The Only Hope 

Monday, May 30, 2005

"Everyone, memorize your page," I said, tearing out pages from The Pearl. "All of it. From the top of the page to the bottom. Make sure your partner can read his side."

"Here is page seventeen," I said pointing to Jeremiah, then to Mahalath, "There is page eighteen."

The monkeys gathered by the river near the lightbulb factory.

Years of Hamlet - all gone. Management jumped on the Steinbeck bandwagon, just like they did years ago with synchronicity and synergy. From something the monkeys were just being to understand, the factory's top executives switched to East of Eden, six times as long as Shakespeare's play and with contemporary vocabulary to boot.

"Memorize your page and, all of you, typing in synchron- nay! - in unision, might be able to pass off The Pearl for East of Eden."

The monkeys murmured. They didn't trust me. I didn't trust me. It hadn't been done before. Monkeys typing The Pearl was as unlikely as monkeys typing East of Eden.

"But, Maktaaq, memorize all these words? So many of them? Can't we copy them?"

I looked at Isaias. "Copy them? Carry around a page? And what happens when you go through the book detector? When they frisk you?"

Isaias could not answer.

"Monkeys," I turned to all of them, "Dear Monkeys, you must memorize your page. And after you memorize your page, we shall burn the pages of this book."

"Burn it?" gasped a few monkeys.

"Yes, burn it. For if we leave any trace of this book, they may find it and destroy it. And the book will be forever gone. If you memorize your page, you'll carry the book within you. When someone needs page five, it will be there in Isaias; when someone needs the metaphor for the Pearl, it is in Samson (page 31) and in Ezekiel (page 89). The book will be safe.

"Memorize your page and, together, we are a book. We are The Pearl, which might just be East of Eden."

The gaping eyes refused to comprehend and stared at me.

Archibald spoke. "It is our only hope."

The monkeys turned to him but would still not believe. Yet they lined up in twos. They had no other choice.

They received their torn page with the solemnity of the faithful taking communion. The papers resting on their upturned palms promised salvation.

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