CONFESSION

 by Stuart M. Kaminsky

 He sat on a polished light wood bench in the blue-tiled lobby of Temple Mir Shavot looking at the door.   A white-on-black plastic plate that told him that beyond the door was the temple office and that of the rabbi.     It was a little after eight on  a Thursday, morning and he had been sitting for almost forty minutes.
 He knew the rabbi was in.   He had seen a modest green Mazda in the parking spot of the rabbi and the license plate was marked "clergy".   The man had intended to stride in,  find the rabbi and beg him,  if necessary, for an immediate meeting.    But when he had seen the door,  the man hesitated, his legs weak and heavy.    He made it to the bench and sat looking first at his shaking hands and then at the door.
 From beyond a door to his right,  the voices of men came in a low chant.   Occasionally,  a voice would rise with determination and even emotion.  The man,   who had not been in a house of worship since he was a child,  remembered the morning minion 's his father and grandfather had taken him to even before he went to school.    There was something plaintive and alien in the sound of  long-forgotten Hebrew and the man,  who had  regained some control of his legs,  now felt as if he might weep.
 A few people had passed in the time he had sat.   Most did not look at him.   One woman,  heavy,  young,  wearing thick glasses and carrying a stack of yellow flyers gave him a smile he was unable to return.
 He was,  he knew,  not a memorable man.   Average height,  not overweight,  dark face now in need of a shave,  very black wavy hair which he had not combed but which he had brushed back and down with his fingers.   He wore slacks,  a sport jacket and a tie loose at the collar.  His clothes were conservative and unmemorable unless someone looked a little more carefully and noted the wrinkles and the dark irregular splash marks on his jacket and slacks and marks which were smaller  but definitely red on his white shirt.
 He sighed deeply thinking he recognized the ending of the morning prayers by the required ten men or more who formed the prayer group.
He started to rise,  not sure whether he was going to leave or go to the door to the office and step in.
 He was saved from the decision by the opening of the door.   Two men stepped into the lobby.  Their voices echoed slightly when they spoke though they were relatively quiet.
 One man was large,  burly,  maybe about fifty and bearing the look of an ex-athlete whose pink face strongly suggested that he was not Jewish.
But the man knew that Jews came in all sizes,  faces and colors.   The other man was a study in contrast.   He was thin,  a bit less than average height and probably nearing seventy.   His hair was curly and white and he had a little mustache equally white.    The older man had one of those perpetually sad looks and resembled one of those contrite beagles the waiting man's brother owned.
 "Rabbi,"  said the big man.  "I'll be back here with the car in half an hour."
 "Make that an hour Father Murphy,"  said the smaller man.
 The big man looked at his watch and nodded and said,  "That should give me enough time to check on Rabbit."
 Both the rabbi and the priest wore little round black kepuhs  as did the man who watched them.   He had remembered to take one out of the box inside the entrance and cover his head in the house of the Lord.
 The big priest moved past the waiting man,  glanced at him and went through the door into the morning sunlight.   The rabbi turned and started down the hallway.
 "Please,"  called the waiting man.
 The rabbi stopped and looked at him.
 "Yeah?"
 "I...can we talk for a few minutes?"
 The rabbi looked at his watch and said,
 "Me?"
 "Yes,  it's important."
 "I know you?"
 "No,"  said the man.
 "I've got a meeting in ten minutes,"  the rabbi said.  "What is it?"
 The man rose from the bench,  touched his forehead and said,
 "Someplace a little private?"
 The rabbi shrugged and  held out his hand toward a white double door across the lobby.   The man followed as the rabbi opened the door and stepped into a huge carpeted room with three-story ceilings and stained glass windows.   There were wooden benches facing the platform,  the bemah,   and on the bemah  were a podium on the left and a table on the right.   Built into the wall behind podium and table was a tall curtained ark which the man remembered contained at least one Torah.
 It all came back to him.    Hebrew words without meaning came rushing into his consciousness from the well of memory.   He touched his forehead.   He had not slept at all.
 There were folding chairs neatly stacked against the back wall.  The rabbi motioned for the man to follow him and unfolded two chairs facing each other in the back of the room.   They sat.   The rabbi put his hands in his lap and waited.
 "I was born a Jew,"  the man said.   "When I got married,  my wife is Catholic,  I converted.   I don't know if I'm still a Jew."
 "Tough question.   As far as I'm concerned,  you're born a Jew,  you're a Jew forever.  Maybe you can be both,  like dual citizenship."
 "So,  I'm in the right place,"  the man said whispering.
 "Depends on what's on your mind."
 "Confession,"  the man said.   "Is a rabbi sort of like a priest?   I mean, if something is told to a rabbi in confidence,  if someone confesses to something,   is it protected?   Is the rabbi forbidden to tell anyone?"
 "Depends on the rabbi."
 "What about here?  This synagogue?"
 "The rabbi wouldn't tell anyone."
 The man sighed.
 "My name is Arnold Sokol.   I killed a boy last night."
 "Who?"
 "I don't know,"  said Sokol touching his forehead.   "Mary,  my wife,  and I had a fight.   The minute I came home from work.  I worked late last night.  You know the Hollywood Linen Shop in Old Orchard?"
 "No."
 "That's my family's.  Where was...Oh, yes.  Mary and I we've been having a lot of them, fights.   She wants more children.   We've got four.   I said, 'no more.'   Fight.   No hitting,  nothing like that.  Just anger,  shouting.   You know,  I said I gave up my religion for you and she said she gave up friends and family and since when had I practiced any religion.   The kids were in bed but I'm sure they heard the whole thing.    Mary got loud.  I got loud.  The baby cried.   I went out."
 "Out?"
 "For a drive.   It was about eleven.   We live a few blocks from here.
I drove to the Lake,  in Evanston,  near the university.   I sat on the rocks listening to the waves.   And then it started."
 "It?"
 "I guess they spotted me alone.   I didn't hear them coming,"  Sokol went on looking toward the ark.
 "How many?"
 "Four.    Young.   White.  I don't think any of them was more that seventeen or eighteen,  probably younger.     I didn't know they were there till one of them behind me said,  'Hey,  you.'    I was startled.   I turned around and saw them,  standing in a line on the grass behind the rocks.   They were smiling.    I looked around.   We were the only ones in sight.    I thought about running,  jumping into the water,  shouting,   but I knew none of them would work.   And I didn't consider fighting.    I exercise a little, but...I've never been in a real fight,  even when I was a kid."
 "What did they say,  do?"
 "One of them said, 'How'd you like to give us your watch and wallet?" Another one said,  'And your belt.'    And a third one said,  "And anything else you've got in them pockets.'    I stood up.   The strange thing was that I wasn't afraid.   I had fought with Mary.   I was depressed.   So many things have...One of them said,  "Come here.'     I stayed on the rocks.   Maybe deep inside I was afraid to move,  but I didn't feel afraid.   I didn't even consider calling for the help of God and certainly not to Jesus.   This is a confession,  right?"
 "Sounds like one to me,"  said the rabbi.
 "I've been a lousy Catholic,"  said Arnold Sokol.   "I don't believe. I did it to please my wife.   Is that a sin?   I mean for a Jew?"
 "A mistake,  not a sin.   Least I don't think so.   That's between you and God,"  said the rabbi.
 "But I don't believe in God either.  They came toward me.   I was wearing  these shoes,  good shoes for standing all day.  Not good for running on rocks.   The biggest one came alone.  He held out his hand.  He was smiling.  One of the other boys was looking around to see if anyone was coming.  The one in front of me said, 'Give fast,  man.'    I was frozen.   I thought they were going to beat me,  probably kill me.   When he pushed me in in the face,  I stumbled back almost losing my balance.   He came forward.  One of the others,  I don't know which,  said,  'Hurry up Z',  something like that.  The big one called 'Z' came at me.  I didn't know what was behind.   Something happened inside me.  I don't know what.   Rage,  fear.  Humiliation.  I grabbed his arm and pulled.  He didn't expect it.   I almost fell again but didn't.   The one called 'Z' went down on his face on the edge of a rock.  The others stood frozen for a second.  'Z'  got to one knee and grabbed me around the waist.  I don't know if he wanted my help or to kill me.  His face was...cut, blood.  In the moonlight...I can't describe it.   He sat back.   The other three came forward.  One of them  slipped on the rocks and tumbled into the water shouting something obscene at me.   The last two started to punch me.   I doubled over and then came up.  I hit the one in front of me in the throat.  He made a gargling sound and grabbed his throat.    The last one said,  'I'm gonna kill you mister.'
 "I thought I heard the one in the water climbing out.   I tried to pull away.  He hit me here,  on the side of my head.   That's when I heard the voices.  I think it was a group of Northwestern students going back to campus.   The one holding me hit me again,  harder.  I think the bone under my right eye might be broken.   Maybe his knuckles are broken.  The one in the water had climbed out and he started for me,  hair hanging down,  hate in his eyes.   'Take Paulie,'  the one who had hit me said.  'Let's go.'   And then he looked at me and said,  'We'll find you mister.  We'll kill you.'    They went away.   The one I had hit in the throat was still trying to catch his breathe.
 "I looked down at the one called 'Z'.   It was hard to tell in the moonlight,  but it looked like there was a lot of blood and he wasn't moving.
I went over the rocks back to the grass and stood shaking,  my hands on my  knees.    The group that had saved my life passed on the pathway about thirty yards away.   They  were too busy talking and possibly a little too drunk to see me.   I wandered,  drove and came here."
 "That it?"  asked the rabbi.
 "No,"  said Sokol looking at his hands.   "I wanted to kill him.  I wanted to kill them all.   I want to say I'm sorry for what I did,  but I'm not.   I feel good. I did something.   God help me,  I'm a murderer and I feel good about it and bad about it.  Am I making sense?   Do you understand?"
 "I think I understand,"  said the rabbi.
 "I'm not going to the police,"  Sokol said.  "I'm not going to tell Mary. I'm going to think about this.   I can kill.   Somehow it's made me feel better about myself,  what I think about myself.   I'll keep this secret.   I just had to tell someone."
 "It's too late,"  said the rabbi.
 Sokol looked up.
 "Too late?"
 "You've already gone to the police,"  the rabbi said.
 "What?"
 "I'm a police officer.   Detective Lieberman."
 "The priest called you 'rabbi',"  the confused Sokol said.
 "He's not a priest.  He's a cop too,"  said Lieberman.  "We call each other 'Rabbi'  and 'Father Murphy."
 "You lied,"  said Sokol angrily rising from the folding chair which clattered back behind him.
 "Never told you I was the rabbi,"  Lieberman said still sitting.
 "You should have stopped me,  told me."
 "Maybe,"  said Lieberman.   "I'm not sure what the rules are."
 "I could kill you right here,"  said Sokol looking around for something to attack the smaller man with.    He started for the chair.
 "I don't know what the punishment is for killing someone in a synagogue,"  said Lieberman.   "I wouldn't be surprised if God struck you dead.   Actually,   I would be surprised.   On the other hand,  I don't know what he would do to me if I had to shoot you."
 Sokol had his back turned to Lieberman.  He had one hand on the fallen chair when he looked over his shoulder and saw the detective aiming a gun in his direction.
 Sokol took his hand away from the chair,  faced the detective and began to cry.
 "I'm putting the gun away,"  said Lieberman.  "Shouldn't have brought it in here anyway.    You going to give me trouble?"
 Sokol shook his head 'no.'
 "You want to see Rabbi Wass?"
 Again,  Sokol shook his head 'no' and tried to keep the tears back.
 "Cheer up,"  said Lieberman standing.  "I'm not sure your confession is admissible."
 Someone came through the doors,  a youngish man in a suit wearing glasses.
 "Lieberman...,"  he began and then saw the crying man,   the overturned chair and the detective.
 "Irving,"   Lieberman said.   "I can't make the meeting.  It's all yours."
 The man in the glasses and designer suit and tie looked as if he were going to speak,  changed his mind and left the room.   Lieberman shook his head wearily and turned toward the ark.   He stood silently for a few about a minute.
 "Are you praying?"   asked Sokol.
 "Something like that,"  said Lieberman.
 "For me?"
 "Not sure,"  said Lieberman.  "Maybe.   Maybe for both of us.  Maybe that Irving Hammel,  who just burst in here,  doesn't screw up the meeting.
Maybe...I don't use words.   I don't know if God is listening.   Sometimes I think God created the world and everything on it including us and then left us on our own,   went to some other world,  tried again.   Maybe he comes back to look in on what he left behind.   Maybe he doesn't.   I like to think he doesn't.   If I thought he did,   I'd be a little angry that he doesn't say, 'stop'. You understand?"
 "I don't know,"  said Sokol.
 "Good.   Neither do I.   Let's go make some phone calls."
 The secretary,  Mrs. Gold,  had been with Temple Mir Shavot since the days when it was located in Albany Park and Old Rabbi Wass was still a young man.    Now Mrs. Gold,   a solid citizen of seventy who liked to reminisce with anyone who would listen about the old days on the West Side when she was a girl,  considered herself the protector of the Young Rabbi Wass,  who was,  at 45,  no longer quite young.
 Mrs. Gold was short.   Mrs. Gold was plump.   Her hair was short and dyed black and her glasses hung professionally at the end of her nose.   She had perfected the art of looking over her glasses at strangers in a way that told them she had some doubts about their intentions and origin.
 "Can I use the phone in Rachel's office?"  asked Lieberman as Mrs. Gold behind her desk looked at the disheveled and blood-stained Arnold Sokol.
 "Why not?"  asked Mrs. Gold.   "Aren't you supposed to be in a meeting?"
 "Something came up,"  said Lieberman.
 "You know what'll happen if you're not in that meeting?"
 "Chaos,"  said Lieberman.  "The sky will fall and cursed night,  it will be up to me to set it right. "
 "Shakespeare?"  she said shaking her head.
 "Comes from years of insomnia and reading in the bathtub,"  said Lieberman motioning for Sokol to follow him into a small office next to the wooden door on which a plaque indicated the office of Rabbi Wass.
 Lieberman pointed to a chair next to the desk.   Sokol sat while Lieberman stood making calls and taking notes.
 A resigned calm had taken over Arnold Sokol.   Events would carry him.   He would drift.   Others would take care of him,  possibly send him to prison.    He had experienced his moment.   It would stay inside.   He was complete.    He tried to remember every moment of the night before.   It came in small jerking bits in which he stood triumphant.   Sokol heard almost nothing of what the detective said and when Lieberman hung up after taking notes,  Sokol had trouble concentrating on what he was being told.
 "His name is Zembinsky,   Melvin Zembinsky,"  said Lieberman.   "Notice I said 'is'.   You didn't kill him.   At least he's not dead yet.    He's in Evanston Hospital.    Let's go see him."
 "He's not dead?"  asked Sokol.   "This is a trick.   I killed him.   He attacked me.   I killed him."
 Lieberman looked at the seated man who looked as if he were going to panic.
 "And you want him dead?"
 "Yes,"  said Sokol pounding the desk.   "Yes,  yes,  yes.   It's....I don't know."
 The door to the office opened and a man in a white shirt and dark slacks held up by suspenders stepped in leaving the door open behind him.
The man was thin,  wore glasses and a kepuh.    He looked at Sokol and then at Lieberman.
 "Abraham,  what's going on?"
 "Rabbi Wass,  this is Arnold Sokol.   He thought I was you.    He confessed to a murder,  but the victim isn't dead and Mr. Sokol is disappointed."
 Rabbi Wass looked confused.   He took off his glasses,  which he often did to make momentary sense of the immediate world,  put them on again and looked at Sokol.
 "I was working on my sermon,"   Rabbi Wass said.
 Both Sokol and Lieberman failed to see the relevance of the statement.
 "Never mind,"  said the rabbi.   "Who did you try to kill?   Why? Why are you disappointed that he isn't dead?   And,  forgive me,  but I don't recognize you.   You're not a member of this congregation."
 "I'm a Catholic,"  said Sokol.
 "He's a Jew,"  said Lieberman.
 "I thought I killed a young man who was trying to rob me,"  said Sokol.
"Him and his gang,  four of them.   I fought them off.   Then I wanted to confess,  to tell someone."
 You were proud of what you had done?"  asked the rabbi.
 "Yes."
 "Why didn't you go to a priest?"
 "I...."
 "He's a Jew,  a convert to Catholicism,"  said Lieberman.   "He's as confused as Jerry Slattery."
 Slattery was a convert from Catholicism to Judaism.  It had come to Slattery when he was 50.   He was a postal worker,   a reader,  a bachelor with recurrent stomach problems.    Then he had become a pain in the behind.    No one is more Jewish than a convert.   Slattery spoke out,  decried the lack of religious discipline in the congregation.   He had been to Israel twice,  spoke Hebrew almost fluently and argued with Rabbi Wass on any and all subjects.    And then,  suddenly,   Slattery had second thoughts about his conversion,  went to see a priest,   and dropped out of religious life of all kinds.   He sat at home in his small apartment at night watching television and playing Tetris on a Game Boy.
 Rabbi Wass and the priest,  Father Sutton,  had joined forces to save Slattery,   had visited him at home,  taken him to dinner,  tried to argue,  persuade,  threaten,  cajole.   So far,  nothing had worked and Lieberman, to tell the truth,  was happy that Slattery wasn't around to correct everyone on ritual procedure and rail against the Arab world.
 Sokol wasn't a member of the congregation.   Sokol was a Catholic.
What was Rabbi Wass's obligation,   duty?   Find the name of the man's priest?   Another Slattery situation?
 "We're going to the hospital,"  said Lieberman motioning for Sokol to rise.
 "I'll go with you,"  said Rabbi Wass.   "I'll get my jacket."
 "No,"  said Sokol.
 The rabbi paused at the door.
 "I would like to go,"  said the rabbi.
 "You can't save my soul,"  said Sokol.    "I don't want it saved and I don't want cliches and simple-minded advice."
 "You'd be surprised at how many people find solace in simple truths,"  said Rabbi Wass.
 "Not me,"  said Sokol.
 "Fine,  whatever conversation we have,  I'll try to make it dense,  metaphysical and difficult to follow.   Will that satisfy you?"
 Sokol looked at the rabbi who was serious and without expression.    The rabbi left to get his jacket.
 Ten minutes later,  Lieberman's partner returned,  was briefed and the four men got into the car and were headed for the hospital.
 "I checked with your friend Bryant in Evanston,"   Lieberman said in the front seat while Hanrahan drove.   "Our victim is 18,  has a long list of arrests for robbery,  assault.   Did six months as a juvenile offender.  Father's a probation officer.  Mother's on a state juvenile crime commisson."
 Hanrahan looked into the rear-view mirror.   Rabbi Wass was speaking softly to Sokol who seemed galaxies away.
 "What're we doing,  Abe?    Why not turn him over to Bryant and get to the station before Kearney puts us on report."
 "I called Kearney.    He was in one of his moods.  Doesn't care what we do,"  said Lieberman.
 "It would be a comfort,  though a small one,  if I had some idea of what we were doing,"  said Hanrahan as they drove down the road between the  parking  structure and the rear of the hospital.   Hanrahan parked  near the Emergency Room and put down his visor with the Chicago police card clipped to it.
 "I think we're trying to save a man's soul,  whatever that is,"  said Lieberman.
 "We'd be better off out catching a few bad guys,"  said Hanrahan.
 "I called his wife."
 "You got a lot done fast,  rabbi."
 "She's coming here.   Kids are in school except for a baby."
 Hanrahan looked in the mirror again.
 "Looks like a true believer in nothing,"  said Hanrahan.
 "Maybe,"  said Lieberman.   "Let's go."
 They got out of the car,  two policemen ahead,   the rabbi and suspect behind.
 There were about a dozen people in the waiting room,  none of them Sokol's wife.   They had beaten her there which was fine with Lieberman.
Identification was shown and the woman behind the counter told them how to get up the the room of Melvin Zembinsky.
 At the nursing station,   a thin,  pretty black nurse with her hair in a bun said that Zembinsky had suffered no serious injury other than facial contusions,   a concussion that knocked him out and a cut in his head that required thirty-two stitches.     There was no reason they couldn't see him especially since he was a suspect in a crime.
 There were two  men in the other beds in the room with Zembinsky.   Neither man was in any condition to notice the quartet which moved to the bedside of the bandaged young man whose eyes were closed.   Hanrahan pulled the curtain around the bed to give them some sense of privacy.
 "Melvin,"   said Lieberman.
 Nothing.
 "Z,"   Lieberman said and the young man's eyes struggled and opened.
 "I'm Detective Lieberman.   This is my partner,  Detective Hanrahan and this is Rabbi Wass.   I think you know this man."
 Zembinsky's eyes turned to Sokol without recognition.
 "He's the one who put you in here,"  said Lieberman.   "Wanna just shake hands and be friends?"
 Zembinsky's eyes now turned to the thin little detective.
 "I didn't think so,"  said Lieberman.   "You're a Jew."
 "I'm nothing,"  Zembinsky whispered.   "Religion sucks."
 "Sokol,"  said Lieberman.   "It sounds like you and your victim have a lot in common."
 "Why didn't you die?"  asked Sokol with resignation.
 "So I could get out of this bed,  find you and punch a hole in your stomach,"  said Zembinsky so softly that the four men could hardly hear him.    Zembinsky's eyes closed and he seemed exhausted.
 "We're gonna get you,  man,"  Zembinsky went on,   eyes still closed.
"We're gonna get you at home,  or on the street when you don't know we're coming.   And if you've got a family..."
 Lieberman was at the foot of the bed facing the battered young man.
Rabbi Wass stood next to the bed with Hanrahan at his side.   Sokol stood next to Lieberman.
 And it happened.   Arnold Sokol let out an animal snort of rage,  pushed Lieberman against the bed and grabbed the detective's weapon from his holster.     Lieberman's hip had caught a metal bar.   Pain shot through his side.
 "No,"  said Rabbi Wass as Sokol aimed the weapon at the young man on the bed who opened his eyes,  looked at Arnold and smiled.
 "Put it down,  Mr. Sokol,"  said Hanrahan whose weapon was out and pointed at the shaking man with the gun in his hand.
 "No,"  said Sokol.   "I'm going to finish this."
 "Go ahead,"  said the man in the bed.   "I don't give a crap.   You'll make the headlines.   My friends won't have any trouble finding you.   Shoot.
You'll probably miss and screw it up again."
 "You ever fire a weapon,  Arnold?"  Lieberman said.
 "I'm just going to pull the trigger,"   said Sokol.   "Pull it and pull it till it's empty or the other policeman shoots me.    You don't understand.    It has to be or I'm nothing."
 "First the synagogue,  now the hospital,"  said Lieberman.   "And who the hell knows what you've done to my hip.   And let's not forget that if you shoot him with my gun,  I'm in big trouble.   I've got a wife,  daughter,  two grandchildren and I'm near a retirement pension.    Shoot him and who knows what I lose.   All you lose is your life."
 Sokol looked at the three men around the bed and hesitated.
 "I have to,"  he said.   "Don't you see?"
 "Be quiet will you,"   came the voice of a man in another bed beyond the curtain.   "I'm supposed to for Christ's sake rest here."
 "Sorry,"  said Lieberman.
 Sokol aimed the gun at the young man in the bed before him.   Hanrahan leveled his weapon.
 Before he could move,   Rabbi Wass leaned over the man on the bed and covered him with his body,  his back to Sokol.
 "Get out of the way,"  Sokol cried.
 The rabbi was eye-to-eye with the battered man on the bed.   The pain of the rabbi's weight was off-set by the rabbi's attempt at a reassuring smile.
 "No,"   said Rabbi Wass.   "Arnold,  give Detective Lieberman his gun back.    No lives will be lost here with the possible exception of yours and mine."
 "I....,"   Sokol stammered and then screamed,   "Get the hell off of him."
 "I would like to get  the hell of his life off of him,"  said the rabbi,  "but at the moment,   one step at a time.    This is very uncomfortable,   Arnold."
 "You people are all crazy,"   said Sokol.   "I'm  crazy."
 "And I'm calling the damn nurse,"  came the voice from the other bed.
 Lieberman held out his hand.   Sokol hesitated and handed him the weapon.     Hanrahan slowly put his gun away.
 "He did it,"  croaked Zembinsky looking into the rabbi's eyes.
 Rabbi Wass closed his eyes,  let out a puff of air and stood up on less then firm legs.
 "You've got balls,"  said the young man in the bed struggling for air.
 "I'll take that as a compliment,"  said the rabbi adjusting his glasses.
"Now,  if you want to repay me and God for saving your life,   promise that this is all ended,  that you will not seek revenge.   You don't deserve revenge."
 The pretty black nurse came in and saw that Zembinsky was having trouble breathing.
 "What happened?"   she asked looking at Lieberman and then at her patient who was breathing loud and heavily.
 "I fell upon him,"   said Rabbi Wass.
 The nurse leaned over the heavily-breathing young man and said,
 "You people have some damn weird rituals."
 "We do,"  said Lieberman.
 Zembinsky's eyes met those of Arnold Sokol and he spoke as the nurse listened to his chest with the stethoscope that hung around her neck.
 "Okay,"  said the young man gasped.   "I owe you one.   I leave the bastard alone.   He doesn't bring any charges."
 "Be quiet,"  the nurse said.
 "Sokol shook his head 'yes' and Zembinsky nodded and closed his eyes.
 The nurse stood up.
 "He'll be alright,"  she said.   "I'd say this visit is over."
 "Amen,"   said Lieberman.
 "You believe the little bugger?"  asked Hanrahan in the corridor outside the room.
 "Yes,"  said Rabbi Wass.
 "I think so,"  said Sokol.
 "Yes,"  said Lieberman,  but kept to himself the knowledge gained from more than thirty years on the street,   a knowledge that one's word was only as good as the person who gave it and rage walked the streets.
 "Go downstairs,  Arnold Sokol,"  said Rabbi Wass.  "Your wife should be there.   Go home.    I'll call you if you wish, see how you're doing."
 "I....I'd....That would be fine."
 "Maybe you could come back for a service,  Friday night?   I think you'll be the subject of my sermon.    I don't know what I'll say.   Maybe I'll surprise us both.   God often gives me words I didn't expect.   Sometimes they're not so bad."
 "I'll think about it,"  said Sokol shaking hands with the two policemen.
 "I'd say you owe the rabbi,"   said Hanrahan.
 "Yes,"  said Sokol looking at his watch.   "I could still take a shower,  change clothes and get to work."
 "The baby's name?"  asked Lieberman as Sokol started to turn toward the elevator.   "What's your baby's name?"
 "Luke,"  said Sokol.   "Did I tell you my wife's name is Mary?"
 "You did,"  said Lieberman.   "They're waiting for you downstairs."
 The three men stood in the hospital corridor while Sokol got in the elevator.
 "You're a hero,  Rabbi,"  said Lieberman.
 "I'm a man,  that's all,"   said Rabbi Wass.
 "So,"   said Lieberman.   "What does it mean?  What happened this morning?"
 "I don't know,"   said the rabbi.   "But it feels right."
 When the three men got down to the lobby,   the tattered Arnold Sokol was standing in the corner near the window arguing with a plump woman with disheveled hair and a baby over her shoulder.
 "Doesn't look promising,"   said Hanrahan.
 "They're talking,"  said Rabbi Wass adjusting his glasses.   "It's a start."
 "Time for coffee?"   asked Lieberman.
 Why not?"   said Rabbi Wass who walked ahead of them lost in his thoughts.
 "Abe,"  Hanrahan said softly.   "You load your weapon yet this morning?"
 "Nope,"  said Lieberman.  "Father Murph,  you know I don't load till I get to the squad room."
 "Yeah,"  said Hanrahan as the automatic doors opened in front of the
hospital.   "How about you paying for the coffee?"
 "How about Rabbi Wass paying for the coffee and Danish?"   Lieberman said as the rabbi stood waiting for them.
 "That'll be fine with me,"  said Hanrahan.  "Just fine."
 

    The End