Knothole of Eternity

It was a three-day weekend, and my friend had loaned me the use of his cabin for a short holiday retreat. I pulled in by early afternoon and unpacked my truck.

Once set up, I poured myself a small glass of Candian whiskey, pulled a chair from the small table by the wall, dragged it out onto the porch, and sat down. As I sipped my drink, I looked down the long valley towards the massive mountains to the south.

“That’s gonna be a magnificent view as the sun comes up in the morning,” I thought.

For how long I sat there, I don’t know. I do recall getting up and pouring myself another drink, returning to my chair.

A minute later, I noticed a knothole in the wood deck. Slightly intoxicated, I got down on my knees to peek into the hole to see what I could.

Bending over, I toppled, smashing my forehead hard into the plank. As I hit the board, something poked me in the eye.

Surprised, I got to my feet and jumped from the porch to look under it. The space was about a foot between the dirt and the planking, but nothing was there.

Confused, I stood up and found I was no longer alone. In the chair, I once occupied sat a man.

He was dark-skinned, younger than me, but had a white beard and head full of hair color. He wore blue jeans, a tee shirt, a zip-up hoody like me, and sandals.

“Howdy,” he said.

His sudden appearance did not alarm me, though looking back, it should have.

“Where did you come from?” I asked.

“Oh, I been around,” he answered.

“And, who are you?”

“You know.”

“Are you the one who poked me in the eye?”



“To get your attention.”

For a few seconds, I stood there staring at the stranger before I asked, “You hungry?”

“Famished,” he said.

We went inside, where I prepared dinner; steak, baked beans, a sliced-up tomato, and a drink of choice.

“I have soda, whiskey, or water. Sorry, but I don’t have any wine.”

“No problem — I’ll have water.”

We ate our dinner in silence. Afterward, we spent the night and small hours of the morning talking about theology, politics, food, and women.

“Redheads,” he said often.

At some point, my mind became so full that I became forgetful. The sun was cresting the far away mountains when I woke up.

I was on the bed, covered by my sleeping bag, and my guest was gone.

Then I looked at the table and saw a note written on a small piece of paper. It read, “Thank you for dinner and the conversation. We need to talk more often, J.”

Quickly I went outside to look for him and found no one. On the porch, by the leg of the chair, sat an empty bottle of Canadian whiskey.

I thought, “I shouldn’t have drank so much.”

Then I noticed that the knothole was gone, and I rushed inside, recalling the note. It was in a script that I did not recognize.

For the longest time, I sat on the edge of the bed, puzzling over what had happened and wondering if it were real or an alcohol-induced hallucination. The remainder of my weekend, though restless, was what one could only call ‘normal.’

Returning home, my wife was concerned at how fiery-red my face was, saying I should be careful about getting so much sun as I could develop skin cancer. She suggested I apply a health layer of aloe vera, which I did to calm her fears.

Two days later, I took the note left for me to a linguist at the local university.

“Where did you get this?” she asked with some excitement.

I told her, though I could tell she was somewhat skeptical.

“Well, you should hold on to it — it’s ancient Aramaic, also known as Jewish Babylonian Aramaic, and it’s been unused since 200 Anno Domini.”

I stood there stunned, unable to speak.

“And by the way,” she added, “I’d get that sunburn looked after before it scars or you develop skin cancer.”


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