"For the seventh time, God bless you! For heaven's sake, what's going on up there? Are you coming down with something, young man?"
Samuel had just come in from the field after a hard day's work, hoping to hear a bit of good news. His son Josiah had complained of a splitting headache earlier that day, and he had sent him to his mother. Whom, he assumed, had sent him straight to bed.
So why was he sneezing when he should be sleeping?
Hmmmph! Better remember to cover his mouth and put the tissues in the can. Wouldn't want to spread any germs. Especially with that late breaking news report about the highly contagious dark plague that had just broken out in a nearby town. Leaving at least fifty dead, maybe more.
It didn't take much to spread a virus. Just a little breeze, a little sneeze, and...
He shivered. "Ah... ah... ahhh." Phew! False alarm.
Hopefully Josiah didn't have that nasty bug. But if he did, then a quarantine was imperative. For even if he bounced back from the illness - children usually did - what about him, the should-be retired father sweating buckets in the field to put food on the table? He certainly wasn't getting any younger, or any more immune.
Then there was the wife factor. The unpredictable, "I won't be gone long" take-an-hour-at-the-bizarre dreamer who was always being sidetracked by some snake oil salesman. Her famous last words, "All is well," continued to haunt him.
After all, how could everything be well if his son was upstairs sneezing up a storm?
"Honey, I'm home! Where are you?"
A moment later the lad came bounding down the steps, followed by his mom Sarah, the prophet Elisha, and his sidekick Gehazi.
"Oh no!" cried Samuel. "Germs!"
Four sets of eyes told Samuel he was from the moon.
"Dad!" exclaimed the boy, "I was dead, and Elisha brought me back to life!"
"He did what?" cried Samuel, perplexed. "And what are you doing out of bed? You lay down immediately, and that's an order!"
"But Dad, I'm not sick!"
"Yes, but that doesn't mean you're not still contagious," said Samuel. "Whatever it is you've got, I don't want to catch it. Oh where's a good disinfectant when you need it?"
"But Dad - "
"Listen! Listen all of you! There's this terrible disease going around. And we're all going to die unless - unless - " He stopped to catch a breath. And take stock of the situation. "You know," he said to himself, "it's really not about me. It's about saving the donkeys. If I can save a few whales at the same time, I'll do it. And if I perish, I perish."
So even though Sarah and Josiah kept trying to persuade him that a miracle had happened, he insisted that just to be on the safe side they'd better not let anyone out of the house. At least until the plague had passed.
To escape his worry disease, Elisha and Gehazi ran out the front door before he could stop them.
Samuel looked up to heaven. "Sorry, Lord. I tried."
"But I'm telling you, father," protested Josiah, "I died this afternoon. Then Elisha prayed for me and brought me back to life."
"It's true," confirmed Sarah. "Josiah was very sick this afternoon. He died in my arms less than two hours ago. And so I did what any mom in my situation would do. I revved up the donkey and sped over to Elisha's house as quickly as I could. He came to the house and prayed for our son. And his touch restored him to life."
Boy, were they persistent!
Samuel saw the joy streaming from Sarah's eyes. He saw the smile on her face. He saw her and Josiah jumping up and down, dancing. Clearly an outstanding miracle had occurred in his house, he finally had to admit. And there was only one thing he could say: