Tret, quietly excused himself from the shady back porch of Boj's small home. He could not always sit with his friend for hour after hour. Boj, in his final infirmity, Tret was sure, talked and dozed, often losing his thread of thought in mid-sentence.
"I don't know why you try to talk all the time," Tret told him. "You work so hard to get out the words."
"The words it is are not the problem," Boj replied, lapsing into his great-grandfather's curious use of being verbs. "The hard is the thoughts."
"Well, hard words or hard thoughts," Tret told him, "it does not matter. You should rest more."
"Rest is for the grave, where soon enough I will lie," Boj told him.
"And no cremation for me, not like our fathers and our friends," he added. "A fine grave I want, where I can lie still and not by every wind be blown."
"I know, I know, I know," Tret promised him. "Jeeminy, how often do you have to remind me? I can put you in the ground without a daily reminder."
"To remember is not what I want from you," Boj reminded him again. "From you to understand, that is what I want."
Tret would never understand. He would never comprehend how this old man still believed in God after all that had befallen him. And not just any God or god or gods but a Personal Deity, alive independent of objects of creation or acts of adoration. Boj acted trustingly from faith in a God who he still believed loved him, despite a life time of stark evidence to the contrary.
Tret had once believed. He had lost his faith, misplaced forever, in his own personal failures. Boj himself had actually not failed. He continued in good conduct, kindness and generosity toward any and all who offended him; the list was long.
Tret knew every name on the list of those who abused Boj. Tret's name was at the top.
Tret had taken from Boj the love of his life at the time when Boj's life was at its lowest ebb. He, Tret Joseph Michaelli, by sly insinuation and niggling inference, wooed and won Boj's only wife, the only woman Boj had ever loved. He had plotted against his oldest, dearest friend, not out of any great physical attraction to the woman but because she was the one redeeming factor in Boj's life after he had lost everything else.
Boj who had nothing left to him, yet loved. Tret, who had everything opened for him, tasted ashes in his mouth. Tret had gone quite mad with need: a deep, inner longing to take his friend's wife, so to crush his spirit, so to ruin his faith. He would take Boj to the slough of despair. Boj would curse God and die rather than live one more day in a life become like a dry creek bed.
To Tret, Boj was ever and always a friend. To Boj, Tret was the Satan, the adversary who waited at his friend's back door.