The Pragmatic Monk
I wonder what ever happened to him. I can’t remember his name. Burt? Bryon? He was my Aunt Rena’s nephew. Aunt Rena being my mother’s sister-in-law, her brother Gleve’s wife. Aunt Rena was the one who always said, This is the way I see it. She said that at the beginning of every sentence I ever heard her say. I do remember he was so funny, and a good-looking kid. He looked handsome even in that bulky brown robe, with that collar as big as a tire around his neck. He wore these leather sandals that I couldn’t help but make fun of. Oh, and then there was that thick white rope around his waist, with all these knots tied down the excess length of one end of that rope.
We were over at Aunt Rena’s for dinner while visiting Anaheim one summer, when this monk-in-training, I guess is what you’d call him, showed up. And he had my parents, his aunt and uncle, and me all in hysterics. I don’t remember just what he was saying, but whatever it was we could hardly eat we were too busy laughing. He was so charming, too. And we flirted, this young man--oh, he was probably in his early twenties, and I think I was sixteen or seventeen at that.
We ended up on the front porch just the two of us. He was teasing me, and I asked him why he wanted to become a monk, of all things. He told me it was the greatest score ever. Free housing, free food, he’d be taken care of the rest of his life. Sure, he wanted to serve God, but why not do it without any of the world’s boondoggles. He teased me some more. What do those knots on the rope around your waist mean? This knot represents my bed, this knot is for my meals, and this knot is for the…. Stop it; you’re teasing. That’s not what they mean.
Dan Crawley has recently been nominated for Dzanc's Best of the Web series. His stories have appeared in North American Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Quarterly West, Glossolalia, and elsewhere.