02. Pita Bread i
A Village Near Gibbethon, Philistia
Obadiah edged closer to Ahab. “What are you hiding?”
A twinkle in his eye, Ahab slid his open palm from his cloak. Empty.
Flashing a big grin, Obadiah set his half-eaten pita on his plate and reached.
But Ahab grabbed Obadiah’s wrist. He cocked his head at Commander Omri and his captains. Then at the bodyguards on the other side of the veranda.
Obadiah snorted and covered his mouth. Whatever Ahab’s game, adults were not included.
As the captains pushed their plates away, the servers hovered, their eyes on the commander. He sat straight on his goatskin, cleared his throat, and enunciated each syllable:
“Blessed are you, Lord our God,
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.”
Breakfast over, Obadiah jabbed Ahab in the ribs. “Let’s go.”
Far above, a hawk banked and wheeled. The sun had an empty sky to itself. A good day to watch the battle. Their troops might slice the heads from a few Philistines, and back home, Obadiah would tell Yedidah, the potter’s daughter. She would hold her breath and open wide her large brown eyes.
At the parapet, Obadiah reached for the ladder, turned, and blinked.
Ahab was sneaking flatbreads from the guards’ platter, slipping them into his cloak.
As Obadiah descended to the grass by the stable door, he shot glances up toward Ahab descending from the veranda.
Ahab hit the ground, his face a mask, and set off toward the sycamore tree where the two friends watched the battle.
Obadiah headed toward the latrine on the far side of the village and called over his shoulder, “See you at the sycamore.”
“Fish. Fresh fish.” A tall man with a stoop blocked his way. Three or four days each week, from the basket slung over his shoulder, he sold bream and tilapia to the commander’s cook. He had pleasant nods for the two boys. Yet, the fishmonger had replaced his familiar gap-tooth smile with a stare of cold steel. Without blinking, he 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 asked you?” Then he scrubbed a hand over his face. His father did not approve of such words to an adult.
As the fishmonger shuffled down the street, the basket swung from his shoulder with the rhythm of his call. “Fish. Fresh fish.”
What had gotten into Mr. Fish? The back of Obadiah’s neck tingled. He dodged behind a thick shrub and looked around for his friend.
Ahab sauntered toward their sycamore tree, 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. Where was Ahab?
At the end of an alley, the tail of Ahab’s cloak fluttered and 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 was shoving 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.
As Obadiah grabbed Ahab’s arm, his nostrils flared, and he took in a noisy breath. “What’s going on?”
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.”
Who causes grass to grow – Psalm 104:14-15
Parapet – Deuteronomy 22:8
Wake up! – Isaiah 60:1-2