The Book of Samson
This is the story of my life and its not a happy one. If you wish to read
about me youre welcome to but if youre looking for something to give you hope
& joy comfort & inspiration then you had best leave off here straightaway and go
find something else. My life has an abundance of frustration and pain plus a
fair bit of sex and lots of killing and broken bones but its got precious
little hope & joy comfort & inspiration.
Its got some women in it too plus a wife. Dalila is the one you may have heard of and a rare piece of work she was. You may think you know the story but believe me theres more.
Its an interesting question why anyone would seek hope & joy comfort & inspiration in a story in the first place. Something to think about. Maybe because theres precious little of it in life so we gather up as much as we can find and put it in our stories where we know where it is and it cant get out. But this story as I say isnt like that. It starts and ends with me here in chains and in between if anything it gets worse. Betrayal adultery and murder all figure in words writ large as if in fire against the nighttime sky. With the story not even done yet it might get more hopeless still before my days in this world are over.
In fact Im sure it will.
To give an idea of the killing: I once left a wedding feast to go kill thirty men and then went back to the wedding which flowed on like wine unabated. This in response to a riddle and a wager. So you see Im not joking when I say that murder is writ large in my life in words like fire against the nighttime sky. The thirty mens coats I removed from their stiffening bodies and then distributed to the wedding guests. Though normally prohibited from handling the bodies of the dead I was under some duress and consoled myself with thinking that they were so freshly killed that they were in fact not completely done with living as yet. Thus do we strike little bargains with ourselves and chip away at our integrity in the process.
The wedding where this took place was my own. Perhaps it conveys some idea of the nature of my in-laws that they took these new garments willingly enough and wore them happily afterward notwithstanding the rips bloodstains and other marks of wear.
I said this story begins in chains and so it does for I am in chains as I speak. They are iron and heavy and each link is the size of my hand and the thickness of my wrist. Mighty they are and in my prime they would have not held me but Im no longer in my prime. As you might have guessed. The place of my enshacklement is a temple wondrously large which Ive seen little of besides this sumptuous entertainment hall and the cells underground. In part this is because of the sorry state of my eyesight which is failing by the day. But Ive seen enough to know that this hall alone is bigger than some villages Ive walked through. At one end of it is a little platform like an altar or a stage and upon this platform I stand. Towering columns ring this hall: the largest being a pair at the far end and a second mighty pair behind me at the rear of the altar. So too is the looming statue of Dagonthe Philistines so-called god which I will speak more of later. In the middle of the hall an enormous bonfire roars at all hours in a pit. I stand strung up at the edge of the altar with my arms spread in a T shape. My legs are free to wander but alas theres nowhere for them to go. I spend my day shifting from one foot to the other trying to relieve the ache and for the most part failing.
Chains stretch from the shackles on my wrists to bolts driven into the columns. Maybe forty cubits in each direction. The bolts are as thick as a man and the columns couldnt be encircled even by ten men with their arms spread wideand even these arent as momentous as the columns at each end of the hall. Truly the palace is built on a scale beyond the understanding of simple men such as myself. I would say it is the work of the gods but that would be a blasphemy most foul as there is only One True God and I know that well. The difference between my people and the Philistines that surround me is that our God is the LORD of Abraham and Moses and Josue while the gods of the heretics are made of wood and they burn or stone and they sink or animal parts and they molder away over time. They are dull lifeless inanimate things. Dagon is the god of this temple and an imaginary creature nothing more. Half man half fish and pure nonsense as even a child could tell you but what can you expect from people who came swarming in their multitudes to Canaan in boats from across the sea?
Excerpted from The Book of Samson by Davin Maine. Copyright © 2006 by David Maine. Excerpted by permission of ST. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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