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Alberto Arcia is the Panamanian Humorist from Texas. He writes bawdy/humorous/fiction-adventure stories, as well as fiction-fantasy for young adults. He has published six books, with the seventh, "Chasing the Moolah," released last year.
One day, as I was taking a walk looking for a place to dump a load and roll a smoke, an unfamiliar voice addressed me.
I looked around. There was no one near me.
“Up here,” said the voice. “This is God talking. I need to have a few words with you.”
I looked up but there was nothing in the sky, not even a cloud. Puzzled, I decided to grab the sheep by the horns. “Okay God, I’ll buy it’s you, but first you must give me a sign. Also, you must give me something to talk to, looking up will give me a neck pain.”
“If you must have an object, talk to the bush next to you. And, as far as a sign is concerned. How’s this?”
At that very moment, the rope that held my pants loosened, and my britches fell to my ankles. I was impressed.
“Thanks for the help, God. I need to take a crap, bad, and you saved me from wrestling with the knot on the rope.”
“Are we good then?”
“Yes, God. We’re good. Now, let me take that dump, then you can tell me what is it you want to speak to me about?”
“Dum-da-da-dum-da-da-dum. Noah. Are you done?”
“Yes, thank you for not looking. Now, what do you want?””
“I want you to build an ark.”
“An ark? Surely you jest. That’s a big boat. Besides, there are no rivers, lakes, or seas nearby to use it. Why do I need to build one?”
“Because I’m going to send you a flood that will wipe out all life forms.”
I scratched my head. “If you don’t mind me asking, God, why would you want to do such a thing?”
“To rid the world of sin.”
I had to ponder that statement for a moment. “So, you’re mad at us humans. You think we don’t work hard or pray enough? You’re probably upset because we’re coveting our neighbor’s wives and daughters. Is that it?”
“Yes, and more. And because of it, I’m riding the world of all that is not right, starting with humanity.”
“Why are you punishing the animals? Short of the snake, the rest are good beasts of burden. Most are a good source of food, companionship, and clothing.”
“Some have been corrupted, and I can’t have any of that.”
“You’re talking about the sheep, aren’t you?”
“I’m not into naming names or species, but yes, they have gotten too cozy with man.”
“How about plants? What have they done to you?”
“What’s that you’re fixing to roll into a smoke?”
“Okay, God. I see your point. You are mad at man, and will punish everyone and everything to rid yourself of him.”
“You know me so well, and we just met. I’m impressed.”
“Well, God. I am man. I roll smoke and keep sheep. So, why am I being spared?”
“You, Noah, are a good man. That is why I’m saving you, your family, and your neighbors. Besides, I can’t exterminate everyone. I need man to breed and repopulate the earth. I’m also saving animals and plants of my choosing.”
“Okay, God. How big an ark, and when are you sending the flood?”
Oh, no, he’s back. “Right here God. What can I help you with?”
“The ark. I know how big I want it, and which plants and animals you’re taking with you.”
“Good. Please tell me. I can’t wait to start building it.”
“Tonight, when you slumber I’ll invade your dreams and give you the list.”
“You don’t know me as well as you think. If it’s a short list, I’m okay with you dreaming me one. But if it’s a long one, I must tell you that my memory is not as good anymore. I can’t guarantee you I wouldn’t leave some things out.”
“It’s the cannabis, isn’t it? If it wasn’t for their medicinal properties, I’d drown them too. You have to stop smoking that stuff.”
“It’s a long list, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Noah, apparently too long for your feeble mind. I’ll have to send you the list written on parchment. For the sake of conversation, though, I need you to know that I want it big enough to accommodate a pair of all the animals in your area, minus the snake.”
“Maybe, I’ve not made up my mind on them yet.”
“Okay then, if you’re done with me, I have work to do.”
“Yes, for the moment we’re done. Thanks for listening. I knew I could count on you.”
I resumed my walk, hoping to catch the wife before she became too tired, and those pesky kids returned.
Oh, not again. “Yes, God. Something else bothering you?”
“Yes, there is something that concerns me. You’re growing a lot of sugarcane. Are you planning to turn it into alcohol? Tell me you’re not.”
Oh, bite me, there goes the rum. “No God, I have something else in mind for the cane, I’m making sugar.”
“Good. It’s not that I disapprove of the spirits, it’s just that I need you to be a sober fellow if this ark is to be built before the flood comes.”
“And when is that?”
I approached the wife. “Listen woman, I have something to discuss with you right now.”
“Husband, shall I remove all my clothing?”
I looked at her, groaned with delight, and came to the conclusion I was a lucky man. No sheep for me. A woman with that attitude is worth her weight in gold. “No, dear, not yet. Sit down and listen to this.”
She remained quiet throughout the whole incredulous story. I could tell she was troubled by it. Her right foot kept shaking.
Finally, I stopped talking and glued my baby blues on those two big brown oval shaped eyes of her. I needed feedback. It came quickly enough.
“I think you’re daft, husband. God doesn’t speak to humans. God is a divine being. He does not talk.”
“He did to me.”
“When and where? And, what does he look like?”
Aah, here comes the challenge. When trying to bed a woman, mind and loins must be focused on the task, stupid conversation can kill the mood. I looked at her, she was indeed a tantalizing female. If I told her God was a bush, she would laugh, think me a fool, and there would be no love action. Being a man with a keen eye for opportunity, I took the safe road.
“Wife, take your clothes off, we’ll talk about this later. Let’s go and love each other.”
“Oh, Noah,” she purred. “You are such a good loving man.”
“Thank you, wife. I appreciate your admiration, even though it appeared to me that I was uncommonly fast today. Did you get…?”
“No, but it was good anyway. Thank you.”
Naamah looked at me. “Husband, if you don’t mind me intruding, you seemed uncommonly distant while in my embrace. What is troubling you?”
“God. God is bothering me.”
Naamah gave me her back and began to dress in silence. When she finished, she turned my way. “So, were back to that again.”
“Yes, God wants me to build an ark.”
She stared at me but refrained from speaking.
“Wife, this divine being is going to send a flood our way, and we, along with our uphill neighbors will be spared, but only if we build an ark.”
“So, what’s the problem? If God wants you to build one, do it. How difficult can an ark be?”
Normally I would let that statement slide, but I was already satisfied, and her cavalier attitude disturbed me. “Wife, do you know what an ark is?”
She looked at me. I could tell her brain cells were turning like mad. Then her eyes lit up, and she smiled. “Yes, my dearest husband, an ark is a very big boat.”
I beamed with admiration. Naamah not only liked to put out a lot, but she was also smart. I was indeed a lucky man. “The problem is size.”
“Not for you, my dearest loving man.”
My eyes gleamed.
She removed her dress. “Again, husband?”
“Yes, more is good.”
“Noah, this was much better. I almost made it. Thank you for trying.”
“You would have gotten there, but God’s needs are interfering on yours.”
“How so, my sweet loving husband?
“The Entity wants this ark to be big enough to house many animals and plants.”
“Well, all I can say about that is you better get on it. Those things don’t build themselves.”
The Work Force
“Hey boys, come here.”
“Can’t it wait, Father? This won’t take long,” said number one son.
“Put those sheep down Japheth, and get over here, now!”
They did as they were told, and came over.
“What’s on your mind, Poppa?” said number two son.
“Hem, God wants us to build an ark. He appeared to me as a bush and told me so.”
“You’re such a comedian, Poppa. We love your sense of humor.”
I looked at him. Sometimes a father must do what he must. I slapped Japheth on top of his head.
“What did I do, Father?” he said, with hurt feelings. “I didn’t say anything bad. It’s was Hem who made the brazen remark.”
“You were closer. Now, both of you, pay attention to what I’m about to explain.”
“Father, shouldn’t you wait until Ham returns?”
“No, Ham has gone to Egypt to sell thirty sheep. He may be gone awhile. You two are it, so listen to me.”
When I was done, their expressions showed confusion. I looked at my work force and sighed. They will not do. These boys are missing a rock for their slings.
“Boys. What was it that you didn’t understand?”
Hem approached me. With a leery eye on my striking hand, he spoke. “With all due respect, Poppa, bushes don’t talk.”
That was enough of a statement for me. Yep, they are dumber than a pile of manure. “Okay boys, forget what I said. Go on with your duties, but leave the sheep alone. It’s humans like you that have gotten them into trouble with God.”
They looked at each other, nodded, and walked away.
Okay, that leaves the neighbors. I wonder if I can’t count on Joshua and his sons.
As I walked up the hill, I began to blow a zippy tune on my harmonica. I did some of my best thinking while playing music. I had to be sharp, Joshua considered himself to be an intellectual, a man of letters, not one easily talked into helping others do their own work.
I found him sitting on a stump, whittling. “Hello, Joshua,” I said, as I approached him. “May I engage you in conversation?”
He gave me one of his annoying stares. After a moment, he spoke. “What is it that brings a man who likes to repose all this way up here?”
“I’m troubled by an intrusion I had with a deity. It spoke of things to do, things to come, and of dire consequences. Very confusing talk, and I don’t know how to decipher the riddle. You are a learned man, good with figures and such. Maybe you can help me.”
He placed his knife and wood down. “Speak Noah, you have my attention.”
“God appeared and talked to me.”
“Why you? Why not me?”
“Because you’re up the hill, and I’m down it.”
He looked at me with suspicion. “Explain yourself Noah.”
“Joshua, you do know what they say about down the hill, don’t you?”
He scratched his head. “Yes, I do, but for now you can remind me.”
“Trouble rolls downhill, Joshua. You’re up it, that’s why he talked to me.”
He grabbed his chin and started to massage it. “So, this has to do with height of terrain. Tell me, Noah, what does God want of you that is so pressing to make a man who likes a tranquil life to walk up this long uphill path?”
“God told me he is sending down a flood of biblical proportion, and all living things will die unless I can build an ark to accommodate me, my family, plus you, and yours.”
“So, God is sparing me, and burdening you?”
“Yes, sort of, but I can use some help.”
He began to work his mind. I could tell he was doing some counting. “Let’s see here, Noah. You have a wife and three strong boys. I’m a widower, with three boys and four girls. That’s twelve in all. Throw in some sheep, and that boat should not pose such strain that it couldn’t be built.”
“About the sheep, Joshua.”
He gave me a frown. “What about them?”
“God has instructed me to build this ark big enough to hold a whole lot of animals, and plants, but the sheep are momentarily not on the list. It appears God is upset with them.”
Joshua scratched his face again. “And why is that?”
I raised my right eyebrow. “I can’t believe you asked me that question, and you being a refined man.”
He became angry. “I’m a widower, Noah, not apt to marry again. I’m also trying to keep my sons off their sisters. What can God be thinking?”
“Not sure he was, Joshua, but no need to worry yourself silly. The jury’s still out on the sheep. Now to my dilemma. Although I have three sons, only two are available to assist me in this task. Will you help me build the ark?”
He thought about the request. “No, I don’t think so. You said God was sending the flood down to you. I’m uphill. Maybe it won’t reach me. That’s probably why he didn’t ask me. Still, just in case it does, I’ll build a boat big enough for my family and you know what else.”
“Hey, Noah, got your ears on?”
Oh, great, here we go again. I turned towards the talking bush. “Yes God, they’re right where you put them. What can I do for you today?”
“About that ark.”
Good grief, nothing gets past him. “Yes, about the big boat. I’m working on the schematics at the moment. I’m also trying to figure out how to acquire the materials to build it. You have no idea how hard it is to get nails round here.”
Geez, here comes the complaints.
“Did I not tell you I’m sending down a gully washer? Am I not a God of my word? Do you think you can tread water forever? Build the ark.”
“Yes, Sir. I’m trying. Thank you for reminding me.”
“I’ve told you to stop smoking that stuff. You can’t keep your mind on things if you keep on toking. Stop it, understand?”
“Yes, Sir. Your wish is my command. I’m done smoking.”
“Are you sure?”
“Well God. Adam raised a Cain, and I’m a chip of the old block. Yet, if you want me to stop, I will.”
“Good. Now go to the construction site and you will see that I’ve gathered all the necessary things required to build it.”
“Okay, I’m on my way. But first I need to ask you a favor.”
“What is it?”
“Can you appear to me in another form?”
“Is there a problem with a bush?”
“Yes, it lacks credibility.”
“Well, would you prefer I come to you as a mountain? Or maybe a dog, or even a boulder?”
I thought about it, and decided neither would work. “No, never mind. A bush is fine.”
“Good, now go and start building the ark.”
I told him I would, bid him adieu, and moseyed on to the work area. Sure enough, everything needed was there. Everything except for a work force. Knowing God was selling me short, I sat down, pulled my harmonica from my pocket, and began to blow a melancholy tune. I had to think the problem out.
Right on time. “Yes God.”
“You’re sitting down. Why is that?”
“I have no help. The project you have saddled me with requires many hands, and I only have two.”
“Where are your sons?”
Okay, here comes the hook. “Japheth and Hem are out back, smoking.”
“I’m sorry, but you put that weed here. You’re responsible. Besides, my boys make lousy hands. All they want to do is lay around, and hang out with the sheep. I need good workers. Can you find me some?”
“You have three sons. Where is the third one?”
“I sent Ham off to Egypt to purchase sheep.”
“Nothing, I was just talking to myself.”
“You smoking grass too?”
“Harrumph! Don’t push it, Noah.”
“Yes, sorry. I meant nothing by it. Anything else I can do for you?”
“Build me an Ark.”
“Right. I’m going to do it, but some help would be nice.”
“What about your neighbors? Did you talk to Joshua?”
“Yes, but he’s building his own boat.”
“I see. What kind of workers would you prefer? I can get you Egyptians, Assyrians, or even Philistines.”
“None will do, God. The Egyptians work with stone. The Assyrians are too aggressive. And the Philistines like to smoke. Can you get me some good Hispanics?”
“Which particular variety? There are Mexicans, Panamanians, Hondurans, and many more. You have to be unambiguous with that request.”
“Well, if you want this giant floating bucket to be built, don’t send me any Panamanians. They don’t like to work hard. Also, it’s important you send me Hispanics that don’t smoke.”
“You’re beginning to annoy me. Please pay attention to what I’m telling you. I’m sending a flood your way. I need you to save yourself, your family, and one pair of all the animals in your area. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes, I can, and I will. Forget the Latinos.”
“Well, if not them, whom?”
“Can you find me a Polish work force? They don’t smoke, and they know how to build ships.”
“All right, I’ll get right to it.”
“Thank you God. You don’t know how much I appreciate that. I’ll start working as soon as they get here.”
I bid him adieu again, and continued to work on the blueprints. There was an engineering dilemma that was eating my lunch.
By the time I had resolved it, Japheth came running. By the look in his eyes, I knew he was going to bum me out.
“Father, come quick. There’s a bunch of Polacks rummaging through all the construction material. If you don’t put them to work soon, there won’t be anything left to build a boat with.”
Good grief. “Okay son, listen to your father. “Take the oxen cart, go to the Assyrians and buy a load of potatoes. Bring them here, and get Hem, and mother to help you distill them. If they want to know why, tell them we’re making vodka.”
“Why would we want to do that? I thought you were going to make rum from the sugarcane.”
I didn’t want to do it, but I had to. He was my son and discipline is a father’s right. I smacked him on the side of the head with my open palm. “Don‘t be questioning your father. That’s God’s job. You go and do what you are told.”
Here we go. “Yes God. What’s up?”
“Your work force is inebriated.”
“I know. I’m totally disappointed with the Poles. Can you get me some Germans? Word’s out they’re a sober an efficient lot.”
“Don’t be mad at me. You made the potatoes.”
“Do you have any idea of what the word flood really means?”
Okay, now I got him. “Yes, God, I do. It means the end of all you have worked so hard to achieve.” I smiled at the silence that followed my statement. That bit of wisdom got him thinking.
“I needed you to be there for me.”
“And I am, but you need to understand that the task you have placed upon my shoulders is immense.”
“What are you trying to tell me?”
“That I can build you a cart, a chariot, or a fishing boat easily enough, but no, you want an ark. Now, due to your unreasonable request, all of us humans, animals, and plants are going to die. What are you going to do about that?”
“Let me reflect on it.”
“And while you’re at it, please tell me how I’m going tell the difference between a male and a female ostrich? The males don’t have a visible you-know-what hanging down.”
I was putting the finishing touches to my building plans when both my sons came running down the path. One was too winded to talk, but two was not.
“Poppa, come quick!” said Hem.
“What’s the problem, son?”
“There’s a wall of water coming our way!”
“How big a wall, and from which direction?”
“It’s coming from the south, Father,” said Japheth, regaining his breath. “It’s big enough to inundate Joshua’s farm.”
“That big, uh?”
“Yes, Father. What are we going to do?”
I pondered the question. “First, you must go and tell the poles they are fired. Have your mother pay them, and then send them north quickly.”
”Okay Father,” he said, and left running.
“What about us, Poppa?” said Hem. “We didn’t build the ark God wanted. Are we going to die?”
I placed my arm round his shoulders and told him to walk with me. “You know, son, that God created me in his image, don’t you?”
He stared at me in silence.
“Well he did. And in doing so he gave me enough wisdom to understand what can be achieved by man, and what should be done by God.”
“You don’t make any sense, Poppa.”
“Hem, the reason you don’t understand anything has to do with your right hand being inside your pants all the time. You have got to quit playing pocket pool, son. The blood flow needs to be in your brain, not in your wonky.”
The boy removed his hand and blushed. Then he gave me a look of disbelief mingled with grief. “But Poppa, there’s a flood a coming and we don’t have a boat!”
I smiled, gave him a shoulder squeeze, and decided it was time to instill in his young mind the notion of faith.
“In a moment, when we turn that corner you will see an ark, and in it there will be plants, a pair of all the animals in the area. Plus, your mother and siblings will be inside, as well as our uphill friends.”
He looked at me, took off running, turned the corner and voila! There was the ark.
“Poppa, I don’t understand? How did it get built?”
“Faith constructed it son. Life is easier when you give all your difficult tasks to God. He will come through for you.”
“If you’re done talking, please get in the damn ark and close the hatch. The flood is upon you.”
“Okay, will do. But God, first I need to thank you. You came through for me even though I let you down.”
“That’s why I’m God, and you’re man. I’m reliable and you’re not. Get on the boat.”
“Yes, I’m on my way.”
“About the ostriches.”
“What about them?”
“There’s several on board.”
“Couldn’t tell the difference either, uh?”
“Yes, somethings even I can’t figure out. Good sailing Noah, and please remember this: Be good to me, and I will always be good to you.”
Inside the Ark
“One, come here.”
“Yes, Mother. What is it that I can help you with?”
“Where is your father and brother?”
“Father is talking to the bush again, mother. Brother is with him.”
Japheth looked at her. “Mother, is Father all right?”
“Yes, I believe so. Think about this son, yesterday we had a bunch of drunken Polacks here, and no Ark. Today they’re gone, and we’re inside one fully stocked with provisions, and in the company of all these animals, and plants.”
“Mother, are you telling me Father is wise beyond our comprehension?”
“Yes, son, that is what I’m saying. The man befriended a bush, and eureka, our lives are saved. Plus we have acquired this magnificent boat. One which he did not build, mind you. Also, we have achieved a measure of recognition from our highbrow neighbors.”
Naamah pinched Japheth’s cheek. “Look over yonder, son. There stands Joshua, a man of independent mind and means. He is in your father’s ark, along with his sons and beautiful daughters. All this is quite an accomplishment. You should learn from your father, he is a wise man.”
“You mean I should talk to bushes?”
“I mean the day will come, soon enough I fear, especially if this voyage is long and Joshua takes his eyes off his daughters that you will know to leave the sheep alone, and bed a woman. From then on, you will understand how powerful a bush can be.”
“Mother, I’m not sure I understand?”
She placed her open palm on his face, and gave him a soft caress. “You will comprehend soon enough, Japheth, yet now is not the time for parental lessons. Here comes Noah and Hem. Son, your father seems anxious, and I recognize that gleam in his eyes. Be a good boy and keep your brother busy, all this talk about bushes has made me realize I need to go and refresh mine.
“Open the hatch woman! Yelled Noah. “There’s a flood a coming and Number Two son needs to get inside, less he gets wet.”
“Isn’t Father getting in?” asked Japheth.
“Oh, yes, he’s getting in all right, and way sooner than he expects.”
“Mother, what’s with all the riddles?”
“Son, you have a strong back, arms, and legs, but a weak brain. When a man walks down the right path and does a great thing, like loving and caring for his family, the bush will take care of him. And somedays… multiple times.