“L Chiam” is a Jewish expression of a celebratory nature that means “To Life”. When I watched the life gradually flow out of me during the twelve years I dealt with my failing heart, I mourned the coming loss of my own life. “Too soon”, I declared,”I’m not done.” The words seemed useless, would anything release me from my trap?
Of course most esteemed cardiologists championed and campaigned for better results, I played the denial game well. Everyone else knew I was vulnerable. The women in my life knew it. They always seem to know first. I have watched it happen to other men. I learned it at the bedside practicing the “art” of medicine. But the men are tougher to convince, blinded I guess, by their own need for invincibility.
I was convinced once more of my impending doom when family and friends gathered around me in the hospital. Finally the weight of breathing itself one day overwhelmed me and I was rushed to the most futile attempt at rescue in an alien place that I was too comatose to describe.
To my surprise life poured back into me like a flood. Of course it came back with a new set of pains but life, my life was back. I had a second chance, another big shot; this time, I wanted to do it right, better and perhaps leave a mark. It had not dawned upon me yet, how much of a mark I had already left in the world.
Slipping back into my workaholic overdrive I spent the weeks and months recuperating from an artificial heart and then a heart transplant focused on my renewed opportunities. I was blessed with new physical and dramatically new spiritual energy.
Deciding to write “Archimedes’ Claw” crystallized in my mind on a cool night in August, on Cape Cod. My, friend Henry, professor of humanities at The Hill School in Pennsylvania, had just lifted his glass in toasting my sixty-fourth birthday. True to his nature he chose not to let the moment lay without some dramatic pontification of his most recent opinion as to the origins of this or that clue usually found in some classical manuscript or work of art. The theme for the night was centered on the right lower corner of the famous Raphael painting titled the “The School of Athens”. Henry explained the power of concentration demonstrated by Archimedes as he focused on geometric symbols drawn on slate, even as he was about to be murdered within minutes.
Such a classical moment, I thought, could not be wasted or hidden in a museum. I found myself compelled to research the historical meaning of such an event, and dissatisfied with available history written on the subject, I decided to write my own. Thus the novel “Archimedes’ Claw” generated in my mind. It is what I prefer to have been the truth behind Archimedes’ murder and mysteries. The historical facts are real but the fantasy behind them is my creation. To those of you who helped me write this novel, and you know who you are, I am grateful for your patient input and sharing so that I could construct my characters. Except for Archimedes and Marcellus, none of the characters in the novel are real. The others are my creations, using bits and pieces of observations and experiences.
This novel is dedicated to mulligan, which is the name you use when you achieve a less than desirable first golf shot. With mulligan, you get to have another chance to hit the ball, believing that the first shot didn’t count at all.