Ormazd and Marilyn were watchin´ the funny little TV set on the veranda. Ormazd was fiddlin´ with the knobs, tryin´ to get in the official Iranian television station. He moved the gold antenna ears a smidgen, and the picture suddenly cleared.
The Iranian President was standing stiffly behind a podium at a news conference, with armed guards on both sides of him. The backdrop was a huge TV screen filled with scenes of rioting in the city.
“This is irrefutable proof,” he snarled as he held up the invitation, “of the treachery of the west, and their puppet dogs, the CIA!”
“The CIA, thinly disquised by the pseudonym, CIU, has sent this, disgusting, invitation to our holiness, the Ayatola, in an attempt to lure him into the clutches of western decadence. Who else, but these vile servants of the Great Satan, would devise such a heinous plot!”
The scene behind him segues into another, showing masked and helmeted policemen, who were, in fact, the Presidents most trusted henchmen and torturers, roughly shoving a crippled beggar into an armored van. “We have apprehended their messenger, a spy, posing as an innocent beggar. He has confessed, and been sentenced to death, in accordance with our holy law!”
A mob, surrounding the van, is shouting epithets, and spitting on the, poor, emaciated man. They shove each other, vying for attention before the cameras, lifting their fists and shouting angrily, “Death to America! Death to the CIA! Death to the Great Satan!”
“Oh my Ormazd! You´ve done it this time! That poor man has nothing to do with this! You´ve got to do something!” Marilyn gasped.
Ormazd stood and sighed wearily. “I´ll be back in a minute.”
When the van arrived at the prison, the beggar was gone. The only thing found inside the van, were two of the policemen, fast asleep, with their pants down and their fingers up each other´s butts.
The monastery was perched on a steep hillside that was terraced by natural benches where picturesque rows of grape vines grew. They were connected by paths and stairs that were cut into the rock centuries ago.
The monastery buildings were carved, high into the cliff and were as austere as the escarpment itself, offering little comfort to the people who lived there, although, it did have a great view of the valley below.
A brown robed monk climbed the, worn, stone steps wearily to his stark cell after toiling all day, in the vineyards, under the, sweltering, hot, sun.
He chanted, prayerfully and silently, with each labored step. He had lived here for twenty years under a vow of silence, which he considered penance for not being good enough to be accorded a place among the angels. He suffered in humiliation for not to be among the favorites of God.
Then, one day, while tending the vines, his eyesight had gone blurry, and he had a vision, in which Jesus told him that he loved him.
He´d passed a note to the Abbot during his weekly consultation where he was asked how he was doin´, describing the miracle.
“Don´t worry about it,” the Abbot had said, “The nuns get those all the time.”
He couldn´t understand it. He was sure the Abbot would praise him in congratulation for his accomplishment. Wasn´t it proof that he had become one of the favored? Might he, one day, sit on the right hand of God? God had, surely, realized that he was a better man than most for living such a pious and selfless life. Didn´t he, at least, deserve more than some flippant response?
He opened the door to his cell and looked around his impoverished dwelling. There, on the narrow stone bench that served as his bed, he saw an envelope.
He opened it with trembling hands, and removed the gold printed card from inside. His lips moved with the words as he read them. When he was finished, he turned his eyes towards heaven. “Thank you Lord!,” he said out loud. “A sign, at last!”