Zygmunt Frankel

SHORT STORIES


A ROOF IN JERUSALEM

"It's complicated, my king."
"Why is it complicated, general?"
"Uriah the Hittite is one of our best fighting men. Send him to a hot spot in battle and chances are it won't be him but a lot of enemies that will get killed."
"And if you withdraw and leave him there alone?"
"He might be taken prisoner. He's not a man who surrenders, but he might be overpowered or taken prisoner unconcious - loss of blood, a blow on the head, something of the sort. Then there might be an investigation, started by him, or the enemy, or someone here in court who is interested in your throne, about how exactly did he find himself there alone. There might be witnesses and tongues will wag, especially since by then Batsheva's pregnancy will be visible. This is a small country, my lord, with a notoriously stiff-necked and gossipping people, the higher-placed the target the better. Moses ran into this problem as soon as he got down from Mount Sinai, and it's been going on ever since. Especially if that Nathan of yours decides to take it up. I don't quite understand why you tolerate him."
"That's because you're a military man. Being a king of Israel seems to be some kind of package deal: the crown on your head, and a thorn like this Nathan up your arse. Maybe that's how God imagined his ideal people."
"It's very risky, my lord."
"Look, I can't help it. Of all the wives and concubines I ever had, this Batsheva is something else. I am a different man with her, and I want children by her, and I can't help it; this may also be something from God, even if I have to suffer for it one day. How can you make quite sure Uriah is dead, and soon?"
"The answer is simple, my king. You can't rely on the enemy to kill him. You can't rely on any of our own men either; they might botch it up, or have second thoughts at the last moment, or something. Even if they do the job, the news might spread, and do no end of damage to the morale of the army. I'll simply have to do it myself, my lord, somewhere, somehow, and then dump his body, from my chariot perhaps, on the battlefield near the enemy, and say he was killed in battle. Then, even if something leaks out, they'll accuse me and not you. That, sometimes, is also what generals are for, my king; another kind of package deal."
There was a brief silence.
"Go ahead and do it."
"Yes, sir."

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1997 Zygmunt Frankel - All Rights Reserved.
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