My son's birthday was last week. To keep the lenten theme and celebrate his birthday, this historical fiction unfolded.
Image by Derek Harper
I should have been nicer to him, I didn't trust him. They weren't the first strangers in town, certainly not the first to visit Rahab. Her "talents in hospitality" were known beyond our borders. Moreover, the drunkards and thieves would frequently come to my inn by mistake.

The older of the two men, the one who called himself Caleb, asked for lodging. He had a certain surety about him. Warriors often swagger around putting up a facade of bravado but turn tail at the first sign of changing tides in battle. Not this one, he seemed serene, carrying himself like a philosopher. With his swarthy tan, his rough and calloused hands, he might have been a farmer. but those scars didn't come from an ox. I wasn't about to house an enemy warrior.

"Do you know somewhere else I could stay?" he asked.

"No decent citizen will give you a room," I said.

He raised his eyebrow but said nothing. He simply thanked me and went out where that whore Rahab was waiting. She mumbled some nonsense about gods and ushered the two men into her "inn".

I ran as fast as I could to the king. "Sire," I said, "the harlot who lives across from me is hiding spies."

"You keep calling her that name without evidence." Hamrun, the king's counselor snarled. "Aren't you just stirring up trouble out of jealousy for her inn's success?"

I'd seen him visit her "inn" on more than one occasion, but pointing that out wouldn't help my case. "Sire, you know that the warrior tribe has been seen only a few miles from here. I have no reason to lie to you."

"We cannot be too careful in these times, the king said and sent his guards to question Rahab.

But when they arrived she said "Yes, the men were here, but they left."

The men checked but found nothing. I ran in myself after they left but there was no one in the house and only a pile of drying flax sheaves on the roof.

"Satisfied?" she asked. How dare a woman of ill repute look upon me with such contempt?

Three days later, I saw her walking with a red cord.

What sordid use do you have in mind for that rope?"

Rahab glared at me and replied, "Wouldn't you like to know?" She shook her head as she walked away.

For six days, the warriors have circled our city, drumming and blowing horns. All of our people tremble in fear -- except for Rahab who sits quietly in her house humming an annoying tune. Even now, she hums when it feels as if the very walls are crumbling down.

I wonder whether I would be so calm if I had welcomed them in.

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