the lost man chronicles
the daily chronicle

a soft spoken lament of obligation

On my way to work this morning I was intrigued by a number of religious artifacts, statuettes and colorful boxes of figurines that were bunched together in a shop window of an office that did not seem to focus on selling these things. I noticed that it was open and stepped in to see that it was in fact primarily outfitted for some other purpose, an office of some kind with a dozen and half large photographs of the interiors of what at first glance appeared to be opulent theaters.

I asked the man sitting behind a desk at the back if he sold the Latin American styled boxes in front, which I considered would complement the other Mexican trinkets I have on the shelf above the toilet in our basement. He said yes they were in fact from "South America" and looked a while for one that had a price tag. Finally he found one, the smallest priced at $25 —I thought "too much"—and did my "when does your shop close?" routine. Upon closer examination of the family of figures in the box he handed me I noticed that their apparel was distinctly Peruvian, I confirmed that this was the case by asking the propreitor.

I proceeded to ask about the pictures "Have you been to all these theaters? Did you take these pictures" he said they were actually photographs of interiors which his company had restored.

I continued to look about the shop and noticed an oil painting of someone who looked just like Julio Iglesias looking upon what appeared to be his wife with her two young sons, Julio Jr. and Enrique, on her lap. Again he confirmed my suspicion. There was also a large photograph of a Peruvian temple and after this I had to ask him if he was in fact Peruvian himself. Again I was right. We further built a connection as we began chatting in Spanish.

Along the way he began to tell me about his business and that the photos were of churches and temples they had restored. Of particular radiant beauty and a seemingly great source of pride for him were two projects: the Masonic Temple at 23rd and 6th Avenue and a church at 76th and Lexington. They were in fact exquisite examples of his work and he showed me the coffee table books that were created thereafter they were finished.

To my pleasant surprise Señor Chavez informed me that the Masonic Temple gives tours now, I was shocked almost for the Masons have long had such a enigmatic reputation since their inception. I have a large black book called "The History of the Masons" which I had bought for my friend Robert as a present a couple of years ago, and have yet to give him because I greedily want to read it first. When I was in college I was a volunteer at a local daycare center for the elderly and there was a kind gentleman who showed me his ring which he built up as the token passage into a secret society, the Masons, which every president of the United States had been a member of. Felix, the owner of this architectural design firm in fact showed me a picture of the bigger than life-size statue of George Washington that the Masons had brought in to stand overlooking one of their library rooms.

I was becoming much more tardy for work than I had set on being, so the proprietor and I exchanged business cards, he gave me a copy of "Verdad Latina" a politically oriented paper about "Corrupcion, escandalo y probidad" and suggested I read the article on just that…I was quite touched by this sole humble figure of a shopkeeper because he was so readily open to satisfying my curiosity. He also seemed resigned to something I could relate to, for after he mentioned that he used to paint himself and confirmed that yes there was some of his work hidden hanging above his desk, he explained that it had been years since he had picked up a brush because he had his family to take care of. Obligation seemed to sap something out of him, which he made up for in the glorious design of his architectural work.

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