stand by my grandfather, shy and proud.
The old men question me.
who was David?"
"Of the Bible?"
the Bible. Of the Bible."
"A son to a king, and
a man to God."
man with a beard, and bearded words."
very good. And who is Jehovah?"
"Lord and Creator
of the Universe; the all-power-
ful one; the all-knowing One, wiser even than
The old men look down their beards. and pat
head, and cackle, speaking in third person,
a darling of a boy... a sweet-
I should have
such a grandson... a prince
of a boy."
smiles and says, "I am blessed. I am
blessed with such a grandson."
Everyone seemed to consider me
Everyone, that is, except my father.
the canyon gully from our kitchen is the
workshed: home of Harry's endless
inside walls of the shed are festooned with Harry's
specialized tools, hanging curiously. The benches
are crowded with a jumble,
tumble of bags, bags of
buttons, buttons for women's dresses, hundreds of
them, spilling out onto the workbenches.
It is Saturday
afternoon, and I am helping my fa-
Harry is inside
the shed. He is putting colored but-
tons together with little metal springs
to make cuff-
links out of them. He is talking to himself. Educat-
"One could develop a machine that would make a
thousand of these in an hour. Trouble is, I never went
to college, so I didn't
have the chance to study science
am sitting on the stairs outside of the open door
of the shed, separating
the buttons into little piles.
"... That's where the
future is, Davie... in science
and engineering. Not that religious nonsense
grandfather fills your head with."
Harry tries impatiently to offset the
effects of his
father-in-law on the mind of his son.
really doesn't know very much, Davie. He's
only read one book in his whole
life. He thinks noth-
happened in five thousand years. In those days
they believed God was responsible
"But Grandpa says..."
Harry just drops the plastic metal-colored doodads
his hand. They splash on the workbench, as
Harry turns to me to cut me off
tells you that when God wants it to rain, it rains.
That's what African savages believe."
I've just noticed
a group of children gathering on
Mrs. Bondy's balcony below, looking at something
I cannot see.
Harry continues. "It so happens that
from rain clouds. Clouds, not God, make ram."
normally give my father little attention, and now
wish to give him even less.
Still, his presumption must
be answered. Of course rain comes from rain clouds.
"When the earth is thirsty, it prays for rain, and
God sends the rain clouds ... if He feels like it. You
don't know what you're
Harry jumps up and rushes at me, his
I hold my arms above my head.
"If I wallop you one across that big mouth of yours
to teach you how to talk to your father, will it be my
hand or the hand of
My head is drawn back. My hands protect my face.
But still I look straight into my father's eye.
but then deflates, and turns away,
dejected, back to the shed. "Go to
that smelly old nag
of yours. You deserve each other."
collect up the piles of buttons and follow him
quietly into the shed. Harry
is seated again at his
workbench, working on the Sabbath. I put the various
piles of buttons on
the table beside Harry, and saunter
calmly from the shed, while harping Harry
himself, "That religious old maniac is ruining him.
be too late to do anything about it. Christ!"
it is too late for my father.