Would he ever taste food this fabulous again? The succulent veal was melt-in-his-mouth tender and the herbs imbued such flavor! And oh what vegetables - no tough husks here! There were marinated and roasted artichokes, ripe olives, tubers, and crisp greens. And there was bread - fresh, nutty, warm. He was going to burst, no question.
He knew that part of the reason everything tasted so good was that he was home and just one day ago he thought he might be dead before he ever made it back. Worse still, he might (and probably should) have been turned away at the gate.
But he wasn’t.
Tears filled his eyes as he looked at his dad and remembered this morning. Sickly thin, scared and completely used up, he dragged himself home. He was covered in sweat and grime and whatever unthinkable creatures stayed on him as a result of living with animals. He smelled like the filthy thing he’d allowed himself to become.
Yet, by some miracle, some crazy quality he didn’t understand, his dad saw him from afar off, and loved him - still - and ran to him! They embraced like he, Chad, was something really special!
Chad had fallen to his knees, but his dad went down quicker and caught him. He pressed Chad’s head to his chest and said, “My son, my son, I have missed you. Thank God for sending you back to me! I love you so much.”
And they rocked in each others arms and cried right there in the dusty lane.
Now, at the banquet, even as the tears of joy rolled down Chad’s cheeks, a sudden sadness pierced his heart. “Father, where is my brother Jude?”
“Ah, my son,” Sol said in thoughtful hesitation, “Jude is very serious about his business. He is dealing with many things. Perhaps he will join us later.”
Chad pondered this and after a moment asked, “Father, am I - my return - something my brother must ‘deal with’?”
As soon as he asked, he knew the answer. He recalled his last conversation with his brother.
“Why are you doing this? Can’t you see you’re hurting him?” Jude asked.
Chad retorted, “Why do you not do this? You need to start living your own life, or do you still need your papa watching over you? ... Well I don’t. I’m going to have some fun, double my money out of cleverness, get some land or manage someone else’s, marry a rich daughter. I’ve got it all planned. ... What do you have?”
Not quite finished bragging, Chad continued, “In the end, old Pop will be proud of me, but how’s he going to feel about you?”
Chad shook himself free of the memory and pushed away from the bountiful food spread before him. “I’ve got to go talk to Jude. Father, where is he?”
“He’s in the barn.”
And there he was, his back to the door.
Chad stepped loudly so that Jude would turn, but he didn’t.
“Jude, my brother,” Chad breathed.
Jude turned. “Jude, I am. Your brother, I wish not.”
“You’re angry,” Chad stated the obvious.
“You’re an idiot,” Jude returned.
Chad hung his head. After a moment he said, “I brought you something.” He held out one small, shiny coin from the land where he’d been.
“Oh great one,” Jude spit out. “Am I a child that you bring me a trinket?”
“No; - I thought of you - many times.” Chad admitted
“I did not think of you.”
The silence became thick.
“I don’t deserve the banquet, I know that. Father’s a great man. I’m proud to be his son.” Chad’s eyes were on the ground as he spoke, but now he looked right into Jude’s eyes. “And I admire you because you knew those things all along.”
“And you’re a smooth talker,” Jude’s hurt was great, he could not let it go.
“Brother, I am sorry.”
Jude’s impenetrable eyes locked onto Chad’s tear-filled ones. He was glad for the apology, but his heart remembered other words.
“Well you were right,” he spoke. “Father is proud of you, but what does he think of me?”
“Are you kidding?” Chad couldn’t believe it. “He loves you, he always has. What you two have is rare, really special.”
“Yeah?” Jude was doubtful. “He has never, never, ever thrown a banquet for me.” He punched the wall.
Chad put his hands on Jude’s hands, looked into his eyes and asked, “Does he know you’d like him to?”
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