Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Book of Oliver – Chapter 11

[Another extract from the soon-to-be-published Book of Oliver, a 3000-year-old manuscript only recently unearthed in Drumcondra]

And it came to pass that Oliver was sitting in his palace at Tol-ka and the heavens opened. And it rained and it rained and it rained some more. And Oliver looked from the windows of his palace and saw that the sacred field of Tol-ka was awash with fish and whales and other creatures of the sea.

And Oliver was sore afraid, because it was approaching the time of the Feast of the Final, one of the holiest days of the year. And the Feast of the Final was to take place on the sacred field of Tol-ka.

And he gathered his tenants about him and saith unto them in a tone that was firm but gentle: Thou may labour and play and ply thy oxen and covet thy neighbour’s wife, yet I forbid thee to enter upon the sacred field of Tol-ka lest it should be defiled before the Feast of the Final.

And his tenants answered him, Sure.

Among the tenants of Oliver, however, there was a man named Buck-ley. And Buck-ley had led his tribe of nomadic warriors to great victories in the field of battle. And he said unto himself, Wherefore should I answer to Oliver? True he is my landlord and I must pay unto him many shekels, but must I bow to him on bended knee forever?

And Buck-ley ignored the warning of the great Oliver and he did lead his men into battle with the children of Bow-ez upon the sacred field of Tol-ka.

And when the battle was over, Oliver came out onto the sacred field of Tol-ka. And he looked upon the defilement of the sacred grass. And he saw that it was not good. And he bowed down his head and rented his garments and wailed and lamented to the Lord.

And the Lord appeared to Oliver in the shop behind the field. And he sayeth, Fear not, Oliver, for I will send an angel to help you prepare the sacred field of Tol-ka in preparation for the Feast of the Final. And his name shall be Men-ton.

And it came to pass that the angel Men-ton did come to Tol-ka. And he assisted Oliver’s servants to prepare the sacred field. And Oliver looked and saw that it was good.

And on the day of the Feast of the Final, two tribes did come to join in battle on the sacred field. And one was a barbaric, fearsome tribe from the north, and the other was the tribe of Sham-rock, led by the aged warrior Buck-ley. And many people did come to Tol-ka to look upon the great battle. And Oliver looked and saw that it was good.

But in the middle of the battle, a miraculous thing happened. A steel pylon suddenly caught fire for no reason at all. And Oliver was afraid, and he looked into the burning pylon and saw the face of the Lord. And the Lord spoke to Oliver thus: Look into your heart, Oliver.

And Oliver replied, But you know I do not have one, Lord.

And just as the Lord was about to reply, there was a breath of wind from a red canister and the fire was extinguished.

And it happened that the barbaric men from the north gained victory at the Feast, and among their number there was much yelling and drinking and shouting and showing of arses. But Oliver was troubled and pondered deep into the night the message of the Lord. And he prayed long and hard unto the Lord that he might give him guidance.

And it passed that in the middle of the night, the Lord appeared again to Oliver, saying, Well, what do you want now?

And Oliver replied, About your message this afternoon…..

And the Lord said, Look, Oliver, you really…..

Excuse me, sayeth Oliver. I did not interrupt you; will you kindly not interrupt me? As I was going to say, I would appreciate it if you did not insist in speaking in riddles all the time. What do you mean by telling me to look into my heart?

And the Lord replied, I am the Lord, the Creator of all things, the Light of the World, the Supreme Being. A fat man in his underpants is questioning me at four o’clock in the morning. Go figure.

And the next day, Oliver looked into his heart, as the Lord had bade him to do, and he summoned the aged warrior Buck-ley to his presence.

And when Buck-ley appeared in his presence, Oliver said unto him. Buck-ley, my tenant, you have given me many shekels for many moons. But you disobeyed me when I told you not to enter upon the sacred Field of Tol-ka when you fought the men from Bow-ez.

Consider the man who sows his seed on watery ground. The seed will wither and rot and die.

And Buck-ley replied, Not if it is rice seed.

And Oliver was vexed with the answer and said, Foolish tenant. I took you to my bosom with love and tenderness and you repay me with wisecracks. Go now, take up thy bed and thy oxen and thy kith and kin and be gone from my sight, forever to wander the ends of the earth, yea, even unto the place they call In-chi-cor.

And Buck-ley replied, What are kith?

And the Lord looked down and saw that it was not good. And he came down to earth and when Oliver was passing, he jumped out at him from behind a corner flag.

Ah, my faithful Oliver, said the Lord. How’s she cuttin’?

And Oliver replied nervously, Grand, Lord. Not a bother.

And the Lord looked around and said, Where is thy faithful tenant, Buck-ley, Oliver?

And Oliver wiped the sweat from his brow and answered, Er, he’s just popped down to the shops, I think.

Foolish man! cried the Lord. Do you not think I cannot see inside your own head? You have done wrong by thy brother Buck-ley. Now you will receive vengeance from me.

And Oliver was sore afraid, and ran squealing into the Holy Dressing Room. And the Lord sent down a rain, the like of which had not been since for many moons. And he commanded the waters of the river to rise up and wash over the sacred field of Tol-ka, yea into the boardroom and even into the bar itself.

And the waters continued to rise and Oliver gnashed his teeth and rent his garments and threw himself on the ground and rolled in the dust and put on sackcloth and wailed and lamented. And at length, he called out to the Lord, Oh, all right, I’m sorry.

And the Lord looked down and stilled the troubled waters.

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