Near 500 words: The Wisdom of Solomon

Boy stared at the photographs of the two women. One was a woman with nobility in everything he saw in the painting. The other was a peasant woman, the colors bright that she wore. They were his aunts. And they had been at war with one another.

Aunt Gwen was the noble one. Aunt Pan was the peasant one. Each wanted to offer him a life. Since his parents were dead, they went after each other like two generals fighting a war, planning their strategies.

Aunt Gwen brought in the troops by the hundreds, marching in battle formation. Her generals were veterans of the battlefields that were the courts. They knew all the ifs, ands, and buts, all the wherefores and whatevers. They brought in the tanks of the injunctions and the bombs that were the subpoenas.

Aunt Pan was a guerilla fighter, fighting on her home turf. She knew just how much she could get away with in the courts. She had only one lawyer but he was a good one. And he devoted his total attention to the war she fought. He was her son. And he became a lawyer for just this one thing. To win Boy’s custody.

The judge saw the women and realized there would be no end to this which would satisfy both women. He needed a solution that was best for the boy.

After a long, sleepless weekend, he finally saw his way through the haze. He walked into the court, rapped his gavel against the bench and ordered the two women to come forward. Not their lawyers but the two women.

“Ladies,” he said, as he glared down at the two aunts. “There is only one solution to this dilemma. This is my order. You will sell your two homes and buy a third. Then you will move into the new home. Once you have done this, you will receive the boy. Until you do this, the boy will be in my custody.”

Gwen had a well-I-never look on her face. Pan frowned.

“And you will live in that house with the boy until he turns eighteen. You can never take the boy to another country without the court’s permission. Anytime you wish to travel, you must travel together as a family. You will end this war or I will end it for you. Now, shake hands.”

He pounded the gavel on the bench. “It is so ordered.” Then Judge Solomon left his bench and went to his back office. There he called for the boy and took him home with him. Since he and his wife had no children of their own, they took much care of Boy. And they waited.

For two months, Aunt Gwen and Aunt Pan held their truce. They consulted with each other over the house they wanted. They found one. As they began the process to buy, they argued over who would sleep where and what furniture they would have and just about everything else.

They consulted their lawyers. The lawyers said the same thing. “Until you do this thing, the judge will not release the child to you. We have searched our law books and we have consulted about appeals. Nothing else will work. The judge giveth, the judge taketh away.”

So once a month the two women saw the boy. One could not see him without the other present.

So now Boy was eighteen. He was readying himself for college. And he was studying the two women on the wall of the judge’s hallway.

They were dead now. One night they had become so angry they crashed their cars into one another. Both were killed instantly.

Judge Solomon walked behind Boy, put both his hands on the Boy’s shoulders, and said, “Never forget these two women. They loved you so much they gave their lives for that love. In their own, strange ways. They were amazons and they fought fiercely for you. Would that they had laid down their war and declared a peace.”

A fishy smell story

Gabriela’s husband was a fishmonger. Every night Juan came home smelling like fish. She hated that smell so much. Sometimes it made her sick. But she loved Juan all the way to her deepest heart. He was a wonderful father to their baby, Pedro, and he had the kindest of hearts. She wanted better for the man she loved and for her son.

Gabriela went to see Father David. She told him how she felt about Juan and the fish.She picked up her baby who had been crawling on the floor. “Father, I cannot stand the smell.”

“That is a problem.” Father David did not have an answer for Gabriela, except to say she perhaps Our Lady would help with the smell.

On her way out, she lit a candle for Juan and prayed the Hail Mary. Then she asked the Mother for help.

Father David watched her walk down the dirt road back to the shack where she and Juan lived. He smiled. These were two of his best parishioners. Unlike the others, they never complained about their lives. Except for this once.

The next evening Juan came to see Father David.

“Father, I have a problem.”

“Yes,” Father David answered.

“It is Gabriela. I love her so much.”

“I know. I see you together.”

“It is the fish.”

Father David could smell the fish on Juan.

“They stink,” Juan said.

“Yes, they do.”

“Gabriela cannot stand the smell. And I do not blame her. Things were good when we first married but now. They are bad.”

“I am sorry to hear this.”

“I could get a job as a carpenter. I am good with my hands and I am good with the wood.”

“Wood doesn’t smell. It’s true.”

“But there is one problem.”

“There is always a problem. This is why God is there for us.”

“I’m afraid this one is not so easy to solve. Even for God”

Father David had seen God perform miracles. He had seen Him change hearts. So there was no problem God could not solve.

Juan hesitated, then he let out what was on his mind. “I am a sinner.”

“We are all sinners.”

“No, I am a sinner. I cannot resist temptation.”

Father David assured Juan, “You must pray to Our Lady. She knows your heart.”

“No, Father, my heart is wicked.”

Father David was taken aback by Juan’s insistence. “You must pray. What sin could there be Our Lady would not help you with?”

Juan’s voice went into a whisper as if others could hear him. No one could. The church was empty. “It is women. They love me. And I cannot resist them.”

Father David was floored. He choked down his response, then said, “Women love you? I don’t understand.”

“In the days before I met Gabriela, every night three or four women were after me. I was not a happy man. Then I met Gabriela. She was different than all the other women I had known. I had to come up with a plan. Even on my wedding night, there was a woman knocking on my door. That is why we left the city and came here. That is why I became a fish monger. The women now all turn and runaway when they smell me. I cannot go back to the days before. I love my wife so much. But I am about to lose her.”

Father David was stunned. He did not have an answer. Except one. “Let us pray to Our Lady and Her Son.”

The two prayed.

Our Lady heard Juan’s prayer. She went to Her Son and told Him the story. Her Son was taken aback. “Women cannot resist this Juan? That is a dilemma. Let Me give it some thought.”

That night the Lord couldn’t sleep. He lay tossing and turning. Juan’s dilemma was a challenge. He had looked down and seen Juan’s treatment of his wife and son. And how he even treated the beggar on the street. If ever there was a kind man, it was Juan. What could He do?

Like so many of His ideas, the Lord came up with a solution while taking a shower the next morning. He would send an angel. And so He did.

The angel’s name was Derwood. While Gabriela slept, Derwood sprinkled some stardust on her nose. The next morning Gabriela woke up bright and early. The birds were singing. The cat was meowing. It was like Gabriela was experiencing a whole new world. Juan came to the table for his usual breakfast. Funny thing was Gabriela couldn’t smell the breakfast. She couldn’t smell Juan.

That night when Juan came home, he wore his usual bad smell. But Gabriela couldn’t smell him. She realized that she couldn’t smell. She was so happy. She kissed her husband. And it was the best of kisses. Our Lady and Her Son had performed a miracle.

The next day, she and Pedro went to the church and lit a candle of thanksgiving. As she left the church, a beautiful woman approached her.

“Senora, you have a very handsome son. Can I hold him? He is so irresistible.”