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The Interruption
by Julie Michaelson
12/14/09
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...Behold,
I bring you
good news
of a
great joy.
[Luke 2:10]
********************
(A muffled knock
sounds at Nathan's
door. He has just
put his aching head
down on the strangely
smelling pillow;
his stomach has been
acting up from the inn's
bad food; twice,
already, he has
had to make a trip,
outside. He has
ignored the first
knock, not a moment
ago. Now, Nathan,
muttering a curse,
jumps out of the
limp, creaking
bed. The chilly
air of the night
greets him, as
he opens the guestroom
door, only a crack.)

(The innkeeper,
a small, nervous
young man,
is standing beside the
darkened doorway,
and holding a dripping
candle over a battered-
looking plate.)

(Nathan grumbles,
squinting in the
candlelight. He
mutters, and
then speaks loudly,
holding one hand
to his plump stomach.
He belches.)
"YES?
What IS IT?"

(The nervous innkeeper
bows a little,
with deference and respect,
and begins to speak in
a low, hushed voice.)
"Sir.....hm...would you
consider MOVING...
...to MY house? I am
very, very sorry to..
hm.. DISTURB you!"

(Nathan's stomach
begins to cramp,
again. He opens
the crickety wooden
door, just a tad
wider. Squinting,
with a sudden grimmace,
Nathan opens his
mouth in disbelief,
and peers out of the
darkened doorway:
expecting to see
a great fire, or flood.)
"WHAT? WHY?
...What's WRONG?
What the HELL,
is WRONG?"

(The innkeeper
also grimmaces,
but, with embarrassment.)
"Hm...no..NO, SIR!
NO! NOTHING
is WRONG, sir!
...Only..."

(Nathan looks back
into the darkened
room. Then, he hurriedly
steps out, barefoot,
into the chilly hallway,
and shuts the door behind
him. The icy cold floor
feels gritty with dirt,
and age-old dust;
Nathan's right foot
comes down on something
hard and round: the
cracking body of some
long-dead insect.
Nathan wants to slam
the door, but his
wife Lorn'ah
has been complaining
of the trip, all day,
and he doesn't
relish another barrage
of her shrieking voice.
He begins to speak,
in hushed and
exasperated tones.)
"Now,
WHAT is this ABOUT?
FIRST..you nearly
POISON me: with your
horrendous FOOD! THEN,
you GIVE ME these
BLANKETS..that are
filled with MOTH HOLES!
NOW, you wish to put
me OUT, for the NIGHT?
What sort of INN,
are you RUNNING HERE,
ANYWAY?"

(Nervous sigh.)
"Yes...yes!
I know, sir!
Only....."
(The innkeeper turns a moment,
and looks over his shoulder.
He leans forward, almost
with an air of camaraderie,
and whispers.)
"There's a young COUPLE,
here, sir......"

(Returning whisper,
though a lot louder.)
"SO?"
(Belligerent shrug.)
(Another sudden
grimmace.)
"What has THAT have
to do, with ME?
"TELL 'EM, to go
someplace ELSE!
HOPEFULLY, they'll
find BETTER FOOD!"

(Lower whisper,
threaded with anxiety.)
"I don't WANT them,
here EITHER, sir,
but...."

"TELL THEM to
go AWAY!"
(Nathan steps forward,
pushing past the bothersome,
little man; the candle
in the innkeeper's
hand wavers just a bit,
but the flame remains
strong. Nathan peers
into the little front room,
with disgruntled interest.)
"Who ARE these PEOPLE?
....RELATIVES..a' YOURS?"

(Quiet whisper.)
"No, sir!
But, the woman is obviously
in DISTRESS..."
(Lower whisper.)
"I think...she may
be in LABOR.."

(Grunt.)
"WELL, TAKE THEM
to YOUR HOUSE! I'm
PAID UP, for the NIGHT!
What do I LOOK LIKE:
a MIDWIFE?"

(Nervous reply.)
"I WOULD, sir!
But.....there are two
Roman SOLDIERS
staying THERE! They
INSISTED! My WIFE
has been FEEDING THEM...
with OUR FOOD...
the whole EVENING!"
(The smaller man
looks over his
shoulder, again.
He sighs, wearily.)
"Everyone is here, in
town, for the CENSUS!
And...the ROMANS are
here, as WELL!"

(Nathan gives a loud gaffaw.)
"They're eating..
YOUR FOOD? WELL..
THEY certainly,
won't be going
anywhere, FAR,
TONIGHT!"
(Laugh!)
(Belch.)
"Man, WHY do
you think...WE'RE HERE?
My WIFE and I,
are both NATIVES...
of this forsaken
PLACE!"

(The candlelight flickers,
as the innkeeper nods,
sympathetically, and
with nervous deference.)
"Yes, yes;
I know, sir.
I would never have
COME to you, sir...
only...."
(Nervous sigh.)
"The other people
staying here,
are quite ELDERLY...
and, the OTHERS..
are all ROMANS."

(Nathan points a
finger at the nervous
young man's chest;
his voice breaks,
with a harshly
muffled whisper.)
"LOOK HERE, man!
My WIFE has had a very
LONG TRIP, and we are both VERY
TIRED! She is already
ASLEEP! And, I HAVE
been SUFFERING,
and quite..MISERABLY,
I might ADD..
from your BAD FOOD!"

(Woeful face, nodding
with great sympathy,
and deference.)
"I'm SO very SORRY,
sir! I will NOT
charge you..for the
BREAKFAST! Only...
YOU and your wife are
much better dressed,
than these.....FOLK."
(The nervous innkeeper
cocks his head,
over his shoulder.
He whispers, again
with great anxiety.)
"I would be EMBARRASSED..
to bring them over to
my house....particularly,
in the woman's condition.
They would cause too great..
a DISRUPTION."
(Sigh.)
"I don't wish to disturb
the SOLDIERS.. staying at my..."

(Nathan whispers, loudly.)
"THAT is YOUR PROBLEM,
man! PUT them in your
BARN! I don't CARE,
what you DO with THEM!"
(Nathan glares at
the nervous innkeeper,
and then backs into
his own darkened room,
grunting, and
shutting the door firmly.)

(The nervous young man
is left standing: holding
the little burning candle,
on the old battered plate,
and gazing at the closed door.
He sighs deeply,
and then turns to trudge
back toward the small,
darkened entryway,
where an even more
anxious couple is
standing, with
extreme weariness.
The quiet young woman is
bending forward,
and holding onto
the innkeeper's little
wooden, entryway table.)
__________________________
(Lorn'ah sits up,
in the small, creaky bed.
She shrieks.)
"What IS it, NATHAN?"

(Gruff whisper.)
"Go back to SLEEP,
Lorn'ah! It was NOTHING!"

(Lorn'ah holds the
blanket up to her plump neck.
Her voice rises, to
an even louder shriek.)
"What is going ON,
out there, NATHAN?
Are there..
SOLDIERS......? I SAW
them, today...OUT in the
STREETS!"

(Louder whisper.)
(Grunt.)
"NO. NO!
Just FORGET about THEM!"
(Nathan mumbles a curse,
and sits down on the creaking bed,
grumbling about the cost of inns,
and how one couldn't
even get a decent night's
sleep in them.)

(Lorn'ah shrieks, again:
this time, more fearfully.)
"How CAN I? THEY
are HERE, to enforce
this TERRIBLE CENSUS!
THESE....
ROMANS!
If ONLY...!"

(Grumble.)
(Irritable bark of a whisper.)
(Hand on stomach.)
(Belch.)
"If only, WHAT?"

(Lor'nah whimpers, as
she settles back down,
underneath the warm
covers.)
"If only......"
(Small, fearful
shriek of a whisper.)
"....the MESSIAH..
would come...
soon!"

(Nathan grumbles
a reply. Then,
with a sudden groan,
he jumps out
of the creaking bed:
barefoot, and cussing,
as he stubs his big toe
on a small rickety table.
Nathan opens the guestroom
door again, and slams it
shut....heading for
the back door of the
inn.)
***********************
Therefore,
the Lord
himself,
will give you
a sign.
Behold,
a young woman
shall conceive
and bear a son,
and shall call
his name
Immanuel.
[Isaiah 7:14]




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