by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Rabbi Abner

Abner Jay - "St James Infirmiry Blues". Ezra arrived at 11:04pm for his appointment with Rabbi Abner. He got out of his car to the soundings of ten million crickets. The air was damp. He crossed the dirt road to the house.. It was a broad white manor, almost an hour outside of town, at the end of a line of telephone poles. At the porch he rang the bell. A little girl came to the door, dark, with large eyes.

"Yes?" she asked.

"I'm here to see Rabbi Abner," Ezra said.

"He's in the back." She motioned for Ezra to follow the veranda to the right. She closed the screen door.

"Thank you," said Ezra, but she was gone.

He walked to the rear of the house. He crossed drooping tomato plants and a dead potted lilac. He squinted and looked out over the fields, to the faded stars. He turned the house's corner and suddenly music rose up from under the crickets' calls. A man sat in a rocker, his feet up on the handrail, playing banjo and harmonica at the same time. He had chapped lips and huge bags under his eyes. Without raising his hands from the instrument, he gestured for Ezra to sit. Ezra sat. Rabbi Abner closed his eyes. The cornstalks leaned. The old man stopped playing.

"Well hello there," he said.

"Hi," said Ezra. "Thanks for seeing me."

Rabbi Abner nodded. He reached and grasped a bottle of bourbon, half-full. The liquid swung and bucked in the bottle. "What's the trouble, son?" he asked.

"It's my wife."

"Your wife?"

Ezra unconsciously twisted at his wedding ring. "Things aren't ... good."

"Aren't good how?" asked Abner, swallowing bourbon.

"I don't know," said Ezra. "Every way."

"Divorce?" asked Abner.

Ezra shrugged. "Yes, I guess."

Abner nodded again. He nodded for a long while. "All right," he said. He took another swallow of bourbon. He put down the bottle and resumed playing the banjo. "Let me tell you a story," he said.

Rabbi Abner began to sing. He sang and played his harmonica. He didn't look at Ezra - he sang out to the night, to the bugs and the dust and the creaking gold crops. Ezra sat leaning forward, arms resting on his knees. His lips were pulled back in a concentrating smile. He watched Rabbi Abner and listened as hard as he could. The rabbi was singing about his wife. It was a sad song. And then he was singing about the day he got the wedding license. He was singing about their wedding day. He was singing about the night and weeks to follow. Ezra was listening as hard as he could. He couldn't help but feel there were jokes in this song. It soon became clear there were definitely jokes in this song. Rabbi Abner was singing the blues but his blues were also stand-up comedy. Ezra rubbed his face. He wanted to interrupt. Rabbi Abner sang, Lord, give me strength. It was a reference to erections. "But-" Ezra said. Rabbi Abner didn't stop. Then, trouble started, he sang. Ezra bounced his knee. He didn't know what this could teach him. He didn't understand the lesson. Moths were battering themselves against the lantern.


Posted by Sean at February 18, 2010 10:57 AM

seriously? terrible

Posted by guest at February 18, 2010 10:55 PM

I watched "A Serious Man" a couple of days ago. The Abner Jay song is full of life, hauntingly beautiful and mesmerizing. The ending of your story, too is quite Cohen Bros style I think. I couldn't believe when the credits rolled up that the film is actually finished (I had the same feeling with "Burn After Reading", maybe I just don't get it). Anyway, the banjo/harmonica recipe seems to work out for me most of the time.

Posted by Pedram at February 19, 2010 3:10 AM

your brain is funny.

Posted by ru at February 20, 2010 11:32 AM

Pins and needles. Keep it up.

Posted by pete at February 21, 2010 11:28 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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