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Silent Steve's Stories


Our Father, Who Art in Our Wallets

by Stephen L. Thompson

The stranger entered the dusty village alone. He wore the simple dress of a sheepherder, and walked with a long staff. At the well in the center of the village he stopped.

A local man, with ragged clothes and a leather apron approached and asked, "What business do you have here?"

"May I have a drink?" the stranger asked, waving at the well.

The local looked him over, then gave a brief nod.

The stranger pulled up a bucket of water. Using his hands as a cup, he drank. He dumped the rest of the water back into the well and told the local, "Thank you."

"What business do you have here?"

"My birthday is coming up, and I'm looking for gifts for my friends."

"You give your friends gifts on your birthday?"

The stranger smiled and nodded.

"Well," the local said as he scratched himself underneath his apron. "We don't have much."

"They are simple gifts. Do you have a maker of sandals?"

"My friend," the local exclaimed going as if to embrace the stranger. "You will find no better sandals anywhere. Come, I'll take you to my shop."

"That would be most kind," the stranger said, as he let the sandal maker lead him.

"Have you traveled far?"

The stranger's face lit up as if there was a joke that only he knew. "Very," was all he said.

"Well then, you'll need a good pair of sandals. And so will your friends. You would wear your sandals out trying to find better. Ah, here we are." The sandal maker's shop was a small, mud brick hut, indistinguishable from those surrounding it.

They ducked inside and waited while their eyes adjusted to the dark interior. "How many pairs of sandals where you thinking of buying for your friends?"


"Twelve?" The sandal maker coughed. "Very good. Wait here, I need to get my tools," he pointed to an even darker back room.

The stranger nodded, and turned to look around the tiny shop.

When the sandal maker returned, the stranger was standing before a small menorah. Walking up behind him he asked, "Is your birthday before or after Hanukkah?"

"Are you Jewish?"

"Of course," the sandal maker replied. Throwing his arms wide he stated, "Everyone in this village is Jewish."

The stranger sighed. "I'm sorry, but you won't be getting my money." He then turned and walked back out into the light.

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