Everything was ready for the ritual, or so Deborah thought. As the sun rose in the east, she began to clean her room from the previous night’s escapades. I can’t believe that drunk did so much damage in such a short time. She righted an upturned table in the center of the room. I need to be more careful next time. I don’t want to be caught cheating customers while conjuring spirits. If some drunken old fool could see the thread attached to my lamp, then who knows who else could have seen it? She placed the lamp back on the table and inspected the thread. I don’t need any more unexpected expenses. Deborah felt the pains of age in her fingers as she fondled the thread. I’m getting too old for this séance business. If my bodyguards didn’t stop him, he might have broken me along with my table.
She picked up the rest of the debris off the floor. Maybe I should just pack it in and live with my oldest son. He’s been begging me for years to quit deceiving everyone. So why do I keep doing it? She shrugged her shoulders. It’s simple. People want to be deceived. So, I do it.
The sound of approaching footsteps broke her concentration. She turned and faced a stranger. “Good morning, sir. What may I do for you?”
“You’re a medium. You should know the answer.”
“I don’t need to be a medium to know what you want. There’s only one answer to why you came here. The questions are in the details, and the answers to those depend on how much you have to spend.”
The stranger laughed. “You’re quick witted. I think you’ll do the trick. I have an unusual request for you. I have a client who wishes the services of a medium. He’s in great despair and wants to be consoled.”
“There’s nothing unusual about that, sir. This is almost a daily chore for me.”
“I don’t want you to console him, though. I want you to bring more despair to him. Tell him there’s no hope. No future. I want him broken beyond repair. Word has it you are very convincing, and silver can keep your lips sealed. So, I ask you, can you do this for me?”
Deborah considered the stranger before putting her hand out, palm up. “It depends.”
He placed two silver pieces in her hand.
In silence, she left her hand out.
Two more pieces joined the first.
Deborah put the coins in her pocket. “When can I expect you to bring this person to me?”
“He won’t be coming. You’ll go to him. Be ready by midday.”
“If you want a good performance, I’ll need information. Who is he, what does he want, and what does he do?” she asked.
“You just need to know one thing,” he said. “He’s King Saul.”
While they were talking, King Saul paced back and forth. Why me, he thought. Why did God abandon me? I regret what I did at Amalek, so why don’t I hear His voice? No dreams, and even my prophets are silent. I’m like a blind man, alone in the middle of the desert.
A servant entered King Saul’s room. “Sire, General Abner has returned.”
Saul jumped to his feet. “Quick! Send him in.” He watched Abner enter. “Did you find a medium?” he blurted out.
“Yes, Sire,” he said. “She’s in a tent on the outskirts of the encampment. She doesn’t know anything about what’s expected of her or who she’s meeting, just as you requested.”
“Excellent. Go to her, and I’ll be there shortly. I need to change into some common clothing.” Saul changed as soon as Abner left. He scurried out the door and arrived at the tent moments later.
In common clothing, Saul opened the flap of a tent nestled alone on the outskirts of the army’s camp. It was dark except for a single oil lamp glowing on a table. When his eyes grew accustomed, he saw a woman sitting in front of the light and Abner standing on the far side of the enclosure.
“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “Come closer.” Saul walked to the edge of the table and sat down across from her. “I’m Deborah,” she said. “I’m here at the request of your friend.” The woman didn’t know who he was, so he excused her demand to approach. He watched her gaze at him. “I see that your aura is in great distress. Perhaps I can talk to the spirits around you and see why.”
“Yes, please do. I need answers to my questions.”
“Yes, yes. I understand. Give me a moment of silence so I can concentrate.” Deborah closed her eyes, and Saul’s attention flickered to the oil lamp. Did it move? he thought to himself.
Suddenly, Deborah slammed her hands on the table and gasped. “You’re King Saul! Why have you come before me? You know I’m not a believer in your god. Have you come to do away with me?”
To Saul, her realization confirmed her authenticity as a medium. How else could she have known who I am? “My kind lady, I swear by my name and by my God, I wish you no harm. I’m only looking for consultation from those who departed from this earth. I’m asking you for help in this matter.”
Saul watched her calm down before she asked, “Who do you wish for me to conjure?”
“Samuel,” he said. “Conjure Samuel for me.”
Deborah closed her eyes again and whispered to herself while Saul looked at the oil lamp again. I’m sure it moved. It’s no longer at the center of the table. Deborah groaned. “Someone approaches,” she said.
Saul became excited. “Is it Samuel? What does he look like?”
Deborah moaned again. “I see an old man. He is dressed in a robe. His face is of one who was abruptly awoken.”
“It must be Samuel,” he said. “Ask him why God has forsaken me.”
“Samuel says you already know the answer to that. He asks why you summoned him. Don’t you seek enough counsel with yourself?”
“Please, kind lady, ask Samuel this. I’m about to face the Philistines in battle. Will I win, and will my family be safe?”
Deborah’s face became crestfallen. “By sunset tomorrow, the sons of Israel will be in the hands of the Philistines. Your sons will be dead and you with them. There is nothing you can do to change this. I’m sorry.”
Saul collapsed and fell to the floor, mourning the loss of his sons. Touched by the show of his raw emotions, Deborah had an assistant bring some food, and she coaxed King Saul to eat some. “You need to eat, Sire. You must be strong. If not for yourself, then for those you serve.”
Saul saw the wisdom in this and ate. Soon after, Deborah excused herself, and Abner followed, leaving King Saul alone.
Abner caught up with the woman and handed her five pieces of silver. “You did a fine job back there.”
Reluctantly, she took the money. “Don’t come looking for me anymore,” she said. “I’ve had enough of this business to last three lifetimes. Find someone else to do your dirty work.” She left Abner standing there and returned home. When she arrived, she packed her things and went to live with her son, never returning to her old way of life.