“Whoa! Hold it right there.” Noah looked daggers at his son, who he’d left in charge of the loading. “We already got all the animals we’re supposed to have, and there ain’t no room for more humans.” His son, an accommodating sort, blushed and looked away. “We’re about to shove off any minute now.” He met the woman’s pleas head on. “Aardvark to zebra, we got ‘em all paired up and stashed aboard alphabetically.”
“But, we hear tell of a terrible flood a comin’.” The woman protectively wrapped her arms about her two little children and stared Noah in the eye. “We’ll pay. Look!” She drew a ragged bunch of drachmas from the belt of her robe. “I have plenty! What will you take to save my dear children? Never mind me. I’ll stay behind.”
“Look, woman, this here ark is reserved, just like God wants it. There’s no more room, I tell ya.” Noah’s family had taken all the human berths, and that was that, as far as the old man was concerned. He felt fortunate that God had looked upon him with favor, and he’d followed instructions to the last exacting cubit. “Move back now,” he ordered the distraught mother, who was standing on the lower edge of the ramp. Noah reached for the nearest vine that was acting as a mooring line.
“I don’t believe this,” shouted the angry woman, pulling her youngsters closer to her side. “You trying to tell me that God prefers you let those two skunks on board, and leave my beautiful children to drown? She removed her arms from around the two bewildered youngsters and, belligerently, placed them on her hips. The referenced skunks sniffed at each other, oblivious to the proceedings, and unconcerned with fairness.
She appeared quite formidable, and Noah backstepped a bit, up the ramp leading to the crowded deck. He was somewht flustered when his left foot slipped, having landed on moist and rank sheep dung. Awkwardly, he grabbed for something to hold, but there was nothing there. He teetered a moment and then regained his footing, as his son reached out to steady him.
“It ain’t that, M’am. There’s no accountin’ for God’s ways. He told me two of each species, and that’s what He’ll get. I sure can’t cross Him now, can I?” As if to emphasize that question, a loud peal of thunder rang out in the east, where dark and ominous clouds were gathering.
“Oh my good God almighty!” The woman clasped her hands to her chest in outrage. “I simply can’t believe this. Are we talking about the God of Moses? That merciful God, who delivered folks from the pharaoh, and who gave us them ten rules to live by?” Then, her eyes targeted something or someone aboard the ark. “Who is that?”
Noah turned to see where she pointed. Alba, the shapely young harlot, was brushing the coat of a male zebra. For a moment, Noah was nonplussed. After all, what could he say? It was going to be a voyage of indeterminate length. Perhaps years would pass before they would set foot on land again. Noah’s aged wife was beyond the stage of usefulness to him, and Noah was still a virile man. Alba was as necessary to him as was food, water and the nit pick for his beard. Indeed, without Alba, he would willingly face the pending raging flood.
The angry mother’s face had turned beet red, and she was approaching her limit of patience. She demanded to know, “Who is that? I know she is definitely not one of your immediate clan.”
Meanwhile, voluptuous Alba continued to curry the zebra with her sharp-nailed fingers. Noah could imagine her working on him in much the same tantalizing manner. Alba had miraculous powers in her hands. For a brief minute, Noah felt sweat breaking out on his brow. He had completely forgotten the woman standing before him. Then, he snapped out of his reverie and recalled how she was berating him. He mumbled, “She’s an animal tender. It’s her job to feed the animals and tend to their many needs.”
“And what are her qualifications?” The mother was not to be put off easily. “She seems very young to have gained experience in the field of animal husbandry. Does God offer special dispensation in her case?” A cruel and suspicious smile worked at her thin lips.
Noah felt trapped, especially with his son standing by, listening to the conversation. “Alba is a well know shepherdess. It is essential that she accompany us on this voyage.” He felt that he was losing his authority by explaining to the woman, but he could see in the eyes of his son that the question of Alba’s presence lingered there as well. He raised his voice a few decibels and loudly croaked, “I need Alba, I tell you!”
Not the brightest of shepherdesses, Alba immediately stopped what she was doing and obediently ran down the ramp to Noah. Stepping to his rear, the lovely girl smiled possessively, and began to manipulate the vertibrae of Noah’s back with her sensuous magic fingers. Smuggly, the mother gathered her two small children to her side, and ascended the ramp without hindrance, but with a brief and sorrowful glance at the crowd of doomed people waiting at dockside. Though the meek may inherit the earth, she was grateful to have a solid deck between her and the rising water.