68 Dogs wait

Biah found Ahab looking over his new garden spot. Biah opened his mouth, closed it, and turned away. He fought to control his rising nausea and turned to face Ahab again. “You didn’t have to let Jezebel kill Naboth.”

You don’t know her, Biah.” Ahab crossed his arms. “It would have done no good.”

Good? You weren’t trying to do good. You just let you wife kill your neighbor, so you could plan your garden.” Biah raised his chin to Ahab. “Send that woman back to Sidon.”

Ahab looked away. His voice thickened. “You’re talking about an international incident, Biah.”

So what’s a man’s life worth to you? You’d rather be buddies with Jezebel’s father than save your neighbor?”

Pardon me, my king.” The voice came from behind them.

[http://elijahblog.com/your-vineyard/]

Biah flinched.

Ahab whipped around. “Jehu. Bidkar. Who’d you bring with—?” he rocked back on his heels “—Well, well. If it isn’t Dew-nor-Rain, my old enemy. Did you two let this fellow in?”

Jehu stepped up. “We talked our way past your guards, my king. They stopped Elijah, as they should. But I’d seen him with you a time or two, and I patted him down for weapons. He says it’s an important message that will only take a minute. Pardon me, my king, if I overstepped my limits.”

Quite all right. Quite all right. Biah, you remember Jehu and Bidkar. My two best chariot captains.”

Biah nodded. “Jehu. Bidkar.”

Elijah stood a head taller than the two captains, but with his face turned toward his feet. Biah turned to him. “A message?”

Elijah raised his head and looked down at Ahab. When he spoke, the men lifted their eyebrows and jutted their heads forward.

Biah leaned in. “We didn’t catch that. Maybe you can speak up for the king.”

Everyone squinted at Elijah while he nodded at Biah and cleared his throat. His words came in a barely audible voice. “Dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, and dogs are waiting to lick up yours.”

Ahab gave a high-pitched laugh that made Biah cringe. “Where’s your frown? Your long, bony finger to shake under my nose?” Ahab had cowered under accusations from Biah. But when the younger Elijah came along—with an audience—Ahab looked for a fight.

Elijah stood defenseless, his voice flat. “The Lord’s going to rub you out. You and your whole line to the most distant cousin.” He looked at his feet again. “And Jezebel. Those dogs are going to tear her apart and devour the pieces right by the city wall.” He shook his head. “Your precious Jezebel. Dog dung.”

Biah shuddered and then shuffled back a step at the awful verdict.

You’re famous, Ahab.” Elijah hesitated a moment and stared off at Mount Tabor. “There’s never been anyone like you. The way you listen to Jezebel and sell yourself to do evil.”

Elijah turned and spoke toward the empty alley. “People hover around. They all want to be friends with you and your powerful cousins. But everyone in your bloodline is going to die very much alone.”

Biah shrank back from the lack of color in Ahab’s face.

Ahab tried to look away, but Elijah touched his arm—Jehu raised his eyebrows and met Biah’s glance, but Biah shook his head—Elijah turned Ahab toward the market plaza. “My king, in the towns, dogs will fight over your cousins’ royal corpses piece by piece, and in the open country, vultures will peck the flesh from their bones.” Elijah nodded to Biah, Jehu, and Bidkar. He removed his fingers from Ahab’s arm. “You can’t hide from it.”

He strode out the alley, across the plaza, and out the gate of the fort.

Biah stood with Ahab for a few breaths while a dog trotted out the alley and onto the plaza. How soon before it would lick up his friend’s blood?

Jehu and Bidkar put their heads down and retreated.

Biah shuffled up the narrow path and paused at the kitchen door.

Ahab stood in the vineyard and stared at the ground.

The next day, Ahab tiptoed past, minus his normal head-in-the-air stride. A sudden coldness struck Biah at the core. What happened to his proud friend?

Ahab wore a goat hair shirt woven especially to itch and irritate.

Biah looked away and rubbed the back of his neck. The killer wore sackcloth? What an act.

A common whitethroat scolded, woid-woid.

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