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Oliver Benjamin                            
affectionately fingered the photos.
His father had kept the picture of his dead wife upon the mantle,
kissing it daily, calling her “The Witch” not because of any flaw in her
character, but because she had bewitched him so irreparably. As the
years passed the lonely man had come to realize that he would never
fall in love again and chose instead to worship this thin icon of ardor.
Roy, having never met his mother, could only stare at the lip-
smudged photograph and wonder how anyone could ever substitute
a symbol for the real thing. From time to time his father insisted he
too kiss the image but he never knew why. He did not love his
mother. He did not even know her, did not understand that he was
somehow responsible for her death. He could not love a photograph,
despite his father’s glowing remembrances.
“She was the most beautiful, the most kind, the most clever
woman I ever met,” he used to say. “I knew her as a young child. We
came over from the old continent together. We were married at a
young age. Neither of us ever knew anyone else.”
“How could you not know anyone else?” young Roy complained.
“You didn’t have any friends?”
“I’ll explain it to you some day. No, we had many friends.”
“Did any of our friends at the coffeeshop ever meet her?”
“Sure. Mr. Davis was our good friend. He was sad about her
passing too. He even wrote a song about it but I begged him not to
record it.”
“Because I wouldn’t be able to stand it if it got popular.”
“Was it so bad?”
“No. It was a fine song. Considering, of course that Sammy didn’t
normally write his own material.”
“What was it called?”
The Queen of Sheba. It was about a queen who leaves her home
to live with a great king, and when she dies and walks through the
desert of purgatory, remembers him sadly. The queen being your
momma, and the king being me, of course.”
“Sing it!”
Sing it!”
“I can’t sing well Roy. But I’ll try.”
He took a deep breath and let out a rich baritone that sounded
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