“STUNG! A Theophilus Hornby Mystery” (Ch. 9)

17 Jun

~~ Ch. 9 ~~

“I just love my ‘calling’,” John Smith said to himself. “I get to do God’s work and fulfill my destiny!”

As he sat in his hotel room, Smith was thoroughly relishing the news reports of Delvaney’s death. He thought to himself how much he enjoyed the hours of research and preparation — which were always followed by a perfect execution. He rehearsed his work out-loud as he reviewed the car “accident” he caused.

“First, I had to study the wasp, its scientific name being Vespula vulgaris. I learned that the wasp’s venom is as powerful as a rattlesnake’s.

“I remember overhearing some of Delvaney’s men in a bar talking about how their boss — a man feared by all — was deathly afraid of only one thing — wasps! They laughed as they remembered how he had jumped straight up at a family meeting when he thought a wasp was flying near his head. He explained his action by telling the story of when, as a child on his tenth birthday, he had had a wasp nest fall behind his sweatshirt as he climbed his favorite tree. He had gotten stung about 25 times and almost died.

“I love it!”, Smith said. “Delvaney didn’t get stung even once this time!” Smith gushed as he recalled the medical examiner’s findings. “Just the thought of a wasp in his car was enough to do him in!” Smith laughed out loud as he reflected on his perfect plan.

He had read up on wasps and learned that a captured wasp could be put to sleep with just a small amount of carbon dioxide. “And when Delvaney opened that small box with the card on top saying ‘Congratulations!’, he didn’t realize that the chocolate truffles were hiding a sleeping wasp! Shortly after the box was opened, the air woke up the wasp and the rest is, as they say, history!”

Smith picked up his Bible and began to read some of his favorite passages. He read verses from Numbers 35 about a man appointed by God.

As he read, Smith reviewed the details of “the avenger of blood.” God decreed that six Levite cities were to be “cities of refuge” to which a killer of someone might flee and await trial before the assembly. If that person had committed murder (striking a person with an iron object, a stone, or a wooden object), “the avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death; when the avenger comes upon the murderer, the avenger shall put the murderer to death” (Num. 35:19). God commanded execution by the avenger for someone who out of enmity hits another with their fist and they die.

However, Smith continued to read, the avenger of blood can’t execute someone who pushes another or throws something at them unintentionally or, without seeing them, drops a stone on them, and they die. No harm was intended and, after a trial before the assembly, the accused must go back to the city of refuge and stay there until the death of the high priest.

Smith finished his reading of Numbers 35 by noting that if the accused ever goes outside the limits of the city of refuge to which they fled and the avenger of blood finds them outside the city, the avenger of blood may kill the accused without being guilty of murder.

“I prefer my work to be quiet and private, unlike the Old Testament’s avenger of blood,” Smith said to himself. “I wonder what my next assignment might be.”


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