Now, he was turned on the couch with his chin resting on its back. He was staring into the dark morning listening to the rain. Without moving, he said, “How long is it going to rain?”
I looked up from my book, thought, and said, “How the hell should I know?”
“Will it rain for 40 days and 40 nights, do you suppose?”
“I doubt it. Why?”
“Just wondering,” he said. “It did once you know. All over the world. At the same time.”
I said, “According to numerous myths.”
“No, according to your Bible.”
“Have you been studying religion again?”
“It drowned everyone except one family,” he said, ignoring me.
“And one pair of each species,” I said. “Including a pair each of more than 50,000 species of beetles and with tigers and wildebeests bunked side by side for several months.”
“Yeah,” he said. “Kinda neat, huh?”
“Very neat,” I said. I returned to my book.
“But,” he said and I knew it was coming. “All of the precipitation that falls originates as water vapor that has evaporated from the surface of the Earth.”
“Sounds right,” I said, silently hoping for the miracle of peace and quiet since it was an awfully good book I was reading.
No such luck. “So where did all the water come from?”
I said, “In myths, one can make up the pre-existence of water.”
“Did all the little children that didn’t belong to the chosen family drown? That doesn’t seem fair.”
“Myths don’t have to pass any test of moral fairness and they often don’t.”
“Why do you call it a myth?”
I closed my book and said, “Because the story of a world-wide flood appears in many cultures, even Chinese, going back as far as 4,000 years B.C.E.”
“Before the common era,” he said as if explaining something to himself.
“Yes.” I opened my book again.
“Benjy Shanon’s daddy is a preacher and he says his flood really happened and you are going to hell if you don’t agree.”
“I thought Benjy Shanon’s daddy worked on a county road crew.”
“He does, but he preaches too.” He resumed listening to the rain. “Matter can neither be created nor destroyed,” he said.
I said, “That’s interesting. Did you learn that in school?”
He paid no attention to my question, but said, “So where did all the water go after everybody drowned?
|Didn't one of your military officers make the comment|
during the Vietnam War that "The only way to save that
village was to destroy it? Must be a cultural thing. - C.W.
“It went up Benjy Shanon’s dad’s …” I stopped myself. “I told you it was a myth, a myth designed to establish hierarchies, a myth used to explain things before we had science, a myth designed to keep social groups in line.” I stopped and made myself relax. “So why don’t you read a book or just contemplate nature?”
“May I pray for you?”
“Pray do,” I said. “Just do it silently.”
Outside it continued to rain.