I met Seraphim at Grand Central, and he suggested we go to the lobby of the adjacent Hyatt and sit and chat before the others arrived. In that luxurious plush dark wood and gleaming brass and soft-cushioned environment, I told him about the movie “The Reader” I’d seen the evening before. It took a while to spin out the story, and Seraphim’s immediate reaction was that the whole thing seemed implausible. Like perhaps a stage play. How was it possible that Hanna’s illiteracy was never discovered as she went from job to job and ended up as one of the guards or administrative people at Auswitch? My learned friend found a couple other examples of the plot’s lack of credibility, and of course he was perfectly right.
I shared with him the story of my dear, life-long friends Brad and Dennis, and how they, childless, took me in as a son down in Texas back in the 60s. I told him about Dennis being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and my final meeting with him before he died, and how I was moved by Brad asking him, “Sweetie how do you want to handle this? Shall we talk about it, or not?” And him replying, “Let’s just BE.”
Later in that sad last visit, I was lying on the couch with the flu and Dennis was dozing in his armchair. Brad came in and told us lazy boys to get UP. I looked at her and said, “Brad, can’t you see that we’re SICK?”
Which absurd statement made us all laugh.
I went on to describe the very strange look Dennis had given me when I arrived at one of my earlier visits. When he saw me he was startled, and he stared at me, as if I had brought with me me some sort of awful premonition, of something dark, threatening, terrifying. But it passed, and we embraced.
Seraphim pulled out his slim volume of Robert Lax, entitled "21 Pages," and read a passage aloud. It of course fit the tone and atmosphere of my recollections of Dennis perfectly:
Something I remember about standing
in the rain, on the street, upright,of
course,and in driving rain. Not
driving, a vertical downpour. Night
and under a light in the downpour of rain.
Did I ask any questions then? Did I see
a face? I was absolutely alone on the
street. Alone. I was part of the rain. Not
part of the rain, part of the moment the
rain was about. I knew where I was.
I knew what I was doing. I knew what
was doing. There was nothing
particular about it to recall.