shook his head but said the documents were legal, all except the part about the soul goingto the devil. “Not even lawyers can make that happen.” The man and woman sniffed andgiggled to themselves. The lawyer shook his head, looked at me, and asked if there wasanything else for which he was needed. I dismissed him.The documents signed, we went out to the man’s car where he had the robe. I changedand was handed a debit card which was to an account to which I was assured would payfor my needs. “One thing,” I asked. “Where did you get this crazy idea? And how doyou know I will keep my end of the bargain?”The old man nodded. “A good point. Hmmm…I suppose we shall have to check up onyou.” We made arrangements to get my key copied at once so they could check on meunannounced. “As to the idea, why, I read it in a fairy tale you know.
by Gebrüder Grimm.” He smiled.II.I spent the next seven years as prescribed. Enrobed, bearded, slovenly, some would say.All my needs were cared for, however, as promised. I even upgraded my computer,home theater, books, whatever I wanted I bought. I also most carefully read the Bearskintale by the Brother’s Grimm. In that tale, a soldier, destitute and home from the war,made a deal with the devil. However, during his seven years he gave freely to people sothey would pray for him, and eventually through a beauty and the beast sort of thing,found his bride. Now that I knew the rules, I endeavored to copy the hero’s behavior.Thus, I made many withdrawals of money to give to people in need.I watched bulletin boards and telephone poles advertising barbeques to raise money for cancer victims who had no health insurance. I would pay for their care. I donated toys atChristmastime for orphans. I put my arm around homeless men holding up cardboardsigns saying they would work for food, and took them home, fed them, and loaded their pockets with money.One day, I looked in the mirror and thought, ‘
Why, I look rather like Jesus, what with thebeard, hair, and robe.
’ Or were we culturally acclimated to assume anyone with beard,hair, and white robe looked like Jesus? I shrugged. I almost felt like Jesus.However, unlike in the story, no widowed father offered me the hand of his daughter inthanks. Still, coming up on my sixth year, I was fairly used to the routines I had now,and actually somewhat happy. So it was that I made my regular trip to an ATM, beforeheading home for the night. I withdrew as much money as the machine would let me.Waiting for the money to be offered by the machine, I nodded to the gentleman in a capwith some racing car symbol on it, smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk a few feet away.He nodded back, that barely perceptible guy nod that says, “Yep.” His eyes, however,took in my robe, which was quite discolored, my beard, and grin. He shook his head,looked away, and took another drag on his cigarette.3