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Chapter 4

As the plane continued its smooth flight, David continued his journey into pleasant memories when life was waiting to be grasped.

At that time, David and Reuben had not long settled into their three bed dormitory when Ari arrived to complete what was to become an inseparable trio. They were rarely apart, except to attend their individual tutorials.

David studied Agricultural Science, Reuben Computer Technology and Ari, with his keen social empathy, chose Psychology. Ari had often spoken of his boyhood days. In many ways they were similar to those of David and Reuben, where days of salt sea air followed balmy clear nights, with gentle breezes cradling the tiny fishing boats anchored in the sheltered bay. Ari had grown up in a fishing village on a tiny, little known Island in the Aegean Sea. The waters sparkled like sapphires in the sun as tiny fish darted about, always escaping tiny children as they tried to scoop them into their sand buckets.

Ari's father owned a fishing boat. Many hours were spent mending nets and pushing carts laden with the early morning catch, to bustling water front fish stalls. At night, old men and young boys gathered at sundown to sit on the pier, legs dangling, as they prepared square blocks of bread smothered in fat and baited with hooks all around. The sea and smell of fish was ingrained into their very souls it seemed. Mothers, with children dressed in their best clothes and shiny shoes, strolled the cobblestone streets that led down to the waters edge. The children tripped along with bubbling laughter, be-ribboned girls whirled their frilly fresh washed dresses, hair curling around carefree shoulders. Family greeted family. Outsiders on holiday were caught up in the atmosphere, as if these people, satisfied with their labour of the week, met to celebrate. Contentment showed on the smiling, weather worn faces of the men.

Horse drawn carriages galloped up the cobblestone hills, bells a-jingling, bringing tourists from the ferry to buy home made dresses or hand crafted souvenirs. As a child, Ari had often walked up the hill via the old donkey trail strewn with huge grey boulders to hide behind. He could sit atop one and look down over the little bay to watch people sauntering to and fro. It took many days before the visitors to his island began to enjoy the slower, more observant way of life, where locals watched for signs of a change in the wind, weather, or an early season. At harvest time he would stop along the track at his friend's house, a square, flat-roofed home, whitewashed each year. The home was sparsely furnished with a table, a few wooden kitchen chairs and in another room, simple beds. This home now stood empty during the colder months, only to come alive again as the warmer weather returned. The now elderly grandmother came here with her granddaughter, to spend their holiday in what was once a noisy family home. Today, the fields were hired out to a local farmer. He could be seen on a warm summer's day urging his unlikely team of two donkeys and three mules round and round over the hard ground as they threshed the wheat. He sang in his native tongue a song of thanksgiving for being out in the fresh air and for a good crop from his labour, a simple song from a grateful heart. He needed to watch for wind changes to ensure the dust and stubble was always carried away from his face. Sometimes a stray viper would slither its way from under the pile of wheat still to be threshed, causing the animals to panic and falter. His strong roughened hands would take a firmer hold on his team as he guided them to safer ground. David was to later remember this scene described to him by Ari, and compare all these things with some of his Rabbi's teachings when he was a boy in Israel.

The Rabbi had talked much about God(1) blessing His people, the Jews, when they gave thanks for all that His hand had provided. David had also been encouraged to watch for signs of a different season and be wary of the dust and stubble of life. This could blow into the face of a person unexpectedly. Another serpent of a much deadlier kind, called Satan, often caused people to panic and falter. David could see that he, like the farmer's team, needed someone with firm hands to protect and guide him to safer ground.

The family expected Ari to follow in his father's footsteps, but he, like David and Reuben, often dreamt of a far different life. His plans did not include marrying a local girl chosen by his parents, or settling into a lifestyle like theirs. He had seen them struggle as they tried to increase their income, with his mother sewing pretty dresses for the young girls of richer families. Her fingers were now twisted and misshapen, her broad hips, now stiff and painful, making her gait lopsided and slow. A labour of love, she used to joke with Ari when he was a boy. She still grew cucumbers, garlic and tomatoes; the smell of fresh steamy bread often filled her home.

Ari was now settled in Athens. His last letter had told of his new home in Vouliagmen, a good bus ride from the bustling city. Reuben also lived nearby. The University trio had not met for about 10 years, but their friendships had been kept alive with photographs and long informative letters. The strong bond of kinship and fond memories of past years had never been broken, so all were eagerly looking forward to their long awaited reunion. The plane bumped gently onto the tarmac at busy Athens airport. Very soon, David stood with dozens of other passengers waiting to reclaim his luggage. He snatched his case from the moving conveyor piled with suit cases, some open with contents spilling out for all to see. He turned to search the faces of the gathering crowd, looking for his two friends Ari and Reuben. Glancing past armed guards who stood erect at the exit points, he caught sight of his friends hurrying across the busy car park. The years had been kind to them and their boyish smiles still lurked on more mature faces. Their hair showed the beginning of greying, adding to their maturity. David heard Ari's voice across the noise of cars, happy people, and taxi drivers, as they haggled over fares with prospective passengers.

"Izzie, over here".

The three met and were at once locked in a threefold circle of exuberant embrace, just like the one that saw them go their separate ways when university days ended.

"Ari, Reuben, it's so good to see you both again", said David, his words expressing the depth of his emotions. They were soon driving through the busy streets towards Ari's seaside home.
"The city looks a picture with all the decorations and flags to celebrate the Olympics", remarked David.

The five coloured circles, joined together, represented the five colours most commonly used in the flags of the world. They fluttered, giving an almost royal tone along the main streets leading to the magnificent arena, where the opening and closing ceremonies would be held with much pomp and grandeur.

"Did you hear about the money disaster?" said Ari.

"I was at my friend's bank very early yesterday morning before trading, so have cash and gold safely hidden, just in case things don't improve."

Reuben interrupted, "Never trusted banks or money institutions. I've always kept cash, gold and silver in my safe at home. I have another safe installed at my computer office, as I try to deal on a cash only basis."

"How is business?," asked David, who sensed Reuben still carried a chip on his shoulder as indeed he had when they were boys.

"Going well. I made a huge profit last financial year. Sales of new computer packages, modems and bulletin boards, not to mention the Internet, have tripled as people hooked up to these on-line systems. There seems to be an ever increasing demand for all information and services to be available in private homes as well as business houses. Schools also provide children from the age of six years with a classroom computer. Many parents are finding they must install one at home. After you have settled in at Ari's perhaps you would like to see the latest equipment for yourself? Even he has become computer literate," laughed Reuben. "He keeps all his patient records on computer disk."

"Not much choice Reuben. The new board of Psychological Practices require this to give full access to all patient information. I have heard this rule is being introduced into all facilities, so a full dossier can gradually be built up on all people right throughout the country."

"Sounds scary", retorted David from the back seat of Ari's comfortable new blue Volvo.

"Thank goodness my business is run the old fashioned way. I was reading in an overseas newspaper recently of the Flash Card, where all personal information is recorded. The card also acts as an electronic purse. Banks and credit card companies have been working towards this for years. I don't like the thought of a cashless society. Just imagine the full implications for someone who chose not to have this card."

"Would these families still be able to use cash for food or necessary services like hospitals or doctors?" asked Ari.

"Even petrol, power, gas and water supplies to the family home could be in jeopardy. Evidently, in Australia, an imaginary fence has been drawn in one part of the country and people on one side must, as a trial, use these cards for everything. People are becoming restless and frightened as they feel vulnerable to the power and authorities in control of this plan. Even friends are divided, like echoes of another Berlin wall! "

"At least I seem safe in Israel." replied David.

"At my plant Reuben, I also try to deal in cash, but often trade goods or services with my customers if they have that need. Kibbutz life certainly influenced me in my present business and everyday living. Compared to many other countries my life is much simpler. At harvest time the worries of the world today seem so far removed from us. I know man can be both good and evil, but because I live in Israel, God is close to my heart as I watch the seasons come and go. I believe good or evil is a choice we all must make, whether in business, home life, politics or religion. If we follow the right path I feel sure we will prosper. Don't you remember my mother telling us this Reuben? She used to say we were all born evil by nature and needed God to change us before we could become good. I remember her saying that one day there would come to power a world leader who would be evil and empowered by Satan. Many people would be deceived by him into believing he was good.(2) Perhaps the money crash, the possibility of a cashless society and unrest throughout the world, are some factors that could herald his arrival."

Reuben was wearying of David's suddenly serious conversation. He shifted restlessly in his seat.

"I am thinking of selling my business while profits are up", he remarked, hoping to change the conversation.

"Perhaps I need a holiday. I long to walk the narrow streets of the Old City of Jerusalem. Sometimes the cobblestones seem to cry out for my return to what once was my home. I feel a deep yearning to return to the place of my birth and early years. I know also it is the place where I must die."

"Lighten up you two. Today is a day to celebrate your visit David," laughed Ari, as the car pulled into the circular drive of his palatial residence. The steel security doors burst open and two energetic children raced out to greet their father. The boy, swarthy like his Dad, the girl a younger version of her beautiful, elegant, mother.
"Welcome David. The children have been pestering me all morning with never ending questions about your adventures with Reuben and their father when you were younger."

Later that evening, with appetites satisfied and adult bodies soothed with an aged red wine kept for special occasions, the children began their questioning. Their eyes darted from Reuben to David as they soaked up their words, telling how they met as boys and of the times they fished, played and studied side by side. Ari sat silently observing his two friends as they recounted their escapades, but noticed a hint of sadness in Reuben's voice.

"Come now children. Enough for tonight. Time you were asleep."
"Oh Dad," pleaded his daughter, flashing him a coy smile as she flicked her long black hair over her shoulder.  "Enough young lady, off you go."

After goodnight kisses and hugs, quiet descended upon the room as Helen refilled the wine glasses.

"Tell me about your business venture David," asked Ari.

"Remember I wrote you about the new high protein foods made from locally grown products? Well, they are to be released in all food outlets when I return. The price of basic foods has risen dramatically this month. The shortage is the result of drought in some countries. This grain supply has been dropping, with many silos now empty, although I believe Australia still has plenty. My mother, as you remember, was born there, and is planning a trip to visit some of our relatives who live in the wheat farming district. She will be able to collect on the spot information from the locals about the true situation. It will also give her an opportunity to catch up with Sarah, my sister and her family."

Reuben became interested in the conversation.  "How do you think you will market these new products David?"

"My plan is to provide a variety of food, in special purpose survival packs, containing a combination of cereals that swell to double their size when liquids are added. Included are compressed cereal logs like biscuits, containing honey, oil and a new strain of bean meal to provide nourishment. People are starving throughout the world. I must use all I have to help alleviate the suffering of as many as possible. Being single, like you Reuben, allows me to pursue whatever cause I choose. I need little, yet am blessed with so much. My simple home is at the plant. I still find time to sit under the stars and watch as Galilee becomes quiet after the sudden windstorms which funnel down through the hills to chop up otherwise quiet seas."

Reuben's thoughts wandered to his Jerusalem of dusty narrow streets where women carried baskets high on their heads. Old men with stained teeth rode on donkeys, while tourists rubbed shoulders with locals, some dressed in priest's robes. Other men, heads swathed in Kaffiyehs with chequered patterns, reminded Reuben they were of Arab stock. This is my inheritance thought Reuben. He was surprised at the depth of anger and resentment he felt inside a heart that was beginning to become as hard as flint towards David.

Ari, sprawled in his soft chair, watched both David and Reuben as he sipped Cognac. He read the body language of both his friends. David's warm, open, enthusiastic and full of hope, whilst Reuben's matched the coldness showing on his face as he sat with legs crossed and arms folded tightly across his chest. "Let's call it a night", volunteered Ari, hoping to break the tension he felt mounting.

"The bedroom next to David's is ready for you Reuben. I thought we could all set out early to look over your computer equipment."
"O.K. by me" grunted Reuben.

The NovelNotes Feature

These are a helpful feature of this novel. Their use is optional. They may be used if you want to understand more of the underlying Biblical aspects of the story, or the historical and factual material. However, you do not have to use these to follow the story line of the novel.

Chapter 4 NovelNotes

1. To this day Orthodox Jews still believe that Jesus Christ was not their Messiah. Generally, they do not believe in any of the New Testament and indeed, many of the books of the Old Testament, preferring to follow just the first five books of the Old Testament, which they call the Books of Moses, or the Torah. If they were to read and accept some of the Prophets of the Old Testament such as Isaiah, they would see in Chapters like Chapter 53, that the circumstances of the death of Jesus were exactly as described by Isaiah, about 700 years before the birth of Christ.

2. The level of deception used by the Antichrist will be at a level never seen before in this world. World leaders and many clever and intelligent people will be fooled by this man. The only way to have the truth is by reading and knowing the Word of God, the Bible.

Continue to Chapter Five