Sunday, November 21

Last Storybook Installment - Reuben's Account

REUBEN:  (He is sitting in his chair, hunched over with his elbows resting on the tops of his thighs.  In a deep, soft, melodic voice he begins.  The ball looks like a child’s toy in his big hands. ) I needed to get back on my father’s good side.  Father was mad at me - so mad that he was going to take away my inheritance.  I had taken part in slaughtering some of his cattle.  It was a mistake, and I killed too many.  I should have waited to see if we had enough, but I just wanted to get it done - I had better things to do.  Because of this, father was angry.  One day, we - most of my brothers and I - were away from the house.  We were days away and father sent Joseph to find us. I assume it was to make sure we were all okay - which we were.  He was such a punk...we all hated him.  He knew we hated him so I don’t know why he came to us, alone, and unarmed.

(He lowers his head and stares at the ball as he turns it slowly in his hands - not worried. He is very casual about the events of his story, almost psychotic.)

REUBEN: I’m not the smartest person, but I could feel that this was my moment.  I needed to be cunning and quick without being too obvious.  We hated Jospeh, and with good reason.  He would prance around the house and fields, wearing that stupid coat father had given him.  His hands were soft from being lazy and taking advantage of father’s adoration of him.  As he approached our tents, I could feel the hatred rising between us all with each step he took closer.  It was a palpable, intense hatred.  The surrounding noises of the desert even seemed to quiet on his slow approach.  Simon wanted to kill him right then and blame it on some thieves; that’s what father was worried about in the first place when he sent Joseph to make sure we were alright. (He is unnervingly calm as nothing falters in his voice.  He continues, steadily.) I needed to be quick, and I was.  Hastily, I spoke with Simon and Gad and convinced them that Joseph wasn’t worth our efforts in trying to kill him. An easy kill is much less gratifying than a slow and horrific murder.  I needed to keep everything in order if I was going to come out ahead in all of this.  I was going to have my inheritance, by God.

(Everyone is looking a little nervous, including THERAPIST.  They are staring at each other with worry in their faces.)

REUBEN: I suggested that instead of killing him, which would have been too easy, that we throw him in a deep pit filled with scorpions and snakes.  Since I was the oldest, my brothers didn’t see a problem with this suggestion.  As much as I wished he would suffer a slow and painful death, I needed him alive. I planned to stay behind when my brothers left the next morning for Egypt. I explained, to my brothers, that I needed to make sure he stayed put and didn’t escape. However, this was the perfect opportunity to save him and get him back, generally unscathed, to father.

(He begins to get a little angry.)

REUBEN:  Perfect plan.  Joseph in agony and Reuben back in father’s good graces - pure brilliance.  (He begins to yell, suddenly.) But no! I waited all night, gloating about how it was going to turn out.  No!  My stupid brothers, only thinking of themselves and the measly profit they could make, sold Joseph.  NO! (talks faster) When I went to get him, he was gone!  My brothers came back and told me what had happened: they had sold Joseph to some cheap merchants for a pathetic amount of money!  They were too stupid and dense to see what needed to happen.  They would have hated me for it, but they couldn’t realize what it would’ve meant to father.  They didn’t have anything to lose, but I did, and I had lost it.  Father never granted me my inheritance after that.  All of Joseph’s dreams came true, and in the end he became king of Egypt...bastard.  He gained everything that I should have had, and I will never forget.

(Reuben stands up and silently sets the ball down on his seat.  He looks at everyone in the circle and strides out of the room as if nothing was wrong.)

THERAPIST:  (Once she comes back to the situation, she calls to Reuben as he is almost at the door.)  Reuben, please come back. We are not finished here.  (He doesn’t turn back but opens the door and walks out.  THERAPIST is a little unnerved and doesn’t quite know what to say.  She mumbles a little under her voice - some broken thoughts.) ...alright.  Well, we still have ten minutes left in the any of you want to talk about what just happened here? (smiles weakly

(silence for quite a while)

THERAPIST: Okay...I guess we’re done?  I will see you all next session. You are free to leave.

(Slowly, intermittently, the guys all stand to leave.  No one says a word, and THERAPIST is left sitting in the room staring at her notepad, still.  She lets out a quick breath, looks up, pats her hair to make sure it’s fixed, straightens her glasses, stands up, pauses a moment, lets out another breath, and walks out of the room.  The lights dim on the empty room. The only bright light that remains is on the chair with the red ball. The only thing you can hear are THERAPIST’s heels as she walks down the linoleum hallway.  The sound gets softer and softer until silence.  Black out.)

Author’s Note: The original story mentions that Reuben had the plan to not kill Joseph, but to put him in a pit in order to get on his father’s good side again.  I liked this element of the story, and wanted to keep it in the retelling, mainly because I didn't want all of the characters to have redeeming qualities from their side of things.  Reuben was the oldest and he would have been responsible for whatever happened, yes, but I wanted him to be psychotic.  He needed to have that sadistic edge that was unnerving to read about.  The original story said that Joseph knew his brothers hated him, and that everyone knew except their father.  It all works out in the end, though, because Joseph eventually becomes King of Egypt and all is well.  Also, my story ends rather abruptly, which is intentional.  With this being the last story of my storybook, I want to leave the readers with something to think about.  Not everything is resolved and not everyone is seen in a more positive light. I wanted Reuben to come off as a darker personality than how he is portrayed in the original story.  With the Serpent, for instance, I wanted him to be pitied and Cain, I wanted him to show his remorse.  I needed Reuben to be the character that was so twisted, you hate him more after reading his side. The focus on the red ball at the end shows that even though they each had a chance to share, there is an uneasy, lingering element that cannot be removed.

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