by Lynnette Roman
Not For Sale
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Not For Sale
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There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and made a winepress in it, and built a tower, and [left it in the hands] of husbandmen (farmers), and went into a far country. When the time [of the harvest] drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.”And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
When the lord therefore of the vineyard comes, what will he do unto those husbandmen…(Matthew 21:33-40 KJV)
Batum gripped the wooden shaft of the arrow and plucked it out of his only son’s heart. Blood blossomed like a rose across the lad’s shirt growing wings as it spread throughout. The birds had been feasting on his corpse that lay not five yards beyond the gates of his vineyard. The stench of his rotting carcass warded off all mankind and yet…Tears blinded him as he gathered his son’s rigid body in his arms. Silent tears fell on his son’s neck. Grief kept him from parting his lips even to bewail the death of his son. Phillip, the name chanted in his head.
Voices caught his ears. Husky-toned laughter joined by the clanking of glasses and the wooing of whorish women. The husbandmen, those whom he hired to care for his vineyard while he was gone, the very husbandmen that beat, stoned and killed his servants and murdered his son, were making merry inside of his vineyard’s house on the north side of the tower.Batum’s tears instantly dried. He blindly lowered his son’s body back to the ground with every bit of delicacy that was within him and drew his sword…
“Go bring us more wine!” one called to another.
A drunken husbandman went stumbling out of the house going towards the winepress tower. He stood still a moment taken back by the splendor of the sun setting sky striped in tints of orange, pink and purple. He was convinced a long time ago that there was nothing beautiful left on earth. Nothing man made or even man itself. No beauty within or without. Only the things above held any true loveliness. And how lovely the heavens were this evening. Untainted, untouched by human hands, the very accent of divinity if indeed divinity were at work within the clouds. Just then the hue of the dying daylight outlined the figure of a man fast approaching. The man appeared to be a mere shadow in contrast to the draping lights of sunset against his back. The husbandman rubbed at the drunkenness in his eyes not sure if what he was seeing was real or not. No human could move that fast. Maybe a bird. Yes. Maybe it was really a bird.
“Look at me.”
The tip of a blade was suddenly at the scruffy underside of his chin. The husbandman slowly unveiled his eyes. His vision stunned himself sober as his sight fell on the hardened face of the man who hired him just over a year ago. The tip of Batum’s blade lifted drawing blood, keeping the husbandman’s mouth shut. He did not want to hear him say a single word, nor utter a mere moan. The husbandman’s lips trembled, his eyes shook as they were forced to look up by the slow upward movement of the dagger. His eyes met Batum’s deadened green gaze just before the blade pierced his brain.
“What is taking him so long to return with the wine?” one asked groping the woman sitting on his lap.
“Maybe he fell down drunk again between here and the tower!” they laughed. Just then the body of the husbandman they sought was hurled through the front door and crash landed onto the table. Jaws slackened wide. Screams cracked the air. Chairs flew backwards as people chaotically scampered about to get away from the dead mutilated carcass that lay on top of their plates and glasses. Women darted out of the windows running for their lives leaving the husbandmen on their own.Silence struck the house as six pairs of eyes landed on the figure of a man with a laborer’s strong physic standing in the doorway silhouetted by the dim orange light of the setting sun. Blood trickled down the length of his dagger dripping onto the floor.
“I sent my servants to you to give them access to what was mine,” Batum said in a deep throaty tone, “and you denied them.”
Batum stepped inside and slammed the door shut behind him, locking the six in, giving them no chance of escape through the door. Their eyes bucked wide dancing with fear as their employer took intended steps nearer. His hand tightened on the dagger. The six began to back up, cautiously spreading out not daring to get caught in a funnel to be easily picked off.
“I sent my servants to you with my message in their mouths, to give me what was mine and yet you refused to hear their voices and you beat them and you stoned them and you killed them.”Batum kicked a chair out of his path eyeing the first to die, the first husbandman he hired who in turn hired the other six.
“I sent my son to you, my only son. I said in my heart, they will hear him because he is my son,” Tears that shimmered in his eyes fell thinking of Phillip as he drew near the first choice husbandman, “He has my face, and he desires to walk in my steps. My son, they will reverence and respect. When they see him they will remember me.”
“I did not kill your son!” the husbandman screamed, his back now to the wall, “I swear it was not me!”
But his words fell on deaf ears as Batum continued drawing near, “But you denied my son. Therefore you denied me.” Batum raised his sword against him.
Head separated from neck. A red gush erupted like a geyser from the headless stump of the husbandman showering its warmth on Batum. His sword thrust through the boney ribcage of another. The husbandman’s eyes bulged out of their sockets at impact. He fell on Batum’s shoulder just as the headless stump of a man behind him thudded forward. The four husbandmen that were left leaped out of the windows and one fought to open the front door. Shaking like a leaf caught in a rough wind he glanced over his shoulder at his lord who flung his best friend’s body away from him like he was nothing. The door knob turned, finally. Alas, all too late. A pain he never felt before went through him like a bolt of lightning. He dropped to his knees and looked down to see the lord’s blade peeking through his heart. Blood oozed out the corner of his mouth. He collapsed forward and a mere second later the blade was snatched out of his breathless body that was trampled over by Batum’s feet.There were two husbandmen headed towards the winepress tower and one running for the gates of the vineyard. Batum hurled his weapon at the slowest man running for safety towards the winepress. The blade collided with the back of his head sending the husbandman face down in the dirt just inches from the tower entrance.Batum chased down his sword and ripped it out of the dead man’s head. He followed the survivor into the tower and up the stairs to the small room at the pinnacle of the winepress. There was nowhere to hide in the tower. Not even a single door. He made it that way so that air could permeate the tower for the heat of the day was too much for any man who worked inside of it.
The husbandman retrieved an arrowless bow from the wall using the wooden arch as a stick, wildly swinging it at his lord. Batum seized it from the husbandman’s hands.
“My lord, wait!” he panted, wringing his sweaty palms, backing into the wall, “You know me. I would never…”
“No,” Batum plunged the sword into his belly looking the stunned man in the eye, “I never knew you.”
He tossed the husbandman’s body off his sword and looked out the window for the last one. Batum could see him opening the vineyard gates. He quickly raced down the stairs and out the tower. When he reached the gates the husbandman, already desperately fleeing down the road, was fast becoming a spec.Batum picked up the arrow, the same arrow that they used on his son and aimed it.
“For denying my son!”
He released the arrow. It whistled through the air until it found its target. The spec stopped in its tracks and fell down. Batum exhaled. The bloodied sword and the bow fell from his fingertips. He dropped to his knees and once again gathered the corpse of his son in his arms. He could just barely see him. The light of the sunset was nearly gone and night was falling fast. He swept his fingers across his son’s hair brushing the few lose strands out of his face and pressed his body to himself.
“If they had chosen you, Phillip…” he sobbed, “If only they had chosen my son.”
…They [answered Jesus], He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen,
which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.(Matthew 21:41 KJV)
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