“Where have you been?” asked Gabriel the moment Uriah entered the room.
Uriah could see that Gabriel was furious. The latter had been waiting for Uriah all day, without a clue of where he might be. He had worried, he had fidgeted, and imagined the worst, and now there he was safe and sound. Gabriel felt like punching him hard.
“You left me alone at breakfast and vanished without an explanation.”
“I didn’t have time to explain it to you.”
Uriah seated himself on the bed. He was exhausted. He fished from his pockets a handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his forehead.
“It has been a long day, Gabriel.” “Indeed.”
“I am so sorry if I hurt your feelings. It was not my intention, but I didn’t have time to fill you in. I had to go and meet her.”
“Meet who? Who was she, Uriah?”
“A woman I first saw in London and with whom I happened to come across here, too.”
“But where did you come across her? We have barely arrived here.”
Uriah told his friend about the first night they spent at Thalmuses when Gabriel was having a shower, and Uriah, feeling bored, had exited on the balcony to admire the splendor of the Middle East. And he saw her, walking her dog in the orange grove. From their first conversation to the last, from his dreams and self regression in Father Mathias’ hut, all these, Uriah Reed shared with his friend, Gabriel Archer.
“This is the truth, my friend.”
Gabriel stood there awed struck, still not daring to
“Father Mathias might have told me that there is no physical Eden, and he could be right, but there is a representation of the idea of heaven, and this representation is geographically located. It could have been man made after the Christianity developed, or it could have been a pagan sanctuary, lately turned into a religious site, I wouldn’t know, but I know there is a Heaven outside the reality of God, outside the soul, and that is the symbol of the intelligible, that something that reflects Heaven and God in the consciousness of the people.”
“Do you mean to tell me that there is no such thing as God’s vessel and that we are back to where we started?” Gabriel sounded really upset and at the same time
“I am sorry, Gabriel. I may have misinterpreted the manuscript.”
Gabriel started pacing to and fro down the room.
The situation was unbelievable.
“Look, Gabriel. You should understand that my father was a member of the Order of The Wooden Cross. He believed in the Bible, and in the scriptures written by the apostles. Perhaps, even John Gos had also been a member. It doesn’t matter. What it matters is that, the Order refused to understand that the apostles were also men, the priests were also prone to error and sin, and this is the reason why we find in the Bible so many facets of God. Each nation tries to use divinity for its own advantage. The Jews have represented God as merciful with the Jews and revengeful on their enemies. On their turn, the Roman emperors used God as an ideological message, but nevertheless the real attributes of God and His very essence have been misinterpreted and falsely showed, and clogged, and I don’t know any more how to tell a lie from the truth.”
Gabriel stopped in front of him. On his face, one could read determination and courage.
“You cannot give up. You didn’t drag me over here only to give up.”
He went to the wardrobe and pulled out from one of his luggage, a tiny Bible.
“They could be stories,” Gabriel continued and halted in front of Uriah, “but some of them are a genuine key to a world devoid of meaning. And I think I can find your Garden of Eden.”
He opened the Bible, and after a few moments of searching, Gabriel found what he was looking for, and loudly he read it to Uriah.
“‘And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison; and the name of the second river is Gihon; and the name of the third river is Tigris – that is it which goeth towards the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.’ – Genesis 2:10-15”
Uriah had never seen his friend in that state of passionate fervor.
“I have been thinking and doing some research while you’ve been away. The Garden of Eden is the spiritual nexus from where both good and evil come out, i.e. the four springs that can prove both fertile and devastating. They can nurture the crops or they can flood the land. However, they wouldn’t exist had they not spring from something. And here in Palestine, we have Mount Gerizim whose name means the navel of the earth. Well, I believe we can start from there.”
Uriah nodded. He completely agreed with Gabriel. Tomorrow morning, they will travel to Mount Gerizim and search for the Valley of the Kings.
Later that night, while he was trying to fall asleep, Uriah heard Mika, playing on the harp. And instinctively, the harp of Perseus the slave came before him. It was a harp with a bull’s head attached on the wooden upper frame. The bull had lapis lazuli eyes that matched the shells and precious stones decoration. Perhaps, Mika had a similar harp, and now he was using it to play.
My heart is like a caravan that wanders in the dunes, And not a spring from stone, its waters pushes through. Put the blame on her, my unfaithful Fatme Whom I shall never see as long as I’m alive.
But I shall see the Garden…, Uriah thought before he fell asleep.
The following day, early in the morning, Uriah and Gabriel, after receiving clear instructions from Mika of how to get to Mount Gerizim, left the hotel and headed towards Queeny. The car was the only vehicle parked.
Gabriel opened the car’s door, and he stepped at the wheel. Uriah was about to occupy the passenger’s seat, when a pleading voice stopped him.
“Take me with you, please.”
Both Gabriel and Uriah turned to face Lucien Rai who had so unexpectedly materialized himself out of the thin air in the parking lot. He seemed agitated, almost on the brink of physically collapsing. His sallow face, damp hair, and piercing eyes bore the ominous air of a pestilential threat.
“Who is this guy?” Gabriel whispered.
But Uriah didn’t have time to answer. Lucien calmly replied, without betraying his utter state of restlessness.
“I am Kha-ver8. I do not mean you any harm.” Uriah looked at him attentively. There was
something about this guy that invited the thought of suspicion in one’s mind.
“Where do you want to go and how do you know that we are heading into the same direction?”
“You came to me yesterday. Today it is my turn.” “And yesterday, you concealed the meaning of your words when I asked you clear questions. Today, it
is my turn.”
“Don’t play with me, librarian. I told you that the Valley of the Kings is only the beginning. I didn’t lie.”
“And what do you want now? To come with us?!
Lucien frowned. Right then, the hallo of the dawn enveloped him, and he appeared in the light of the feeble sun, both a Judah repenting for his treason and a tormented creature, craving for the initial order of the world.
“I need to come”, he faltered. “Can’t you just take me with you and stop asking questions?”
“I do not trust you, Lucien.”
Uriah’s sincere confession made Lucien burst into
8 Friend (hebrew) laughter. It was a sinister, unhealthy, and most peculiar laughter the two British had ever heard.
“You do not trust me”, he said after stopping from laughing, “but Eve trusted the serpent when he guaranteed her knowledge, and all mankind wouldn’t be here hadn’t been for Eve’s faith into the serpent.”
Gabriel shuddered, but Uriah gestured him to keep his cool.
“Are you a serpent, Lucien?” Uriah asked him.
“I am the A-sur.”
Uriah understood immediately the meaning of Lucien’s words. He climbed in the car, and before closing the door shut, he looked back at Lucien.
“Where we are going, you shall not follow. May you find peace upon this earth.”
Lucien gnashed his teeth enraged by Uriah’s defiant attitude, and when the car dashed from sight, he knew what he had to do. Everything was clear now, like a blurred mirror which had suddenly been cleansed from all the vapors and slimy things. He instinctively knew where Uriah was heading. It had to be that place.
When Gabriel parked the car at the bottom of Mount Gerizim, Uriah put his arm on his friend’s arm and pleaded with him.
“There is one last favour that I am about to ask you, Gabriel Archer. Please, return to Thalmuses and take my manuscript and diary with you back to London.”
Gabriel looked at him incredulously.
“I thought you didn’t need any more to be God’s vessel on earth. I thought we would both return to London.”
“No. I belong here.”
“But what are you going to do?”
“Find the Oneness in nature. From now on, this is my home.”
Gabriel tried to talk him out of that, but Uriah didn’t allow himself to be persuaded.
“Please, my friend, respect my decision.” Gabriel understood he had lost the battle.
“What am I to do with the manuscript and the
“We shall stick to the original plane.”
“This meaning that I am to give them away, aren’t
“Indeed. And there is also something else I need you to do. Find this woman, Lalage Petrov, she is staying at the Rai’s; and tell her to leave Palestine and never come back. Would you do that for me?”
“What if she doesn’t want to leave?” “Tell her I said so. She will understand.”
“I really do hope you know what you are doing.” “Always.”
Uriah was smiling. When he exited the car, Gabriel followed and for one last time, the two friends shook their hands and brotherly embraced each other.
When Gabriel disappeared, driving his Queeny back to the village, Uriah Reed was left completely alone. Surrounded by the serenity of the forest and overshadowed by the grandiosity of Mount Gerizim, Uriah felt himself closer to God. He started walking, further advancing on the path that led in the heart of the mountains, but right at the foot of the mountain, a serpent sprang from the ground and bit Uriah’s ankle. He didn’t have time to protect himself against the pitiless predator. The serpent’s blow had been strategically planned, leaving the attacked person, helpless.
Uriah fell to the ground and his blue eyes became one with the heavenly abode. And he understood that in the serpent’s bite had been revealed the whole secret of the Garden of Eden.