In Response

by James D. Witmer

The Madness of the King

herod-and-the-magi copy

This is my effort in the annual Advent Ghosts 100 Word Storytelling put on by my friend Loren Eaton at I Saw Lightning Fall. See other entries there. Thanks, Loren!

The Madness of the King

The old astrologer won’t leave me alone.

Every night I start, gasping, from sleep, sure that he stands beside me; dull eyes staring, lentils in his beard, wheezing voice in my ear.

But he isn’t there.

If I catch him, I will kill him.

When I walk the balconies, his raspy mutterings follow me like an old wife.

I killed a village of peasant children to silence it.

Yet I hear him in every quiet place, repeating words just-read:

“But you, Bethlehem, out of you will come one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from ancient times.”

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9 comments on “The Madness of the King

  1. dankulp
    December 22, 2012

    well done. Haunting and “adventy”

    • JamesDWitmer
      December 27, 2012

      Thanks, Dan. I thought if ever there was a villan who was driven by the ‘haunting’ of greed and guilty conscience, it would be Herod. Glad you liked it!

  2. Philip Wade (@Brandywinebooks)
    December 22, 2012

    I’ve grown to hate Hared more and more lately. This is a good picture. Thanks for joining the Advent Ghost Storytelling

    • JamesDWitmer
      December 27, 2012

      Philip, I know what you mean. He has always creeped me out. But shortly after writing this I read Russ Ramsey’s chapter on Herod in Behold the Lamb of God (day 17, I think); it was a real sympathy for the devil moment. He was horrible – and the product of horrible situations.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you like it! Merry (belated) Christmas!

  3. Loren Eaton
    December 28, 2012

    Ha! I absolutely love it. Very well done, James. You know, the tale of Herod and the Magi was the very first one of these stories that I ever wrote.

    • JamesDWitmer
      December 28, 2012

      Whoops. No, I didn’t realize.

      Thanks for saying you like it anyway!

      • Loren Eaton
        December 28, 2012

        No whoops to it at all! It’s really well done.

      • JamesDWitmer
        December 28, 2012

        Well thank you, again, then! You’re very kind, and I appreciate hearing it. 🙂

  4. Elizabeth Gaucher
    January 7, 2013

    Ah yes . . . I see our kindred minds at work between this piece and “For Later.” I just learned of a saying about the Torah, “Turn it over and over, for all is in it.” That is how I feel about the Christmas story, too.

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