Genesis 30-31: Un-Sympathetic Magic (Season 1, Episode 16)

What happens when Jake prepares to leave for home after twenty years abroad? A deal is sealed in blood, selective breeding is discussed at length, and Little Red Riding Hood gets a rewrite.

This is the latest episode in a serialised narrative. If jumping into things mid-way doesn’t bother you, ignore this and keep reading. If you like to start from the beginning, check out the archive here.


WARNING

If you are a creationist, evangelist, fundamentalist, or biblical literalist, this will probably offend you.

If you have any sense of propriety, this will probably offend you.

If you have the capacity to be offended, this will probably do the trick.

If you're okay with that, then read on.

If you want to read on just so you can tell me how terrible I am and that I should never write another word ever again, feel free.

Who knows? It might actually work.


After Joseph is born, Jake decides that thirteen is a promising-enough number to end on, and begins to plot his escape from Laban.

He starts by being direct, going straight to the guy himself and being like, “Hey, man, I think it’s time I return to my mom and start getting serious about this whole father of a great nation thing.”

But Laban, who’s busy in his workshop replacing one of the wheels on his wagon, replies in a whiny, sarcastic voice, “Oh, really, is that what you want? Does the wittle momma’s boy wanna go home to mommy?”

Jake sighs. “Look, I’ve been here almost twenty years, man. I don’t even know if my mom’s still alive.”

Laban shrugs. “Hey, I get it. It’s hard out here for a pimp. Just admit you can’t hack it, and I’ll let you get back to your poetry, or whatever the fuck you were doing back in Canaan.”

“I don’t know what you think Canaan is, but it’s pretty much the same as here. Everywhere’s pretty much the same as here. It’s all desert and tents and mudbrick houses. Everyone’s either a farmer or a herder or a woman...”

“See, that’s what I’m talking about, man. That attitude of yours.” He imitates Jake in the whiny, sarcastic voice again. “Everything’s the same. What’s the point of anything? Why are we here? Where are we going?”

“I think those are legitimate questions.”

Laban snaps, getting up in his face, like, “And I think you’re a pussy. We work. That’s all there is to it.”

“That’s what I’ve been doing. For free, I might add.”

Laban holds up a finger. “For my daughters and your children. That was what we agreed on.”

“That was what we agreed on before you tricked me and forced me to marry both of them. And now that it’s all said and done, I think I would’ve rathered just cold, hard silver.”

“Oh, I’m sorry...” Again, with the sarcastic voice, a little more high-pitched this time. “I didn’t realise I was inconveniencing you so bad by giving you a family.”

Jake sighs, exhausted by the conversation.

“No, seriously,” Laban says. “You wanna go? Fine. Get the fuck out of here. And since you feel you’ve been so horribly cheated, I’m going to pay you for your efforts.”

“You don’t have to...”

“No, I want to.”

“You don’t...”

“No, but I really fucking want to. God forbid you should honor the deal we made...”

“Again, you tricked...”

But Laban speaks over him. “...and I won’t have you going around badmouthing me to every Saul, Abner and Jehoshaphat you come into contact with. Name your price.”

Now, Jake’s feeling guilty – like he got greedy or something – when really, he’s just asking for what’s fair. He didn’t come here asking for anything – he just wanted to leave. But now that Laban’s stubbornly forcing him to accept payment out of some misplaced sense of pride, Jake figures he might as well cash in.

He thinks about it for a second, wondering how much he should ask for. What’s a fair price for almost twenty years’ work? How much does a sub-contracting shepherd charge for his labour?

Rather than try to do the math, Jake compromises. “Look, how about this? Instead of working out close to twenty years’ wages, which I don’t think you’d be able to pay me anyway, how about I just take all the sheep and goats that are spotted or striped or whatever?”

Laban frowns. It’s a good deal – for him. There aren’t many of the sheep Jake’s describing. He’s just wondering why Jake would low-ball himself like that when Laban had basically given him a blank cheque to write on.

He narrows his eyes, suspicious. “That’s all?”

Jake nods. “That’s all. I’ll even keep working for you for another few years to ease the transition and smooth things over. After that, I’ll take my flocks, my wives and my children and go. Sound good?”

He extends his hand to shake on it.

Laban figures he’s got nothing to lose – and a few more years of slave labour to gain – so he says, “Won’t be much of a flock, but fuck it, man, whatever you say,” and goes to shake the hand of his son-in-law.

But Jake pulls back.

“I want to make this official. No take-backs.”

He reaches behind him and pulls out a dagger that had been tucked into his belt.

“Jesus...” Laban says, stepping back, thinking he’s about to get shivved. Before he can recover from his initial panic, Jake slices open his own palm.

“...Christ!”

Gritting his teeth, and with a crazed look in his eye, Jake hands the blade to Laban. “Now you.”

Laban swallows. When he came in to fix a wagon wheel this morning, he didn’t think he’d be cutting his palm open like Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover.

He also didn’t think he’d be getting a few more years of indentured servitude, either.

With a ‘fuck it’ kind of mentality, he closes his eyes and slices open his own palm.

“Ah, fuck!” Laban says. “Man, that hurts.”

“Now, spit.”

“What?”

Jake spits into his own palm, so the saliva mingles with the blood in a stew of bodily fluids.

Laban winces, disgusted by the display. But he’s already come this far...

Scrunching up his nose, he spits into his palm and goes to shake. But Jake holds up a ‘wait a minute’ finger on his blood-and-spit soaked hand, so the blood and the spit run down his forearm.

He crouches down and gets a handful of dirt with his clean hand, sprinkling it onto his open wound.

“Goddamn it...” Laban says. “Why?”

“You want this deal to be legit or not?”

“Yeah, but...”

“Then get some dirt in there, man. Let’s do this.”

Laban crouches down reluctantly, getting a handful of dirt. He sprinkles it on his palm.

“A little more...” Jake says.

Laban sighs and applies some more soil to his bleeding wound, like chocolate dusting on a cappuccino. If the blood is the milk and the saliva is the foam, then it only makes sense that the dirt is the chocolate dusting.

I give you...

The Infectaccino!

(Patent pending.)

Finally, now that Jake is sufficiently satisfied and Laban is sufficiently grossed-out, they shake on it, mashing their palms together and creating an ungodly paste of blood and spit and dirt. There’s a distinct squelching sound as they clasp hands, and Laban looks away, barely able to stomach it.

When they finally pull apart, covered in each other’s fluids, Jake goes, “Pleasure doing business with you.”

He leaves the workshop with Laban thoroughly-disgusted, but still thinking that he’s getting a good deal.

And he is getting a good deal.

At least on paper.
Or, more specifically, at least with the way things stand now.

But a lot can change in a few years.

And Jake’s about to make sure that they change in his favour.

See, a few days ago, in search of something to read, he went to the equivalent of the local library – a crazy old widow who collected scrolls under the impression that by simply owning them, their wisdom was magically transferred to her.

The fact that she had never read a single one of them – let alone the fact that she couldn’t read at all – did in no way dissuade her from this notion.

In exchange for performing certain services that the old widow required – I’ll leave it up to you to imagine what those might have been – Jake was allowed access to her dusty, cobwebby archives.

Again, up to you to decide if that’s a euphemism or not.

He pored over the scrolls by candlelight, with the old widow coming in every few hours to ask if he wanted a cup of tea or a hard candy (y’know, old people stuff).

Finally, in a scroll entitled ‘Sympathetic Magic for Un-Sympathetic Purposes’, Jake found something very interesting indeed. It gave him an idea he didn’t even know he was thinking about until Laban offered to actually pay him for his work.

The day after the deal is struck, Rachel finds Jake by the troughs where the animals come to drink. He’s standing there, watching as a dozen or so pairs of sheep and goats copulate furiously.

This wouldn’t be all that strange, except for the fact that the animals were doing it in a perfect row, and laid out before them were sticks that had been peeled in strips to expose their white insides.

Not exactly organic.

“What’s, uh... What’s going on here?” Rachel says, equal parts confused and concerned.

“I’m trying something,” Jake says, not taking his eyes off the mating animals.

“No shit. What are you trying?”

“Well...now this might sound a little unorthodox, but I’ve done the research, and if I place these striped branches in front of the females as they’re mating, then they’ll have babies with striped fur.”

Rachel squints at him, barely able to comprehend the stupidity of what she’s hearing. “Come again?”

“It’s all about what visual stimulus the female is receiving at the time of conception. What she’s seeing.”

“And do you have any scientific evidence to back this up? Like, any at all?”

“It’s not science. It’s magic.”

“Oh, that’s much better then. Who needs science when you’ve got magic?”

“You know what I don’t need,” Jake says, “is that sarcasm.”

Day after day, week after week, she finds him in the same place, adjusting the positions of the sticks, studying the eye-lines of the females as the fellas pound away behind them, making notes on a scroll to document his findings.

“Will you cut that out?” Rachel says, as she goes about doing actual work. “It’s an insane concept.”

“Insane enough to work,” Jake mutters to himself, insanely.

*

Surprisingly enough, when the test subjects of Jake’s magic experiment begin to bear fruit, so does the experiment itself. That is, a large percentage of them have striped fur.

Rachel, up to her elbows in blood and viscera, looks over at an equally-gory Jake and says, reluctantly, “Okay, fine - so what? The lamest magic of all time worked. What’s the point? Why not make them breed in front of silver? Maybe they’ll start shitting money.”

“The point is...” Jake says, reaching up the birth canal of a sheep. “...that when it comes time for us to leave, we’ll have something to leave with.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean...when we go back to Canaan, your dad promised me that I can take all the sheep and goats that have stripes or speckles.”

“And now your making sure that the majority of them do?”

Jake tenses up, awaiting reprisal. There’s a number of ways she could take this. The more likely version involved her being angry at him for trying to steal from her dad.

Instead, Rachel smiles, impressed by his cunning. Then, she gets a wild, hungry look in her eye.

“I’ve never been more attracted to you,” she says, and pounces on him. They proceed to make love right there in the stable, surrounded by newborn lambs and calves, covered in animal blood and amniotic fluid.

Romantic...as...fuck.

*

But it’s not just quantity we’re talking about here.

No, sir.

Jake doesn’t just want to leave with a lot of animals. He wants to leave with a lot of strong, healthy animals. No point embarking on the long journey west to Canaan with a bunch of frail livestock.

To this end, he begins only placing the striped sticks in front of the larger, stronger, healthier animals, so that the offspring would be more likely to:

  1. Inherit these characteristics, and...

  2. Have striped fur.

When you apply this concept to plants and animals, it’s called selective breeding. When you apply it to humans, it’s called eugenics, and it’s more or less what led to the Holocaust.

Contrary to what you might think – that this is a relatively modern invention – people have been doing this for thousands of years. Animals like dogs, and plants like wheat and corn, all had wild ancestors that occurred naturally in...well, nature.

With time and proximity to humans, however, they were changed by us to better suit our diet and lifestyle. You can chart the evolution most notably in something like the dog.

What was once a wolf-like creature has been manipulated by us to such an extent that we can now shape their physical appearance to be more aesthetically-pleasing, even at the cost of them developing serious health problems.

For reference, see any photo of a pug.

The following dialogue is an excerpt from my screenplay, which tackles precisely this theme. The story is a scathing indictment of the master-slave relationship between humans and animals. For context, it’s a dark, gritty take on the Red Riding Hood story, where the Big Bad Wolf is replaced with a modern pug. In this rendition, the pug is the grandmother’s pet.

The grandmother dies of a heart attack several days before Red’s arrival, and the pug quickly realises how incapable it is of it’s own survival.

It can’t get out of the house, and after going through all the food it can reach, it dresses up in it’s owner’s clothes in order to masquerade as her and find a way to survive.

Red Riding Hood arrives at her grandmother’s house late one night, drunk off her ass (I told you this was the gritty version). She’s so drunk that she can’t tell the difference between her grandmother and a pug dressed up like her grandmother.

RED: Aw, what a cute wittle snout you have.

PUG: All the better to struggle breathing with, my dear.

RED: What cute wittle...(stifles belch)...face wrinkles you have.

PUG: All the better to get skin fold dermatitis with, my dear.

RED: What a cute wittle pot-belly you have.

PUG: That’s because my owner feeds me shit and doesn’t give me enough exercise. But, hey, at least I can win some sweet awards at dog shows.

The disguise falls apart pretty soon after that, and the pug ends up mauling Red to death and feeding on her corpse. It then steals Red’s skin, wearing her face like a hood – yes, I know I’ve already used this idea in a previous episode, sue me – and uses it to liberate the domesticated animal population of medieval Europe.

Furious at how badly they’ve been screwed over by humans for their masters’ own selfish needs, the pug leads a rebellion of righteous fury, graphic violence, explicit sex scenes, and some drug use.

Pretty good, right?

I’ve already optioned it to a Hollywood studio with the hope of getting it turned into a blockbuster franchise a la the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But instead of superheroes, it’ll be anthropomorphised plants and animals that we’ve selectively bred over time getting revenge on us somehow.

I’m calling it... Really Grimm Fairytales, or Fairly Grimm Tales (the Brothers Grimm, anyone?).

First movie, coming this summer: Blood Red Riding Pug.

Second movie: Rapun-zebra.

Third movie: Hansel and Geranium.

Crossover: Digging Up The Garden (A Pug and Geranium Adventure).

Prequel: Rapun-zebra: Origins.

...

We may have gotten off track.

In fact, this may be the most off-track we’ve ever been, and I do sincerely apologise.

Of course, I could edit the preceding section down to a reasonable length, but then I would have to write additional words to make up for them, and that I will not do.

Where were we?

Oh, yeah...

Now, even though people back then had no concept of genetics, they could still see that the advantageous characteristics of a goat – such as them being bigger, healthier, producing more milk...these things could be inherited by its offspring.

They could see that, over time and subsequent generations, the animals became more productive, more valuable to the farmer.

I’m not going to get into evolution here – not because this is a Bible-based serial (it would actually fit rather perfectly here), but because I feel I’ve already gone on too long about selective breeding. I also don’t have a good enough grasp on the concept to do it justice.

Maybe in a future episode when I’m magically smarter.

Perhaps I should surround myself with relevant books like the crazy old widow we met earlier. I think she was on to something there...

Anyway, Jake’s plan to create a large flock of the strongest, healthiest livestock proves to be a resounding success, and it isn’t long before it’s noticed by Laban and the other shepherds.

Naturally, Rachel’s keeping quiet about the whole thing, and plays dumb whenever the shepherds ask about the unusual number of striped offspring that are being born.

But the shepherds can see the way the tide is turning.

I should probably have mentioned earlier that the shepherds Rachel works with are also her brothers (ie. Laban’s sons, ie. Jake’s brothers-in-law). This being the case, they’re not only motivated by what Laban is paying them, but by the fact that their new brother-in-law might be trying to steal from the family.

So they go into Laban one day after work, and they’re like, “Hey, dad, I think Jake might be trying to pull a fast one on us.”

And Laban’s like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, boys – easy with that hip, new lingo.”

But the older one proceeds to lay it out for him – “The majority of the sheep and goats being born have striped fur.”

“Actually,” the younger one says. “The majority of the strong, healthy sheep and goats have striped fur. The weaker ones are still ours.”

The older brother gives his brother a withering glare, like, “You didn’t need to make it worse.”

And the younger brother shrugs and says, “What? It’s true.”

But Laban doesn’t need to be told twice. It might not matter right at this very moment, but as the older generation of his flock ages and dies, he’ll be left with few, if any, animals to replace them. And the ones he will be left with will be all sickly and frail.

“That son of a bitch...” Laban says, balling his hands into fists.

He goes into Jake’s room, where his trickster of a son-in-law is currently engaged in a three-way with his daughters. Laban recoils in disgust, and his sons (ie. the sisters’ brothers) do the same.

“Jesus!” Jake says, covering himself and his wives up.

An awkward silence. Laban isn’t sure how to proceed.

“What?” Leah says, impatient, eager to get back to it.

“Uh...” His mind reeling from the sight, Laban struggles to remember why he came. “Oh, yeah...” He points a finger at Jake. “You tricked me. All the sheep and goats being born have striped fur.”

“Well, not all of them,” the younger son reminds him.

Most of them, then,” Laban says, about to smack his kid upside the head.

“So what?” Jake says. “We shook hands on it. You’re not gonna go back on our deal, right? Because that would make you a liar.”

Laban is almost speechless with anger. Face all red, veins bulging in his neck. A real treat for the eyes.

How are you making this happen?” he says.

“You think I’m doing this?”

Laban stops, confused. “Aren’t you?”

Rachel laughs. “How would he be doing this? Via some kind of shitty sympathetic magic where he alters the visual impressions of the females at the time of conception?”

A pause.

“You’re right,” Laban says. “That does sound pretty ridiculous.”

Jake shoots Rachel a withering glare, but Rachel shrugs like, “What? It’s working.”

Leah jumps in. “I think that what Jake’s trying to say is that he’s not trying to pull a fast one on you. It just so happens that this spring, things are working out in his favour.”

“In your favour, you mean? Cui bono. Who benefits?”

“I know what cui bono means.”

“Then you know that you’re the one who benefits, because you’re going back with him to Canaan, which means you get those stripey motherfuckers too.”

“Not sure your logic tracks there, but yes, I benefit – so what?”

“So...you’re all in on this together. You’re trying to hustle me. Your own dad.”

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic, Laban,” Rachel says, exasperated. “We’re not trying to hustle you. Next year, there might be none with striped fur. Maybe the gods are just smiling down on us at the moment, I don’t know.”

“I don’t care,” Laban shoots back. “I’m not taking that chance. I don’t know what kind of hocus-pocus magic voodoo witchcraft you got going on here, but I want you guys out.”

“What?” all three of them say in unison, as might happen in a terrible sitcom.

“You heard me.”

“Yeah, you heard him,” the younger brother says. Everyone stares at him. The older one just shakes his head.

Laban continues, “Pack your shit and get out of here, before you steal any more of my flock.”

“You do realise you’re being a sore loser,” Jake says.

“Get out!”

So that’s what they do.

They get dressed, pack their shit, load up the thirteen kids and the two maids on camels, and off they go, heading west with their stripey, speckled flock in tow.

Laban and his sons watch them recede into the distance, surrounded by a bunch of sickly goats and sheep.

One of them comes up to him, all gaunt and bony, half its hair fallen out, making a horrible bleating sound like it’s asking to be put out of its misery.

Disgusted by the animal, Laban kicks sand at it to shoo the thing away. “Get outta here, you.”

*

Jake and his wives and his maids and his children have crossed the Euphrates River and are heading for the hill country of Gilead when he finds something he didn’t expect.

“What the fuck is this?” he says, emerging from Rachel’s tent while everyone is having dinner around the fire. He’s holding a small, hand-carved wooden statue.

“That’s a god,” Rachel says, simply. “One of them, anyway.”

“You stole your dad’s household gods?”

Sidebar: Household gods were little idols or statuettes that represented various ancestral deities. They could be worshipped in shrines and given offerings of food and drink in exchange for, y’know, protecting the home and shit.

“Yeah,” Rachel says. “Fuck him, he kicked us out.”

Jake and Leah exchange a glance, then turn back to her.

“What the fuck?”

“Yeah, what the fuck, Rach?”

See, while Laban was out shearing the sheep with his sons, Rachel had gone around stealing all her dad’s pagan idols. He thinks he can kick her out like that after she helps Jake steal all his good livestock? Not likely.

So there they are, halfway between Canaan and Haran. A bunch of stolen idols in their luggage and a furious Laban no doubt on his way to claim revenge.

“Goddamn it,” Jake says.

“What, you’re allowed to steal from him, but I’m not?”

“I was stealing for us! So we could have milk and meat and animal hides. What the fuck use is a bunch of wooden idols?”

Rachel pauses. “Piss him off?”

Jake almost goes to hurl the statue in anger, then thinks better of it. “You realise he’ll be coming after us?”

“Let him come. I can take all three of them with one hand tied behind my back and a blindfold over my eyes.”

Leah’s like, “Are you talking about the other night?”

Another pause.

All the children – not to mention the maids – are staring at her.

Jake tosses the idol into the sand beside Rachel. “Just...hide them. We’ll act like we don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.”

*

It takes Laban and his sons about ten days to catch up to them, and by that time, they’ve reached Gilead and are making camp for the night.

The newcomers dismount their camels, all three looking pissed as hell and carrying swords.

“Where are they?” Laban says.

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“The gods, asshole! What have you done with them?”

Laban and his sons proceed to ransack the entire caravan, turning everything upside down and inside out. One of the younger kids, Joseph, is sitting on a pile of blankets. He can’t read the situation and puts his arms out for a hug.

“Grandpa!” he says, with such surprise and joy that it would melt your heart.

Not Laban.

He pushes the kid backwards onto the sand and begins rummaging through the blankets he was sitting on.

“Jesus, dad!” Leah says, rushing in to pick up the child. You might think he’d start crying, but young Joey is so shocked and appalled by his grandfather’s conduct that he simply stares in open-mouthed horror at the man.

“It’s okay, Joey,” she says. “Your grandpa’s very sick.”

Finally, when everything’s been taken out and strewn over the sand, Laban and his sons come to where Rachel is sitting on one of the camels’ saddlebags by the fire.

“Get up, honey,” Laban says.

“No.”

“I need to check that cushion.”

Jake and Leah and the rest of the family are standing off to the side, watching this. They’ve gone over the plan, but Jake’s still worried. He doesn’t think it’ll work.

“I can’t get up,” Rachel says.

Laban frowns. “What do you mean you can’t get up? I don’t have time for this, Rach. I’ve just ridden ten days to get here and I’ll be damned if...”

“I’m on my period.”

Silence.

The shepherds look away. Laban, on the other hand, is frozen, staring at his daughter. Rachel just stares back at him like it ain’t no thang – which it isn’t – and eventually, Laban comes out of his trance.

“Right,” he says. Turning to the family, he goes, “We’ll be off, then. Sorry for disturbing your evening.”

“So disturbing...” the younger son says.

And with that, Laban and his sons mount up and ride off into the night.

No one speaks until they’re well out of earshot.

“Jesus,” Jake says, letting out the breath he’d been holding in since they arrived.

He takes off his cloak, revealing an assortment of weapons strapped to his chest and legs – swords, daggers, axes, you name it. One by one, he removes each weapon and drops it to the sand, infinitely relieved he didn’t have to use it.

Dude’s a lover, not a fighter.

He flicks a coin to Rachel, who snatches it out of the air.

“I really didn’t think that was gonna work,” he says, having lost the bet.

“Name me one thing that makes men more uncomfortable than a woman talking about her period.”

Jake runs a hand through his hair, glad to have gotten out of the situation without bloodshed. “I mean, seriously, how fucking childish do you have to be...?”

He ushers everyone back around the fire where it’s warm. He, Leah, Billie and Zillie console the children about the psychological state of their grandpa – a man who would ride ten days out into the desert to find a bunch of wooden figurines, only to be dissuaded from completing that mission – and from revenge – by his daughter’s menstrual cycle, and to then turn around and head home with what looked like dangerously-few supplies.

Rachel reaches under the saddlebag she’s sitting on, taking out all the wooden idols and placing them beside her with a smile.

A little later, Billie and Zillie are corralling the kids off to bed. Jake is polishing off a wineskin in celebration of his ‘triumphant’ victory over Laban, and as a result, finds himself quite drunk.

He only realises this when, in attempting to follow Leah to the marital tent for some sweet, sweet lovin’, he trips and falls down flat on his face.

Noticing that Rachel hasn’t made a move to come with them, Jake crawls over to her. “What’s the matter, babe?” he says, slurring his words and breathing his wine breath all over her. “You coming?”

Rachel scrunches her nose up in disgust. “Not tonight.”

Jake frowns. “Why not? I was hoping we could do that thing again – y’know, with the blindfold...”

“I’m just not feeling it tonight. Alright?”

“Was it the whole thing with your dad and brothers? Is it because I’m drunk? Because, y’know, I’ve only had, like...”

“I’m just not in the mood,” Rachel says, getting heated. “You two go nuts.”

Now Jake’s getting a little heated too. “But we can’t do the blindfold thing unless you...”

“Forget the blindfold thing!” Rachel snaps.

Jake goes quiet.

A pause.

“Are you actually on your period?” he says, a little tentatively.

Rachel turns on him, bristling, eyes wide. “Yeah, I must be on my period, Jake. Why else would I not want to have sex with you, let alone a three-way with my sister? I mean, seriously, how fucking childish do you have to be?”

Throwing that one back in his face now.

She stares at the fire. Jake realises he is being kind of a dick.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “Just come to bed, alright. No sex. We’ll just cuddle. Would you like that?”

“It’s alright,” Rachel says, softening. “I’m serious. You guys have fun. Don’t let me ruin your night.”

“You’re not. Come on – let’s do a Jake sandwich. You be the bread, I’ll be the chicken. White meat only.”

“Funny stuff,” she says, without humor.

“Or, like...one of those after-dinner mints. Dark on the outside, white on the inside...”

“I get it – you’re white.” There’s an edge to her voice now – she’s getting fed up with his drunken bullshit.

Jake stares at her, hurt. His eyes are glazed and unfocused. He’s teetering a little. “Why don’t you wanna come to bed with me? Don’t you love me anymore?”

Rachel sighs, exhausted by his constant badgering.

“What?” Jake says. “What’d I do?”

“Nothing,” she says. Then, a little hesitant, she goes, “I’m on my period.”

Jake’s eyes light up. “You are?”

Rachel nods, swallowing her pride. “Yep. Sure am.”

Jake breathes a sigh of relief. “Oh, good. I thought I did something wrong.”

He gives her a sloppy, drunken kiss on the cheek (which she quickly wipes off), then gets to his feet.

“Hey, Leah!” he shouts, at a volume that his sleeping children would definitely be able to hear. “Get the blindfold ready. I reckon we can...”

But as he turns to stagger toward the tent, he sees something that stops him dead in his tracks.

There, standing between him and a few seconds of mind-blowing sex, is someone Jake had previously only seen in a dream. At least he thought it was a dream.

God.

And he doesn’t look happy.

“Hey, asshole,” says the big guy.

Then he cold-cocks Jake in the face.


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