Dearest Son

by Graeme Penman

Dearest Son,

I have not a single doubt that you will promptly ignore anything I might say to you being the insolent and indolent child that you are, but still I feel obliged to give you some small pieces of advice to guide you through your life in whichever big city you find yourself.

First and foremost, always wear your hat. By all means, as you pass the young ladies I know you are imagining having passionate trysts with even now, tip your cap to them, show them all the respect and courtesy you would have shown me were you less spiteful, but don’t sweep it off in a gallant gesture befitting a musketeer. When a friend or acquaintance, should you acquire one, invites you into their home you will be expected to remove your hat, possibly hang it from a hat stand or a hook. You can try to avoid being invited into homes but then you will seem distant and rude, you can plead some injury to the scalp or head but this will only be effective once or twice. In fact the only way to avoid such a situation is to sidestep the issue of friends and acquaintances entirely, if no one knows you exist then you cannot offend them. You are well read enough to know that discretion is the better part of valour, I saw to that element of your education at least.

The second thing that you must remember, and this is probably of more importance than the first, in fact it is more important, mentally remove this paragraph and place it before the last. Anyway, the thing that you must remember is to avoid the Jews. Do not walk the streets of the Jewish quarter by day or by night, avoid them as if you were barefoot and their streets were paved with broken glass. Any lettering in the Hebrew tongue should ward you from a place, even if it is unlikely to have any Jews inside or nearby. Avoid the shops and residences of all goldsmiths, jewellers and moneylenders too as the Jews often hold those jobs. If you see men in the garb of Jews then cross the street to avoid his closer inspection. If you see a Rabbi, a leader of their faith, then run from him. Do not let his eyes settle upon you under any circumstances. I cannot emphasise this enough.

Do not get into a situation where you have to eat or drink in company, if you follow my prior advice about the acquisition of friends then this should be quite easy to accomplish, being the wilful creature that you are, my prior advice will have been discarded out of hand and you will be drifting back into the realms of daydream by this point. Your mental stamina is pathetic. Claim that you have already eaten, that a physician has prescribed you a special diet that cannot be catered to in restaurants or common household kitchens, claim an indisposition, a prior appointment, a prior dinner arrangement even, one that you had forgotten up until this point. Do not try to eat in company, do not try to sip cocktails in a public house, you will probably regurgitate anything you swallow immediately but it is possible food will settle in some crevice of your innards and decompose making you smell even less pleasant than you do at present, you will embarrass yourself terribly and draw varying degrees of unwanted attention. Too much attention will lead to an abrupt end to your newfound cosmopolitan life.

Try not to submerge yourself in hot water, wash your odours away with a splash of cold water in the morning and an application of some inexpensive perfumed powder. Oil your hair so it is not obvious that you do not wash it, trim it into whatever fancy style you like, preferably one with a generous fringe so that your hats become less necessary. That mark on your head does nothing to change what you are made of boy, don’t forget that. Boiling water will slough the half-rotten flesh off of your bones faster than you can check your pocket-watch. In the same way, try not to spend too much time basking in the sun, I know that the temptation will be to spend every moment spare absorbing that warm glory after getting out of this abysmally dark house but it will make you smell foul to be overheated. I kept you in the shade for good reasons.

I know that no small part of your leaving is rooted in loneliness. I know you shall be searching for intimate company immediately upon arriving in the city, possibly even a mistress. I never thought that I would abdicate the taking of any human life, my sole obsession for these last few years has been the voiding of such actions, the creation of life. Still I find myself loving you to the exclusion of all others as only a parent can and so I must direct you thus. When you take a woman to your bed, endeavour to make sure she will not be missed. Lay with her as you will, loose all of the frustration you have felt while stranded here with me, but afterwards be sure to take her life, gently, in her sleep if you can. Dispose of the body in any way you can, try to ensure it will not be found until the worm has done some of his masterful work upon it, in this way the doctors of your city will not find the cause of her death or any signs of your involvement. Let no-one see you disrobed and live, this is vital. Remember this as you carry out that work, despite all the moral education I tried to provide for you, for all the sermons I memorised on a Sunday morning and repeated to you verbatim in the afternoon. You are a creation of the hand and the mind of man, not a man yourself. You have no soul to lose to perdition, no hope of salvation, there will be no resurrection of the spirit for you, only the press of ages on your worn flesh. “Thou shalt not kill” is the law passed from God unto man and while I have tried to impart the same guidance to you as your creator you cannot truly sin against me the way I have sinned against the Lord in creating such an abomination as you. Kill and live without the eternal worry that some woman of loose morals will pass on a tale of a strangely scarred man with a word written upon his head.

You may not be flesh of my flesh or blood of my blood but remember this my golem, my son, there will always be a home here for you when you tire of the city, a place where you need not deceive anyone, a place where I will care for you as I always have, with love, with understanding. Even if you cannot abide to rest another night beneath my roof or spend another evening in my study enduring our murmured debates, even if you never bring yourself back through these hills again, send me some sign or letter from your new home.

Let me know that you are well.