"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

10/10/08

Friday Fiction: "Under Cover"

Welcome to my contribution to Patterings' Friday Fiction. This meme is being hosted this week by Yvonne at "My Back Door." Be sure to stop by there and read more great fiction, or contribute your own. Just post some fiction, and add your blog to the Mr. Linky gadget at the bottom of her post.




I wrote this during the "homespun wisdom" quarter at the Faithwriters Writing Challenge. I challenged myself that quarter to do write Biblical fiction for each topic. This is one - and perhaps one of my favorites. Definitely based on an absolute favorite book of the Bible!


Under Cover

The covering thrown over my face is stifling. I gulp in the air around me--some of the last breaths I ever will take--and listen as my method of execution is declared.

The irony is not lost on me as I wait in the darkness created by this veil.

I had just wanted that man dead: him and his self-righteous people. They had been sworn enemies of my ancestors for nearly a thousand years, and that animosity certainly didn't lessen when he defied my kingdom.

So, it isn't my kingdom, exactly. Almost, but not quite. I am, after all, the head of the king's princes and servants. Nearly everyone in Persia is under me. Obedience to my command and honor to me are practically law.

Or were, anyway.

When I discovered he refused to bow down to me, despite the king's orders, I was irritated. When I learned of his nationality, I was livid. There he stood, at the king's gate, day after day, thumbing his nose at my authority. Nothing but that dirty Jew's death, and the death of his people, would appease me.

If only I'd settled for vengeance on one man.

In my defense, I wasn't the only one eager to get rid of the Jews, and I'm still not. I am certain, no matter what happens with the edict, those people will be eliminated somehow, some day. My people have been working at it for centuries, and they will succeed, with or without me. I'd bet my life on it.

I guess that's not much of a guarantee, considering my current situation, is it?

Anyhow, the edict. We Agagites gathered to consult the gods about the ideal time to get rid of the Jews. The chosen day was appointed --albeit eleven months off--and I drafted a decree to present to the king. Considering my pull with His Highness, I was certain that my wish would be his command, so to speak.

And I was right. I told the king about the Jews' refusal to obey his law--not mentioning the Jews by name, of course-and he gladly signed the edict and allowed me to seal it with his signet ring. I figured that the date being nearly a year away just gave my kinsmen plenty of time to prepare for the annihilation.

If only the lot had pointed us to a more immediate date.

I was sure things were wonderful when the queen invited me to her banquet yesterday. The food was exquisite, and I was her only guest aside from the king himself. Then, when she asked me back for the following day, I was tickled beyond belief...until I stepped out and saw that Jew, Mordecai, at the gate, refusing to show me the honor I deserved. I wanted to kill him on the spot.

It's a shame I restrained myself.

I went home, figuring a chat with my wife and comrades would lighten my mood. I was right, of course. They not only relished in the glory and honor I received from the king and queen, but they came up with what I thought was the perfect solution to my problem.

"Have a gallows fifty cubits high made and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go joyfully with the king to the banquet,*" they suggested.

So that's how I spent last night: constructing the mode of my worst enemy's demise. I must say it was a most joyous undertaking, and my spirits were quite high as I entered the court to ask His Highness' permission to exact my revenge.

That was the very last time I rejoiced.

I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say that I was humiliated, shamed, cursed, and sentenced to death. And now, it appears that my method of vengeance on Mordecai will be meted out on me.

The brightness of the day is almost blinding me. After leading me through I don't know where, they have removed the veil from my face. As my eyes adjust to the light, I see one of the king's servants approach. In his hand is a noose - a noose I am all too familiar with. I look up, fifty cubits into the sky of Susa, and see the destiny I have built for myself.

So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai.*

*Scripture quotations, in order, from NASB
Esther 5:14, Esther 7:10

Don't forget to stop by My Back Door for more great fiction!

9 comments:

  1. This is one of my favorite Bible stories! I love the irony, the tension, the humor, the victory!

    (I think it was all the pounding of the hammers building the gallows that kept the king awake, when he read of good deed of Mordecai...smile.)

    Thanks for writing this...and your other Bible stories. You ought to compile them.
    Vonnie

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  2. Great retelling of Haman. I like it from his pov.

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  3. Oh boy, what a way to go. Ugh and ouch! You made it all so real, Peej.

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  4. Yes, that is a great story. Thanks for the unique POV.

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  5. You've done it again, Joanne. You really should put together a collection of biblical fiction. You're great at it! Wonderfully crafted and told.

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  6. Great job you did showing it from Haman's point of view.


    Vickie

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  7. This is amazing. The tension is powerful, and you wrote it masterfully. Love these Bible stories, Joanne.

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  8. I love, love, love the voice you used in this one, Joanne! It's stellar! An EXCELLENT job with this!

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  9. Now you've got me in the mood for a Purim shpiel. :)

    Excellent use of POV for perspective.

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