From The Clay of His Heart
by John Brown
The golem was a thief. Nothing in the village, nothing in the whole vale for that
matter, was safe. It was forever stealing and bringing its thefts to Braslava's door,
laying them on her step like a cat lays down dead birds and mice.
One day it was the butcher's blue and white Turkish stockings, the next it was
cranky Petar's new pitchfork.
And then the golem would stand there, looking down upon her, and all she could
say was, "You think you're doing me favors? Take your inscrutable face and go
sit." And the golem would go and sit in the shade of her spruce, the sap sometimes
falling to speckle the red clay of its bald head and shoulders.
Braslava did not know, was this God's curse? Was it his blessing?
The golem was anatomically correct in every way, except for the missing belly
button. But if God was going to go to all that trouble, why not just send a man
Sometimes the thefts were not such a bad thing. For instance, the golem once
brought her a shoe that months ago Zvonka the carpenter's wife had lost. It is a
terrible thing to lose a favorite shoe, but the golem found it.
The golem once brought Braslava a quiver of quality hunting arrows. Each had a
black shaft with three yellow grooves running from the fine steel head. The
grooves, the blood lines to speed the bleeding of the animal, had been painted to
look like tiny, spotted snakes. Nobody in the vale had even heard of anyone --
Croat or Hungarian -- who used such markings, so Braslava was able to claim and
sell them for a good price.
These were the good things. But most of the time the golem brought things that it
And it did not matter how strongly the inhabitants of the vale locked their
possessions up. It didn't not matter if they hid their treasures with great cunning.
The golem would find them, and it would take them. It was an excellent thief.
Quiet as stone. Quiet as the red mud and clay from which it was formed. The only
way a victim might know he'd been burgled was by looking for the tell-tale
crumbs of red dust that it sometimes left behind.
This is how holy things steal.