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TITLE: The Most Reluctant Herbivore
By Nancy Bucca

At first I thought this would be good as a children's tale, but then I thought perhaps "humor" would be a better category. The first line was intended as part of a skit or longer play, but with no outlet for it I made it into a story. Please let me know what you think, and have fun critiquing!
(Based on chapters 2, 3, and 4 of the book of Daniel)

"He's the most reluctant herbivore that you have ever seen! Nebuchadnezzar, as you all know, eats green!"

Suzie the storyteller was enjoying herself immensely as her friends Arthur, Miranda and Terry sat next to her by the fire listening to the story of a man who had everything on this earth that money could buy and traded it all for a round-trip flight to Jupiter.

"And look where it landed him!" she said.

"Mooo...Yummy wheat grass... dandelion greens... enough clover to feed a family of fifty five bunny rabbits!" Arthur continued the story, looking over Suzie's shoulder in a most obnoxious way. "Just look at him mow that lawn... Watch him cut up the turf with his teeth... See him chew cud like an ox, with manners that are worse than a pig."

"I can't believe that that crazy mad man crawling around out there in the field, grazing on the greenery without a stitch of clothing on, used to be a king!" interrupted Miranda, looking at the ugly picture in the story book. "And now he's dining with the same 'pond scum' he once ruled with an iron fist!"

"To continue," said Suzie, bringing them all back to the tale, "As emperor of all he surveyed, old Nebby shot down everyone and everything that dared whimper at him, let alone growl. Under his dominion there were no gun control laws restricting men from shooting bears. Those grouchy carnivores had to mind their manners before the 'mighty man of war.'

'Hah!' his wife would scoff. 'Mighty man of war? You should hear him snore! The way he gulps down his food is absolutely disgusting. And he always leaves his stinky socks on the floor! It's enough to make you want to send him on a rocket to the moon. Or the doghouse, whichever is more convenient.'

Nebby-the-less, it goes without saying that to get along with Nebuchadnezzar, you had to be smarter than the average bear. In fact, it didn't hurt to have an IQ of 332 (or higher)! Because if Nebulous Nebby of the Mind Fog Nebula happened to ask for the square root of two thousand four hundred fifty seven, he expected an answer within nanoseconds. And if you couldn't come up with it that quickly, you would soon find yourself chopped into little pieces or have your house turned to rubble.

'Oh yeah, great mathematician,' his wife would grumble. "But ask him to fix a pipe or change a light bulb and he goes ballistic."

"Long range missile or short-range?" asked Arthur.

"They don't specify," said Suzie. "Keep in mind, this is historical fiction. If you want the real story, read your Bible."

"One thing's for sure," piped up Terry. "King Nebuchadnezzar had a temper worse than my soccer coach! I mean, that whole thing about 'Tell me my dream or else!' is enough to wake a dinosaur from its grave!"

"Yes, but would Nebby know what to do with a dinosaur if he did wake it up?" asked Miranda. "To me the guy was as clueless as King Solomon when it comes to understanding women!"

"Ah, but those were the dark ages," replied Suzie. "And this is the space age. Speaking of the space age, Nebby was way ahead of his time when it came to exploring that 'final frontier. His mind was always a million miles away from where it was supposed to be. Visions of 'me, me, me, I, I, I, what I've done, what I've built, what I've accomplished' carried his brain far into 'Nebber Land.'

'Earth to Nebby!' his wife would call to the space cadet. But the man would just continue to float off into oblivion, more self-absorbed than a black hole.

What's more, Nebby's love for gold did a mind warp on his brain. Taking for granted the wonderful dream God had given him for his life (in which the prophet Daniel described him as a head of gold), he decided to build a huge golden monument to himself, ten feet wide by ninety feet tall. He then commanded everyone who was anyone in his kingdom to fall down and worship it.

'He always was all that. And more,' according to his wife. 'He needs to go on a diet - in more ways than one!'

To celebrate that monstrosity which some dared call 'art,' Nebby held a huge awards ceremony replete with an extraordinary "angel of light" song and dance competition which all the little stars and starlets in his administration were forced to attend.

'There's one starlet in particular that I'd love to grab by the hair and throw into the lion's den,' complained his wife to the elephant tamer one day.

'But we don't have a lion's den,' he replied.

'We will,' replied Nebby's wife. 'We will.'"

"Wait a minute!" exclaimed Arthur, once again interrupting the account. "King Nebuchadnezzar did so have lion's den!"

"No, that was King Darius, replied Suzie. "Get your facts straight. Now pipe down while I continue the story."

"If I have to," said Arthur. "But I still say Nebby had a lion's den."

"Anyhow," continued Suzie, "God didn't care much for Nebby's idolatry, so He stole the show from him in a mighty spectacular way. You see, there were three men who refused to bow to his eyesore. That made Nebby so mad that he had them all thrown into a fiery furnace. But instead of getting burned to a crisp, they walked around inside the furnace free and unharmed. And with them was a fourth man whose appearance was literally 'out of this world.'"

"Now that is my idea of cool!" exclaimed Arthur.

"Hot stuff from where I'm sitting!" contradicted Terry. "I mean, the guys that threw them into the fire got nuked!"

"Yeah, well, cool is as cool does," said Arthur. "And I say God is cool!"

"Hot!" yelled Terry.

"Cool!" yelled Arthur.

"Enough!" screamed Suzie. "You're both right! God doesn't care for lukewarm disciples. 'Be hot or cold,' He says in Revelation chapter three, verses fifteen and sixteen. 'The lukewarm I will spit from my mouth!'"

"The reason that so many are lukewarm," added Terry, "is because they have no fear of God in their hearts."

"True," agreed Miranda. "And if anything should have put the fear of God into King Nebuchadnezzar, you'd think the fiery furnace episode would have done it!"

"Well, maybe it put the fear of God into him at the time," said Suzie, "but it did nothing to pop his bloated self-image."

"Too many cheese curls and not enough ab crunches, if you ask me," said Arthur.

"Must your world revolve around food?" griped Miranda.

"I'm hungry," replied Arthur.

"Be patient," mumbled Suzie, bopping Arthur on the head with the book. "I'm almost done, and then you can eat your hourly snack. To continue, after having been so rudely interrupted, one night Nebby had a dream that his space ship came down to earth with a big crash. Daniel tried to warn him that would happen if he didn't watch out for flying saucers. But did he listen?"

"Of course not," said Miranda. "One year later the dishwasher was on the fritz. Completely forgetting Daniel's warning, Nebby went into the kitchen to fix the problem, and all these dishes hit him in the head. Boy, did he lose it! The man literally went insane trying to pick up all the broken pieces. To cure him of his mental illness, the doctors replaced his "pie in the sky" diet with all-natural, down-to-earth, one hundred percent organic produce that tasted like cattle feed."

"That's correct," replied Suzie. "And after seven years of this total herb diet, Nebby finally came to his senses when a group of 'nobody nomads' from the 800 Club set up a satellite dish in his neighborhood, placing an invisible barrier between him and all his wild goats."

"I thought the book said 'oats,'" interrupted Arthur.

"No, goats."

"But I think oats taste better."


"Okay, okay!"

"Anyhow, having nowhere else to go, Nebby swiped a robe from one of the nomads and crawled back to his palace a wiser and more humble vegetarian.

'He also came back one hundred and twenty pounds slimmer,' chuckled his delighted wife. 'Now there's room for both of us in the bed again! The only down side is that I have to sew him all new clothes.'"

"And I know the rest of the story," interrupted Arthur. From then on everybody called him 'Herb,' much to his embarrassment. He opened up an all-vegetarian restaurant chain..."

"Which was so pricey no one could afford it," said Terry.

"Until his wife took over the operation," added Miranda. "Because as everyone knows, she was the brains behind all his great ideas. It took him long enough to realize it, but after he finished reaping what he had sown, he could finally see her for the gem that she was."

"And from then on he was a perfect husband," put in Arthur.

"Oh, I'm sure there was still plenty of room for improvement," stated Miranda emphatically.

A loud sizzling noise was suddenly heard nearby, along with a faint call for help. Miranda ran into the kitchen to yell at everybody's favorite friend and kitchen slave Oscar, who had just ruined the bread pudding.

"So what's the moral of this story?" asked Arthur, covering his ears to protect them from Oscar's yelping.

"Well, to quote the author," replied Suzie, "the moral of the story is as follows: Children, eat your greens. Grownups, stop stuffing your faces with junk food! Teenagers, drink your soy milk. And never grab a bull by the horns unless you're a bull fighter and the bull is sleeping hard, and you know you can make a quick getaway with lots of strong men to help you and... and, if by any chance you've been tooting your own horn too much, then you'd better hurry on home before your dinner goes to the dogs... and the cows... and the deer... and the pigs... and the cats... and the monkeys that dropped by to steal your bananas..."
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