Sunday, October 11, 2015

Jacob and The Angel's Curse

I took some liberties with the first assignment from chapter one in Novakovich's book and I really took liberties with my source material. This is only a first draft and I'm sure it could use some polishing, but I wanted to get something "out there" while my enthusiasm is high. Let me know what you think. It's the story of something that should have gone right but ended up being terribly wrong.

Jacob held fast to the Angel of God all the while begging for a blessing. This wouldn't have been unusual if it was happening just after Jacob crossed the ford of the Jabbok or if I were reading my Bible, but I saw this just outside the admin building at my high school.

It was a really ugly fight, not just two guys punching or swatting at each other, but vicious clinging, clawing, and scratching, Jacob was ripping the Angel's shirt right off his chest.

"Why are you doing this," cried the Angel. "Let go. I don't want to fight."

Jacob had never been a well-wrapped kid. I can't say that I know him, but he's one of those guys everyone knows about and tries to avoid. This isn't hard since he's a loner, spends most of his time studying in the tents of Shem, a private if somewhat shabby library on the other side of town (although there's some dispute as to whether the proprietor of this "study hall" is really the original Shem).

And Jacob's a chronic liar. He lied to his Dad, he lied to his brother (bad mistake, Esau has a terrible temper), he lied to his uncle. You just can't believe a single thing he has to say.

In fact, I wouldn't have believed he was actually wrestling with an Angel unless I, and a bunch of other students (the fight was drawing a pretty big crowd) weren't seeing it for ourselves.

But while the Angel kept trying to escape, Jacob was clinging to him like a maladjusted toddler clutching at his Mommy while throwing a tantrum.

"Bless me! Bless me!" demanded Jacob.

In the next day or two after the fight, I tried to find out where the Angel came from or why he picked that Monday afternoon to visit Jacob, but nobody was sure. The prevalent theory is that Jacob found some ancient tome Shem had been hiding that let this crazy kid summon up the Angel.

Who knows? Jacob's life is a mess. I can see why he'd want a blessing from an Angel of God. The thing is, the Angel didn't want to give.

"I will not let you go unless you bless me," Jacob's ultimatum seemed sincere.

By now the Principal and some teachers were trying to break the fight up, but this being a supernatural affair, the closer they got to the two combatants, the more they looked like they were being pressed down, as if something invisible and pretty damn heavy were pushing them onto the grass.

The Angel was weakening. He wanted to get out of there and back to Heaven in the worst way, but Jacob's grip was unbreakable. The Angel's chest was covered with bruises and scratches, although the Angel managed to land a wicked punch on Jacob's thigh.

"Alright!" the angel gasped. "What is your name?" That caught me by surprise, I figured being an Angel, he knew just about everything.

"Jacob!" yelled Jacob excitedly, probably thinking his blessing was just around the corner.

"Well, your name is going to be 'Mud' in just a second if you don't let go," snarled the Angel. "I'm late for an appointment with the Big Guy, and He doesn't like to be kept waiting."

"Tell me your name," replied Jacob, apparently mistaking a schoolyard brawl for a networking session at a cocktail party.

"Oh now you've done it," the Angel's tone was increasingly threatening. "My name is hidden! 'Mud' is too good for you."

Then, quicker than you could say "Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt," the Angel pushed Jacob, making him shift his weight to his injured leg. Off balance, Jacob lost his grip of the Angel and then the Angel was gone.

The Angel was right. Being called "Mud" for the rest of his life might have been better than being turned into stone, which is what happened to Jacob. No one said a word. All of us who had been witnesses were taken over by shock or astonishment. Like a ring of iron filings surrounding a magnet, we were silently, slowly drawn closer to the stone statue that used to be Jacob.

It was a very realistic statue, especially the facial expression of exquisite horror mixed with just a hint of disappointment that his desired blessing was delivered as a curse.

As our fascination with Jacob's statue wore off, I realized that the police had arrived because of the strobing of red and white light I caught out of the corner of my eye as their cruiser pulled up. But what could they do?

They took statements from all of us. Said they'd follow up by interviewing Shem (I heard that when they got to Shem's place, they found the old bugger had already pulled out taking every last arcane scroll with him).
Jacob's parents were heartbroken, especially his mother Rachel. Old, blind Isaac, Jacob's Dad, always liked Esau better, but even he was sobbing.

For his part, Esau, who I always thought would end up killing Jacob someday, was torn apart by Jacob's death, if you can call being turned into sculpted art "death".

The Abraham family wanted to take Jacob's body for a proper burial in the cave of Machpelah, their private cemetary plot, but being a spiritually created statue, it was unmovable by people or machines. So Las Vegas High School was granted a new if macabre piece of stone artwork just in front of the main administration building.

That was six months ago, but I still get kind of startled when I come come around the corner of the building forgetting Jacob is there.

His parents and brother visit him every weekend, laying flowers by his feet. His Mom especially thought that Jacob was going to grow up to be someone special, to have a unique legacy.

That's not going to happen now, at least I don't think so. On the other hand, we got a new student transfer in from the other side of the Jordan last week. His name is John, and the other day he said he could raise up children of Abraham from stone.

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