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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: The Cousin Who Came First
By Joshua Janoski


“Hurry up Abdon! The King and his Lady are waiting!”

“I’m coming Alma,” Abdon said as he approached the stone table. Sitting there was a gold platter covered with a shimmering golden lid. The lid was adorned with precious gemstones of all different colors and a gold crown was affixed to its handle.

As a servant to King Herod for fifteen years, Abdon was quite used to seeing fancy dinnerware such as this, but for some reason his hands shook as he reached to pick up this particular platter.

The prison guards put this platter here just a short while ago, he thought to himself.

His better judgment told him to not look inside, but his curiosity won over. He wrapped his trembling hands around the gold crown and lifted up the cover. Abdon swiftly dropped the cover onto the table and jumped back in fright, startled at what he saw. Sitting atop the gold dish was the head of a man!

The man’s skin had no color left in it. His eyes were shut. The man’s mouth could be seen cracked open ever so slightly underneath his brown beard. His long brown hair flowed across the back of the platter. It was hard to tell whether this was how the man looked at the moment he was beheaded, or if the guards had worked on re-arranging his expression. Regardless, it was a hideous sight to behold, especially since Abdon recognized whose head it was.

Abdon hadn’t previously met the man whose head sat before him, but he had heard enough stories to recognize that this was whom many had talked about. Prophets had spoke of this man long before he was born. He was the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth. His duty was to prepare the way for the Messiah’s coming. John was his name.

Many considered John a madman, as he spent most of his days in the wilderness, feasting on locusts and honey. He would cry out “Make straight the way of the Lord!” as he stood in the river. It was there that he baptized people with water.

Abdon recalled one very specific story regarding John’s baptisms. He remembered being told about the day that John’s cousin Jesus arrived at the riverbank. John did not recognize Jesus as his cousin. Instead, he proclaimed him to be the “Lamb of God” who takes away the sins of the world.

As Abdon stood looking at the head of John The Baptist, he began to see visions of Jesus entering the water. John stood there, draped in his camel’s hair and leather belt, looking into the face of his cousin, or as he called him – the Messiah. John hesitantly grasped the back of Jesus’ head and lowered him into the water. As Jesus came back up, the Spirit of God came down upon him. What a brilliant sight!

Tears filled Abdon's eyes, and anger began to boil up inside him as he thought about Herod and Herodius. What evil people he served! He placed the lid back onto the platter and shoved it aside. There was no way that he was going to deliver John's head to the king, even if it meant him losing his own head.

He pushed past Alma as he ran out of the room. Once again, he thought about John and Jesus. Could it really be that Jesus was the foretold Messiah? Perhaps John was the cousin who came first in order to prepare the way. But would the people accept this Lamb, or would they also choose to send him to the slaughter?

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This article has been read 802 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 05/29/08
Oh wow. This is good writing, for sure. Just never really thought much about poor John's head on the platter. Its not real heavy on topic but it does touch it PLUS its excellent writing. Good job.
LauraLee Shaw05/29/08
LOVE how you ended with that question. Very effective. This piece engaged me from beginning to end. Well done.
Lyn Churchyard05/30/08
Oh my goodness! This is so very good. Your descriptions and the thought processes of the servant and seeing the Biblical account of John's death from the servant's POV gave the story more depth. Well done, very well done indeed.
Seema Bagai 05/30/08
An interesting angle in this piece. The writing kept me engaged throughout. Well done.
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/31/08
Ewww, I never really thought about the poor guy who had to deliver the platter. I liked the angle you took on a familiar Bible story.
Betty Castleberry06/01/08
I enjoy reading behind the scenes Bible stories, and this one was no exception.
The ending was great. Nicely done.
Cheri Hardaway 06/01/08
Excellent title! What a unique POV on the topic and on this very well-known pair of cousins. Very creative and well written. Good work, Cheri
Sharlyn Guthrie06/01/08
Very creative take on this story. Descriptive, too! (gruesome, but probably accurate). I especially like your ending.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/02/08
Great job with this story--excellent description and creativity.
Marlene Austin06/02/08
Oh, wow, how did you ever come up with the platter server? What an imaginative POV. Super job "thinking out of the box"! :)
Beth LaBuff 06/03/08
Your title is great for this. You show a lot of creativity with your choice of a main character. The message and end are very good. Nice work!!
Mariane Holbrook 06/03/08
Oh my goodness, what an interesting POV! Your creativity with this entry amazes me! I love Bible stories and I particularly like the way you presented this one, even though the subject matter was frightening. Kudos!!
Debbie Wistrom06/03/08
What a perfect title!

Your descriptions and emotions are excellent.

Love the different angle on the Bible story.
Edmond Ng 06/03/08
It's always interesting to see things from a different angle and perspective. You've painted this gruesome scene very well in giving the story a tuck at the heart. I'm really glad to be reading more Bible related stories in the Challenge after so much of fiction.
Jan Ackerson 06/04/08
Great POV--I thought some people might go with the John/Jesus angle, but this never would have occurred to me.

I wish there were a bit more characterization here, and more of a suggestion of the horror of Abdon's discovery. It's a great idea, but I didn't entirely "feel" it.

Creative? Yes, wildly out the box. I'm having a blast watching you grow as a writer.
Loren T. Lowery06/04/08
I really like reading well-known accounts with differing POV's...it helps me see things from an other's perspective and grow. This was very creative in the approach to the subject and well-written as a story. I liked the ending, but was looking for more of a "punch" to bring it all to a conclusion. Your title, by the way, sums up your story beautifully.
Sara Harricharan 06/04/08
Love the royal touch here. It's a new POV for this old story and you made it realistic with the details in between. Nice job. ^_^
LaNaye Perkins06/04/08
This was so good. I love the way you told this story and especially how you ended it with a question. Well done my faithwriter friend.
Shirley McClay 06/04/08
Great story Josh.. out of the box yet again. You should take all the suggestions and rewrite it for general submission. An exercise to help you learn and continue to improve! I look forward to reading your stories every week!
Lollie Hofer06/04/08
Incredibly well done. You are consistently creative in thinking outside the box. The servant's perspective was imaginative . The only thing I would suggest changing (with hesitation because your writing skills are much more superior than mine) would be the paragraph where it was stated that John's life was foretold by the prophets. You state things in this paragraph as fact when, in the tense and voice you are using, it would have been speculation. You might want to tweak that just a bit. However, you did go on to speculate in the next paragraph. Again, an excellent piece. Great dialogue. Your mastery of the written language is above average.
Joy Faire Stewart06/04/08
I always enjoy your creative writing and this didn't disappoint. Great job!
Aaron Morrow06/05/08
Excellent work, brother! I thought the details of the platter and lid and the details of John's head were exceptionally well done.

The question at the end was a great finish!

Well done brother, well done!