286 Anthony Boucher found a hammer, pounded them to powder, and washed the powder down the sink. Alan started to pour himself a drink and found, to his pleased surprise, that he didn’t especially need one. But he did feel tired. He could lie down and recapitulate it all, from the invention <strong>of</strong> Mr. Lupescu (and Gorgo and the man with the Milky Way route) to today’s success and on into the future when Marjorie—pliant, trusting Marjorie—would be more desirable than ever as Robert’s widow and heir. And Bobby would need a man to look after him. Alan went into the bedroom. Several years passed by in the few seconds it took him to recognize what was waiting on the bed, but then, Time is funny. Alan said nothing. “Mr. Lupescu, I presume?” said Gorgo.
Balaam 287 Balaam “What is a ‘man’ ?” Rabbi Chaim Acosta demanded, turning his back on the window and its view <strong>of</strong> pink sand and infinite pink boredom. “You and I, Mule, in our respective ways, work for the salvation <strong>of</strong> man—as you put it, for the brotherhood <strong>of</strong> men under the fatherhood <strong>of</strong> God. Very well, let us define our terms: Whom, or more precisely what, are we interested in saving?” Father Aloysius Malloy shifted uncomfortably and reluctantly closed the American Football Year<strong>book</strong> which had been smuggled in on the last rocket, against all weight regulations, by one <strong>of</strong> his communicants. I honestly like Chaim, he thought, not merely (or is that the right word?) with brotherly love, nor even out <strong>of</strong> the deep gratitude I owe him, but with special individual liking; and I respect him. He’s a brilliant man—too brilliant to take a dull post like this in his stride. But he will get <strong>of</strong>f into discussions which are much too much like what one <strong>of</strong> my Jesuit pr<strong>of</strong>essors called “disputations.” “What did you say, Chaim?” he asked. The rabbi’s black Sephardic eyes sparkled. “You know very well what I said, Mule; and you’re stalling for time. Please indulge me. Our religious duties here are not so arduous as we might wish; and since you won’t play chess …” “… and you,” said Father Malloy unexpectedly, “refuse to take any interest in diagraming football plays …” “Touché. Or am I? Is it my fault that as an Israeli I fail to share the peculiar American delusion that football means something other than rugby and soccer? Whereas chess—” He looked at the priest reproachfully. “Mule,” he said, “you have led me into a digression.” “It was a try. Like the time the whole Southern California line thought I had the ball for once and Leliwa walked over for the winning TD.” “What,” Acosta repeated, “is man? Is it by definition a member <strong>of</strong> the genus H. sapiens inhabiting the planet Sol III and its colonies?” “The next time we tried the play,” said Malloy resignedly, “Leliwa was smeared for a ten-yard loss.” The two men met on the sands <strong>of</strong> Mars. It was an unexpected meeting, a meeting in itself uneventful, and yet one <strong>of</strong> the turning points in the history <strong>of</strong> men and their universe. 287