The Prodigal Parable of the Son

The book of Luke, chapter 15, in the family key.

Jesus continued. “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘I’m thirty.’ And the father said, ‘That can’t possibly be right. Maybe fourteen.’

And the older brother said, ‘Get a load of this asshole, calling himself thirty.’

And the mother said, ‘Who told you that you were thirty? You can tell us. We’re not angry with you. But we are worried, desperately worried, and heartbroken, that some vile skulking stranger, with sinister intentions, would try to chisel you from the family that bore you by trying to convince you of your thirty-ness.’

And the younger son said Look, just give me everything with my name on it and let’s not argue about it.

And the mother said, ‘Your name!’

And the father said, ‘Funny, I don’t remember you having much say at the time that you got your name.’

And the mother said, ‘I seem to remember choosing your name for you.’

And the father said, ‘What a wonderful job you did of it, too.’

And the mother said, ‘I seem to remember the day you were born like it was yesterday.’

And the father said, ‘It was yesterday, darling. Our younger son is a single day old.’

And the son said: Oh my God I can’t wait to get to….Jesus, anywhere. Tarsus. Tyre, Sidon, uh, Bethsaida even. So he set off with all that he had for the nearest distant country and there set about to wild living.

Oh shit, he said. This is great. This is so fucking great. I should have started living wildly fifteen years ago.

Then everybody’s food ran out. It was bad times all around. And he had spent all that he had, and began to be in need, so he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. And the guy — we can’t rightly call him “youngest son” in this context, I think — anyhow this guy hadn’t been around pigs a lot before, and they were definitely bigger than he’d pictured pigs being, and sometimes they were a real fucking hassle. But overall the pigs were relatively smart, and self-sufficient, and had really distinct personalities. Built nests. Had sort-of-stupid- and sort-of-wise-looking squashed faces.

He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, so occasionally, if there was a decent-looking crust of bread or leftover potatoes, he’d snag it out of the bin before turning it out for the pigs. Just basic practicality. But it was also sort of fine, you know? Times were hard all over. Some of his roommates swiped food from work too, and they could usually cobble something reasonable out of it at the end of the day.

Anyhow, one day, he came to work, and he noticed his father, wearing a laughably obvious pig suit — really just like a pig skin wrapped around him sort of like a cape — rooting around in the field, apparently “pretending” to be a pig.

What do you want, Father, the guy said. What is this about.

“Pig sounds,” his father said. “Pig sounds, pig sounds.”

I honestly find this sort of thing creepy, the guy said.

“Son!” his father roared, standing up in the middle of the wallow and throwing his pig-skin to the ground.

Is that from one of my pigs? the guy asked. I have to do a head count every night, you know, and missing pigs come right out of my paycheck.

“Think of how many of my servants have food to spare,” the father said, “and here you are counting pigs, and ribs, too!”

Yes, I remember how rich you are, the guy said.

“All you have to say is ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you...I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants,’ while crawling before me on your hands and knees, and I will sweep you up and throw my arms around you and kiss you in front of everybody and tell them that you used to be dead (because we disagreed) but now you’re alive and my sweet tiny baby infant baby boy again, so little and one day old, and I’ll buy you gold shoes and a pony,” the father said. “Just come to your senses and come home.”

And the guy said, No? Absolutely not.

And the mother, who had been hiding behind a rock, popped up and started weeping. “Please bring my tiny dead son home,” she cried, “he’s so little and so dead and so mistaken, and he thinks he’s thirty, and I don’t understand who told him that.”

And all of the father’s servants crept about the guy and tried to move his lips to say ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you,’ and tried to pantomime his arms and legs into crawling, such that he had to kick a little to get out from the midst of them.

But I’m not sorry, he said, not at all.

‘We should have waited until he got hungrier,’ his mother said sadly. ‘We should have waited.’

“If you come home, I’ll kill something for you,” his father said. “Anything you want.”

And all this time the elder son had been hiding himself in the field, but his heart grew heavy within him, and he cried, ‘Look! All these years I have worked for you, and never disobeyed your word; you never even gave me and my friends a party goat. But this son of yours, who has squandered your property with prostitutes —’

If you mean my friends who do sex work, the guy said, then yes, okay, I can confirm that they are unbelievably, brutally hot, and we have amazing parties, and sometimes we fuck, and it was totally fun, and I never got punished for it.

And the elder brother stamped his feet. The Devil has told you that! The Devil has told you that! cried he, and in his anger he plunged his right foot so deep into the earth that his whole leg went in, and then in rage he pulled at his left leg so hard with both hands that he tore himself in two.

You fucking creeps, said the man, when he had recovered himself. You fucking creeps. You fucking creeps. You fucking creeps. And he drove them out of the field, his mother and father and all of their servants, til only pigs remained.