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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Empty and Full (06/04/09)

TITLE: “Oil Foils Foul Prowl!”
By Melanie Kerr


Sure I knew that Hershel Grabbitz was pond scum, but he was paying good money, and this particular wad of money looked really easy to earn. The loan shark was about to take a bite out of some poor widow. She was a pretty little thing. Mind you, if Grabbitz was a shark, his missus was a flipping octopus. There weren’t no way she was going to let him sink his line in the widow’s pond. So he figured to take the kids off her and sell them into slavery. You’ve heard about Grabbitz and his deadlines? Well, this one was coming up full speed dragging misery and grief along behind.

The widow, so I hear, had nothing. It wasn’t as if her old man had left her much. It seems like being a prophet didn’t pay so well. Any money she might have stashed away under the mattress was spent on a decent funeral. Seems he preached fire and brimstone and who knows that he didn’t spontaneously combust! Whatever, he left the family coffers empty as a harem with a celibate monarch. Seems the only thing that wasn’t empty was the oil jar. Even then it was just a little dribble at the bottom of the flask.

So, said Grabbitz, tapping his bulbous nose with his stubby, ring festooned finger, where did the widow get the money to pay off the debt?

Easy money, said I. It stands to reason. A pretty little thing like that. I bet she just fluttered her eyelashes and pouted with those pink rosebud lips. A quick tumble in the empty bed, the clink of coins on the table, straighten your hat as you quietly leave the house in the middle of the night and a small fortune can be amassed.

There didn’t seem much point staking out the house. The foul deed was already done so to speak. I thought about settling into the bar at the local inn, buying a few rounds, seeing if I couldn’t loosen a few tongues. But you know what? Men know absolutely nothing worth knowing. They know nothing about what’s going on in their own homes let alone what’s happening next door or down the road.

So I settled myself down beside the well. Not to talk, you understand. In my line of business, talking to strange women gets you notice. I set myself to a spot of eavesdropping, hidden behind the broad pages of the Syrian Star. It was late afternoon when the first two women sidled up with their buckets. I listened to them talk.

“Did Rebecca return your urn?”

“Oh yes! Did you get your pail back?”

“Oh yes! Rachel got her jug returned, and those beautiful clay goblets that Naomi lent her were returned too.”

“What about Mary’s tin bath?”

“Returned yesterday…all clean and shiny. I think Sarah’s still waiting for her water jars…you remember? Those big ones she used for Isaac’s wedding.”

“Phoebe was telling me that Rebecca had even dragged the old horse trough into the house. Did she ever tell you what she was doing with them all?”

“Well, you know about the trouble she got into with Hershel Grabbitz…”

The story went that the widow cried for help from Elisha…or Elijah…one of the two of them. Remember that little dribble of oil? From that little dribble of oil she was told to fill all the containers in her house. When she had run out of containers, she was to ask her neighbours for buckets and pails, cups and bowls, jugs and jars. It was only when she ran out of things to fill up, that the little oil jar ran out of oil. She sold the oil and paid off the Grabbitz’ debt and had plenty of money left over.

I suppose that served me right for thinking that women know more than the men! I might have been listening to one of them reading an article from “Eye Spy”, you know that paper with the wonderful headlines “Man Eaten By Giant Glowing Falafel”?

“Oil Foils Foul Prowl!”

Just how gullible are some women? I can just picture Grabbitz’ face when I tell him that one.

Still, wouldn’t it be nice to think of God siding with the poor folks against the fat cats? I am glad that Grabbitz, for once, didn’t get to grab anything at all!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 06/12/09
Absolute fun! Great take and great presentation. A pleasure.
Sharon Kane06/14/09
Great title and a great read. I was hoping someone would use this story this week :)
I felt the confusion as to which prophet was involved was out of place since only one of them ministered at a time.
I must confess I also found it a bit hard to work out who was narrating the tale until quite late on, but nevertheless I liked the light-hearted tone of the piece. And the bit about getting the gossip from the women at their watering hole rather than from the men at their's... priceless!
Sonya Leigh06/16/09
I enjoyed this so much! What a wonderful imagination you have...just terrific.
Mariane Holbrook 06/17/09
You let your imagination run freely with this one and it's excellent. I was sure someone would write about her. Great job!
Sara Harricharan 06/17/09
Heehee! Love the wordplay on the Grabbitz name. LOL. I didn't get that until the very end and then i had to laugh out loud literally because it fit so well. I especically like how you took a not so popular story and retold it into something wonderful and entertaining. This is good stuff!
Bryan Ridenour06/17/09
Wonderfully creative take on one of God's great provisional miracles. Well done!
Gregory Kane07/22/09
I enjoyed the earthiness of yor version with touches of gossip, prostitution, drunkenness, violence and cruel indifference, all mixed together with faith and generosity. Much the way the Bible tells such tales! But a far cry from how such stories are often sanitised these days.