Monday, February 15, 2010

The Second Gift

3/15/2009: Portions of the dialogue have been cleaned up.

The girl had been a prostitute since she was a small child on the alleyways of Alexandria, under the moon, hunting and being hunted, flesh and blood for a few scraped together coins. Her mother and father died when she was that little, and her "father" was Pontiphus after that.

There were six or seven clients tonight, aching for her heavilly used flesh. She was always sore in between the knees, a corrosive illness took her.

Pontiphus would give birth to many children, including through this girl, and through this line between Pontiphus and this girl would come a great mathematician named Diophantus, a man who greatly increased mans understanding of God's grid of numbers. The son of Pontiphus in the line of Diophantus was not yet born.

Darien was wandering home through the alleyways with both his swords over his back, looking for Monica and Brutus.

Pontiphus was a hard man, one of no deeper compassion, who often killed prostitutes for not earning their keep, and then would dump their body in the river for the crocidiles. He was abusive with words, and fists, but knew how to fault his women. He kept them fed, and got them good earnings.

Darien stumbles in to see Pontiphus beating the prostitute girl with a club. He draws his sword. The Voice says "Be careful, you don't want to kill this man."

"What the hell are you talking about?" Darien replies.


"No." Darien edges in for the kill, his arms tightening.

"DARIEN! HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING? A great man will arise out of this mans loins, I want you to spare him. Beyond that, he is not beyond repair."



Darien races forward with the blade of grace and cuts the mans arm holding the club off, but then sees the blood on the dirt, the girl screams. He looks over, and sees Pontiphus crying. Pontiphus doesn't say a word. It is the girls terror and cries of desperate outrage that strike straight at Dariens heart. "What have I done?"

The Voice says, "Indeed."

Darien freezes in place, and the blade of grace falls straight out of his hands. Darien starts to cry as for the first time Pontiphus looks like a little boy struck too many times by his father. Pontiphus says nothing, then lets out a howl of unholy pain.

The Voice says, "Do you have no faith?"

"I suppose I don't. I really don't."

The Voice asks, "when are you going to learn?"

And now Monica appears, shining like light out of the blade, commisioned by Ramses himself after God saved him from the ocean, a blade made to honor The Great and Loving Living God. Monica says "forgive my friend, he has learned little." Then lovingly takes out a bandage and applies it over the stub of Pontiphus' arm. She kisses it, and he smiles for the first time in years, while the girl watches the repair of one who had taken care of her and kept her after saving her from the jaws of fate. "You have kept this girl well, and although you have shown no respect for others, it is true, to your credit, that no one has shown respect to you." And Darien bows to him at this judgement of The Lord.

"Darien, I want you to take that arm from the floor and sew it back on to his stub." Monica demands coldly. "And I want you to do it now."

"But... how... can I..." Darien gazes at the dead arm.

"With this thread." And she holds out a thread with a needle on it. "It will take you all night, but I expect it to look like new, and then I want you to serve him till morning. When you are free to leave his side, I will come and tell you. And don't forget to wash his feet before you go. This is the fruit of your actions, get to work."

Thus Darien went in to their small mudhouse on the river where many clients were entertained until morning, hearing the noise of coitus from every wall while Pontiphus sat in a chair to be healed, painfully, step-by-step at Dariens hand. It was a place where people sometimes killed or got killed, and the blood stains, the love stains and the unhygienic housekeeping could be seen from every inch. The smell, however, was removed by large bronze vessels of burning incense. The girl was with them for most of the night, though occasionally left to entertain clients. Needle in, needle out, needle in, needle out, needle in, needle out...

After a few hours, as the pain subsided, he began to speak to Darien. "I've kept this house up forever, here by myself. It's hard living alone. It's real hard. Sometimes it seems like the sunlight wants to devour you, so you hide away in the bedroom for days, and a few girls come to entertain me. Be sure to bring the girl in soon..."

Darien was taken aback. Pontiphus glared at him. "Hey bud, I'm not the one who cut off somebodies arm today, okay! Don't look at me like that. Even God doesn't like you."

And Darien sank in his chair looking off at the wall then The Voice said "get to work" and he did so. And Pontiphus continued to look down on him until morning, while Dariens own wounds, sores, and deep cuts and broken bones caused him great pain as he painstakingly checked and rechecked every single suture to leave no space in between, and occasionally remade sutures, after first removing them, that were misplaced, taking minutes for every movement of the hand.

At some time during the night though, a man was yelling at the prostitute. "It's okay to leave his side," the Voice said, "but be sure to come right back." Darien quickly tells Pontiphus, "I need to go pee."

"Use the river outback." Darien nods, then leaves, and enters the house a different way. He finds this man yelling at the prostitute, throwing objects, and the prostitute looking back at him in terror. "What on earth is going on?" Darien asks.


"You're disrupting the other clients, and that girl is a friend of mine, but beyond that," and Darien somehow knows to put his hand in to his pocket and pull out a skin of wine he didn't know he had, "I think you'll like this wine I seem to have."

The man is thrown completely off. "GIMME SOME!"

"Calm down and zip up your trousers and I will." And so the two of them sat together and drank. "What has happened friend? Is something on your mind."

He cries a little. The man says, "my children were killed by a chariot."

Darien cuts him off. "Look friend, I know this is a hard time for you, but do you really think the memory of your children is well-served by you living in anger like this and hurting this girl?"

"No not really. But what can I do about it? Nothing, I am nothing, I'm just a little laborer and everyones above me and no one cares, no one cares about my children. I think they'd wish I didn't have any just so I'd work harder."

"Well, obviously your children are dead, but if we go out and we spread words of love, maybe people will start to care, and I know it's hard because you'll probably benefit last, but think about your children! Think about what they'd think, to see their father really do good and know that they came from this man who had the character to spread such love and encouragement in a dark, sad world and really be a father to this whole nation."

"Yeah you're right. I came here tonight just to get away..."

"And that's another thing, why are you always trying to get away?"

He pauses, and then says: "Because it hurts!"

"Does your pain have no value?"

He pauses. "No, I guess not..."

"Why? Don't you think your pain is there for a reason? Don't you think your heart and soul want to speak?"

He pauses a minute, then says: "No."

"Well think about it this way, when you are really sad and start thinking about life, does it not deepen the depth of your experiences?"

"I suppose that's true."

"So why not let yourself feel?"

"I guess I should. I'm just..."

And Darien cuts him off again: "Yeah I think so. And don't use alcohol to hide from your feelings, as I'm sure you thought I would let you do, but instead to celebrate and be with friends."

"Friend, how do you know all this?"

And now the Voice whispers in to Dariens mind. "I had a great Teacher, the only Teacher, the Lord Christ, whose followers can be found by the intersection of the first river channel out of town and the beach to the west of here tomorrow at sunrise."

"You know I don't know why, but what you say still somehow affects me even though you haven't really spoken well. I think I'll go there to check it out."

"Oh and friend," Darien offers the wine skin.

"No, actually, this time... No I don't think so. Yeah. I think I'm gonna try going without."

And Darien smiles while the man walks out with his head high.

The prostitute, aching and corroding but smililng, sets herself up. "Big boy this one's on me. Why don't you come over here and..."

"No I won't." Darien says.

"Really, why???"

"Because you're not my wife, nor would you ever want to be my wife, nor would I ever want you to be my wife."

The prostitute gets up and starts coming towards Darien. "Wife? What made you think that? I was gonna be your little doctor and take care of..."



"I told you."

"Darien. Darien, you owe me one, God told us that He..."

"God doesn't approve of what you want to do."


"Because of better men. Tell me, do you think Moses is a damned soul?"

The prostitute has nothing left to say, and sighs, then looks up at the bloodstained ceiling. Her head slouches back. "I guess I could use the rest."

The Voice speaks to Darien; Darien puts his hand upon her knee and looks in her eye and says: "So could your leg."

And Darien heads back to Pontiphus' care. "Where the Hell have you been? I've been sitting here with my arm half-sowed on..."

"One of your girls was in trouble."

"Darien don't you know they can fend..."

"The girl needed help, and I gave it, and now I am back to finish."

"Well good, get to work." And Darien does.

At some point before morning, Pontiphus tells Darien his life story. Pontiphus told of being sold in to slavery, then running away from his master, of nearly being killed several times in Alexandria by thieves and strongmen, of being driven away from parts of town by the rich, who did not want him their presence, of having no one to trust but himself. "You've led a hard life." Darien responds.

"Yeah, I guess I have." Pontiphus replies.

"But I do want to say that there is one looking out for you, you are not entirely alone."

"Boy, I don't want to hear this."

"No, I think you do."

"No, I think I don't."

And so Darien gets back to work. In the morning at sunrise, and just after Darien has washed Pontiphus' feet, when it is all done and tied up, Monica and Brutus come back. The prostitute is sleeping, and has been sleeping for hours. Monica and Brutus say hello to Pontiphus.

"Well my friend has fixed me up, he's done his job."

"We can see that." Monica replies. "But we didn't just come to pick him up."


Monica unties a small bag around her waist, and opens it up. Pontiphus puts out his hands. Monica says, "a gift for you." And a small dredle, like that made for a child, with a unique hieroglyphic inscription falls from it.

"What?" And he starts to cry and laugh. "I remember this."

"It's a gift from your mother, though long dead. She still loves you, and wants you to have it. When she heard you lost your old one, well, she tried to get you this one sooner, but He wouldn't let her, but now He feels it is the proper time under the sun to honor her wish for you."

And he just stares in to that dredle and starts to smile. He remembers warm nights by the family hearth, with his parents to either side of him, and a full moon through the window, as they sat together on the warm ground arms over shoulder.

"God made your mother." Brutus says squarely in to Pontiphus' eyes.

Pontiphus clasps the dredle in his hands, then walks in to the house.

"Is that really all that was required?"

"Yep." Brutus replies.

"Yeah this is kind of a detour." Monica says.

"But he hasn't, you know...."

"Oh give him time Darien!" Monica says coyly.

"Yeah Darien, why do you want to rush everybody? Beyond that, how do you know, exactly, what his service to God will be?" Brutus says.

"Okay. Let's get out of here."

But as Darien and his two angels are walking out of town, the prostitutes, remembering how Darien saved her life, runs after them and catches up. "Darien, I want you to have this!" She holds a boat ticket to Rome. "I was going to leave Alexandria for good with my earnings from a long night, and join a temple in Rome, but when Pontiphus found out this morning I was pregnant, he... um... well... he decided to marry me."

And Darien smiles from deep within his heart. "I'm very glad for you." And at that she smiles. He and his angels start to head back to Alexandria to board the ship for Rome.

When alone again, long after the woman had left, Brutus tells Darien: "You know, Darien, you didn't entirely do evil with your acts."

"How so?" Darien asks, taken aback.

"You actually saved her life. If you hadn't interceded, she would've been beat to death. She's already a very sick and weak girl as you could tell, and if the beating had continued, she would've been a corpse, but your evil was in wishing to kill the man, rather then administering mercy and trying to really take care of all those involved.

"When you were dealing with the rapist before, there were many of them, and to try to restain would be perfectly worthless. Even with all force and no holds barred, you barely managed to destroy three of them, and all four would've surely killed you. To save her was worth more. But here, it was a man by himself, and you are a great fighter and could've easily finessed him to a place of disability where he threatened neither you nor the girl."

"I see."

Brutus continues: "Now I've been authorized to tell you what happens next, since you will never see Pontiphus, the angry man, or the prostitute again. The prostitute is already very sick from the sicknesses of her fornification, and this recent beating, coupled with long nights of work, little sleep and bad nutritition, have left her barely alive. When she gives birth to that boy, by the grace of God he will live, but she will not. She will die in childbirth as her corrupted rotted legs finally rip open. But Pontiphus, who has now found The Lord in his heart, will raise that boy well, in the nurture and admonition of God for both of them, and from that line will come Diophantus, a great mathematician and child of love, contributing to humanities understanding of the basic grid of the universe, the numbers. So yeah, good work!

"As for the man who almost killed the prostitute, instead of being executed as a murderer of a nearly dead prostitutes he will become a Christian, and then a missionary, converting many in Egypt, and then going on to convert the open hearts of Carthage. From those he converts will come the line that gives birth to Augustine of Hippo, a great Christian and a great philosopher who will advance mans understanding mightily and preserve for good the best of Plato, and also help to establish God's church on a more sound footing. He will also be a light of hope in the darkest days of his hometown, as they face destruction from a people whose very name will be associated with destruction for good."

"But then why was I judged?"

"Because you had to be. You had to be trusted by Pontiphus again, and he had to know he did nothing wrong and that you were at his disposal and thus helpless. Besides, you did remain willfully ignorant and hateful and merciless in your mind, and you needed to learn an important lesson about dealing with people, your anger, and fighting so that you do not kill later. We only showed you as little mercy as you would've shown him. You did good by the sword earlier, but I wanted you to know that this does not mean the sword is inherently good. I also want you to see the boy in Pontiphus' eyes."

"I see," Darien says.

This piece may change slightly over the coming days as I check for conformity with the writing style of Kings, but I feel it is at this point good enough to publish, and the basic content will remain the same.

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