much. He got a cup from a big 40-cup coffee maker you would see at church socials.
Reed nodded, it seemed the appropriate response.
The man was extremely thin. His hands were bony and pale and shook a bit as he turned the pages of the paper.
“Page one,” he said, much as if it were the title of a children’s story he intended to read to a child. “Right on the front page and not a word of truth in it.”
There was a picture of Meyer at the bottom of the front page of the Globe. Two men in dark suits were holding his arms. Meyer’s hands were locked behind him with steel. He looked tired and sick. His eye patch was off-center.
“I didn’t know what was going on until the Eleven O’clock News,” he said. Same garbage. Lies. All lies. I couldn’t sleep at all after that. Imagine, I was in the house and didn’t know about it until I saw it on TV.”
Reed was standing beside the man, drinking his coffee. It was thick and strong, like melted licorice. Quietly, Reed realized he was talking with Marvin Gardens and must be in shock since he hadn’t recognized him. He looked up at Reed sadly.
“Something out of kilter about that, wouldn’t you say? Something akimbo. Imagine that—here all the time and had to see it on TV for it to be real for me….”
Reed tried to imagine, but all he could think of was how tired and sick Marvin looked, just like Meyer in the paper.
“Here,” he said, handing me the Globe, “see for yourself.”
He got up and paced the room. He seemed like a clay man.
Reed sat in his chair and fingered the newsprint. It is a feeling you never forget—even if you can’t read—that feeling of holding a paper, what it says to your fingertips.
On the back page of the first section there was an ad for Jordan Marsh. There was a clearance on furs.
Reed was half-way through the story about Meyer killing Pierce when he realized he was reading, that the words were marching along, hippity-hop, right into his mind in perfect sequence.
Marvin Gardens was leaning against the sink. His eyes were dark, almost black, beneath well-trimmed, David Nevin eyebrows. A tiny tear, no bigger than a greenbug, was crawling down his cheek.
“How the shit,” he said, “can they print lies like that?”
Here is what the newspaper story said.
There was a big headline at the top.
BRUTAL SLAYING IN CAMBRIDGE
Then a smaller headline under that.
Cult Leader Murders Undercover Officer
Then the story began.
CAMBRIDGE: David Pierce, 31, was the victim of a ritualistic murder in Cambridge on Easter Sunday. Police are holding Mayer Meyer, the leader of a Broadway Ave. commune, in connection with the slaying of the former Marine, winner of two purple hearts and a silver star in Viet Nam.
Cambridge Police Chief Herman Pissoff was quoted as saying, “this is the most horrible kind of suicide—a brutal, in humane rituals, perhaps the sacrificial rite of some twisted cult.”
A spokesman for the District Attorney said, off the record, that the imposing wood-frame house and its occupants had been the subject of an ongoing investigation. “Neighbors,” the unnamed official said, “alerted us regarding possible illegal activities at the cult. Some minors, mostly female, may have been held there against their will.” The continuing investigation of the “Isloo Factory”, as the house is known to it’s every changing retinue, is underway. A linguist from Harvard confided to this reporter that “Isloo” may refer to a Mesopotamian god of fertility and death.
Mystery shrouds Mayer Meyer’s life. The former George Washington University law-student and part time librarian, 40, lived with no visible means of support. Yet he supplied his disciples needs and paid the enormous bills of his cult members, affording them the comforts of the middle-class lifestyle he openly crusaded against.
A self-styled spiritualist and guru, Mayer….
Reed stopped reading before they told what a hero Pierce had been and before they called Meyer “demonic” and “a madman”. But he knew they did that. The story was a parched flower leaning toward that light.
He put the newspaper down and got up.
“Where are you going?” Marvin asked.
“Upstairs to read a candle,” Reed said.
He smiled, confused. “Do you think they misspelled his first name on purpose or because they’re stupid?”
“Yes,” Reed answered.
“When you come back,” he said, “I’ll have some eggs and ham and toast and more coffee.”
“You eat ham?” Reed asked, pointing at the top of his head. He reached up and touched his skull cap.
“Of course,” he said, “it’s a by-product of lox.”
“We’ll have breakfast then,” Reed said. “That will be good.”
“It’s what we need to do, I think,” Marvin said, opening the refrigerator.
Reed went to his room and dug the Christmas candle out of the closet. He sat it lovingly on the bed and read the messages from Christmas past. They said:
god is Love
And, These are the days when birds come back
A very few,
a bird or two,
to take a backward look.
And, of course: We’re all in this thing together