East West-Schism by Dmitry Sokolenko

Summer 1978. A café in the Vatican.

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Pinocchio and the future Pope John Paul I are sitting at a table in the café. The future Pope John Paul II is standing at the bar. Since there is no security camera in the café in 1978, everything we’ll write about here is based on the notes and sketches of Pinocchio. The future Pope John Paul I is licking stamps and writing out addresses on envelopes. In the envelopes are invitations to his installation. The future Pope John Paul I is smiling and occasionally looks over at Pinocchio, who is intently reading a book by Mark Twain

Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad enters the café and, taking in all that’s happening, seeing the future Pope John Paul I licking his own stamps, drops his jaw in surprise. He addresses God, “My Lord, why is it that the future Pope himself must lick his own stamps?!” God’s answer is unknown, because Metropolitan Nikodim falls down dead in the café, on his back, arms outstretched, with his head facing north, and doesn’t even have time to close his mouth. The future Pope John Paul I looks at the body of Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad, smiles, and continues licking stamps

A scion of Aristotle Onassis walks into the café, trips over the body, and falls down. He gets up, approaches the bar, and orders a single espresso from the future Pope John Paul II. The future Pope John Paul II says from behind the bar, “That’ll be one million lire.”

The scion of Aristotle Onassis says (in an American accent),“Oh my gosh, this is the best espresso I’ve ever tasted. Here is a million dollars. I’ll buy everything here!”

But that’s not enough to buy the Vatican!” says the future Pope John Paul II.

Lord in Heaven,” says the scion of Aristotle Onassis . “I meant just the café! Who knows? It might be useful to me in this life, and it’s not too much to pay for such great coffeethe café could be mine!” “Oh, and by the way, is the Vatican for sale?!”

The future Pope John Paul II says, “How would I know? I’m not the Pope yet.”

The future Pope John Paul I looks over to the bar, smiles and goes back to licking his stamps. The scion of Aristotle Onassis opens his mouth to order another cup of coffee, but can’t get enough breath and falls down dead, his face to the floor, his head facing south and his arms outstretched. He also fails to close his mouth. The soles of the scion’s fantastically expensive shoes are touching the soles of the not so nice shoes belonging to Nikodim.

Look what a strange figure those servants of God are cutting,” says Pinocchio.

It seems to me they are forming some Cyrillic letter,” says the future Pope John Paul I.

It looks like a “Ж,” says Pinocchio.

Yes, that’s true, says the future Pope John Paul I.

What sense is there in these deaths?” asks Pinocchio.

The future Pope John Paul I finishes licking the thirty-third (XXXIII) stamp, smiles and answers Pinocchio, “We’re not meant to understand God’s meaning.”

Words  Dmitry Sokolenko

Image  Brian Gibson

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