The pebble ricocheted off my grandmother's favourite oil painting and buried itself in a pile of cushions on the sofa. "Would you cut that out," I hollered. "I'm trying to write in here."
"Sorry," said a young man whose gangly frame boasted only a loincloth and a band of black leather tied round his head. "I thought I might need the practice."
"Then go and torment a bear or something. I'm busy."
I had written all of two words when the crash of splintering wood arrested my thoughts once more. "Oops," called the youth nervously. "Saul wanted to try out his new lance. Only your fence wasn't quite as strong as we thought. Judging by the look of those clouds though, Noah will probably drop in sometime soon. I'm sure he could knock you up a new fence in no time."
I didn't bother replying. The plants in my father's rock garden still haven't recovered from the time I wrote an article about God's floating zoo. That particular story may have proved popular with the magazine's younger readership, but our pet dachshund gives me an evil glare every time it drizzles.
"Sorry I'm late," boomed a hearty voice, followed almost immediately by the thump of our front door smacking against the long-suffering wall. "Are you ready for me yet?"
"I don't need you. I'll probably never need you. Go away."
"Oh come on," said the now sulking barbarian. "No one ever writes about me no more. A lot of people even get me confused with Conan or that pathetic He-Man."
"Now let me think," I said, holding my outstretched fingers in the air. "Why wouldn't I want to write about Samson in a story directed at children? 1.Your deplorable abuse of foxes. 2.Your unmentionable shenanigans with prostitutes. 3.Your unbelievable brutality. 4.Your uncontrollable temper and 5.Your unrestrained appetite for wanton bloodshed."
"Well what about him outside? He ain't exactly lily-white neither."
"At least David had the good sense to use a sword. He doesn't just rip people apart with his bare hands."
"That ain't fair. I used a donkey's jawbone one time..."
My story developed excruciatingly slowly. Had I been working on, say, a college essay, I could have run off 1500 words in only a couple of hours. But Elijah dropped by to see how I was getting on. Moses just 'happened' to be passing while his herd of goats polished off my father's prize roses. Jonathan nipped in to see if I needed any background information on young David. Rather than taking the hint he then hung around for some archery practice. And I was particularly glad to see the back of Naaman, chiefly because those marks on his chest were smelling decidedly whiffy.
The biggest distraction of the afternoon came in the enticingly curvaceous form of Jezebel. Everyone's favourite femme fatale didn't even bat a mascaraed eye when I explained that I was writing a story for children. "Why not include something that their fathers will enjoy?" she purred. "I'm sure you and I could work on something suitably tantalising together."
I was saved by the entry of a bow-legged apostle Paul who took one look at my temptress, pronounced her a she-devil, and proceeded to smite her on the backside with his Bible. I have never seen an exorcism performed in quite that way before, but Jezebel didn't hang around. Fortunately Paul took off after her, saving me the trouble of having to debate predestination yet again.
That's the problem with being a successful children's author. Every Tom, Dick and Harry loves to see his name in print and the guys and gals in the Bible are no exception. It's a constant battle keeping focussed on one main storyline without having to squeeze in a succession of walk-on parts. Thankfully I'm told which character to write about each month. Otherwise I would doubtless be swamped with incentives and backhanders from would-be protagonists. After all, there's only so much milk and honey that a man can get through, never mind the platters of grapes, roasted grain and fried fish that sometimes litter my editor's office.
Only 800 words to go. Samson and David have dredged up a lion from somewhere and are arguing over who gets to play with it. Saul meanwhile has wandered off in search of a badly thrown spear.
"Hey, that arrow nearly scalped me. Was that one of yours, Jonathan? Just wait 'til I get my hands on your scrawny..."
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