Revenge of the Moles©
It was the month of October. But at the Desperate Wayfarer’s Club it was sizzling hot. There was I for months on the move trying to beat the heat. Global warming it was whispered at first and none would believe it then. From look of it no one seemed to believe it either. It was killing time and the travelers were all there. They were asking the bar tender for ice to make their hooch sound high class. None was getting any. You see the proof was right there. It melted even before it could be served. Yet drinking the undrinkable they were craving for ice! The bar tender whinnied,’This heat is killing me and ice is melting dear sirs, Between the two I ain’t sure if I will see end of the day.’ The travelers snorted and it was hooch, with no ice.
I was seated among well heeled travelers. It was obvious. They were all sitting on the lounge chairs with their part of feet missing. Heat made the asphalt like it was a trial run on the halls of Lucipher. How people everywhere bought branded items! Some even tried cucumber! Cool as cumber was one expression that was left as useless! While sale of Gucci, and Adidas fell nothing made their feet protected. Those who were on the run to escape the city lost their standing. The crooks who beat the system did not carry their loot no more than their poor feet could. But no they were all holed up at the club somewhat in a dither unable to down their constitutional. I gulped mine down and said,’ I can find my feet again.’
Obviously fellow travelers didn’t take kindly to the expression.. They looked not at their feet but at my empty glass. One asked, ‘My dear sir, You drink and say finding your feet.’ You have even got shoes on.’
I looked at my feet and smiled. ‘Ah it is story time. I know my moleskin shoes are wonder shoes. I saved the wonder of..’
“Shoes?” asked one. Sitting next to him I said, “No, my story. It has to do with moles and I had a capital idea of going into business of making shoes.” I would have launched into it capital outlay and production cost and the whole rigmarole of setting up a factory and so on. But as one who loved to tell stories I knew these were of no use at the moment. I knew it was the story of moles what brought me there and not what I do with their skin.’ One traveler immediately thrust a bumper of hooch onto my hand and said, ‘Here this is one me. Only make the story smooth and as silky as your shoes.’
I thanked him and said,’I am Dr. Fix-It and I have just come after saving the world. In order to do that let me briefly touch upon my job. I fix whatever problems there may be. This story hangs on a little hiccup called Nuclear Waste. And it is what I intend to tell you right now. You heard of spent fuel rods?’
‘Oh yes, something nuclear I believe.’ one said brightly. I explained as quickly as possible the difficulty in getting rid of the high-level waste. In a flash I moved on to its disposal. ‘Bury them under the ocean floor, storing it underground, and shooting it into space. I had to fix the problem. Then I set my assistants to search high and low for a solution. But I found a mole right in front of the lab. A mole was messing up a flowerbed for a week. I hit upon the idea of using moles to solve it for us.’ The travelers must have noticed the strange cunning smile and said, ‘Oh Dr. Fix-It drink up your whiskey. You look like one in need.’. How could I refuse them? I said,’Oh yes. I set up a mole farm where I fed them with nuclear waste little by little.. The moles were soon hooked on to the stuff. It was better than “deep geological disposal!” ‘
Like Dr. Victor Frankenstein I had a problem. But moles wanted to eat the world away. Their appetite was gargantuan. I think something in the nuclear waste disagreed with their hormones. They developed gigantism…’ I was sweating and the fellow travelers looked at me with alarm. ‘What size are we talking here?’ the bar tender was asking me. Of course he had to know the measure of beer he poured and he was spot on. I said,’ Forget the spatula you use to wipe the foam. The comparison requires much more.’ A pause and I continued, ‘What if I had told you some three moles could sit down to eat up the Empire state building? And at the end of it got up with a smirk to say, the dinner was just about. James you get me clear. Don’t you?’ James was so confused that he let the tap run for a while.
‘How did you save the world?’ the fellow traveler from Montana asked me. ‘With great difficulty’ I replied. Of course I was being too optimistic. But what the hell I’m Dr.Fix-It. It was as good as done. I paused and took the thread of my story again, ‘Oh yes the nuclear waste was buried under Yucca mountains. When the whole pile caved in I knew the moles were behind it. There were frantic calls from Homeland Security. They had discovered suspicious tunneling below Pentagon and under the Fort Knox. The went for the Alert Red. Soon it was clear that there was no Un-American activities engaged by the citizens. But the tunnels were caused by some devilish critters. I knew what they were. But I wasn’t going to give myself away. I managed to persuade the President to call off the drones. The problem was to smoke these dreadful critters out. I held such power in my hands and I insisted absolute free hand. It was thus the government called off the drones.
My assignment took me go in search of these elusive moles. I went all the way to the Marianas trench in the Pacific. While I paused there was a great clamor among the fellow travelers. One Indian stood up and said, I intend to punish the moles for what they did to Agra. Taj Mahal collapsed since the moles had tunneled under the World Heritage Center. That brought one who said he was all for killing the Moles for blasphemy. Didn’t these infernal critters bring Mecca into a pile of rubble?’ It brought the Shi’ia factions to rouse themselves saying the moles need to be exterminated. ‘No mercy!’ In fact the great assembly of travelers were desperate for action. ‘We shall kill all the moles!’ they cried. It became a battle cry. The noise was spiraling into ear deafening cry. I got up on the counter and cried for a hearing. I said,’ If you are ready for action I am just going to tell some news.’ It took a while for them to quiet down. I said, ‘The moles are elusive creatures. All those nuclear stuff also made them very cantankerous. They know I am after them.’ Pointing to my moleskin shoes I said, ‘These shoes must alert them of my existence. If they were to come after me, there is going to be a shoot out, like that shootout in the High noon.’
“ Show us the irons you have packed?’ the fellow from Montana asked me. ‘No I shall not give away my secret’. Before it sank in sure enough there was an earth shattering piercing cry. Imagine some thousand moles each a mile high and of a mile girth, breaking out of the ground! It was incredible. I said, Each of you try standing and pee for all your worth. Many simply fell and wretchedly crying, ‘No we already peed in our pants! I asked,’ James, never mind. Just open all the beer barrels as soon as they come within striking distance’.
I must say James kept his cool. He let go the beer flooding in a stream and the phalanx of moles stopped their nostrils burning. It was a searing hot afternoon. I do not know if it was beer or the heat that did it. The moles simply folded up. James asked, ’Is it a beer dream?’
‘No the sun made your beer lethal. Next time don’t serve us your beer. Unless a mole comes in for a pint.’
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Posted in humor, tagged Benny Thomas, change in tastes, flash fiction, Gigi, Hollywood musicals, musicals, pedophile, Rabbi Benn Weiss, South Pacific, stories on July 5, 2012 |
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Rabbi Benn Weiss was waiting for me at the sidewalk. Cock-eyed Happy Place catered to anyone who had a certain style. The raffish sailors frequented there as well as beggars who paused in between panhandling for a swig. They paid in style of course with the money they cadged from the customers. Anyone with the style, I mean those who had money, got attention. When I reached the Rabbi he had just disposed a beggar who claimed had acted in the production of South Pacific.
“ There is nothing like a dame.” I crooned knowingly. Benn Weiss shrugged his shoulders and suddenly he said in alarm, “ You look as if seen a ghost!” I explained after having downed a couple of shots of whiskey, “ I suddenly remembered Gigi!” My friend looked perplexed.
“ Remember Maurice Chevalier singing, ‘Thank heaven for little girls?’ I was just twelve and was in love with Leslie Caron myself.”
The Rabbi was listening closely. “ Oh Jake you’re a romantic.”
“I went on singing for days the same number till my father kicked me in the seat of my knickers.
“So you mooned and was in love. So what?”
“ If I sang ‘Thank Heaven for little girls’ now like I did then, would not I be thought of being a closet paedophile or something?” I said.
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Posted in Aesop, fables, history, Aesop and the Ass, modern fable, tagged Benny Thomas, civil liberties, Homeland Security, Messiah, philosophy, Rabbi Benn Weiss, stories on July 4, 2012 |
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Rabbi Benn Weiss was sure that he was being shadowed. “Hey Jake can you tail my shadow?” Of course I did as I was told. When I told him that the man had been on the job for 10 years passing on his movements daily to his boss, who sat in a shadowy section of The City of Peace, the rabbi quaked in his shoes. Next day to his relief the shadow was ran over by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.
“ Sorry for his messy body, left on the pavement unattended.” Benn Weiss said deathly pale.” Think of it Rabbi!” I said to buck him up,”You shall not be followed again.”
I was wrong.
Rabbi soon found three shadows tailing him. “ Oh my goose is cooked!” Rabbi Benn Weiss gasped, “ The Prince of Peace, bless his name is come and this is the year of Universal Peace! But I am still haunted!”
Rabbi Benn did eventually use his contacts and found that his liberal leanings for a rabbi drew the attention of Homeland Security.
The insider confided that HS had indeed deputed one to check him out. ‘But when he died in rather strange circumstances we had to make sure. So Justice and Immigration department also had to come in, ’ admitted the anonymous source.
We had found our usual spot. While the rabbi took his glass of buttermilk his hand trembled. “ The Messiah is come; but still the old order goes on at full steam ahead.”
“Don’t worry,” I confided,” I know how the system works. The Anointed One is too good to see behind the woodwork. But a day come, he shall not get up from his throne without scratching himself. Too late it would be then.”
Rabbi stared at me. He slowly got my drift. He nodded. “Aha I get it now” he exclaimed, “No wonder Peace has to be hard fought in. Ah the peace of a graveyard!”
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Posted in Aesop, fables, history, Aesop and the Ass, modern fable, tagged Benny Thomas, certainties, Christianity, coincidences, fable, finite life, Heretic, moral, paradoxes, St. Augustine, stories on July 3, 2012 |
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St. Augustine And The Heretic.
Aurelius Augustinus of Tagaste, North Africa was won over from his dissolute ways when he and a friend of his were holidaying and they heard a neighbor child singing a refrain,’ Tolle Lige, Tolle Lige,”(Take up and read, Take up and read). He took it up as divine guidance and read from the book of Romans wherein St. Paul’s admonition,” make not provision for the flesh,” made a deep impact to win him over from his hedonistic way of life. At that moment his friend who also heard the child did not think it anything special.
That moment nevertheless was a turning point: one going on to become the father of medieval Roman Catholicism and the other, a heretic. When the latter was at the death- bed the saint went to see him. The heretic resisted a last minute conversion saying that while Aurelius found God whose grace was irresistible he found quite something else. When the venerable Bishop asked him to spell out what he meant he merely quoted his friend’s dictum:” In essentials, unity; in non- essentials, liberty and in all things charity.” When pressed further he said, ” Allow me to die as a heretic; we both were searching for the same- we both, so I believe, found what we searched for. Heresy or liberty? Neither you nor I have time to convince the other as to the opposite. So I shall not, either in this life or in any other.”
Time presses us to shape our belief-systems in the indistinct runoff of certainties and what seem coincidences. These also switch roles. Thus what seeemed a sure thing proves to be flash in the pan. History is replete with such paradoxes.
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Posted in Aesop, fables, history, Aesop and the Ass, modern fable, tagged Aesop fables, Aesopiana, Benny Thomas, death, fame, stories on June 19, 2012 |
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Mr. Death and Madam Fame
Mr. Death had a large household and he wanted a housekeeper to look after the house. Many came and he found all of them had either their credentials over inflated or they were by nature too ill-suited to the rigor of the office. In the end Madam Fame came with her CV and Mr. Death said,” Your work-experience is perfect. But I must decline.”
When asked why he explained: “ I gather all, while you scatter fame of all those whom I bring here.”
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Posted in stories, tagged Aesop fables, Benny Thomas, Jerusalem, Jubilee year, philosophical stories, Prince of Peace, stories, the Anointed One, the fly and the moving coach, the Messiah, the Rabbi Benn Weiss Stories on June 2, 2012 |
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It was the year of Universal Peace. The Prince of Peace had ascended to the throne and Jerusalem thronged with people who had come to celebrate the event. The aliens simply were not to be seen.
When I went to Paris on some business for the Messiah,- I was his personal secretary, I asked the Rabbi how he was doing without me. He looked in surprise,’What Jake were you absent?’ Rabbi Benn was my friend so I said as if I wasn’t pained by it,’I missed you, rabbi’. I had reinvented myself in so short time, oozing with charm for my new position had rubbed on me immensely, and I was a man of the world, suave diplomat, my diplomatic box full of papers that I had to pass on to various movers and shakers of the city. No one would have said I was a never-do-well lounge lizard at Lido. I explained how I had got rid of the aliens from Jerusalem.
My friend got interested, and I said,’I stuffed their mouth with gold and sent them all to claim the rights to the mines of methane in the Arctic Sea. They think they are going to be oligarchs but I have set my own plans to give a surprise to them.’
Rabbi Benn Weiss raised his eyebrows. ‘I never knew you could be a Machiavelli in so short a time. What is the secret, Jake?’
‘I am the personal secretary of the Messiah. He put his trust in me. I who never wanted a thing than a hand-out for a square meal and a bit of loving and a fine-cut of evening dress to impress the Smart Set, I am full of plans!’
My friend was sure I was beginning to look like the fly who sat on the coach and thought all that cloud of dust raised by the carriage was its doing.’
‘Is that Aesop? Rabbi Benn Weiss, I am not the fly in any case. May be the carriage running on the state’s errand.’
There was an uneasy silence. I was hard up for time. I had to run errands for my master, the Prince of Peace. I got up and said,’Rabbi, I can fix an audience with the Messiah. Imagine the glorious Prince of Peace! One hour interview I can squeeze in any time of the day. Think over it.’
Rabbi Benn Weiss waved me away saying,’ I shall settle for the Messiah of the Book.’
‘What you don’t want to meet him in person?’
The rabbi shook his head and said,’I don’t like the bad company he keeps.’
‘But I am good enough to be your friend!’
‘That is true,’ Rabbi Benn Weiss said sadly,’You are good for the likes of me, but for the Prince of Peace, oh No!’
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An Armenian in Paris
Rabbi Benn Weiss followed me close as we made for the exit. ‘I love Art and I know what I like,’ he had said while staring at the canvasses long and hard.
We came out into the sunshine. He asked, ‘What makes Beauty? Is it what is unattainable?’
I nodded. My companion asked, ‘Beauty! Is it because it speaks truth?’
‘Oh yes!’ I said appreciatively, ‘Rabbi, you know the words beauty, art and truth already. Only I need to teach how these connect one another. Once you know how you could be a professional art critic if you want to.’
As we crossed the busy street to the Metro in front of an art store, my companion was for buying a few books to get himself started. ‘Forget books. Forget what that guide at the Gallery was telling you.’ I told him, ‘She was far out Rabbi, but she was a peach.’
Rabbi Benn Weiss glared at me at which I suddenly stopped short. Next moment I called out, ‘See that old lady!’
I told him that I was going to explain art using her as a living example.
My companion who had his eye full of Rubenesque ladies looked at me aghast. ‘See her back is curved and how she leans on her stick?’
‘Is that beauty?’ my friend was skeptical.
‘Why not?’ I asked, ‘Does beauty only reside in a fine form and youth?’ ‘Or does it in my perception of it?’
I was in the mood to explain. ‘Think Rabbi Weiss, I do not know her from Adam. How come I suddenly think of my grandmother who has been dead for ages?’
‘She was most precious to me.’ I felt a lump in my throat and said, ‘This old woman represents a kind of truth to me. Because she is not a trick played on my eye I take it, she is a real human being’.
‘So she stands for truth,’ the Rabbi nodded his head appreciatively.
Rabbi intoned, ’But she is an ugly truth. Old Age is real and makes scarecrows…’
I cut in, ’That is besides the point. My grandmother, dead grandmother represents Truth and she is unattainable’.
‘So dying makes one beautiful?’ the rabbi wanted to know.
Ignoring it I explained, ‘Yet this frail woman down on her last legs brought her image to me.’
I knew Rabbi Benn Weiss didn’t understand me. So I said the truth this old woman carried, went radical changes to impress upon me truth of something else.’
The rabbi said, ’I never knew your grandmother was so important to you.’
I nodded gravely and said, ’I carry that loss. She can no longer make me feel good with her smile and words. But that old decrepit woman out of the blue made me reach that higher sphere, is no longer an idea but real.’
‘Aha,’ the rabbi said with a smile, ‘the old woman represents Beauty in the way she could make her truth connected with something else.’
‘Not just something, but my grandmother!’
‘Yes, if you say so, if you say so.’ he said impressed, ‘why don’t you write to your parents for a change? You can sms them if you want to.’
I said my art of life made me unattainable. ‘My parents want me to be still connected. So would the bill collector’.
‘I want to be alone, as said by the burglar to the cop,’ intoned the rabbi.
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The Man Who Could Hate Anything ©
‘In the midst of Plenty’ Bar was just the kind of therapy for me. I could meet all kinds of people and build up my shattered ego. I have been below par lately. Now that I am cured I don’t mind telling it. It was not paranoia but something just as bad: I had a feeling every one in my circle of friends was out to make me look silly. For instance when I wanted to speak of my vacation someone was sure to come up with a more exciting and exotic locale and it made me shut up. If I did suggest a diet that worked another would have one to make mine a fad. No wonder my ego trip was going nowhere with the kind of friends I had. I lost them one by one. Only one that stuck by me was my low esteem till I sought counsel. Dr. Appelbaum who treated me was sure ‘friends were not what I needed but some strong man-to-man talk with whomever I came across.’ ‘Be assertive, man,’ was the keyword. So I wanted a strong opening line whenever I buttonholed some one at random.
‘See that your approach makes the other at a disadvantage.’ I mentally quoted as I headed to do my thing. The bar was always full and it brought together customers from all walks of life. Sorry for this digression. For this story is about the man in a red blazing tie, almost loud enough to shatter my color sense.
I met the man slouched over his drink. His eyes struck me as infinitely sad. Having looked into mine he could not easily shake loose.
“Ah, I got you” I murmured with a touch of triumph. “My power play is having results,” I said to myself as I moved towards him.
Always the opening line was as embarrassment for me as the one that was the recipient. Having made the move, I could not back out now! “A bold tactical move speaks for you” I quoted the ‘Power play for the Wimps’ written by my shrink and was in the bestseller list for a while. With all his collective wisdom distilled in it I felt strong and at an advantage. I pulled up the chair not waiting for his response and sat opposite to him. I wanted to touch upon the weather. Before the snot of conversational kerchief could come fluttering into view, I sidetracked. His tie was so loud and it was swatting me all across my line of thoughts. I must have been so unsettled I said: “Nice tie”. Almost at that moment I bit my tongue in embarrassment. I was supposed to unnerve and not please him.
The stranger ran his fingers through his tie with distaste and almost spat out: “This rag! I hate its color. Besides, it is too wide.” He said it and his bilious eyes glided below his hooded lids. The pause was as painful to me as well as for him.
Gently I said: “Hate is a very powerful emotion. Try to say, it is only a tie, I can always loosen it’.
‘Oh yeah?’ he was combative in the way his lips curled. I could see he was in no mood to yield the ground to me. I said, ’you try to see it objectively. A tie is a tie is a tie. But I am in charge over my sartorial elegance.’
‘That is what you think.’ the man hissed, ‘I am on the road and if I loosen my tie, I will be breaking the office protocol for salesmen’s dress code’.
‘Such code is man made and you can break, if you want to.’ I stood the ground.
‘And be thrown out of my job?’
I was on the wrong track here. I knew it and he knew it.
I had already taken a plunge and I had to paddle around the painful silence that ensued. The more I talked I could get the better of shyness. Dr. Applebaum had encouraged me to use big words, another ploy to keep the other on the edge, and keep guessing. ‘So your tie is de rigueur, eh?’I do not know if my French made any sense to him but his eyes just bulged from some inward stir, ’I represent Acme Haberdashers, Inc.,’ I wasn’t sure if I were expected to respond to it but he added, ’this tie is the latest in the line of ties which I am expected to sell like hot cakes. But it is more like a garrote to me.’
He said as if to no one, ’I hate it.’
‘Hate is still a potent emotion…’
He just stamped his foot and asked, ‘Are you a salesman, yourself?’
I went pale somewhat and I mumbled, ‘Yes, I sell Kohinoor Dictionary to Colleges.’ A touch of levity was in order, the plan B, as suggested by my doctor. I said, ‘I sell words wholesale. Satisfaction guaranteed.’
‘So that was why you were dropping big words on me?’
“It was unintentional,’ I said with a flutter.
I hastily added that I felt no inclination to sell one after I had learned ten thousand words. ‘ I am still counting.’
He thrust his face forward to say, ‘I hate confidences from strangers who fatten on their line of trade.’
This was going out of control so I meekly asked, ‘is there anything you don’t hate?”
“No!” he spat out. He downed his gin in one gulp and studied his nails as if he were seeing them for the first time. “I hate every thing. This drink that makes me bitter. I hate the weather that drove me into this awful joint.”
For a full ten minutes he went on the monotonous litany of his hate which I could see was so pervasive that even the toothpicks neatly stocked before him in a chipped porcelain cup were not spared.
While his monologue seemed gaining second wind, I excused and said: “I hate to break up this meeting.”
It somehow made the contact. The stranger stretched his hand as if to say ‘hold it’. “ You also hate then! That makes you my soul mate!” He was sure he had not thought hate could make people want to connect.
He turned to the bartender and beckoned him. “Hey Joey, here is my pal. We both have things to hate. What would you recommend?”
As the bartender took a trifle too long, the stranger leant to me and said in a whisper: “We both hate bartenders who are slow, don’t we?”
I nearly choked and ran for life.
Months later I was walking along with Dr. Appelbaum stopping to watch the stalls during the Annual fruit and Vegetable show. My shrink had an interesting theory on man and his job and how it in turn shaded his attitude to it.
I asked what prompted him to touch on the topic that was neither here or there. Dr. Appelbaum mentioned of a patient who had for long suffered from same symptoms as I had and chosen a line of work where he had to meet people he would have in normal circumstances avoided. ‘I have a patient who sells ties and wears it to be noticed. Such a red tie,hmm…’ I was curious. My companion pointed discreetly at one whom at the moment was gravitating toward the stall next to where we were. Dr. Appelbaum said,‘ See the one with the red tie?’
I turned my head and there he was the man who could hate anything. I sighed. Fortunately it was not on me but a sad looking cauliflower on which he had fixed his attention. The same old sad eyes but biliously fixed on the vegetable. His tie was same red and as wide as last time. The man who could hate everything was still at it. His hooded eyelids did not hide his malignity and he stood with his feet slightly apart to give him balance. He had his hat still on and he bunched his hand with his first two fingers into an imaginary gun. He was about to send the wilting cauliflower to kingdom come.
Dr. Appelbaum quickly averted his eyes and said, ‘Let us leave. He is rather serious case.’ He said he had taken him without hoping for success. Before our man could spot us my companion dragged me away.
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A Dream By Half©
There was a scholar in Aleppo who was ridiculed by his neighbors. They
were mostly artisans or traders who traded in useful goods and they faulted him “Why study dreams or speak with spirits of the dead?” they asked him.
“I study dreams because I dream myself.” The scholar defended himself. “What about speaking with the spirits of the dead?” “Perhaps I might learn something from my ancestors.” His neighbors snorted at his pigheadedness and left him alone.
A few weeks later the scholar had a dream in which his ancestor visited him and asked, ‘What are you doing with my wealth?’ “ Your wealth? Will you speak plainly?”
‘I had left all my wealth, fearing that my enemies were after me, at the bottom of a dry well behind the house.’ His ancestor described the exact spot and what to look for. Next day the scholar went down into the well and discovered the treasure. But the news of his find got around. It reached the ears of the sultan. The sultan immediately confiscated the treasure trove according to the law of the land. The scholar was at least thankful to the sultan that his life was spared. What was more, a royal pension allowed him to pursue his scholarly interests.
A few months later he had another dream in which his ancestor appeared again to ask the whereabouts of his wealth. ‘You were right grandfather. Your enemies finally got around to it by legal means.’
A dream is left handed version of reality. Only trouble is that you need to let reason rearrange it.If it has not happened as foreseen your rational mind has still an escape clause that it went wrong only as far as sleep had a hand in it.
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Posted in animals, fables, tagged atlas, Benny Thomas, DVT, Greek gods, leech, life, parables, significance of life, stories on May 6, 2012 |
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Least of These ©
The gods were sure the leech was a mistake: an animal that somehow got out of hand. How well they had thought to the creation of lions and the like! But leech was clinging on to each as though it would solve his problem. The gods were in a fix. He was their creature.
Atlas holding up the earth developed DVT and somewhere a vein burst. He had his hands full so he asked the leech to do something about it. Of course he stanched the flow of blood and the vein closed itself as by magic. The gods who watched it were unimpressed, ”There is nothing to it. A beginner’s luck.” It was Hera who said, ”Just the same we shall keep him around. Accidents can happen.”
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