The Enemy of the Good

The Enemy of the Good by Michael Arditti

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Authors: Michael Arditti
father’s love of the Church overrode his doubts about God. Stifling the diffidence intrinsic to a courtroom, he walked up to Rafik who stood stock-still, staring at the judge’s chair. They were joined by Shortt, who inexplicably claimed that proceedings had gone as well as could be expected.
    ‘So you think he must let Rafik stay?’ Rafik asked eagerly.
    ‘It could go either way,’ Shortt replied. ‘But don’t worry, if we lose this one, there’s still the Reconsideration.’ Then he patted Rafik’s arm, shook Clement’s hand, and ambled out.
    ‘Always one thing else,’ Rafik said. ‘When they push me on to plane, he will say: “Don’t worry, there is still chance it must crash.”’
    They left the court, passing two middle-aged Chinese men with the earnest faces of exiles from Tiananmen Square. Once on the street, Clement extracted Rafik’s promise to eat something, insisting – only half in jest – that he would have no use for a skinny Saint Sebastian, before flagging a taxi to take him to Dartmouth Park. He had a three o’clock appointment with the Dean who, deaf to all requests that he wait another week, was coming to inspect their progress. Aware that a committed client was the key to a successful commission , Clement had nevertheless been reluctant to sanction the visit, arguing that the work was at a highly delicate stage, with the panes cut out and painted but not yet assembled. The Dean, however, had forced his hand with the news that, far from admitting defeat, Major Deedes had stepped up his campaign against the window and that he would be in a much stronger position to fight back once he had seen it for himself.
    With no time for lunch, Carla led Clement straight out to the workshop where the top portion of the window was propped up on an easel. Even though he had warned the Dean to expect no more than a crude impression, he had often found that it was before the fragments of colour had been framed in black that a window was at its purest. He walked round the easel, examining every aspect, before leaning against the wall to gauge the full effect. He nodded to Carla, who carefully removed the lightly glued panel and replaced it with the next one. They repeated the process down to the base, at which point he professed himself delighted, not least with her use of fused glass for the bishop’s cope. He told her to go ahead with the leading which, for all his scruples, was one task he was glad to be spared. The soldering iron and horseshoe nails might have changed little since the Middle Ages, but the romance soon palled in the face of work that was tedious, tiring, and messy.
    A prolonged ring on the doorbell punctured their euphoria, but the deflation was only temporary for, having studied the window section by section, the Dean showered it with praise. ‘Splendid. Quite splendid. It will make a real contribution to the life and worship of the cathedral. There’s just one point. It’s so niggling I hesitate to raise it. Nevertheless, these three figures who are guarding Adam in Hell: did I see them on the original designs?’
    ‘Yes, although remember they were sketches. Impossible to include every detail.’
    ‘Quite. However, the detail may be significant. A bishop, a cardinal and some kind of nonconformist. I’m all for ecumenism, but in Hell…?’
    ‘It’s a Hell of their own creation, to which they’ve confined Adam and, by extension, everyone else.’
    ‘A fascinating argument but not without flaws. True, the Bible makes little mention of Hell, but then the Bible makes little mention of much that is central to the Church’s teaching. And I worry about handing another weapon to the dreaded Deedes.’
    ‘Don’t forget, you’re standing on top of the glass,’ Carla interjected. ‘The figures won’t be so clear from a distance.’
    While grateful for Carla’s support, Clement bridled at any suggestion that the window would be little more than local colour. Like his

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