Joseph, the Salt Merchant, Absents Himself from Gotham
Joseph Bennebish, Sarah’s putative father was a salt merchant. Nine and a half months before Sarah was born, he went to a salt merchants’ convention in the neighbouring city of Sodom. Upon his arrival, he registered, paid his convention fees and insisted on being given a signed and dated receipt for tax purposes.
At the end of a long day of sessions, Joseph went to the local outlet of the Church of Infinitiaty and treated the Sage he found there to a fine meal at one of Sodom’s more upscale restaurants. He hoped that by doing so he would be inscribed on the right side of God One’s book. It was his understanding that God One was left-handed and often spilled drinks on the left side of his book. Joseph didn’t want God One to lose the record of his good deed.
To be on the safe side, he again insisted on getting a receipt in case God One asked for proof of his righteous act.
Joseph Takes the Path Less Trodden
Joseph took a less trodden path back to Gotham after the convention because he missed the cut-off that would have taken him to the direct path. After tromping for hours, he spied off in the distance an odd pillar shaped like a woman rising from the landscape. God One forgive him, he was a bit turned on by the pillar’s shapely figure. He approached the pillar and saw that it was composed of what looked like salt.
He scraped some of the material off the pillar’s more sexual parts and tasted it. It looked like salt. It tasted like salt. And the fact that he wasn’t dead told him that it wasn’t poisonous. Thus, he thought, “Even if it turns out to not be salt, it’s a good substitute. Maybe it’s better for your blood pressure than salt. If so, I could make a fortune. If I mine it myself I’ll cut out the middleman. It will all be gravy in my pocket, so to speak.”
“And,” he fallaciously thought, “if there’s one pillar there’s bound to be more around. Plus, who knows how many tons there are below the ground that the pillar emerged from.” Thus he proved beyond any doubt that he was an almost peerless cretin—and that was saying a lot in the land of Gotham.
Then he said aloud to no one in particular, “God One only knows how that got there.” That he said it aloud troubled him for there was no one in sight. On the other hand, it would have troubled him even more if he had said it aloud to someone in particular when there was no one around. Then he would have been certain that he was losing his mind.
At least, he thought there was no one around. However, after saying, “God One only knows how that got there,” a booming voice that seemed to come simultaneously from nowhere and everywhere responded, “Yes. Yes, I do. You’re absolutely right about that.”
Upon hearing the voice, Joseph cried out in piercing, terrified voice, for he was a coward extraordinaire, “Who are you? Where are you?”
And the booming voice spoke again onto Joseph, “Are you a total idiot? You said, ‘God One only knows …’ and I, a disembodied booming voice, responded, ‘Yes. Yes, I am. You are absolutely right about that.’ Could you truly not figure it out from that exchange? I am God One, your Creator, Ruler of your Universe and all that crap.
“But, never mind. I didn’t mean to say anything. However, you thinking that particular pillar of salt would be a delicious and profitable thing to mine for human consumption was too ironic. I had to say something. I couldn’t help Myself. But that’s a story for another time. IT involves a guy named Lot and his wife, whose name I forget. Carry on. I won’t interject anymore because I’m not usually on direct speaking terms with salt merchants. It’s beneath Me. I speak to them only through my Sages, Prophets and Church Executives if I deign to speak to them at all.”
Salt Pillar Mining Preparations
To prepare for his new venture, Joseph returned to Sodom, marking his trail so he could find his way back. In Sodom, he bought four donkeys, four donkey carts, eight donkey saddle bags, a large backpack and a bundle buggy. He bought it all on credit, which required several vows made in God One’s name, not to mention considerable paperwork.
Before heading back to the pillar of salt, Joseph spotted a neighbour, Dudi, from Gotham. Dudi was a man tall of stature, muscular of build, clever of wit (for a Gothamite), and a notorious scoundrel. Dudi was about to head back to Gotham after having finally sobered up from several days of drunkenness and debauchery in Sodom.
Joseph called out to Dudi, “Dudi, would you mind taking a message back to my wife?”
And Dudi responded, “Would you mind not calling out like that? My head still hurts. If you speak softly I’ll promise to deliver your message.”
“Tell Mary something’s come up and I won’t be back for at least a month. And, if it wouldn’t be too much bother, I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d look in on her from time to time while I’m away.”
After easily extracting that promise from Dudi, Joseph returned to the desert and spent almost six weeks mining the salt from the pillar. Failing to find any more salt underground, nor any other pillars of salt, he packed what salt he was able to recover for transport back to Gotham.
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