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Ch. 1. The long line

Elijah spun around.

A line of girls trudged toward him. Each girl stared down at the heels of the girl ahead. One long chain at the ankles linked them in a column that curved out of sight along the King’s Highway. His brother, Nathan, ducked behind their donkey, and Elijah backed up to a camel to let the girls squeeze through.

But the second girl in line stumbled into him. The odor of dried feces invaded his nostrils. He grabbed her shoulders to keep her from falling.

A thick hand knocked her aside and shoved Elijah hard into the camel. Another hand flashed a razor-edged knife.

Whoa! A blade like that could slice Elijah’s jugular as quickly as his knife at home opened the vein of a goat on butchering day. Elijah froze wide-eyed. “Careful with that thing, mister!” Teeth clenched, he pushed back against the camel.

From his seat by the trunk of an oak tree, Elijah’s father stood and turned his brown, wrinkled face toward the man with the knife.

“My son means you no harm.”

The hand rested against Elijah’s chest, and the blade pricked his throat.

His father stepped over beside them.

“Put your knife away.”

Elijah’s head pushed back between camel ribs, and the beast roared a complaint. It raised its tail and commented further with a cloud of gas followed by egg-sized pellets which collected in a short pile.

The camel’s owner looked their way. “Them slavers don’t talk much, boy. Just stand there quiet and leave the girl alone. Last time I seen a slaver pull a blade, he slit that Egyptian’s throat ‘fore the dog could put a hand on his sword. That boy just laid down and gurgled.”

The hands and the knife maintained steady pressure. Elijah’s face burned.

His father closed in, mingling his ragged brown beard with the short black beard of the slave trader. He spoke in a low voice.

“You hear me?”

The hands fell, the knife with them, and Elijah’s father took a half step back toward the trunk of the oak.

He kept his eyes on the slaver. “You’ve no call to pull a knife on my son.”

Elijah breathed deep. He wiped his hand across his throat and brought away a wet splotch of blood. “Filthy Midianite swine!”

The man flicked him half a grin. He perched the knife under Elijah’s nose and rolled the hilt in his palm. He sauntered past and never looked back.

The line of girls followed him, and one dragged her ragged robe across Elijah’s arm. Who were these girls? Torn sleeves. Dirt. Hair matted with mud or worse. Where did they come from? As they squeezed past, a few raised their heads, but not one met his gaze.

If only Mother could see them!

Elijah’s mother would wrap her arms around each girl and help her down the bank of the Yarmuk. Into the water and scrub, scrub, scrub. Then out and drape her in a fresh, clean robe.

But how would Mother mend their numb, empty stares?

Elijah’s father pointed to an incoming camel puller. The man separated his string of camels from the caravan and pulled them over behind the first three men who waited with camels by Elijah’s wineskins. “Look lively now with wine for these men. They have customers waiting.”

How could his father talk about wine or customers? Didn’t he see the pus oozing from that girl’s shoulder?

But Elijah’s father flashed a broad smile at the first man in line. “Do you carry spices?”

Elijah groaned, but the camel puller fell for his father’s ancient line. “For the Nile market.”

“Next week we celebrate the day we left the Nile.”

“The Nile? When were you at the Nile?”

“Thutmose was pharaoh. We left Egypt 621 years ago.”

“Hmpf! Hebrews.”

Elijah’s father flashed a twinkle at Elijah and returned a full smile to the camel owner as he opened his hand for the man’s pieces of silver.

Elijah reached behind the donkey, Balak, and touched his brother on the shoulder. “It’s safe, Nate. You can come out now.” Nathan wanted to hide from strangers, but brothers should stand together.

Nathan was smart. When he pruned vines, they gave more wine even than when their father pruned. Nathan was quick. With a sword in his hand, his general aversion to strangers might be an asset.

The two faithful brothers would prowl the King’s Highway. Drive off the slave traders and deliver the girls to Mother. March into Samaria and knock down the Baal temple. Shatter the Asherah poles. Crush the Molek furnaces. Chase the foreign priests back to Sidon.

The line of girls kept coming around the hill. How many were there? Dozens? Hundreds?

And no older than Milkah, the girl on the other side of their ridge. They all looked younger than Elijah. He stroked his chin. A beard would show up any day now.

The camel owner interrupted. “Days ’n’ days on the trail, boy. From them tribes up north. Your dad here been saying he’ll take you to that Asherah temple?” He leered. “Don’t you worry. Give ’em a week, and the older girls’ll have ’em cleaned up, ready to serve.”

“Serve?” Elijah’s father stood square in the man’s face. “That’s not what happens to these children.” He grabbed the man’s wrist and jammed pieces into his palm. “Keep your silver. Elijah, hold that wineskin.”

The camel owner raised his fist, but Elijah took three steps and glared in his face.

Nathan jumped to his side. “Little brother, if you need to insult this son of an Ishmaelite toad, please come up with something more profound than filthy swine.”

The man clamped his fingers around the silver. He jammed them into his money pouch, thrust it deep inside his cloak, and snarled, “Miserable Hebrew dogs!”

Nathan stood straight and stared down at him. “Moses said, ‘Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, and cut down their Asherah poles.’”

The Ishmaelite blinked. He led his camels onto the highway and blended into the caravan.

Elijah bumped elbows with Nathan. “Thank you, brother.”

Elijah’s father took Nathan by the left arm and Elijah by the right. “Look at me, boys.”

“Yes?” The brothers spoke as one.

“Tomorrow evening. Okay? Tomorrow evening, I want you each to tell me David’s greatest moment.”

Elijah started with, “When he…”

But his father shook his head. “Tomorrow. In the evening.”

The final few in the long line of girls squeezed through. A thick-shouldered man strutted beside them.

“See that, Lord! It’s not right. Why do you let him live?”

Elijah glowered. “You don’t do right by these girls.”

The slaver smirked.

Elijah lunged.

Something solid struck his right jaw.

Why so young?

The man flickered and danced in front of him. Then darkness folded in.


1 Kings 16:30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him.

 

25 Responses to Ch. 1. The long line

  1. Dr. DeWayne Coxon August 20, 2018 at 4:56 AM #

    Dave,

    I hurt for the young girls in the long line.

    My dad told about Abraham Lincoln as he watched the slaves being sold. He said to a friend, “If I ever have a chance to stop this, I will hit it hard.” He gave his life to make that happen.

    Your friend and brother-in-law,

    DeWayne

  2. Joyce Black August 21, 2018 at 8:14 AM #

    Dave, you paint the picture clearly!

    It rises to Our Father as a great stench! It breaks His heart, these beautiful creations of His, treated worse than a mule! It’s still happening world over, even in our country of, One nation under God! Lord, have mercy!

    Show us how to, “rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave”!

  3. Wanda Schulcz August 21, 2018 at 8:20 AM #

    Elijah’s story sounds similar to real-life stories we have heard. Human trafficking is horrendous in every way.

    Walt and I support In Better Hands, Inc. which some missionary friends established to support orphanages in Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia to keep kids out of trafficking. We plan to go back to Thailand in January to help rebuild one of the orphanages which is in pretty bad shape.

  4. Lin August 21, 2018 at 12:01 PM #

    When reading the journey of Elijah from a different perspective of expressive ideas takes you also through reliving his life as if you were actually there seeing it through your own eyes.

  5. Ann Videtich August 22, 2018 at 10:23 AM #

    Hi Dave,
    These scenes definitely make one want to hear what’s next! Keep going!
    Ann

  6. Judy August 22, 2018 at 10:33 PM #

    Well written…leaves you wanting to know what is next… a surprise in every paragraph… love how it makes scripture come to life…

  7. Darci Frostick August 23, 2018 at 12:18 PM #

    Oh wow. I wasn’t expecting to read about human trafficking. Sobering.

  8. Linda Reed Burge August 24, 2018 at 12:25 PM #

    I must say, this was Very Interesting & Very Thought – Provoking!

    All we know of most prophets is in a book with their name on it, filled with the promises of rewards for People obeying God’s laws, or punishment because of their evil deeds & rebellion against the Lord.

    To “give life” to Elijah is quite an undertaking!!! A Great beginning, brother Dave!!!!

  9. Jan August 24, 2018 at 12:58 PM #

    Very interesting and well written. I can’t wait to see what you write next.

  10. Lois Rolfe August 25, 2018 at 6:43 PM #

    Can’t wait for next segment. scary to think this happens daily in our world. well written, Dave.

    keep it coming.

  11. Rose Fresquez August 26, 2018 at 11:57 PM #

    I totally love how you weave Elijah’s story into the modern day. Very well written with much creativity! looking forward to read what you write next!

  12. Pauline Stitt August 27, 2018 at 11:40 AM #

    This book will capture your imagination from the first paragraph, and take you on an adventure you will not forget.

    It is Biblical stories with a contemporary flair.

    With Dr. Parks vivid imagination and continual sense of humor you will not want to put this book down.

  13. Douglas Smith August 27, 2018 at 3:58 PM #

    Dave, you’re a boy at heart with a curious mind, who went poking around the biblical accounts of Elijah, trailing him where the sandals meet the sand. Poring over those accounts, placing yourself in Elijah’s dusty leather footwear, following the Bible’s GPS (God’s Personal Step guide) with all of Elijah’s travels, you realized, with no little effort, that Elijah was a regular guy, facing contemporary issues.

    Here, you give us a young boy with feelings and sensitivities like we have. He’s observant and curious and is already attuned to right and wrong, and is not timid. Thanks, Dave, for reminding us that regular people can have a human history, human feelings, and human origins that can be used by God. You stretch our imagination. You show us, from the git-go, that the Elijah we have venerated is an example, not an idol.

    I want to watch him grow up! Keep it coming!

  14. Judith Crawford August 28, 2018 at 10:34 AM #

    David, very interesting story, yes I had a Daycare for 10 years, but never had children of my own, My heart cried when I read this.

    I’m sure this is still going on in our country today, I also would love to read the rest of the story, I can’t begin to imagine how scared these girls might have been. I’m sure they were wondering what is going to happen to us? Where are we going? will we ever see our mother and our father again? Are we going to die?

    David your writing a very true to life story and we as a people need to wake up and be concerned as to what is going on around us.this is happening today.

    Thank you for sharing this .

  15. Nancy Ragatz August 29, 2018 at 6:39 PM #

    Great chapter. I can close my mouth now!

  16. Rev.Gerchom NIBINKOREYE August 30, 2018 at 8:55 PM #

    I need this teachings

  17. Karen Lewan August 30, 2018 at 9:42 PM #

    I think your travels have given you the touches needed for a wonderful description of the setting. I am an avid reader of books, and would much rather imagine the story than see it on a screen! That being said, the story is intriguing, and I can easily picture the scene! Well written, Dave!

  18. Jimmie Bryan Crumley September 1, 2018 at 10:30 PM #

    Dave,

    This makes our efforts to support a girls school in Uganda, taking care of 1300 + rescued girls even more important !!!

    Even living in conditions deplorable to us, is better than the conditions for those in the time of Elijah !!

    As little as we can do, is better than nothing ???

  19. Linda Harvey Kelley September 2, 2018 at 4:57 AM #

    What did I do? I wrote a book; actually two, against bride price and polygamy. I want to read what comes next! Can I be on your mailing list? (I’m now in Israel 🇮🇱 but returning to Rev. Mike Long in Greece 🇬🇷 on Tuesday. I saw this on his wall.)

  20. Tseggai Isaac September 3, 2018 at 2:59 AM #

    David, glad to connect with you. The story is well written; clear and precise.

    It is also full of symbolism.

    The wine is an aspect of happiness; the goatskins contain the happiness in a compromised state, because wines in those days would be preserved on earthen vessels to maintain the authenticity of their taste. Life is not always pleasant. The balancing of the caravans’ burdens aspects of vision, perseverance in life’s journey.

    The unkempt, girls, particularly the falling girl jolting the fetter, symbolizes to me how the most precious human beings and their potential as future mother; their life-giving attributes are the most neglected in modern societies, particularly on that part of the world.

    The mother who would “scrub and scrub”, feed, heal, and nurture is the unique gift of the woman person as a nurturer, with keen sense of judgement, foresight and tenderness. I think the God-sense of us human beings is embedded in the tender love and nurturing care of mothers, wives, daughters.

    David, if you feel my looking symbolism in your story is too speculative, blame it on my wonderful literature teacher at Wesleyan Bible Institute/Jordan College, Mrs. Lexie Coxon. She would say, (paraphrasing) look for symbols in the underling theme of the story.

    Good teachers are memorable.

  21. Carolee Cole September 4, 2018 at 8:08 PM #

    What an enlivened version of the story of Elijah!

    I have often wondered about the “rest of the story” when reading the stories of the Bible. Chapter 1 of, “A Regular Elijah,” presents a very believable and mesmerizing account of Elijah’s potential early teen years.

    Dave Parks’ knowledge of the geography, as well as the history of the area Elijah grew up in, allows him to create a window into what was happening in the culture around Elijah and how it might have affected the person Elijah was becoming.

    I can’t wait to read Chapter 2!

  22. Larry Underhill September 18, 2018 at 8:36 PM #

    Dave, you are a gifted yarnspinner and wordsmith! I was drawn into the story quickly, and moved by the vivid picture of the line of girls and their vicious keepers. The Word has much to say about judgement of those who traffic in the bodies of others. Thanks for inviting me to enjoy this story.

  23. Cheryl Floyd September 22, 2018 at 10:06 AM #

    Elijah received a shock when he met the girls. They were roped together, dirty, and young. He had heard about the Asherah temples, but was shocked to see how young the girls were.

    He had compassion for them and thought of how his mother would care for them and bring joy into their lives.

    I like Elijah’s dream that he and his brother would stand together and fight to rescue the girls from the slavers and bring them to his mother who would love and care for them.

    I too like the way Elijah’s dad stood up to the slavers and made him remove the knife from his son’s throat.

  24. Steve Floyd September 22, 2018 at 10:07 AM #

    The cowardly slaver pulls a long knife on an unarmed teenager. I enjoy how Elijah’s Dad handles the slaver. When he steps forward and says, “My son means you no harm”. He diffused the excuse of self-defense. However, when the slaver keeps pressing the knife at his son’s neck; he puts his face in the slaver’s face and in a calm voice orders him to “put your knife away”. When the slaver still keeps pressing, Dad press his face closer with a “Do you hear me!” The slaver backs off, but never looks at dad he’s still trying to intimidate the boy.

    It’s been my long experience dealing with bullies; that if you make threats and say what you’re going to do to them; they are more likely to take that as a challenge and call your bluff. However, if you don’t say what you’re going to do to them if they don’t stop, they get uneasy about the unknown, and like Elijah’s dad, when you talk to them in a low calm voice; they assume you’re not afraid of them and that makes them nervous. I’m not surprised that the slaver never does look at Elijah’s dad, but only at the fearful boy. Had the slaver looked in Dad’s eyes, he would have seen a fierce strength of a father protecting his son.

    Like I said before I enjoy the way Elijah’s dad handles the slaver. For Elijah’s dad losing his son was not an option. I’m pretty sure the slaver could have ended up with a broken arm if he hadn’t stopped.

  25. Andrew Sakari November 20, 2018 at 10:49 AM #

    Rev Andrew Sakari this is agreat story and its real even today is just happening like the days of Elijah its encouraging bring more inside nd challenging story be blessed

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