The teenager stares at him. Speechless. Her face grubby from the day, and her nails chewed from a stressful life. She opens her mouth then clamps it shut again. Then finally gets a couple of words together: ‘You’re kidding.’ He shakes his head. ‘Straight up,’ he mutters, his face as hard as that nearby rock. ‘But we thought you didn’t wanna come coz you were scared of us,’ she says, ‘everyone’s scared of us.’ ‘Yea I know,’ he says miserably. ‘But it wasn’t that?’ she crinkles her nose, there are a few freckles under that coating of grime. ‘No, I told you,’ he snaps. She scratches at her neck then slaps a flea. ‘But we’re horrible,’ she says. He nods. ‘I know you are; I can see that.’ ‘So tell me again…’ she says.
He sighs. Very heavily. His face creases with the deepest of frown lines. ‘I told you. I knew what would happen. I knew that if I came here and told you that you were all gonna be destroyed, you’d all go and blinking change. And I would look stupid. I know about these things. I’ve been working for God for years. What’s the saying? Slow to anger and rich in love.’ he sighs again and this time adds a glob of spit. ‘S’not fair.’ ‘So it was all about your image?’ She says. ‘You were scared of looking an idiot.’ ‘Rub salt into the wound, why don’t ya.’ he says and the teenage Ninevite laughs. ‘You know what they always tell me?’ she says. ‘What’s that?’ he growls. ‘Grow up!’ she says with a huge grin. He flinches. ‘Thanks very much. You know the worst of it?’ She shakes her head so he groans on. ‘I was ready to kill myself over this. Got a bunch of sailors to chuck me overboard so I wouldn’t have to come here. Only got swallowed by a stinking blinking big fish. The stench was abysmal.’ ‘I know – I can still smell ya,’ she says. ‘Whatever,’ says Jonah. ‘See,’ she says, at his reply, ‘just like a teenager. So what you doing up here now?’ ‘Waiting, hoping,’ he says. ‘For what?’ she asks. He seems more than a tad reluctant to tell her. ‘For a divine thunderbolt to nuke the city,’ he mumbles. ‘I’m still hoping I might be proved right.’ She smiles, punches his arm. ‘Don’t hold your breath,’ she says, ‘everyone’s changed down there. But I tell you what, you never know…’ Jonah’s walking away now. ‘Never know what?’ Jonah asks, looking back at her. ‘You might go down in history. One day somebody might remember you and what you did and use you as a great example of something real.’ ‘Maybe,’ he chunters, ‘maybe…’ And he wanders off to stew in his own juices.
Jonah 4 and Matthew 12 v 39-41