THE CUP’S STORY, PART V: THE CUP INTERVENES ON RACHEL’S BEHALF
Fortunately for The Cup’s moral reputation, she didn’t have to come up with a way to poison somebody. Rachel’s distress wasn’t caused by some knave; it was just one of those troublesome circumstances we humans constantly find ourselves in. The romantic teenage girl was in love (what a surprise). The object of her infatuation was tall, handsome David, an intense young man whom she’d met recently. And she perceived that young David reciprocated those feelings. But David was socially so far above Rachael that had her family sacrificed everything, they still couldn’t provide an appropriate dowry. And while David might be willing to settle for a beautiful but penniless bride, nothing but money would do for his parents. So Rachael’s father was in the process of betrothing her to Joseph the lamp oil merchant. Not only was Joseph neither tall nor handsome, he was fat, balding, and a widower with kids older than Rachael. Her hopes and dreams were dying by the day.
Poor dear. Up until then, I had always been a proper little accidentally-sentient Toastmaster’s cup. I’d never even attempted to communicate with another being—wasn’t even sure if I could—much less considered meddling in human affairs. But the opportunity to give a real gift to my ‘daughter’ was too great a temptation not to try.
In order to help, I was going to have to deceive her. Deceit is a uniquely human trait, and I didn’t really know how to go about it. But for years I had watched Razuni and Layla, two of the best, so perhaps I could manage.
Step one was to get charged up since I hadn’t had a drink in a year. Shaking off my nervousness, I spoke to Rachael as she was polishing me.
“Rachael!” I said in what I hoped was my deepest telepathic tone. “Rachael, this is the Lord.”
Rachael jumped about a foot, dropping me in the process—just like you did the first time I spoke to you—then turned and looked for the source of the voice. But finding nothing, eventually she picked me up.
“Rachael, I am Yahweh, God of Abraham and David. I have heard your prayers, and I am speaking to you as I spake to Samuel long ago.” I mentioned Samuel because that was a favorite story of Jewish kids, some ordinary boy whom God called in the middle of the night but who didn’t figure out who it was until Old Eli clued him in.
Sure enough, that name did the trick. Instead of running to tell her mother, Rachel whispered, “Speak, Lord, and I will obey,” just like she’d rehearsed all her life for this moment.
“You must follow these instructions exactly, for to do otherwise would bring my wrath down upon this city.” I didn’t think she needed any coercion to do what I was asking, but she might be suspicious that it wasn’t really Yahweh speaking if I didn’t use suitable godly, formal language and throw in some threats that crossed the line into overkill. “Tonight, after your family has gone to sleep, get up and retrieve the cup that you are now holding. Fill it with wine and place it beside your bed while you sleep. Tomorrow, awaken early and take it up again. At that time, I will reveal to you the rest of my plan.
“Should anyone discover you, look at them sternly and tell them that you are doing as I the Lord your God has commanded. If they seek to interfere, warn them convincingly of the waste and ruin that will follow should they hinder my desires.”
“Lord, your servant hears and will obey,” she replied without hesitating, head bowed.
Rachael did just as I had ‘commanded’ and wasn’t caught in the act. Which is just as well; I don’t know if we could have pulled off any real duplicity in my feeble state. But after a night with a belly full of wine, even that sweet swill, I was vigorous and confident. When Rachael took me up again, I was good to go.
“Good morning, Rachael. This is the Lord again. Here are my commandments for you.
“Take this cup of wine and go to see your father. Speak to him in private and speak unto him these words. ‘Father, Yahweh has revealed unto me these instructions. I enjoin you to obey them exactly, as He has directed.
“’Take this cup and pour out all the wine save a few drops. Tuck it inside your tunic so that it rests against your skin but is out of sight. When you have done so, seek out David’s father, Israel. Speak forcefully to any that confront you until you gain an audience with him. Be bold and insistent if necessary, and fear not, for Yahweh will be with you.
“’Invite him and his family to come and share the Passover with us this very evening. At first he may be disinclined, but tell him that which must be revealed unto him can only be done at that hour, and he will not long resist your request. When he has agreed, return the cup to me.’”
I promised that, as a reward for following my directions to the letter, I would reveal the rest of Yahweh’s commandments when her father returned.
Rachael repeated The Cup’s instructions until she was sure she had them right, and then off she went. She performed her part perfectly, as did her father, although he trembled in fear of screwing up and Yahweh making an example of him. Long before noon he returned with the exciting news that David, along with his father and mother and younger siblings, would be sharing Passover with the family. Just as the Lord had said! Israel had been a complete pushover, although he was surprised at the unexpected invitation. Since his wife had already begun preparation, they would bring food to share as well.
Back in Rachael’s hands again, I prepared her for the next part of the con. Again she practiced, and again dad bought the story and agreed to follow God’s instructions willingly, without me even having to threaten to turn him into a pillar of salt if he didn’t.
The atmosphere was a little strained when the guests first arrived. But the table was loaded down with holiday fare and there was plenty of wine, so things began to loosen up a bit.
Then came time for the story of Moses. The littlest kid asked for it as always, Rachel’s father picked me up, and the story poured out. Before long, David and his parents were caught up in the drama, their eyes as teary as everyone else’s.
After the story was over, the younger kids, hosts and guests alike, made themselves scarce. Then the father began another story, the one that Rachael and I had rehearsed with him earlier.
“It may seem to you that this evening has been a very special celebration of the Passover. In fact, for us it is quite ordinary. The reason is the cup I am holding. This cup is a Passover cup, passed down through our family for generations. It was created hundreds of years ago, in the time of Solomon, by one of the high priests of the Temple of Jerusalem. It has touched the Ark of the Covenant, from whence its powers come.
“When this cup is used to celebrate the Passover, a sense of the magic of the history of our people pervades the room. All present are touched by the spirit of Yahweh.”
Rachael’s father looked directly at Israel. “Now you know that I cannot offer you a dowry suitable for my daughter to marry your son. But then you are a rich man, and all the wealth that the new couple could ever need is already at your fingertips. What I offer as a dowry cannot be bought by money. I propose that David shall take my eldest daughter Rachael in marriage and accept this priceless treasure as her dowry.”
David and his whole family were wide-eyed. Israel recovered his voice first. “Of course we will welcome Rachael as our daughter-in-law. She will make a fine wife, and bear him many strong children. And each of them will be brought up with the special blessing of Yahweh, coming down each year during the Passover.” His mother dumbly nodded in agreement. Of course David, being a typical young man with the hots for a comely young woman, would have agreed even without me included in the bargain except for the insistence of his family.
Before the year was over, I was taken out of the Seder chest and used for an eloquent wedding toast.
THE CUP’S STORY, PART V: OUTTAKES
It took a while to get past the part about Rachel’s crushed feelings and shattered dreams. The Cup kept wanting to talk about the girl, like some mothers do about their kids. I had to resort to some duplicity of my own to keep her on track.
Poor Rachael was in love with tall, handsome David, an intense young man whom she’d met recently. And she perceived that young David reciprocated those feelings. Now by then I knew enough about men and women to know that Rachael didn’t have the slightest idea what his feelings for her really were. That bothered me, and I wanted to have a good motherly chat with her. But since it wouldn’t do a bit of good, I kept my opinions to myself.
“You mean hers were lofty feelings, rich in texture and color and complexity, while his were pretty much, ‘Hey, babe. Wanna fuck?”
That’s perhaps cruder than I would put it, but fairly accurate. Would you describe your feelings about women at seventeen as ‘lofty?’
I conceded the point as gracefully as possible. “But boy howdy, look how much loftier I’ve gotten since then.”
You may not be rich in texture and complexity, but boy howdy, at least you’re witty.
It was unnerving to hear The Cup echo my own expressions. But at least she’d said something nice. And she was pretty much right-on about my feelings about women at seventeen.
* * *
“You must follow these instructions exactly, for to do otherwise would bring my wrath down upon this city.” I didn’t think she needed any coercion to do what I was asking, but she might be suspicious that it wasn’t really Yahweh speaking if I didn’t use suitable godly, formal language and throw in some threats.
“Too bad King James English hadn’t been invented yet. There’s some real suitable, godly, formal language for you.”
* * *
“And so, despite your self-doubts, you managed to pull off a masterful con in your very first attempt. You must be—let’s see, hmm, what’s the best way to put it? A typical woman.”
You’re being condescending again. I have neither hands nor a vagina; what other tools are available to me besides persuasion? Besides, I didn’t harm anyone. I just helped a wealthy family overcome its innate greed.
“Sorry. It’s those male-bashing comments that set me off.”
Then I’m sorry, too. I’ll try to restrain myself. Deal?
“Deal.” I thought carefully, since my next words would have a long-range effect on our relationship. “And it’s OK when they’re truly meant in jest.”