Rules Are Rules

The prompts at our Inksplinters Writers Group this week were all palindromes. One was “some men interpret nine memos”…
“How many?” asked Aaron.

“Nine,” said Moses.

“Nine rules?” said Aaron. “That’s an awful lot. We didn’t have that many when we were slaves in Egypt.”

“Yeah,” said Joshua. “Basically there were just two – if you found yourself thrown to the lions try to keep away from the toothy end, and if the Red Sea suddenly parts, run like hell, it’s not going to stay that way forever.”

“Well, there’s nine here,” said Moses. Joshua muttered something under his breath that sounded like “calls this a promised land”.

“Lets hear them, then,” said Aaron.

“First, I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before me,” said Moses.

“Are they all written like that?” asked Joshua.

“Of course,” said Moses. “This is God talking.”

“Well, just give us the gist of the rest of them,” said Joshua. “What’s next?”

It was around this time that Moses began to regret not carrying the tablets down the mountain with him. But they’d been made of stone and he felt weak, since he’d eaten nothing but manna (a kind of meringue) for three weeks, so he’d just read quickly through the list, confident that he’d remember them. On the way down he realised that he’d forgotten one already, which was why he had presented the others with the notion of nine commandments. Now, as the others blathered on, he found himself struggling even with them.

“Keep Sunday free,” he said suddenly.

“Why, said Aaron, “what’s happening?”

“No, that was one of them,” said Moses. “Then there was do not kill, or steal. Look after your mum and dad. Don’t lie. And, um,” (he thought frantically) “oh yes, don’t covet your neighbour’s wife’s ass.”

“Not even Isaiah’s wife?” said Aaron.

They all thought for a few seconds about Isaiah’s wife, the Pippa Middleton of the desert, and her incredible bum.

“No, apparently not even her,” said Moses, wistfully.

“Jesus Christ,” said Joshua.

“Oh, thanks, I’d forgotten that one,” said Moses. “You can’t say ’Jesus Christ’ like that.”

“Fuck me,” said Joshua.

“Whereas oddly, that seems to be OK,” said Moses. “Now, how many is that?”

There was silence. None of them wanted to admit that they couldn’t count higher than four.

“Er, nine,” said Aaron eventually.

“There you are then,” said Moses. “The nine memos from God.”


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