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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Certain Rewards of Hard Work


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The Certain Rewards of Hard Work

from the book: Life Will Get You in the End:
Short stories by David Satterlee

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Life Will Get You in the End:
Short Stories by David Satterlee
My first wife used to claim that "No good deed goes unpunished." Maybe she was right. A seasoned warrior's obviously-skilled accomplishments are noticed by his king. What could be better than being an honored leader of men?


The Certain Rewards of Hard Work

“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God “
Ecclesiastes 2:24 NIV

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.”
Proverbs 22:29 NIV

Nonak is a warrior. Let us not be coy about it; his profession is killing men. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, his job also calls for killing women, children, and livestock as well. The essence of his craft is to weaken and demoralize competing peoples and to repurpose their valuables for the benefit of those left back home. His work demands that he be skilled at murder, mayhem, looting, plundering, and rape.

Now, before you start to smirk, consider how difficult it is to organize the systematic rape of every woman and maiden in a territory, the difficulty of
sustaining the physical capacity, and how truly unattractive are most victims. One begins to find sympathy for his labors.

It is hard work—exhausting and demanding—but Nonak is nothing if not a humble servant of his god, tribe, and family. He is true to his faith and calling. In fact, possessing a notable talent, his professionalism has not gone unrecognized. The younger men and new recruits look up to him for advice and instruction, hoping to emulate his success, to say nothing of his talent for survival.

 Nonak has been given command of eight full battle teams. He drills them with demanding urgency during the day, fights with them shoulder to shoulder in battle, and relaxes with them in the camp at night. The more ambitious aspire to match the strength of his sword arm and his capacity for strong drink. Nonak has become a hero to his men; the favored are invited to bask in the warmth of his fire and the glory of his approval. His commanding presence earns rapt attention as he tells inspiring tales of the killing of men and the loving of women.

As a man committed to excellence in his work, Nonak has recently been visiting the armorers. He is endlessly inquisitive and eagerly cultivates his intellect and skills. His study is not without purpose. Nonak has fashioned an excellent set of armor for himself. It is strong and moves smoothly with him in battle, deflecting blows and reflecting the sun’s brilliance in its highly polished surface, blinding and disorienting his foes.

As it happens on this day, the King is reviewing his troops. Passing by Nonak, his King immediately takes note of this exceptional warrior. Uncharacteristically, he dismounts. His King approaches Nonak who is standing tall, filled with power and spirit, and gleaming in the mid-day sun. Addressing an attendant he commands: “What shiny rivets. See that this man is reassigned so as to keep my serving utensils polished.”


Yes, "Nonak" sounds like "no-neck." 

Years ago, I was moving across the country to take a new job and wrote a series of stories, like this one, featuring "Man-O-Power" and "Boy-O-Ability." Each story addressed a potential issue that worried me about my new situation. They were inspired by, and spontaneously arose from, the deepest parts of my latent anxieties. They were a perfectly matched set in tone and structure. I lost them and I still grieve. This was an effort to reconstruct one of them. If you ever run across them, please let me know.