The Mandrake Man

One harvest morning young Rube toiled in the field. With his scythe he cleaved the stalks, and with his pitchfork gathered wheat, loading it into his ass’ cart. His doggy did follow him all the day. He spied a purple flower, and thought he’d struck it big.

He fetched his blind grandfather Isaac, who knelt low in the field. He sniffed and smiled, and said “young Rube, a mandrake you have found. With this you shall rise into the clouds. But to take it, you must take care. Tie your doggy onto the root, and then let’s find some wax.”

Rube and Isaac found the wax from a nearby tree, and filled their ears. They walked back to where the doggy was tied, walked ten paces, called the doggy, and dropped to the ground. The doggy did run to them, and tugged the mandrake from the earth. As it rose, a scream emerged, and killed the doggy stone dead.

Rube and Isaac retched at the faintest echo of the scream as it reached their ears through the wax. They regained themselves and stood, and gathered the wriggling squealing mandrake into Isaac’s cloak. Rube stood over his once live doggy, and asked old Isaac how he’d harvest without his company. Isaac clapped him on the back and said, “with this mandrake, you’ll have a team of helpers for your company.”

Rube brought it to his mother Leah, who faulted him for killing his doggy and wasting his time. She took his mandrake and kicked him out the door. Rube did return to the fields, feeling heartbroken, for the clouds would not be his that day, and he had no doggy, neither.

Leah’s was talking to her little mandrake man, when up came  her spooky sister Rachel.

Rachel said, “give me.”

Leah said, “get your own, my boy Rube killed his doggy to get me this. Not enough you got my man, you want my boy’s root too?”

Rachel was barren, and wanted some company, not crooked, strange Jacob. She bartered, like her leper Laban dad had with Jake for her and Leah. “You want that gimpy old man, I’ll trade him for your boy’s root.”

Leah thought awhile, and said “deal.”

Rachel took her new friend, who remembered her when she sang to him and carried him to her tent. The root whispered sweet nothings to her, one thing led to another, and she gave herself the pleasure she never got from crooked Jake.

Late that night, Jake came limping through the field. Leah ran to him and grabbed his root. “Rachel! That’s not like you.” Jake exclaimed.

“It’s me, you fool, you never could tell us apart. You’re mine tonight, I bought you with Rube’s root.”

“Leah? Okay, that’s fine. Can I tell you about this cool new technique I invented to get goats to bang different than usual?”

“If you can’t stop yourself, Jake.” Jake went and lay with her, and Leah got herself a bunch of sons, and a daughter too.

Meanwhile, Rachel birthed her mandrake boy Weird Joe, and was he ever strange. He had so many dreams he couldn’t stop talking about, his big brothers fixed to kill him. ‘Twas only Rube’s intercession that spared his life that day, who said that, if they didn’t want this mandrake man, they should stick him back in the ground. Rube tossed him in a pit, thinking he’d come back later and scoop him up.

Big Jude piped up, and said, “let’s not waste a good root boy, sell Weird Joe to the hairy men.”

They did agree, and they pulled Weird Joe out of the pit. They sold him to slave for the hairy men. Rube felt a sadness in his chest, for he had loved that mandrake man. He held to the hope that one day they’d meet again.

Inspired by Genesis 30

3 comments

    1. Thank you! The dog and the part about digging up the mandrake I based on medieval mythos, but the rest is pretty much from Genesis. I’m always impressed by how deeply weird the Bible is, and I like thinking about them as hillbilly stories.

      Liked by 1 person

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