Dives and Lazarus

In Fiction on October 7, 2013 at 10:47 pm

the perisphere at the 1939 world's fair

Dives and Lazarus

Thomas and Quinn strolled down the Helicline, through pleasant evening air and a smell of lavender. Quinn polished the buttons of his vest and looked back at the massive white orb.

“Magnificent!” he exclaimed. “A fantastic vision of the future. And this fluorescent technology seems a prudent investment, Thomas. What do you say?”

Thomas, who had been inspecting a silver dollar, tucked the coin in his pocket and sighed.

“I suppose it does,” he said wistfully.

Quinn eyed him askance.

“You’ve been acting very queer today,” he said. “Is everything all right?”

Thomas shrugged.

“There was a man sleeping in my doorway this morning,” he said. “He asked me for a dollar to feed his family.”

“A crook, surely,” Quinn replied. “Tell me you didn’t pay the man?”

“No… but I feel perhaps I ought to have.”

Ahead was a wide, white pavilion with warm electric lights glowing on braided strands. Thomas strode ahead, took a stool at the makeshift bar and resumed his inspection of the coin. The barman stepped over.

“What’ll it be?” he asked.

“Whatever’s in vogue,” Quinn said with a wink, and he sat. “Is that it?” he asked Thomas, turning. “A man in your doorway, and suddenly you’re a dour philosopher?”

Thomas said nothing. Quinn sat a moment in thought.

“Do you know the parable of Dives and Lazarus?” he asked at last.

Thomas nodded: “A rich man refuses aid to a beggar. Both die, but the beggar goes to heaven while the rich man…”

“Right. And the rich man pleads with Abraham to send the dead beggar to his family—to warn them of the consequences of their indifference. And what does Abraham say?”

“‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.'”

The barman returned with two tall drinks, orange and smelling strongly of rum. Thomas took a sip.

“That’s good,” he said, though still sullen. “What’s it called?”

Quinn smiled.

“A zombie,” he replied. “Cheers.”

This story is my response to this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge, for which the word was Zombie. If you’re wondering, I set this one at the 1939 World’s Fair. The Great Depression was in full swing, Ralph Vaughn Williams had just debuted his appropriately timed “Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus,” and the Zombie happened to be a popular drink just then.

I’m not even sure if this comes across clearly here, or if my story makes sense, but I thought I’d try take advantage of that tidy confluence (even if that sounds a little dirty).

Anyway, let me know what you think in the comments below!

  1. Brian, brilliant combination of history, setting and prompt. You have a unique ability to bring clarity to every scene.

  2. o.O ”

    I’m not sure about the last part. Lazarus=zombie….. but then , don’t mind me. I ‘m quite dense.

  3. A very interesting read. How we perceive things written in text and when it actually happens to us… that contrast is well portrayed in your writing.


  4. Love the dialogue! Feels very period.

  5. Sexy, sublime writing once again!

  6. I’m a big fan of historical fiction-so this piece was easy for me to love!

  7. I certainly liked it. Your attention to historical accuracy makes it all the more fascinating.

  8. Well, you know what we’re going to say. Loved it. Lazarus is the ultimate zombie, right? I love the setting and period feel of this. The dialogue was great. Thanks for linking up and sharing with us. Sexy and sublime, indeed.

  9. this was the gospel this past Sunday (or was it last Sunday) for us Catholics, the parable of how the master dies and then , in hell, begs for a fingertip of water.

    and so with in mind, a week ago I sat in the car at a local convenience store with my sons and a woman came over to ask for change…but she looked like she was going to use it for drugs and then I was scared for the boys because they didn’t understand…so I ended up handing her a dollar bill but nothing else. I was the Doubting Thomas..;) and I’ve felt bad about it for days.

    this was a really wonderful piece, you never disappoint.
    (maybe I’ll see that woman again and be able to give her more)

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