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Tap, tap,tap ...
By David Grebow
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Rated "PG" by the Author.
The radiation from Nagasaki still poisons the soul of a young man ...
The business of crucifixion is more an art than a science.
Two: The Team
This is the story about a person who runs away from home after losing his faith in a place called Ecstasy, Utah (it’s there, on the map, about sixty miles north of Salt Lake City, population 3,409 minus one). Runs away to a little village near Sonora, Mexico (a place so quiet you could hear the stars sigh) where he becomes part of the only industry in town – making crucifixes for the adobe walls of Mexican peasants. It’s a place of dirt roads and chickens, rusting muscle car hulks and outdoor plumbing. Mexico in a stucco timewarp unchanged for several hundred years. A place originally called El Jardín de Aceitunas now simply called El Jardin.
He was No Name at first. He works with two other fellows. Sedon Esposito works in one corner of the sunny room and is responsible for the two colors on the white plaster Jesus. His woven and dark brown in-basket is filled with hairless androgynous statues, arms outstretched and feet perfectly drilled for the cross. First the light brown hair, black Crown of Thorns then the lighter brown sash across the stomach near the loins. Then the red, blood red dabs on the Crown, the red slash right side where the spear pierced the flesh, and finally the lips, slightly parted in a painful curse or prayful revelation, depending on your faith. The order was always the same. Sedon was a superstitious man.
In the other opposite corner across from No Name sat Oliva Hosta Diaz. He is proud to have the responsibility for the basket filled with the dark mesquite wood crosses, which need to be nailed together just so. He does his work quickly and he does it well. Each cross piece at a right angle, with one nail driven straight and hidden by the hanging Jesus. Always three taps for each nail for he too is possessed by the belief that three is a holy number and that this is God’s work.
And then there's No Name, the Norte Americano, who has also only three taps to attach the finished and hand-painted Jesus to the perfectly right-angled crosses. No superstition, just time. The time it takes to place the iron nails, shaped like cloves, with three perfect taps and finish the crucifixion. They are a team. A trinity of their own.
For each one done without breaking off a hand or foot, or cracking the cross, they are each paid
three pesos. Nine pesos for a perfectly finished cross and unbroken Jesus. Piecework. Nine pesos every twenty minutes, with the major portion of time going to Sedona who needs to do the painting. For No Name it’s mostly a question of waiting, being focused, ready to accomplish the task before him in three perfect taps, and gently deposit the completed and perfectly crucified Jesus in the smaller basket at his feet. A basket No Name calls “The Tomb”.
And in the center of the three was “Purgatory”. An old broken basket that waited for those inevitable crosses painted too sloppily by the hung over Sedona. Or the ones that Oliva tacked together at impossible angles. And the broken Jesus’ whose hand was tapped off or whose feet were cracked by too much pressure from No Name. All chucked into the basket in the center of the three. All discarded somewhere at the end of each day.
Three: In the Beginning
No Name was born in 1946, the year they dropped two atomic bombs on the Japs. If the first ended the war, then why drop another? He never could make sense of the second or come to grips with the fact that it was his father who agreed to be the pilot.” It was not an assignment,” his Dad would proudly say.” but an honor I volunteered for.” His Mother named him Robert Benson. He was christened Thomas Peter Charles Robert Benson, a good Catholic name that invoked several of the major Saints and Patriarchs of the Church. From that point on he was saved, part of the flock, given the keys to heaven by virtue of the Holy Waters of the Baptismal Font.
He still had the keys. He was just not sure where the lock was, or if he ever wanted to go through that door again.
Three: In the Beginning
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