15 October, 2022

Fiction Friday - Dangerous Power

I read the Bible every year, and catch myself thinking about backstories to minor characters, or musing about particularities of a situation. Today, I intend to clear up the pop culture misunderstanding about Jezebel. I feel as though people use "Jezebel" in relation to loose morals. We are not told anything about that. She was, IMHO, more like a power-hungry, evil, murderous woman. The following is just one example from the Bible, embellished by yours truly.

The servant bowed to the queen and left to fetch more wine. Queen Jezebel watched him leave with a smile of satisfaction. All was going well. She was entertaining the prophets of Baal - a key step in maintaining her power. One must keep the devout satisfied with food and wine.

When the servant reappeared with the wine, her husband the king was mere steps behind. He pushed through the curtained doorway, a deep scowl on his down-turned face. She watched him cross the room to the side table where the servant poured him a goblet of wine. Something was wrong.

Her prophets discreetly gave him space, but it wasn't enough. Jezebel clapped her hands to get their attention. "Gentlemen, please leave us!" They did as they were bid, leaving half-drunk cups and not-yet-empty plates on nearby tables, window ledges, or any surface available. The servant remained near the table to pour wine. She caught his eye and made a quick movement of her head toward the door. He scurried out.

Ordinarily, she'd greet Ahab by moving closer and putting a hand on his arm, or some other gentle touch. His face told her this was not the moment. She watched him drain his goblet and pour another, not touching any of the delicate dishes and edible delights spread around the serving table. "What's wrong? Why aren't you eating?"

"Oh, nothing. It's just - Naboth won't sell me his vineyard!" He was used to getting his way. He was the king, after all. Jezebel scowled. He was king, but she was much better at taking advantage of the position.

"So?" she asked, crossing the room toward him. He turned to her in surprise. Only his queen could speak to him like that. "Aren't you the King of Israel?" She took his shoulders and looked him in the eye. With a smile she said, "Cheer up. Eat something. I'll get you that vineyard." It was gratifying to see a relaxed smile on his face at her words. 

She left the room and sent the servant in to attend to him.

After a brief campaign of letters and messengers, all was in place. The city elders of Naboth's town proclaimed a major event for all the people to attend - such a thing had never been seen! Naboth attended as expected. Jezebel's lackeys were there, too. They spread rumors and lies. "Naboth! He doesn't deserve to be here!" "Don't you know he has cursed the king?" The crowd was easily riled up. Soon Naboth found himself being forced out of the city. Stones rained down on him.

That evening, Queen Jezebel accepted a private messenger into the chamber where she and King Ahab were dining. "My liege," the messenger bowed deeply to the king, then turned to Jezebel. "Naboth has been stoned and is dead." She gave an elegant nod, and he backed away the way he had entered.

A wicked smile crept across her face. "There you are, my king. Go. Take that vineyard you like. There is nothing in your way now."

Reference: The full story of Naboth's vineyard is told in the book of  I Kings, chapter 21. This particular portion of the story is based on verses 4-15. The Bible mentions Jezebel a few more times, but I like this story for its perfect "someone is in my way so I must murder them" vibe.

11 October, 2022

Tuesday Truth

Short post today. I'm curious about families.

On a TV show I was watching recently, two kids were abducted. The older brother took care of his sister as well as he could, even including holding her tightly when she was scared. The little girl clung on to her brother any time she could. She trusted him and followed his directions to try to save them both.

Then there were the two grown up siblings in a sitcom who always share their troubles and advice.

I cannot imagine being that close to any of my [four] siblings. The closest I was to a sibling, she flat out told me one time - before I told a story about a night of partying - "my sister doesn't do that" so I didn't tell the story. We don't want to know all the good, bad, and ugly about each other. We love each other, but kind of at an arm's length, I guess.

Of course, there's the movie "The Good Son" and other examples of horrible siblings.

It seems in movies and TV, either siblings are devoted to each other or horrible/estranged. It seems off. Even when my little brother had no contact with us for eight years, after he and his two tiny daughters re-entered our lives, we all pitched in to help with the kids while he sorted out the logistics of moving, living, working. He truly seemed flummoxed when I responded, "Of course. You're family," to his thanks.

We come together and stand up for each other. We love each other. But other than jobs and maybe church stuff, I couldn't tell you how any of my siblings spend their time. 

Are we weird? If you have siblings, are you close? Are you distant? Or do you relate to my perspective that "we love each other, but don't want to live up each other's butt"?

08 October, 2022

Fiction Friday - In the Surf

I love my life. Walking on the beach with my giant mug of tea is one of the best parts of my day. I could live a life of reasonable luxury, if I wanted to move away from the water, but why would I? Instead, I have a small job to augment the trust left by my parents.

So okay, there are holes in this life I love. My parents died when I was 20. Not exactly a kid, but still. It's a hole in my life. I'm very lucky that they were able to leave a trust fund for me. It's not huge; we weren't millionaires, but by working part-time to pay daily expenses, I can use the money for the house near the beach.

You think I'm wealthy 'cause I have a beach house? No. I live small, so I can live here. It's a tiny place, but it works for me. And it's not on the beach, but a block and a half away. No beach views, but easy to walk to. So I do. Every day. I really love this life.

Yesterday I was out as usual, and saw my neighbor walking. Not exactly "neighbor" - she lives around the corner in one of the big houses overlooking the beach. We see each other out here a lot. She's nice, but not someone I know well. 

Pam always takes her black lab, Nova, to run through the surf. She was walking away from me, too far ahead to call out to her, but I didn't see Nova. Curious. She's usually running in and out of the surf in pace with Pam.

As they say, "Not my circus, not my monkeys."

I wanted to walk up the beach the way Pam was going, but it felt too much like following. Instead, I rolled up my jeans and went straight for the water. Take a minute, squish sand in my toes and savor the Earl Grey. Nice. Really, what more could I ask for? 

A shadow moved on the water a little way out - Nova! She was swimming toward me. "Hi, Nova!" I called out, in case she wasn't sure who was standing here. She'd been for a swim. Pam was quite far away from us now, but it didn't matter. Nova would race up the beach to her owner.

As Nova neared, I could see she was carrying something in her mouth. 

"Nova?" I asked. "Whatcha got, girl?" 

There in the shallow water swirling around my ankles, she dropped a human hand. Bile rose in my throat and my cheeks puffed out to prevent the involuntary spew that was coming. The bloated chunk of flesh was severed above the wrist and Nova had gripped the protruding arm bone in her teeth. She stood there wagging her tail and looking up at me for approval. Did she expect me to throw it? A macabre version of fetch?

I looked around. Pam was moving toward us, a small figure in the distance, moving at a snail's pace. No one else was out. It wasn't the season for it. The inch-deep water kept washing in and out, but the hand was heavy enough it wasn't going anywhere. I jumped as the bone swung in the wave and touched my ankle. Nova jumped next to me. She thought it was a game. I reached out one shaky hand to pet her head. "Good girl."

Pam had some kind of official position in this small beach town. Maybe she'd know what to do with the hand. All I knew was my morning beach walk would be changed forever.


Every Almost every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

04 October, 2022

Tuesday Typeset - Book Review III

Last week I finished an awesome book I highly recommend.

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. 

It's a fascinating story told from the perspective of an adult with autism. It was published in 2002, and is set in the "near-future" - so, sort of sci-fi? - although the setting is very normal, modern, USA. With one exception: no one is born autistic anymore. Our narrator (primary narrator, others pick up the tale in some scenes) is a grown adult, born before the miracle cure was created. 

Wait... futuristic medicine... Yes, I guess this qualifies as sci-fi. It just doesn't read like sci-fi.

It reads like a story about a man who is considered disabled, works in a job with other "autists" (word from the book) in a department of a large corporation where specific tasks are suited to these rare abilities. He deals with bias from his boss, misunderstandings from some "normal" friends, but treated as a normal friend by others. 

I love the way the author got into some specifics of difficulties he has. He has to talk to the police at one point, and one of the officers doesn't understand why he gets tongue-tied, but we as the reader are in his head, hearing why the frustration prevents words from coming. It's impossible not to feel empathy and compassion, and to want to do better in my own life.

I won't give away any plot points, because I highly recommend this to anyone. Especially anyone who touches on the autistic world from the outside. I have a niece and a nephew on the spectrum, so I want to know more, but I don't deal with it on a daily basis.