Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4147)

Sitting Thirty-Four

Wishing the silence could continue, yet nervous over nothing being said, at length Pal spoke. “Your throw-up really smells bad. Extra bad. I think it was that fish and mustard.”

Iz took a deep breath, as if preparing for a long speil. “Yours smelled worse,” he enunciated. “It just all stunk really, really bad.”

For some reason, both Iz and Pal found this statement to be the funniest thing they’d ever heard. They laughed as much as their sore ribs would permit. After a few minutes, the giggling calmed, gradually allowing them to settle in on a refreshing still.

But determinedly, Pal once again broke the silence. “Is it really the end?”

“Well, it’s sure not the beginning,” said Iz.

A pause.

“Holy peace,” said Pal quietly.

Iz jerked his head in his friend’s direction. “What?”

“I was just remembering,” Pal’s voice sounded sleepy, almost dreamy. He continued. “When I was nine years old, Father took me to Jerusalem, and there was this man with a long beard and gray hair down his back, carrying a small sign. It read, Holy Peace. What do you think of that?”

Iz didn’t have much interest. “I don’t know.”

Pal turned toward his friend. “What is holy peace?”

“I don’t know,” Iz repeated. “Maybe just that old man’s dream.” Iz was not comfortable with the discussion, the change in emotion and the sudden solemnity.

Pal either didn’t notice or didn’t care. “I was only nine, but for some reason, those two words stuck in my mind. ‘Holy peace.’ I’ve never been able to shake them.” He glanced over at Iz to see if he was listening, then continued. “To me, holy peace is being able to do what you need to do, without hurting anyone else.”

Iz was angered by this. “How can you do that? Because if they want what you want, then there has to be a battle.”

“Does there?” challenged Pal. “I mean, if there are two of something, can’t you share one? And even if there’s one, can’t it be broken to make two? Why isn’t that possible? Is it just stupid?”

“No,” said Iz. “It’s not stupid. But it’s just the way boys think. By the time they become men, they have to have it all.”

Pal looked to the heavens and then over to his friend. There were tears in his eyes. “Here’s to staying boys.”

Iz smiled but turned away. “Holy peace,” he mused. “I guess to me, holy peace is just living in a world without being afraid that the little bit you’ve got is going to be taken away.”

“Who will take it?” asked Pal.

Iz promptly replied. “Always the ones who don’t really need it—who just want to see if they can get more.”

“Are you talking about your Pada?” questioned Pal.

“No,” spat Iz. Then he thought. “Well, maybe. He’s just a tiny version of all the craziness that lives around him. Tries to pretend to be strong because that’s what everyone tells him he should do. But he’s only strong with me, and weak with himself. He wants me to be afraid of him. I can’t do that to me…or him. I can’t live with that fear.”

“So you love your Pada?” asked Pal tenderly.

“Who knows?” replied Iz, trying to escape too much feeling. “I try. But I’m too young to know. Do you love yours?”

Pal looked down at his hands, then straight ahead. “Sometimes I wonder what his face looked like the first time he saw me—I mean, after I was born. I would love to see that face. I would love to know that for one moment, I pleased him. Iz—I want to think he loves me, but only because that’s what I’m supposed to think. Do you know what I mean?”

Iz quietly nodded his head. “Yes, I’m afraid I do. That’s why we’re here. We both got tired of guessing. Is it ever to early to start doing?”

Pal rolled over on his side. “Iz? Holy peace.”

“Yeah, what about it?” asked Iz.

“Holy peace is being with you,” said Pal sweetly.

“Same here, Pal.”

It was the last thing they remembered that Wednesday evening. The desert night stole their minds, generously providing sleep for their depleted souls.

 

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