It’s Christmas Eve, and Dr. Levine pays a house call on an elderly patient, Abraham Goldman, who lives in a tenement on Mott Street. He starts to warn Goldman about his condition, and Goldman talks about how he grew up with Levine’s father. The old man talks about his brother, Sam, who lives in California and has sent a letter saying that he’s selling off his land for a million dollars and will then send the money he owes. Levine says that Goldman’s health is an issue and recommends hospitalization. Goldman refuses to leave and abandon his nine-year-old grandson Mikey, whose parents are dead. Levine asks what to tell the Angel of Death, saying that he’s just outside. Goldman says that he’ll spit in the Angel’s eye because Mikey is all he has, and proclaims that the Messiah will come...Read the full recap
Host: Good evening. Of course you're all here by invitation, but don't let it disturb you if these paintings, per se, don't happen to be your thing. These are rather special paintings, the kind of hangings generally put up with a noose. This painting, for example, is of a rather special world, what has become perpetuated in the language as the ghetto--that dismal realm of pushcarts and poverty where hopes are stamped down like dirty shoes on snow. Death is a commonplace visitor to these somber alleys... but occasionally someone else visits. Our painting is called The Messiah on Mott Street, and this place, should you not already know it, is the Night Gallery.
Abraham Goldman: Who's the Messiah? He's the messenger from God. Any moment he will appear, looming big and black against the sky, striking down our enemies and lifting us up to health and wealth and Heavenly contentment... and fix our digestions, too. And supply me with a new set of teeth.
Abraham Goldman: Who's in here? I know who it is. I know who it is, I tell you. I have a message for you, you snuffer out of candles, you wholesaler in the coffin business. I know who you are! And your unseen face, I tell you, I'm not ready for the Angel of Death. You I'm not ready for. Take that back to the cemetery with you. My pulse still beats, my eyes still see. The flesh still warm, and my heart... you mumzer from a mausoleum, my heart still loves! What? Peace, you offer me. You can have that peace, peace of the grave. No, no thank you. Rest? No cares? Well, ll take the cares and the woes and the aggravation, and yes, and the pain. Listen, Angel! Go down to Argentina, look for Hitler. Goldman is not ready! My child is out there, the son of my son, the thing I love. Would I be able to caress him and fondle him and love him, lying in a box?
Dr. Morris Levine: Forgive me, Mr. Buckner. That's the problem with all ghetto dwellers, and former ghetto dwellers of which I am one. We're mystics, and believers, and children to our dying day.
Buckner: Every now and then, God remembers the tenements.