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[Charloft Winter Bingo] Holiday Spirit

"Good afternoon, Sarah, Dan," Levy greeted the middle-aged couple as they entered his office at work. He stood briefly from his desk chair to offer them both a handshake; they both seemed visibly disturbed, but that wasn’t really abnormal. Levy spent his workdays pre-planning funerals, usually for elderly adults whose families wanted them taken care of before their eventual deaths. The secretary had informed him that these two wanted to pre-plan Sarah’s mother’s funeral, who had been struggling with health problems for years.

Levy took extra care to remain compassionate and calm; he knew this process wasn’t easy for anyone, and he truly cared about the feelings of those he helped.

But sometimes these appointments took an altogether different turn.

"Rabbi Mayer," Sarah voiced, taking a moment to retrieve a handkerchief from her handbag, and gave the underside of one of her eyes a quick wipe; she had to steady herself before she spoke again. "I didn’t know where else to turn... I thought I was going crazy. Dan thought I was too until he saw it for himself." Her husband gave her arm a reassuring little squeeze but remained silent; it was obvious that he was quite concerned about whatever she was talking about.

Levy paused, furrowed his brow a little, and looked down at his paperwork. "I see you’re here about your mother?"

Sarah gave a shake of her head and interjected, "Mom’s a fighter, she doesn’t need this yet. Esther Collins told me you could help us."

Levy looked back up at the couple; that name sounded familiar. "I’m sorry, who referred you?"

"Esther Collins," Dan finally chimed in. "Look, I never believed any of this either; I thought Esther was batshit crazy until I started seeing it in my own house."

Oh. Oh. Levy had assisted the woman they spoke of in the past, had helped remove a ghost from her house that had lingered, causing trouble in the household until Levy had convinced it to move on.

’THE DEAD LAY BURIED BENEATH THE FLOOR THEY SLEEP,’ the gravelly voice in his head offered up. Levy assumed this meant their house was built atop a cemetery, or some sort of holy ground.

"Ah... yes, Esther Collins, I remember her," Levy replied, looking at the couple and gauging their sincerity; they certainly looked disturbed, frightened even. People didn’t just come to a rabbi claiming spirits were in their house unless it was deadly serious; many rabbis considered spirits to be mere folklore rather than an actual part of their theology and might have turned them away without aid.

Levy was, apparently, growing a bit of a reputation. Part of him was glad for this because it enabled him to help more people, but part of him was also worried; if the word got out, his title might be stripped from him and he didn’t want that. He needed the legitimacy that the title of rabbi provided; trust came with it, and he needed the trust of the community.

"I believe I can help you, but you must promise to keep what I do a secret. Do advise Esther of the same. I know she was trying to help, but the truth of what I do cannot leave your home, do you understand?" he voiced. The couple nodded firmly in agreement, relief already beginning to show on their faces.


[Charloft Winter Bingo] Stressed

"Have you heard from Maya lately?" came the familiar question from Levy’s mother as they sat together as a family at the dining room table. Maya was a woman he’d befriended while in school; he’d barely spoken to her since becoming a sin eater. But this question wasn’t really about Maya, it was a not-so-subtle reminder that he still wasn’t married despite his age.

While in some religions the marriage of clergy was forbidden, it was not only encouraged in Judaism, but seen as a duty. A man was seen as incomplete without a wife, only half a soul that was not unified – and on top of that, he wasn’t able to fulfill the commandment to have children.

But Levy felt his soul was already intertwined with his dybbuk, or geist as some sin eaters call them. He could hide nothing from it, no thought or feeling he had was private anymore. The thought of having a wife, much less having children, was an impossible idea, something Levy didn’t see as possible with the life he had now. Some days he wished for a normal life, but he knew he had a real purpose in life, and he couldn’t simply give that up.

Of course, he couldn’t confess any of that to his family.

Dinah and their father looked curious as they waited for Levy’s answer, whereas Benny gave him a little look of sympathy; Levy had voiced to him in the past just how much he disliked the stress of being an unmarried man in their community.

"Not lately, no," Levy replied, turning his attention back to his meal; he didn’t elaborate on his answer.


[Charloft Winter Bingo] Frigid

The Underworld was even colder than the usual New York City streets Levy traveled; stepping into the Avernian Gate during winter always came with a bitter sting of cold. The first tunnel he came upon was reminiscent of an old, dingy subway tunnel, but the walls were caked with a sheen of ice. This realm wasn’t a place Levy enjoyed venturing, but he was under spiritual obligated to aid the ghosts that lingered here, the ghosts unable to move on because of some unfinished business in the living world.

The last time he’d been here, Levy had encountered a tortured soul of a man who had died from lung cancer, who was worried beyond measure that his daughter, a smoker like he had been, would fall to cancer just as he had.

As much as Hollywood would have liked to convince people otherwise, not all ghosts who lingered had died violently; some were trapped out of mere love of their families.

Levy clenched his cell phone in one gloved hand, his other palm against the wall to keep his balance as he walked. On his phone was a video of the man’s daughter; he’d spoken with her, given her words of sympathy over the loss of her father. Over the course of the conversation, she confessed to him that her father’s death had shocked her into giving up smoking. Levy had filmed her secretly; he felt a little guilty video recording a mourning teenager, but it was what he had to do to put her father’s ghost to rest.

After playing the video, Levy could visibly see the relief in the ghost’s gaunt face. The spirit faded to nothingness – Levy’s work was finished.


[Charloft Winter Bingo] Snowball Fight

The walk home from work was short, but the chill in the air prompted Levy to walk a little faster than usual so that he’d be able to escape the cold sooner. The latest snowfall made foot transportation even less appealing, but he didn’t want to waste money on a cab when he was perfectly capable walking – even if it was very cold.

A sudden squishy thud of something hitting the back of his coat stopped him, and he paused to turn around; a broken up ball of fresh snow lay on the ground at his feet. He heard the giggle of a small child, but when he looked up, he saw no children on the sidewalk.

It was sometimes hard for him to tell what was living and what was dead; whether or not this was a playful child trying merely throwing a snowball at a rabbi, or a small lost soul trying to get his attention – he wasn’t sure, but he turned to walk toward home anyway, too tired now to further investigate.


[Charloft Winter Bingo] Book

’YOU SHOULD HAVE STRUCK DOWN THAT FILTH WHEN YOU HAD THE CHANCE,’ the voice snarled in his head; Levy knew the spirit inside him was displeased he’d let Hector go without a fight.

"It’s not my place," Levy resigned aloud, slumping down to sit at his desk. He wanted to believe his words, wanted to only do good, only help people, but... was leaving such a person in the world really helping humankind? Taking Hector’s life might be just as bad as Hector taking the lives of innocents.

But then again, Hector wasn’t an innocent.

His thoughts argued with themselves, unable to come to a clear decision. With a need for some comfort or clarity, Levy flipped through the pages of his well-worn Torah, finding a passage in Psalms that he read silently to himself; the dybbuk could hear his every thought, would understand the words as they were read.

See, he hatches evil, conceives mischief.
His mischief will recoil upon his own head;
his lawlessness will come down upon his skull.

Perhaps God would deal with Hector. But if that were the case, wouldn’t He have already rather than let such evil remain in the world?


[Charloft Winter Bingo] Mug

Levy stirred the chocolate powder into two warmed mugs of milk, making a cup of hot cocoa for both he and his brother, Benny, who was busy surfing channels in their living room.

A half-used bottle of Fireball whiskey sat on the countertop. Levy eyed his hot chocolate, then the alcohol, then the hot chocolate again before finally deciding that mixing the two was a good idea. Stress ate at him every day, and while it was an unhealthy habit, sometimes he found comfort in just drinking away the worries of the day.

A quick pour into one mug, then he turned his attention to screwing the lid back on the bottle of whiskey. But... wait. Which cup had he poured it into? It was tough to tell; the mugs were sized differently and it was hard to discern which had more liquid inside. He took a moment to try to remember, decided that he couldn’t, and reopened the bottle to pour more into each one.

"I put whiskey in one of these and can’t remember which," Levy confessed as he walked into the living room, holding out one of the mugs for his brother to take. "So I just put some more in both."

"Hell yeah," Benny replied, taking his hot chocolate without complaint.


[Charloft Winter Bingo] Exchange

Levy paused on the sidewalk on his way home, a whiff of something in the air, some essence of death that caught his senses. His gaze fell on a young man nearby - though he’d never seen this boy before, Lacroix, he could feel that he was connected to another man he’d encountered by the Underworld gateway once before - Hector.

The dybbuk chimed in, a gravely rasp of a voice inside his head, 'HE HAS THE SAME STINK AS THE SOUL-STEALING FILTH FROM BELOW.'

Levy could sense that Lacroix toyed with death, but the heavy burden of soul-stealing didn’t come across – he wasn’t certain that Lacroix had done such a thing before. And if not, there was a chance that he could be saved, could be convinced away from such a despicable life. Saving people was Levy’s calling, and while he usually helped ghosts, saving the lives of living people was just as important.

He sidestepped around other passersby to catch up with Lacroix, and gave his shoulder a gentle grasp to stop him. Levy was dressed in his work slacks and long-sleeved dress shirt, a kippah on his head – he was hardly a threatening presence, but his words were deadly serious. "You need to get out while you can... You’re in way over your head – the souls of others aren’t yours to take. Your friend has already dug his pit and he’ll fall in it, but you still have time to leave. God help you if you don’t."

He turned on his heel to leave, not wanting a confrontation, especially if Hector was lurking nearby. Someone capable of stealing and destroying a soul was honestly terrifying to Levy, it was the worst blasphemy he could imagine, and anyone who practiced it was damned and damned again in his mind.


[IC Scene with Kori]

Shopping for his little sister Dinah’s Purim costume had proved just as difficult this year for Levy as it was every other. Why were children’s costumes so immodest? About ninety-five percent of the costumes at the Abracadabra Super Store, one of the city’s largest costume shops, were either sleeveless, short-skirted, or had a neckline that was way below the collarbones. The Queen of Hearts costume she’d finally decided on had just slightly too low of a neckline, but it was at least better than the vast majority of the costumes for sale.

Dinah walked now between her two older brothers, Levy and Benny, happily carrying the bag that contained her new costume. Even now she was dressed modestly in an ankle-length denim skirt and a long-sleeved pink tee shirt, and even if the world around them couldn’t tell she was frum from just her appearance, they could certainly gather that from Levy’s. With his black slacks and kippah paired with the white dress shirt, sleeves rolled up to his elbows, he was the absolute image of a typical yeshiva student.

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If that old saying is true, and you are what you eat... what are you made of? List the things that you eat or drink so much of, they might as well be a part of your biology.

1. Wine
2. Strawberry yogurt
3. Bagels
4. Linzer cookies
5. Cream soda
6. String cheese
7. Anything chocolate

Yeah... I've reached that point in the school year when I'm so stressed that grazing on sugar and dairy all day is normal. This will definitely catch up with me.

At least Purim is coming up; no one'll look at me funny at home for downing a bunch of hamantaschen in one sitting.

[OOC - Trope Meme]

20 Tropes That Represent My Character

As the Good Book Says - He's obviously very religious.
Badass Preacher - When he has to be.
Bilingual Bonus - Hebrew.
Drowning My Sorrows - Probably drinks a little too much, yeah.
First Episode Resurrection - He died; his geist brought him back.
Hell Gate - Avernian gates.
I See Dead People - Sort of a given.
I Work Alone - Doesn't know any other sin-eaters.
Keeping Secrets Sucks - Very difficult not to be able to talk about being a sin-eater.
Moral Dilemma - Help ghosts, or obey the Mitzvot? Tough decision.
Occult Detective - In so many words.
Screw The Rules; I'm Doing What's Right - Ultimately what he does, despite the 613 Mitzvot.
Sharing a Body - With his dybbuk.
Stoic Woobie - He does need a hug. Badly.
Supernatural Angst - Which sets him apart from most sin-eaters, heh.
The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life - "I'm possessed by a dybbuk" probably ruins relationship potential.
There Are No Therapists - He really needs one though, hah.
Thou Shalt Not Kill - He can kick ass if need be, but will definitely not kill.
Unfinished Business - Main reason he helps ghosts.
Who You Gonna Call - Levy, of course.