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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Great Books Program

A very short story by Amichai Levy


The desert sun lay shattered on a shimmering pond and the dry air spoke of an oppressively hot day to come. Speckled fish darted to the sounds of Beethoven’s Fifth symphony which played at high volume directly into Buck's two ears. All around him, tens of college students diffused casually through the golden cobblestone courtyard between the tall dormitory building and the forty-eight stairs which led to Patton Hall. Some students walked alone absorbed by thoughts or squinting at the bright rock or rubbing sleep from tired eyes, others skipped in pairs and talked loudly about the day's news, parties, school work and other diversions. Each had a copy of Homer, Joyce and the Bible cradled with affection or tucked studiously under each arm. Buck shut his eyes behind his dark sunglasses to exorcize the pain from his forehead. When he opened them, a fish had paused for moment as though to look up at Buck through a critical eye. Buck's left hand pressed a smoking cigarette to his lips and Buck inhaled deeply. Moments before the cold ichthyic stare would have shattered the sense of serene isolation that the morning brings, the fish slipped away into a blur of colorful pulsating streaks as if disappointed in what he saw. Buck took a sip of the bitter coffee which he held in his right hand, stomped out what remained of his cigarette, picked up his books which lay at his feet and walked off slowly toward the fiery sun with the supernatural ecstasy of Beethoven's strings and horns playing loudly in both ears.

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