Their parents were surprised, to say the least.  They hadn’t seen their children in seven years, but that didn’t stop them from welcoming home those they had considered lost.  The reunion was quiet, the Pitney parents realizing that their daughters were exhausted from their long journey, but there was some thankful weeping and a lot of hugs.  Zoë was put to bed immediately, while Gwen and Eve stayed up a little longer to talk with their mother and father.  It wasn’t long, however, before they had to get some sleep.

            Gwen woke up first of the three of them.  She looked out the window of her bedroom and guessed that it must be mid-morning by the position of the sun.  Without electricity her old digital clock did not work.  The house was still.  She guessed that her parents must have gone into town. 

Gwendolyn found that her mother had thoughtfully put clothes out for her just outside the door.  She was pleasantly surprised to recognize that the old jeans and sweater had belonged to Ethan.  Though her parents had always found her habit of memorializing her brother odd, at least they were supportive, and at least they had remembered.

Gwen crept silently across the hall to Ethan’s old room, and slipped inside.  It was still exactly as she remembered it, exactly as he had left it so many years before.  It was so strange, to come home and find nothing different.  She wondered why her parents refused to move on, and she also wanted to know why the area had been left untouched by the plagues and tribulations that affected the rest of the world.

            She let her eyes slide over her brother’s pictures on the wall, and across his bookshelves.  Gwen let her fingertips slide along the bindings of books, old friends unseen in years.  She stopped at his films, and scrunched up her nose with frustration.  There were some her mother had never let her watch as a child, and in later years there had been no electricity for their VCR.  Gwen wished she knew what was in them.  She pulled one off the shelf, called “The Fallen,” and stared at its cover, as if willing it to reveal its secrets.  Denzel Washington stared back, silent as the grave he never received.   Hollywood had been swallowed into the ocean after an earthquake more than a decade before.

            “That one was kind of weird, as I remember.”  Genevieve said from the doorway, causing her little sister to shriek. 

            “I hadn’t realized you were awake yet.”  Gwen said, catching her breath.  “Did you sleep okay?”

            “Like a baby.”  Eve smiled, coming closer.  “What are you doing?”

            “I was just looking.  I’ve read all the books, but there are some movies I never saw.  I always kind of figured that I’d know Ethan better if I knew the things he liked better.”  Gwen shrugged.  “It was the only way I had to be close to him.”

            “I know.”  Evie hugged her sister gently.  “I miss him too.  But I don’t know what this movie could tell you about Ethan.”

            “Tell me about it anyway.”  Gwen suggested.  “Just humour me.”

            “Well, it’s about a cop.”  Eve began.

            “What Denzel Washington movie wasn’t about cops?”  Gwen teased, making her sister smile.

            “Be that as it may, this one’s a little different.  If I remember correctly, there are a series of murders mimicking a criminal Washington saw executed, so he investigates to find out how come they’re the same.”

            “An accomplice?”  Gwen asked.  She loved trying to figure out murder mystery stories.

            “No, that’s why the movie’s weird.  The first killer and the second one are the exact same.”

            “Huh?  But you said he was executed.”  Gwen said, perplexed.

            “Yeah, the criminal who committed them was executed.  But the movie shows how a demon possessed both men, and Denzel’s job is to stop it.”

            “A demon?  Well, that’s a different premise than the usual cop story, that’s for sure.”  Gwen said.  “Ethan has a lot of books about spirituality, and angels and demons and stuff.  Prayer for Owen Meany is all about God.  That’s a connection.”

            “I guess.”  Genevieve took the movie and moved to return it to the bookshelf.  However, she only grabbed the case and the film itself started to fall out.  Fortunately Gwendolyn managed to catch it, but not the piece of paper that fell out.

            “What’s this?”  She said, picking up the folded note from the floor.  It was small and a little worn, having been in there for at least fourteen years.  She unfolded it.

            “What’s ‘ell ee vee sixteen colon eight’ mean?”  Gwen asked her older sister.

            “I don’t know.  Let me see that.”  Genevieve took the paper after successfully returning the movie to its proper place.  She looked at the writing and saw “Lev 16:8” printed in Ethan’s penmanship.  “It might be ‘Leviticus’ from the Bible, that’s its short form.”  Eve said.  “But I don’t know what that has to do with the movie.”

            “Let’s find out.”  Gwen said, grabbing a Bible from the shelf and sitting on the bed.  Genevieve sat beside her while she turned to the correct passage.  “And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.”  Gwen read, and shrugged.  “I don’t get it.”

            Genevieve considered for a moment.  “Well, okay, this might sound sketchy, but maybe…  Denzel’s character gets blamed for the murders, since he investigated the first case.  So he’s being treated like a scapegoat.  Sort of.”

            “But why would Ethan ever think of including a scripture reference that’s so vaguely related?  He never did that with other movies I watched.”  Gwen said.  She looked at the film itself on the bookshelf, as if there would be some clue there.  Her eyes wandered.  “How come Ethan has more than one Bible?”

            “There are different translations.  The one you have is King James, it’s the really flowery old one, from like Shakespeare’s day or something.”  Genevieve explained.

            “Actually, just after.  John Donne was supposed to be responsible for some of it.”  Zoë offered, standing in the doorway.  This time it was Eve who jumped, causing her sister to laugh.

            “Good morning.”  The Pitney sisters said in unison. 

“We were just looking at some of Ethan’s stuff.”  Gwen explained.

“And discussing Bible scholarship.”  Zoë smiled.  “If I remember correctly, Ethan was an English major, so he probably liked the King James’ poetic style.  But other translations have been made because of further scholarship, or to have more modern language.  Not everyone likes flowery prose.”

Genevieve stood up and picked out another Bible.  “This one’s called the Revised Standard Version.  I think Ethan got it for his Torah class in university, the one with his Jewish professor.”

“Maybe it’s closer to the Hebrew in its translation?”  Gwen suggested.

Genevieve turned to the appropriate passage and was surprised when another piece of paper fell out of its pages.  She picked up the note and handed it to Gwendolyn. 

“Read the verse first,” her sister said, “Then we’ll look at this.”

“And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel.”  Genevieve read, and then looked at Gwen. 

“What’s ‘Azazel’ and what does it have to do with a scapegoat?”  Gwen asked.  Zoë shrugged. 

“I remember one thing.”  Eve said.  “In the movie, that was the demon’s name.  ‘Azazel’ was the demon killing people and Denzel fought him.  I also remember Denzel lost.  What it means, I’m not sure.”

“Well, let’s read the note and see if it says anything about it.”  Gwen said.

<<Previous   Next>>

Advertisements