Dor heard about Brianna and Aaron through Tom Cohen. One side of him longed for Brianna in her sweetness and purity and hoped she remained unchanged. Another side was outraged at Aaron who dared to approach Brianna. He wanted to cuddle and kiss Brianna. Aaron may as well have raped her, what he did was just as bad to her reputation. Dor hoped the press wouldn’t go to town with this story. Though Dor hadn’t seen her yet, he loved her enough to sense her feelings. He felt seduced as well, because her pain was his own. How dare that monster doctor seduce such an angel! He couldn’t think about anything else, though he tried to. His hands went to his face. “Why won’t they leave us alone?” He looked at his broken body. “They did this to me, but what they did to her. . .”
Brianna stood before him, a deathly pallor to her face. She stared at Felipe.
Felipe came to Dor. “I let her in. Hope you don’t mind.”
“You know what happened, I see it in your eyes,” Brianna said to Dor. “I didn’t want to be with him, but–” she turned from him, her body heaved and cried. “He was my only way home from the airport. My parents didn’t come!”
Felipe left. Brianna’s eyes trailed him.
Dor extended his arms to her. She embraced him, which gave him a surge of strength. “Did he. . .did he get intimate?”
Her head jerked, she seemed to scrutinize him. “Thank God, no. I was spaced out on marijuana, but I’m still a virgin. I know.” She held him tighter. “Do you think Felipe’s a homosexual?”
Dor smiled. “Where’d you hear this?”
“Aaron said he was and that he might be attracted to you.”
He laughed. “He hasn’t made a move toward me. All he talks about is the woman he loved who was murdered by the Roman Church.”
“Thank God, you’re all right.”
God knew he needed her and with the strength of her love, he’d rise above his own pain to prevent the pain of others. He was glad he’d done something for her; the wheelchair was not that necessary now, because he felt more and more comfortable with his cane. Their times in the pool had been beneficial.
He squeezed her hand. “I have a surprise for you.”
Her head leaped up. “What is it?”
What a smile she gave him, he forgot their pain. “There’s a teaching position available for you, if you’re interested.”
She was bright and bushy-tailed. “Oh Dor, what school?”
He kept as straight a face as possible. “Beaufort High School.”
Straight as a log she collapsed onto Dor’s sofa. “I don’t believe it. That’s the high school with the highest SAT scores in Houston. How did you do it?” She grinned like a Cheshire cat. “And you must have filled out the application for me. How did you? Did you forge my signature?”
“I told them you’d sign it later, that you asked me to fill it out for you. Your qualifications so impressed them, they decided to risk it. Because of the economy, they’ve eliminated positions. They need fewer–but better-teachers.”
She bounced with laughter all over his sofa.
Dor laughed, too, unable to maintain his straight face. What good times they had together. Such a positive person would be a joy to have around, day in and day out. Marriage. . .he closed his eyes and imagined marriage with her. What had happened between her and Aaron Segal polluted their love’s purity. He could direct the pollution away from them, but then it went in the direction of his synagogue. It was bad enough that he, a married man, loved her. And now Aaron brought in more complications.
Brianna stared at his face.
He turned away from her. “How I wish I could marry you, but my synagogue. . .” He wouldn’t look at her.
She placed herself in front of him. The longing of her eyes! “I know. I’ll wait for you. . .God will make a way for us.”
“It isn’t fair to you at all. You may wait for nothing. Maybe you’d wait and wait and I still won’t be able to marry you.”
“You’re with me now and I cherish every moment we have. As long as I have these moments, I’m content. . .and. . .there’s always hope for the future.”
“You’re remarkable. I thank God every day that such greatness longs to be near me.”
“But my reputation’s been tarnished, maybe I should live away from you now, in an apartment. . .I mean, if you still hope to marry me someday. . .that’s because I have to win over your synagogue.”
“If they knew you as I do, they’d be won over; and the ones who know you, are already won over.”
“I’m not only concerned about your synagogue. If we lived together we’d probably commit adultery. I want God’s face to shine on us when we come together.”
He knew a woman like this couldn’t deliberately visit Aaron Segal. “God will bless you for your patience and faith.”
“Dor darling, I’d better leave and check up on this job. School starts soon. Thank you so much.” She gave him a quick hug with feeling and a peck on the cheek.
A week later she returned excited about her new teaching job, except she didn’t like the textbooks assigned to her class. “They present a biased view of history. The principal will allow me to use the textbooks I want this year, but he said he wouldn’t let me use them next year unless my students get the highest scores on a standardized history exam at the end of the year.”
“Do you think they’ll score well enough?”
Her lips curved like a Cheshire cat. “I think the principal will be surprised.”
Dor knew she was a great nurse, but a history teacher, too? Yet when he scrutinized her face, somehow he knew she’d make a great teacher. Her eyes had caring and alertness, the qualities that made great teachers. Creative and strong, she would command her students’ respect. “Yes. . .the principal will be surprised.”
She placed her arms around his neck. “You won’t be disappointed or embarrassed that you had faith in me.” Her fingers caressed his face. “I’ll never forget you got me this job and I’ll make you proud.”
She placed her hand against his mouth. “I must leave now.” She floated away, as her legs ambled her out.
Felipe came to Dor, the rubber of his crutches screeched on the wood floor. “The New World Order takes virgins and ruins them. Be careful.”
“Maybe they want to recruit her. She’d be valuable to any organization.”
Dor chuckled. “Brianna. . .they’d never get her.”
“If Aaron’s a member of the New World Order, he’ll have more than a doctor’s income.”
He stared at the priest and realized he told the truth. “She turned that down to be with me?”
“Maybe more. . .I think I know about this Aaron Segal. He may be the richest man in the world. He graduated from the top of his class at the Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.”
Dor chuckled, but felt uneasy.
“He may need a wife to complete his image.”
Dor realized that he may lose Brianna to Aaron. It revolted him to imagine her pureness mated with Aaron’s crude worldliness. Brianna lacked the sophistication needed as the wife of a Aaron Segal. Marriage to Aaron would be cold, sterile; Brianna’s flames would die. Someway, somehow Dor would win Brianna in marriage, and save her from Aaron.
It appeared Aaron was another Rachel. Rachel had been the perfect lady. After marriage, she changed; and now because he was tied to her, he was denied happiness with one who truly loved him. No! No! God, not her! Don’t let it happen to her. His hands went to his face. He prayed. He must tell her how Rachel fooled him, then maybe he could prevent her from the bleakness he dealt with day after day.
To his computer he went, so eager, the cane didn’t seem necessary. Just a little today, and every day, and he’d write her a novelette based on his dating experiences with Rachel. The actors and actresses of the world must be exposed.
January, and Brianna’s school year was half finished, and from what Dor heard, she was an outstanding teacher. January, the month with trees as sticks against a cold sky. Some trees stubbornly held onto their leaves, the way he and Brianna seemed to love each other. His novelette came along nicely. Dor knew he was a born writer. When he read some pieces he’d written years ago, he couldn’t put them down. Despite problems, the writing mesmerized the reader. Rachel never read anything he wrote, but Felipe said God would be angry with him if he didn’t write, because he had a gift. Dor knew this for years, but was afraid. With his convictions, he put his life on the line when he wrote. But he thought of Brianna with every novelette page he wrote. Her love, the stream of strength, that he’d use to protect her from Aaron Segal.
His library had shelves of books to the ceiling. He mingled freely with the books, and engulfed their contents. Words and thoughts were the waters he swam in. To ponder, to think. This was his life’s blood.
He discovered that Roman Pontiffs for centuries wore the insignia VICARIVS FILII DEI. In the Roman numeral system V=5, D=500, C=100, L=50, and I=1. Every letter in VICARIVS FILII DEI that was a Roman numeral that added up to 666. This was the number of the false Christ in the Bible! E, A, R, S, and F were not Roman numerals. VICARIVS FILII DEI meant “Faithful Vicar of God” or “Vicarious (substitute) Son of God”. Dor strongly suspected the false Christ may be part of the New World Order; and, if so, must be mentioned in the book he wrote.
Someone knocked at his door. He heard Brianna’s laughter and let her in.
She brought a brown paper bag partly filled and folded over at the top. “Why did you lock this door?”
“My books are valuable, and I don’t want anyone to steal them.”
Brianna’s mouth gaped open as she viewed the room. “Dor, you never showed me this room. You’re a scholar.” She looked at him as if he was God.
He collapsed into the cushions of his computer chair, his head fell back and roared with laughter. “My precious darling, you always see the best in me.” His tone became more serious. “I love books, that’s all. It’s neither a virtue nor a vice.”
She went to the computer that blazed his work on the screen. “Is this what you’re writing?”
“That’s my book about the New World Order. I’m also writing a novelette for you.”
Her eyes riveted on his. “This book you’re writing for me, what’s it about?”
“It’s about phonies and what makes them tick.”
Brianna embraced him, her eyes closed. “I’ve never been more honored. I can’t believe how much trouble you take for me.”
She pulled a videotape from her bag.
“What video is that?”
“Oh, it’s nothing.” She backed off. “Just a tape of my dad giving some silly speech.”
“Aren’t you ashamed of your dad?”
She stared at all his books. “Would you love me even if my parents are jerks?”
“I’m not sure they are.”
“Then listen to this speech and you’ll understand how I feel.”
Into the video player and small T.V. in his library, she plopped the video. When they viewed it, Dor smiled at her. “I don’t agree with your dad’s speech, of course. Maybe I could persuade him to see the truth.”
Brianna dug in her bag and retrieved some outfits. “I need to use the bathroom.” She whipped out the door.
What was she up to?
The door burst open. Her fake gun glittered as she aimed it around the room. With a black mask over her mouth, her eyes pierced him. She gestured with her arms as if to tear the library apart to search and seize. Her chest thrust forward like a peacock and a sign hung from her neck with some yarn. It said: Murder Cultists, Murder Dissenters.
With mock seriousness, she began a speech. “We must not be ruled by our prejudices and intolerances.” She clicked her gun at him and at several of the bookshelves.
Dor reared his head in laughter and slapped his thigh. “Bravo! Bravo! I don’t think I’d want to meet up with you.”
His laughter didn’t sway her. Her countenance remained solemn. “There’s no need for killing, no need for brutality. . .the greatest evil is war.” Again, she clicked her gun at him.
“Your dad should be proud at how well you memorized his speech.”
She became her true self and ripped off her costume. “I’ll never wear it again. I hope I’ve convinced you that I find my dad’s views nauseating.”
“I’m not worried about you. . .That was fun. Do it again.”
“How can you joke about something so serious?”
“Because it is serious,” he said. “I need to laugh or it gets to me.”
She sat at his computer chair and scanned his document. “Wow, you’re studying about 666 and the false Christ. . .I thought rabbis concentrated on the Old Testament.”
Dor grinned sheepishly. “I already know the Old Testament, so I concentrate on the New.”
She stared at him with respect. “You probably know the Bible better than ninety-five percent of preachers and rabbis.”
“Ah, Brianna. You see me through the eyes of love.”
“You’re remarkable. God has great plans for you.
“Before you leave me, I want to hear your views on the number 666 and what it means.”
“My view doesn’t matter.” She looked around his library for a book. She found a 1611 Authorized Version Bible. From its pages she read. “Revelation 13:18: ‘Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six.’ ”
“What’s the beast?”
“He’s the anti-Christ or fake Christ. He’ll pose as a peacemaker at first, but eventually will behead those who disagree with him. He’ll be the devil in human form.”
“Do you think he’s the pope?”
“I don’t know.”
He showed her what he learned about VICARIVS FILII DEI and the number 666.
“That’s awesome,” she said. “The present pope doesn’t strike me as the anti-Christ.”
The phone rang and out of habit Brianna went for it. But it only rang once. When she got to it, her eyes lit up. She motioned for Dor to come to the phone. Her finger pointed to the asterisk ✱ on the phone.
Dor smiled. “I don’t get it.”
“It’s a six pointed asterisk. The world is ready for the beast.”
She hugged his shoulders and left.
He thought if he went on the Internet he may get more information about 666 and its ties to the New World Order. The information he’d uncover should so repel Brianna that Aaron wouldn’t stand a chance.
Mouse in hand, he navigated different branches of the Internet. Six hours had past. As he looked at his watch, he realized time had flown. Nothing. Amazing. Nothing about the connection between the New World Order and the Church of Rome. Suddenly, a skull and bones dripped with blood and vibrated from his monitor. Underneath was a caption: “Brianna is mine! Shalom. The Beast”. He tried to leave the program, but it stuck to that screen. Eventually, he found the only way to leave was to turn off the computer. His hands shook as he reached for his cane. This library that normally gave him joy became a dark graveyard. He couldn’t get the skull and bones out of his brain. The image came to him again and again.
He wouldn’t let them intimidate him. Though his heart crept to his throat, like a bulwark his mind pushed it down to its proper place. Fear, he couldn’t allow; only love must reign in his heart. It would cast out the fear. Someday he’d discover who brought that message to his computer. Until then, he’d work on his novelette and encourage Brianna to trust in a God who could outdo any man—even the beast who put that message on his screen.
Copyright © 1994 – 2018 Gail Chord Schuler. All Rights Reserved.