THE CUP’S STORY, PART VI: THE RACHEL YEARS
It’s very likely that Rachel had never heard the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for; it might come true.” But not long after she and David were married, she discovered just how true it could be. The fact that many other couples, before and since, have learned the same lesson at exactly the same point in their lives—right after they get married—didn’t help a bit. Needless to say, Jewish Law allowed men to divorce their wives, but women had no such recourse. So there she was.
Oh, the two of them had their happy days together. But David had his father Israel’s genes, and his interest in money rapidly supplanted his interest in his wife. There were a couple of kids to keep her occupied and visits from her mother-in-law to keep her on edge, but it wasn’t long before she found herself yearning for something more.
The heart of the problem was that Rachael was still a romantic. Her girlhood dreams had never been shattered as they would have been had she been forced to marry the widowed oil merchant. So she still believed in princes on white camels. She just slowly came to the realization that David wasn’t one, but simply a richer and younger version of the oil merchant.
It pissed The Cup off. Having successfully interacted once on Rachel’s behalf, she was a dangerous adversary; now that she had fully incorporated her persona as a woman, she was an extremely dangerous adversary when pissed off.
How dare he accept the offer of my adopted daughter, and then sit in the same room, expect her to wait on him, and not even bother to talk with her! Of course, what I was experiencing wasn’t real anger, not the way you feel it. Anger is a human emotion, and I don’t admit to having those (here I imagined her sniffing with indignity). But whatever you choose to call it, year after year it ate at me until I couldn’t stand it any longer. So I decided to get rid of the shmendrik.
When Passover rolled around the next time, Yahweh once again spoke to Rachael. As before, she listened, repeated the instructions back to make sure she had them right, and then followed them to the letter.
In the middle of the night she drained the wine that she’d left in me since our conversation and tucked me inside her robe next to her skin. Then she woke her husband.
“David, arise! Yahweh has spoken to me this very night and charged me to tell you these great tidings. My husband, blessed among all men, you have been chosen by God to sire the Messiah.” At this she bowed before him. “His mother is to be Calenta, the young wife of Josiah the magistrate, Herod’s protégé. Your life and hers have been moving for generations toward this destiny, the very salvation of Judea.
“You must go unto her this very night, one hour before dawn. She will be sleeping, dreaming of the grand course that Yahweh has set her on. Straightaway you must take her, and if she shrinks from her calling, you must be as forceful as necessary.
“Should Josiah awaken and question you, do not be dismayed. Simply tell him that you have been chosen by God and are doing the work that He called you to do.”
David bought it—olive oil, bung, and barrel. After all, why would he be suspicious? Yahweh often made such strange requests of his instruments. Too excited to get back to sleep he got out of bed, washed, put on his best robe, and paced until the appointed time to go to the house of Josiah. Shortly after dawn there was a great commotion, with screaming and loud cries and the sound of running feet. By the time Rachael had dressed and gone to see what the hubbub was about, her husband was lying dead in the street, half covered by a pile of stones.
Rachael wasn’t particularly upset about David’s death. He had been chosen by Yahweh, and if he had to die as a result, well, it was Yahweh who had called, not Baal or Franca or any of those pansy gods. Her nine-year-old son inherited the family fortune, according to the laws of the land, with her acting as caretaker for the estate until he grew old enough to squander it for himself.
Less than a year after David’s death, a son was born to Josiah and Calenta. Rachael rejoiced in her secret knowledge that the Messiah had at last come to save God’s chosen people. Her dreams of handsome princes returned, and if they didn’t quite have the sexual innocence of her fantasies at fourteen, they’d lost none of their essential romance. In The Cup’s opinion, she was much better off without him.
My life was markedly better as well. Rachael regarded me as a special token of God’s favor since she had been holding me both times when Yahweh had spoken to her. I got a place of honor, and often she would share a glass of wine with me in the evening. Many of these times Yahweh would speak to her again—no instructions, just words of encouragement or blessing. She was happy, and I no longer felt guilty for my little deception.
The Cup would have been happy to continue this lifestyle until Rachel died. Unfortunately, not long before his premature demise, David had planted the seeds (no pun intended) that were to result in the next episode of her life by boasting about his priceless treasure to his friends and fellow merchants. Not unexpectedly—what’s the point of having a priceless ancient artifact if nobody knows enough about it to feel envious?
One of David’s former drinking buddies was Barabbas, a professional flimflam man as near as I can determine (considering how little direct evidence we have about the real person). Perhaps his greed was in part compensation for his unbecoming appearance—he looked, in The Cup’s words, for all the world like a mangy ferret with palsy. And his ethics were no better than his looks: why work to make a shekel when you could cheat someone out of one instead?
Barabbas coveted David’s possessions. He coveted his attractive young wife, including his young wife’s ass if not her ox; he coveted the inherited wealth that earned David enough to live well without depleting the principal, and most of all, he coveted The Cup. If the priests could have peeked inside Barabbas’ head they would have put out the word to hurry and bring a couple of big wheelbarrow loads of rocks, boys, he’s busted commandment number ten, big time.
Barabbas figured he couldn’t realistically get to either David’s inheritance or his wife, but he’d come up with a plan of sorts to sucker David into a game of ‘chance’ and win the cup. But before he could put his scheme into practice, his victim foolishly went and got himself stoned.
Impatiently waiting almost a year after David gave his all siring the messiah, Barabbas came nosing around Rachael’s residence under the guise of a buyer and seller of antiquities. He offered condolences and then eased the conversation around to that ‘old Passover cup of David’s,’ which he offered to buy at an attractive price. Rachael, utterly repulsed by the creature in front of her, replied firmly that she wasn’t interested. Then she turned back a crude pass with cold-blooded efficiency and sent him packing.
A week later, in the wee hours of the morning, Barabbas broke into Rachel’s house.
I immediately sensed he was there, but was powerless to do anything. Rachel slept soundly on, undisturbed by the bumps and scrapes that Barabbas—a very amateurish thief, despite his other reputed nefarious talents—was making. By the weak light of a hooded lantern, Barabbas spotted me immediately and snatched me up. Frantic to do something to save myself, I tried planting the idea that he should taunt her for past slights. And so he did.
“Who’s got the Passover Cup now, you bitch,” he screamed.
Then realizing how foolish that act had been, he turned and dashed out of the house.
Desperately I began to play on those fears with a steady litany of dire warnings sent directly into his mind. “Better hide the cup somewhere, it’s too heavy, it’s slowing you down, she’s raised the alarm and the Romans are after you. If they catch you with the cup, they’ll crucify you for sure. I hear footsteps running along the street. I think you’re boxed in.”
Finally The Cup’s mental assault overcame Barabbas’ greed. Peering into the shadows in the filthy alley where he had paused, he discovered an old pile of rags heaped against one of the building walls. Glancing around to make sure he could locate the spot again, he stuffed The Cup down deep under the pile and took off running.
THE CUP’S STORY, PART VI: OUTTAKES
The transcription makes it seem that The Cup and I were sniping at each other a lot that day. When people talk like that, they rely heavily on non-verbal clues to know how serious the other person is. But the funny thing was, with The Cup, I could somehow feel that she didn’t mean it. That made the give-and-take carefree.
Also, I’d apparently already caught a touch of her anti-Yahweh bias.
* * *
There was an old Atlantan proverb, “Be careful what you wish for; it might come true,” that Rachel should have paid more attention to.
“I’m pretty sure Confucius said that.”
No way. When did Confucius live?
“Not sure. 500 BC, maybe?”
So how did it make it all the way from China to Atlantis in just a couple of hundred years?
“You tell me. Maybe people like Razuni teleported to China all the time to pick up some spices, a newspaper, and the latest proverbs.”
She wasn’t buying it, made me go look it up. This was the days before Google, so what would take 5 minutes today meant a trip to the library and a couple hours of serious research. And even then I didn’t have anything definitive. Except that it was more likely to be Aesop than Confucius.
That I can believe. Don’t be trying to pull a fast one over me. I wasn’t created yesterday, you know.
* * *
It wasn’t long before David was a lot more interested in making money than he was in Rachel, the bastard. Even if that eventually happens to most married couples.
“I can’t decide if that means I’ll be a better-than-average husband since I have virtually no interest in money, or if I should never get married no matter what because I might be driven to get interested in money by lack of interest in my wife.”
You can be as much of a bastard as David was.
“No way. I just talk about it; he actually did it. I’ve never lost one tiny iota of interest in any of my wives.”
You’re not particularly interested in Judy Blue Eyes.
“And your point would be?”
“I thought you promised to tone down the male bashing comments.”
But you’re only a bastard in jest.
Only a few days into this strange and wonderful relationship and it was already nearly impossible to get the last word in.
* * *
So the next time Passover rolled around, I once again pretended to be Yahweh and spoke to Rachael. She listened eagerly, repeated the instructions back to make sure she had them right, and then followed them to the letter.
“The Bible is full of stories where God speaks to somebody only to have them ask a lot of dumb questions like, ‘Is that really you, Lord?’ Jonah had to be swallowed and then vomited by a whale before he agreed to do what he’d been commanded. Wonder how come Rachel didn’t do any of that?”
Maybe I’m better at being Yahweh than Yahweh is.
* * *
“Wait a minute.” I was dumbfounded by this unexpected twist in the story. “You got pissed off at David because he was ignoring Rachel and so you set him up to be killed?”
Yeah, well, I didn’t think that through very well. He hurt my daughter. I was angry and I reacted. Perhaps hastily.
“You were angry, but you didn’t react hastily. You thought about it for quite a while and ultimately reacted in cold blood.”
You’re thinking like a human. If David had struck Rachel and she’d killed him in the heat of the moment, even your laws—which are much more civilized that the laws of first century Israel—wouldn’t threat that as serious as if she’d plotted her revenge. But I don’t have blood, so it’s all the same with me. I can’t cool down.
“Sounds like you’re too dangerous to have around.”
Does it count that I regretted my actions and have never done anything like that again?
I considered that for a minute, but it was clear where my heart lay.
“You’re right. You were young and foolish and defending the weak the best way you knew how. A very noble impulse. And he clearly deserved it. What happened next?”