Author Topic: PseudoPod 787: On Seas of Blood and Salt  (Read 404 times)


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on: December 04, 2021, 07:46:54 AM
PseudoPod 787: On Seas of Blood and Salt

Author: Richard E. Dansky
Narrator: Elie Hirschman
Host: Alasdair Stuart
Audio Producer: Marty Perrett

“On Seas of Blood and Salt” originally appeared in The Jewish Book of Horror

This is what Reb Palache does when he finds a ship crewed by the dead.

He does not know it is crewed by the dead, not at first. He is in his cabin, discoursing with the nameless angel who speaks in the silences of his mind. They are speaking of the Pirkei Avot and debating the words of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa, who held that a man who was pleasing to others was pleasing to HaShem, but that a man who was displeasing to others was in turn displeasing to the Lord, when a great shout comes down from the crow’s nest.

“A ship, the lookout,” the lookout says. “Dead ahead and low in the water!”

And these words that rain down are caught and carried by the men on deck, passed along and repeated until one pounds on Palache’s door in his excitement.

It is ill tidings, the angel says. But they are ones that cannot go unheard.

“And if these tidings are pleasing to the men, are they not also pleasing to HaShem?” the rebbe jokes, gently, as he rises from where he sits cross-legged on the floor.

I asked Reb ben Dosa a question as he sat in his study, the angel replied. What of the man who is displeasing to his fellow men because he is pleasing to the Lord? And for that he had no answer.

Reb Palache does not reply; there is no time for him to do so. For again the sailor is pounding on the door, and now he is shouting, “Rebbe, Reb Palache, there is a ship!”

It has been a while since they have taken a ship, Reb Palache knows. The oceans are vast, and even the greatest galleons are small adrift in it, and the men in his pay who work in the treasure-houses of his enemies have fallen silent of late.

It would be good to take a ship. The men would find it pleasing. So says Reb Palache to himself and steps out onto the deck.

The sailor at his door is beside himself with excitement. It is one of the younger men; the older ones would know better. The first growth of his beard has just come in, sparse black hairs curling over a weak chin, and his eyes are wide and blue. Joachim, his name is—Palache remembers him now, a dock rat from Zeebrugge who had demanded at rusty dagger point to be taken aboard. He is earnest, and he is eager, and he is too young to think that death will ever find him.

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