A Village Near Gibbethon, Philistia
Little Obadiah edged his seat closer to his friend Ahab. “What are you hiding?”
Ahab slid his open palm from his cloak. Empty.
But Ahab grabbed his wrist. He cut his eyes left at his father, Commander Omri. Then right toward the bodyguards. v
Obadiah snorted. Whatever Ahab’s game, adults were not included.
The adult in charge, Commander Omri, sat straight and cleared his throat. He enunciated each syllable.
who causes grass to grow for the cattle,
and herbs for the service of man:
that he may bring forth food out of the earth. vi
Captains and bodyguards around the veranda breathed a soft Amen then turned toward the commander to hear today’s plans for their siege of the city.
Praise be to the Lord my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.
Obadiah led Ahab to the parapet—a low wall of limestone around the living quarters over the stable. He reached for the ladder to the ground, turned, and blinked.
Ahab was sneaking flatbreads from the guards’ platter, slipping the fresh pita into his cloak.
As Obadiah descended to the grass, he shot glances up toward Ahab on the veranda.
When Ahab hit the ground, he set off toward their hillock.
Back home in Keslote, arm-in-arm, the boys had convinced Ahab’s father, Commander Omri, to take them to Gibbethon.
Perhaps the commander saw early training for Ahab. The two eight-year-olds saw themselves as cheering the troops. Obadiah hoped to impress Yedidah, the potter’s daughter, with tales of bloody heads sliced from ugly Philistine bodies and rolling at his feet.
When they arrived, he? stationed them on a rise under an ancient sycamore, where shouts drifted in from the battle.
Obadiah called, “See you at the sycamore,” and headed toward the latrine on the far side of the village. As he dodged behind a thick shrub and looked back at his friend, the back of his neck tingled.
Ahab sauntered toward their lookout, but at the fifth house on the left he glanced behind him and ducked into a hedge.
With long, silent strides, Obadiah loped to the spot. He wrinkled his nose.
At the end of an alley, the tail of Ahab’s cloak fluttered. Then disappeared behind a shed.
Heart pounding, Obadiah dashed to the shed and skidded to a halt. He froze. “What?”
A bone-thin child with dirt on his face cowered under his stare.
Ahab shoved flatbread into the lad’s cloak. Except the cloak was Ahab’s. The sleeves, rolled triple thick at the cuffs, covered all but the tips of the boy’s fingers.
Obadiah grabbed Ahab’s arm. “Why the big secret?” His nostrils flared, and he took in a noisy breath. His buddy had hidden this escapade from him.
Ahab drew himself to full height. “He’s Philistine, so you can’t tell anyone.” Grabbing Obadiah’s shoulders, he bumped him jaw to jaw. “Understand? Not one word.”
Three days later, with the homeless child shoved to the back of his mind, Obadiah led Ahab in a chase along the village path. He guffawed. “You’ll never catch me.”
“My grandmother could catch you and knock your skinny—”
A man with a basket slung from his shoulder came out the headquarters gate. In a creaky voice, he called, “Fish. Fresh fish.” Three or four days each week he sold bream and tilapia to the cook and gave pleasant nods to Obadiah and Ahab.
Yet, Obadiah slid to a halt and cringed. The fishmonger had replaced his familiar gap-tooth smile with a stare of cold steel.
Ahab slammed into Obadiah and laughed.
Without blinking, the fishmonger pointed a long bony finger at Obadiah. “‘How long will you sleep, lazy bones? Wake up.’”
Goosebumps slid down the back of Obadiah’s neck, but he snorted. “Who invited you?” Then scrubbed a hand over his face. His father did not approve of such words to an adult. Veering away, he rammed through the gate and pulled Ahab in with him.
“What got into Mr. Fish?” Ahab peeked with him out through the wrought iron.
As the man shuffled on, the basket swung from his shoulder with the rhythm of his call. “Fish. Fresh fish.”
Ahab crouched with Obadiah by the gate, his raven-black curls glistening in the sun. “Race you to the stable.” He seemed to have forgotten the fishmonger’s strange act.
Obadiah forced the man out of his head. He searched the path and then dangled a small white stone in front of Ahab’s nose.
Ahab stretched toward the stable door.“For once in your life, try to run.”
The pebble dropped.
Obadiah flew along the path, his sandals slapping dirt and his elbow gouging Ahab’s ribs.
A gold and white hen squawked at the approaching danger and collected her chicks into the safety of a low-spreading fig tree.
As he shot between the stable guards, Obadiah raised his chin and thudded into the heavy wooden door the same moment as Ahab.
“I won. I won.” They raised their arms and pranced.
A red and brown rooster strutted from a bed of anemones, crowed twice, and swaggered with them.
While one guard leaned against the stable wall, the other grunted and unlatched the door.
Obadiah entered the homey aroma of hay and horse droppings.
A soft huh-huh-huh-huh greeted him, and smooth noses bobbed over stall doors.
Ahab crowded in beside Obadiah. “That bay mare from Akko. She’s mine.”
Obadiah laughed. “From Akko? That’s the one I want.”
Ahab marched straight to the seventh stall on the left, raised on tiptoe, and peeked in. “Where’d she go?”
“Oh, she’s out, sir.” The stable boy, shorter and thinner than Obadiah or Ahab, stepped from the next stall and leaned a pitchfork against the wall. “The captain took her.”
“What captain?” Ahab slapped the boy then poked him in the chest, knocking him back against a post. “I never said anyone could take that mare.”
The stable boy put his hand to the bright red mark on his cheek. He stifled a whimper and wiped a dribble of blood from his nose.
Obadiah’s nostrils flared. Ahab carried food and clothing to a homeless Philistine child yet bullied their own stable boy. Obadiah yanked Ahab around by the shoulder. “Pick on somebody your own size.”
“Go jump in the sea.” Ahab grabbed Obadiah by the sleeve, swung him around, and aimed a fist at his chin.
Obadiah ducked and grabbed Ahab’s robe. “That mare’s no more yours than she is mine.” He smashed his friend’s face with the heel of his palm. The impact shocked his forearm, and he flailed his wrist against the pain.
Ahab grabbed at his nose, then gawked at the blood in his hand. Ripping Obadiah’s robe, he screamed. “Stinking Philistine pond scum!” He crunched his fist into Obadiah’s teeth.
Obadiah stumbled back and tasted blood. He touched his lips. His fingers came away red.
A stable guard burst in and seized Ahab by the shoulders.
The other guard grabbed Obadiah.
Ahab swatted. “What are you—?”
“Shush!” The guard pinched Ahab’s ear.
“Come along.” Obadiah’s guard dragged him out by the ear, past the spreading fig tree and the leafy bougainvillea. He shoved Obadiah’s nose against the fifth rung of the ladder. The commander’s office waited at the top.
Obadiah jammed his hands into his armpits. “But—”
“I’m right behind you,” the guard growled.
Obadiah and Ahab – 1 Kings 18:3
Israel army at Gibbethon – 1 Kings 16:15
Who causes grass to grow – Psalm 104:14-15
Who trains my hands for war – Psalm 144:1
The low wall around the veranda – Deuteronomy 22:8
iistart your story just before the protagonist’s life intersects with the antagonist’s agenda. [What is the antagonist’s agenda?]
iiifor his friend’s robe
vglanced around the veranda and As servers removed dishes of plump, sticky dates and fresh pita,
vi So the commander’s prayer of Thanksgiving immediately with the servants clearing the food away –“Blessed are you” Needs to go with end of meal
vii [Where?] A hawk banked and wheeled far above. The sun touched no clouds. A good day for a battle. Maybe a head would roll. Back home, Yedidah, the potter’s daughter, would shiver when he told her.
viiiI need to show Ahab singing psalms because, in Chapter 21. Thrill, he sings “The Lord is my light…” – Psalm 27.