The Golem fidgeted in his chair. He considered the table before him, littered with several open bags of potato chips, and many open cans of beer.
“What’s the matter with him?” asked Memphis Moishe.
“He needs to pee,” I said.
“Golems don’t pee,” said the Rabbi.
“How do you know?”
“I—I just think they don’t. They don’t eat. They don’t drink.”
“Deni-al,” I said, “Get up.”
Heavily the Golem got up from the chair.
The Golem headed for the bathroom across the room.
The bathroom door closed gently behind Deni-al. After a while, we heard a flush. Deni-al came out.
“Sit,” I said.
“Eat the chips! Drink the beer!”
Carefully the Golem picked a potato chip from a bag and put it in its mouth. It gripped one of the open cans of beer and took a long sip. It repeated this several times. It continued eating the potato chips and drinking the beer. Memphis Moishe said, “my God I don’t believe it. I need a smoke.”
As the Golem continued to eat and drink Memphis Moishe headed out the back door and motioned to the Rabbi to follow. They stood out back by the rose of Sharon bush. Memphis Moishe lit up. Through the open window I caught snatches of their conversation.
“What do you think of that?” asked Memphis Moishe. “It pees. It eats. It drinks.”
“It does those things because its master tells it to,” said the Rabbi.
“I must have it.”
“To take care of a few enemies and to convince people to make their payments in a more timely fashion. Can I buy it? Would Kramer sell it?”
“Where did Kramer get it?”
“He created it.”
“Can I create one?”
“Not likely—look—your cigarette is down to the filter. Put it out. Let’s go in. And by the way,” he said, as they headed toward the house, “I don’t think you can buy the Golem.”
“Why not?” asked Memphis Moishe, pausing.
“It does Kramer’s bidding. That’s what it was made to do. I don’t know that this is transferable.”
“Hmph,” said Memphis Moishe.
They came in and sat at the table with me and Deni-al. Deni-al sat chewing its food. It did not feel the effects of the beer it had downed. As an imperfect copy of a man, it did not possess the higher functions, such as the ability to get drunk. If I told it to, it would—or at least display an imperfect copy of drunken behavior.
“Deni-al,” said Memphis Moishe, “Dance for me.”
The Golem sat motionless.
“Dance for me—hey Kramer, tell it to dance for me.”
I said, “Deni-al—stop eating and drinking and go out to the middle of the room and dance for Memphis Moishe.”
Heavily the Golem rose and went to the center of the room and started doing the old soft shoe. As it danced, the Rabbi sat with his chin in his hand, seemingly lost in thought.
The Golem danced with uncommon grace, not perfectly but close to it. As it danced the Rabbi whispered into my ear without Memphis Moishe noticing.
“He wants to buy the Golem.”
“What?” — such a thing had never occurred to me.
Memphis Moishe sat laughing and clapping in time to the Golem’s dance as the Rabbi and I wandered into the adjacent room and spoke in hushed tones.
“I don’t know if I can sell Deni-al. Why does he want it?”
“To eliminate his enemies.”
I rubbed at my cheek and looked through the door at the Golem who was still soft-shoeing for Memphis Moishe. It occurred to me that if I could sell this Golem, I could create and sell or lease others and make a killing. There may be quite a market for powerful beings that did exactly as their masters said.
“What will he pay me?” I asked the Rabbi.
“He didn’t say—hey wait—look—“
Abruptly the Rabbi returned to the kitchen and spoke loudly to the dancing Deni-al.
“Deni-al! Stop Dancing! Eat the chips! Drink the beer!”
It continued to dance. I stepped in.
“Deni-al—do as the Rabbi says.” I motioned, “Go ahead—tell him again.”
“Stop Dancing! Eat the chips! Drink the beer!”
The Golem lumbered over to the table and ate more of our potato chips, drank more of our beer. I wanted to test the Golem’s obedience of the Rabbi even further. I shouted to the Rabbi.
“Rabbi—tell Deni-al to do something else.”
“Go pee Deni-al—go to the bathroom and pee!”
The Golem headed for the bathroom and went in and closed the door behind him. I told it to do as the Rabbi said—and I reckoned it would always do as the Rabbi said—I realized this was dangerous—what if the Rabbi told Deni-al to no longer obey me? Deni-al came out, and I quickly moved to head off this possibility.
“Deni-al,” I said, “No longer do what the Rabbi says.”
“What?” said the Rabbi.
Deni-al sat down at the table and resumed eating and drinking.
“Stop eating and drinking!” I commanded.
“Rabbi—tell Deni-al to stand up.”
“Just do it.”
“Stand up, Deni-al!”
The Golem sat there. I was relieved that I reclaimed my command from the Rabbi. This was all like turning electrical switches on and off—this was all logical.
“Listen,” said Memphis Moishe to me.
“I want to buy Deni-al. I’ll pay ten thousand dollars.”
The Rabbi looked at me.
“No—that’s not enough,” I said, “it’ll cost you—hmmm—a million.”
“A million dollars?!” exclaimed Memphis Moishe. He rubbed at his chin.
I was sure he would not pay a million—
“No. Two hundred fifty thousand.”
“I said two hundred fifty thousand.”
A shiver went down my spine.
“Bring us the money,” I said. “How will you pay the money?”
“In cash. I’ll bring you the money next week. It’ll take me a while to put it together but it’s worth it to have an invulnerable assistant. But there’s one last test—“
Memphis Moishe rose and pulled out a revolver fitted with a large silencer from his jacket and fired five bullets into Deni-al’s back. The Golem sat motionless as the smoke alarm screeched. I was scared to death—what if he had killed the Golem? I sprang up.
“Rise, Deni-al!” I said.
The Golem rose.
“Eat the chips! Drink the beer!”
The Golem once more resumed eating and drinking. The holes in its back closed up.
“Well,” he said, holstering his revolver—“it is truly invulnerable—and I assume that if it’s invulnerable it can never age or die. Don’t you think—“
“We’ll see—Deni-al—stamp one foot if you can ever age or die.”
The Golem continued to mildly eat and drink.
“Well,” I said—“I suppose it can never age or die.”
“That’s frightening,” said the Rabbi.
“I wonder what happens when the master dies, and there isn’t anyone to command him.”
“I suppose then it will remain immobile.”
“What if it’s been given an order, like eat the chips and drink the beer, and then the master dies before he can command it to stop?” said the Rabbi.
“I suppose then it will eat the chips and drink the beer forever.”
“And what happens when the chips and beer run out?”
“I suppose then it will seek out more chips and beer,” I said.
“What happens if more chips and beer are not handy?” asked Memphis Moishe. “Would it then wander the earth, seeking chips and beer?”
“And no one could stop it?”
“How would it know where to find chips and beer?”
“It would try every door and invade every house.”
“And what would happen if someone in one of the houses it invaded tried to beat it back?”
“It would press forward in search of chips and beer…”
“Would it kill for chips and beer?”
“Not intentionally. It might kill by accident, if someone were guarding their stuff and got in its way. It might kill them to get past.”
“But by accident?”
“Yes,” I said.
All the while during this conversation Deni-al downed more chips and beer. It was almost gone.
“Stop eating,” I told Deni-al.
It sat in its chair, and did nothing.
“Okay,” I said. “a quarter million dollars it is.”
“Great,” said Memphis Moishe. “I’m going out for a smoke.” When he was gone, the Rabbi spoke boldly to me.
“You cannot sell Deni-al,” he said
“You should not unduly profit from the gift God has given you. You became close to God through your studies and your meditation—and God gave you some of his power. Now, you abuse it—“
I raised my hand.
“How is it abusing it to make a few bucks?”
“It—it just seems wrong. Plus, Memphis Moishe is not close to God. He should not be given the power to command Deni-al. God has not meant for such things to be. It is not for you to give away God’s power.”
“But I’m” not giving it away—I’m getting big bucks for it. I’ll tell you what…”
“I’ll give ten thousand to you—a donation to you and your congregation. That should pay God back for his trouble. What do you think?”
“It’s wrong is all,” said the Rabbi. “I think—“
Memphis Moishe reentered the room. He stank of cigarettes.
“You’ll die young,” I said.
“The cigarettes. You’ll die young.”
“Oh, I’ll take my chances…” He stared off for a second. “Hey, I gotta go. Take good care of my boy here—“
He slapped Deni-al hard on the back, raising a cloud of dust.
“I’ll be back in a week with the money. okay Kramer?”
Memphis Moishe left the room. I turned to the Rabbi.
“What’s done is done,” I said.
The Rabbi’s eyes narrowed.
“It’s not too late to back out,” he said solemnly.
“But he’s going to go to all the trouble of pulling all this cash together.”
“Kramer, I would destroy the Golem if I were you. And I don’t want your ten thousand. The whole thing makes me nervous. As a matter of fact—I need to leave”.
The Rabbi rose.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” I said.
“I’m sorry too.” He rubbed his chin again. “Kramer—if you do this—I’ll have you placed under Cherem.”
I laughed at this. Cherem is no longer invoked. I told the Rabbi as much.
“Wrong,” said the Rabbi, “I will get an order of Siruv—which will remove you from the community. And that will deactivate your Golem.”
“You wouldn’t do that.”
“Want to bet?”
We struggled. I didn’t want him to leave until he swore not to do what he was saying. I tried to wrestle him to the ground and we scuffled—he got me down on the ground with his knee on my chest and I yelled out to Deni-al.
“Deni-al! Stop this man!”
The Golem rose and walked over and picked up the Rabbi by the neck, choking him. As the Rabbi struggled in Deni-al’s grip, he reached up and rubbed the alef off the Golem’s forehead, just at the moment his neck snapped. The Rabbi crumpled to the floor, dead. The alef-mem-tov inscribed on the Golem’s head having been changed by the Rabbi to mem-tov, the hulking creature collapsed and began dissolving into dust.
“My God, Deni-al,” I said—“I did not mean to stop him forever!”
As the last remnants of the Golem turned to dust, I went to the table and sank into a chair and put my head in my hands and wept bitterly. When I came to myself and finally looked up, I beheld the dead Rabbi and the great pile of dust lying there beside him. Despair filled me, and after packing a bag, I left the house unlocked, and began wandering the earth, which was all I was fit to do. Memphis Moishe would find the Rabbi in a week, after he returned with the money. No doubt he would flee the scene not wanting to be connected with such a thing, and more time would pass before the Rabbi was found. Maybe the Rabbi would never be found. Maybe in time there would be two piles of dust spread across on the floor of my kitchen. I wished to God that this would be true, though I realized I had no right to wish to God for anything. I lost everything. And this is why I’m here before you, telling you this story. Give us a dollar now, please, mister man. Give us a few dollars now—our story is told, and we want some chips and beer.
Jim Meirose’s work has appeared in numerous journals, including the Fiddlehead, Witness, Alaska Quarterly review, and Xavier Review, and has been nominated for several awards. Two collections of his short works have been published and his novels, “Claire,””Monkey,” and “Freddie Mason’s Wake” are available from Amazon.