I watched as Aaron approached one of the workbenches and fetched an intricately-crafted gold box.
“Ah, yes. The shem, you see, is what gives the golem its power—thank you, son, a sheynem dank. It is what gives it the ability to move and become animated.”
I glanced at Aaron, who only looked back at me uncertainly, as his father approached the golem and opened the box, the gold plating of which gleamed like a fire before the candelabrums. “This one consists of only one word—one of the Names of God, which is too sacred to be uttered here.” He withdrew a slip of paper and placed it into the golem’s mouth. “I shall only say emet, which means ‘truth’ … and have done with it. And so it is finished. Tetelestai.” He turned and looked directly at me, I have no idea why. “The debt will be paid in full.”
Nobody said anything for a long time, even as the birds tweeted outside and a siren wailed somewhere in the distance. We just stood there and stared at his creation.
At last I said, “So are you going to enter in the Fair, Mr. Moss, or what? How will you even move it?”
At which Old Man Moss only smiled, ruffling my hair, and said, “No—it is only for this moment. That is the nature of Art. Tsaytvaylik. Tomorrow it will be gone. Now run along and finish your lawn. I’ve involved you enough.”
And the next day it was gone, at least according to Aaron, and both of us, I think, promptly forgot about it. At least until the first of the Benton Boys turned up dead, Sheriff Donner directing the recovery while his ashen-blue body bobbed listlessly against the Benedict A. Saltweather Dam.
It was June.