Volume 29, Number 2

A King in an Alternate Universe
(Or, Donald and Bathsheba)

Keith Madsen

There are alternate universes to the one in which we live. Truly. Normally, they stay entirely separate, with only a hint of a shadow that the other ones exist. But every now and then, there is a slip. What belongs in one universe slips into another. Or… sometimes intentionally slips into another. When that happens, the fit is not always exact. But the slip illuminates all the more what could have happened had things been different. And the change can be good or bad. What had been a Fall, with redemption, can mutate into an existential crash. Can it also be that an historical spiral in one universe can be healed by a transfusion from another? That is to be seen. But the case of which we speak now is of the former kind.

In one iteration of history, King David led a small, out-of-the-way nation to a prominence that far exceeded what its physical size might have dictated. But then came the slip. A figure from the 21st Century fell (with angelic help) into a time warp and somehow traded places with the vaunted king. It changed everything. Here is how…

The Royal Palace, Jerusalem, 1000 BCE

King Donald came inside the palace after greeting a moderate-sized, cheering crowd from the balcony. Jebediah, his Royal steward, met him, ready to tend to his needs.

“Oh, they love me! They love me! They really love me!” King Donald said. “Don’t they love me, Jebediah?”

Jebediah hesitated.

King Donald spoke more firmly. “Okay, once again, keeping in mind that I could fire you on the spot, don’t my people love me?”

Jebediah laughed nervously. “Yes! Well, since you put it that way, of course they love you! Why I am sure that was absolutely the largest crowd to ever greet a king outside that window!”

“Better than King Saul, huh?

“Well, yes…if you say so!”

King Donald returned to the window. “I beat him, you know. The people chose me over him. God chose me over him. That’s why I am the King of all that I see!

I am the king of that wall

And the cattle in a stall,

I am the king of those women,

And those ducks all a’ swimmin’

I’m the king of the young girls

The babes and the ugos

The king of the merchants, selling those rug-os!

I am Donald the Greatest,

And as all my servants say

I am king of my world this wonderful day!

Jebediah smiled stiffly. “Uh… beautiful, Sire. I will call Seuss, the royal scribe, and we will make it a Psalm.”

King Donald returned to the center of his throne room. “Love it! Love that idea! I have the greatest staff in the history of royal staffs.”

Jebediah bowed toward the king. “Thank you, Sire. But, by the way. Nathan the Prophet is in the waiting room, and he requests a word with Your Highness.”

King Donald flashed a self-satisfied grin. “Ah, yes! Nathan. Good man, Nathan. The clergy love me, you know. Nathan and I have had a lot of good chats together. Once told me that the Lord was with me. Very insightful! He’s going to help me build the Temple—Putting in a good word for me with God. We’ll build that Temple. A big beautiful Temple. On one corner there will be a huge tower going high into the heavens. Donald Tower, we will call it. The Temple will be a great tribute to me… er… to God, with a big, beautiful wall around it. See him in! See him in!”

“Most certainly, Sire.”

Jebediah exited through the large door leading to the foyer. Shortly, Nathan the prophet entered. He wasn’t happy.

King Donald offered his right hand to the arriving prophet. “Nathan! So good to see you! How is the prophecy business going, anyway? What wonderful visions have you been seeing for how great my kingdom will be in the future?”

Nathan ignored the right hand and simply bowed to the king. “Good evening, Your Highness. I trust you are well?”

King Donald screwed up his face. “Of course I am well! Has someone been saying I’m not well? Jebediah! Jebediah!”

Jebediah re-entered the throne room.

“Get every one of the royal physicians in here, immediately!” the king said. “I need them to go out to every home in the city to tell them how well I am! I want—"

Nathan gestured for the king to calm down. “Your Highness, please! It was merely an expression of greeting. Nobody has said you are not well.”

“Oh… then never mind. Jebediah, you can return to…whatever it is you do.”

Jebediah left again, shaking his head.

“Your Highness, I actually came with a… well… story in which you might be interested,” Nathan said, regaining his focus. “It concerns two men in the kingdom, one rich and the other poor.”

King Donald threw his arms into the air. “Oh, God. Why do we put up with these poor slobs, anyway? They clutter up our streets. Spread their disease. Get in the way of our royal parades. How long, O Lord? What did the slob do to the poor rich guy this time?”

“Uhm, continuing with my story, the rich man had many flocks and herds—”

“Smart business man! Really smart. My kind of guy.”

Nathan grimaced. “Yes, well… the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew with him and with his children. It used to eat of his meager fare and drink from his cup and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.”

King Donald shook his head in disgust. “Not smart! Bad business practice! No wonder poor guys are always looking for hand-outs. They do such stupid things. You should never befriend your livestock. And especially you should never let your children around them. Get them to reproduce and then eat them! I mean the livestock and not the children, of course.”

“That’s… uh… reassuring. Moving on with my story, a business friend of the rich man came along, and he wanted to feed him. But the rich man didn’t want to kill one of his own flock—“

“Of course. Reduces his profit margin.”

“So, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the business traveler who was visiting him. Uh… anything about this story seem unfair to you?”

King Donald shrugged. “Nope. Sounds like good business to me. The poor man would have done the same had he not been so stupid as to allow himself to be poor in the first place.”

Nathan shook his head and looked up toward the ceiling. “You see, God! I told you that story would go right over this king’s head!”

“What’s that you say?” asked the king.

The old prophet heaved a deep sigh. “Never mind. God sent me to tell you He’s angry at you because of your affair with Bathsheba.”

“Bathsheba? Uh… which one was—?”

“Bathsheba! She was bathing on the roof? Remember her?”

King Donald smiled lecherously. “Oh, Bathsheba! Yes, I remember now. Of course, there have been so many. I love women.” He lowered his voice and spoke behind the back of his hand, as if trying to keep a secret from God. “And when you are king, they let you do whatever you want, you know!”

“This one was married, and she got pregnant by you.”

“Oh, yes. That. Married to some foreign guy.”

“Uriah the Hittite.”

Once again, the king threw his arms into the air in frustration. “Why do we have so many people from these shit-hole countries, anyway?”

“Uh… ’Hittite’ isn’t exactly a foreign country. They are an ethnicity that has been around for as long as anyone can remember.”

“Hmm. Chain immigration, then!”

Nathan took in a deep breath, then let it out slowly. “Uriah the Hittite was one of your best soldiers. You had him sent to the front lines and withdrew his support, so he died.”

“Fake news! Fake news!”

“This is God we’re talking about. He doesn’t do fake news.”

King Donald began pacing around the throne room, before turning back to Nathan. “Then you’ve got to fix it with Him! You’re a man of the cloth. That’s your job. The other prophets and priests all love me. So, fix this, or I’ll get someone else to do it!”

“Don’t you feel at all guilty about Bathsheba?”

“Hey, she was the one who was bathing on the roof, you know. You can’t tell me she wasn’t looking for a little piece of The Donald. They all want me, and there is so little of me to go around. What do you do?”

Nathan shook his head and rubbed his eyes. Then he returned his attention to the monarch. “Your Highness, every woman in Jerusalem who has a roof bathes on her roof. It’s not an invitation to anything. And what about the child? The child will need a father.”

“Have one of my lawyers send her money.”

“Not enough. A child needs more than money, and Bathsheba needs justice.”

King Donald waved him off and walked away. “Yeah, fine. I’ll marry her. What’s another wife? And she’s really hot, so she’ll look good in royal parades.” He turned back toward the prophet. “Is that enough?”

“I’ll talk to Him, but I’m thinking not.”

King Donald shrugged. “Well, like I said before, there are always other clergy who will do it if you won’t.” The king strode angrily to the door of the foyer and opened it. “Jebediah! Fetch me some of my prophets. And do it right away!”

King Donald had barely returned to the center of the throne room when three prophets came stumbling in. The last one tripped over the first two. One of the first ones was bald and the other had curly hair. The third, who seemed to be their leader, had short, dark hair cut straight across his forehead. He got up angrily, swatted the bald-headed guy on the forehead with the palm of his hand and poked the curly-headed one in the eyes with two fingers of his right hand. Soon, they were all three poking and prodding and saying “Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk!” to each other.

Nathan gave King Donald a look of confusion. He, in return, just shrugged and whispered confidentially. “It’s all an ancient ritual from their Secret Society, I am told. Got that word ‘Nyuk’ from God himself. Holy word! Super Holy word!”

The leader with the dark bangs was now looking their way. He bowed. “Moe-isis the Prophet at your service, Your Highness.”

“I need you to have my back on something, Moe-isis!” said King Donald, with urgency. “Ugly rumors are being spread about me. More fake news, I’m afraid. Even God has been taken in. Some are doubting that I am a man of God!”

The three prophets, wide-eyed, said in unison, “No!”

“I’m afraid so.”

“After all the battles you won against the enemies of God?” said Moe-isis.

“After you offered to build God a big, beautiful temple?” said the curly-headed one.

“After you drove out all those evil foreigners?” said the bald one.

King Donald shrugged. “Well, I guess I must admit to a few… uh… little indiscretions. Got this girl pregnant.”

“She wasn’t the only one!” interjected Nathan.

“Forgiven! All totally forgiven!” said the bald one.

“I heard it was her fault!” said the curly-headed one.

“Well, at least you are not gay, Sire!” added Moe-isis. “God should appreciate that you’re not gay. I’ve got to admit that I always wondered about your old friend Jonathan, though. I mean he always said he loved you. A little fruity, don’t you think? Anyway, good thing he isn’t around anymore to smudge your image.”

King Donald, grinning from ear-to-ear, turned to Nathan. “You see, the other clergy all love me!—Uh, purely like manly brothers, of course!”

Nathan rolled his eyes. “Haven’t you forgotten something?”


“The murder?”

King Donald looked up at the ceiling and squinted. “Murder… let’s see… don’t remember any murders.”

Nathan shook his head in disgust. “Uriah, the Hittite? Husband of Bathsheba? Again, you sent him to the front lines, intentionally—”

“Can’t prove that!” said King Donald, raising his right index finger in the air. “Besides, even if I had, he was a foreigner. Stole the rightful job of a true native-born child of Abraham! What do the rest of you esteemed clergy say about that?”

King Donald’s stooges all lined up in defense.

“Hey, soldiers know what they signed up for!” said Moe-isis.

“Hittites aren’t even circumcised!” said the curly-headed one.

“My sources say, he was plotting to blow up the Palace!” said the bald one.

King Donald nodded his head and said to no one in particular, “Better set up an investigation into these Hittites. Dangerous, dangerous terrorists!” Then he turned his attention back to his clergy stooges. “I want to thank you three godly men for your heart-warming support. Together, we will unite Judah and Israel and make the country great again.”

“Thank you, Your Highness!” said Moe-isis. “It truly is an honor. Oh… and by the way, something was told us about donations to our ministries?”

“Of course!” said King Donald. “Jebediah will get some gold for you from the vault. Never let it be said that King Donald forgets his friends.”

“Woo! Woo! Woo!” said the clergy stooges in unison.

After the three prophets left, tripping over each other, King Donald turned back to Nathan. “Well, it seems I won’t be needing you after all. And they say, ‘Money can’t buy everything!’”

Nathan had been privileged to talk for God since his teen years, but on this strange and unsettling occasion he could think of nothing more to say.

The old prophet drew his hood up over his head and turned and exited through the throne room door. He sensed that King Donald was continuing to talk to him, but none of his words made it through to the prophet’s mind in any coherent fashion. It was all gibberish. When he reached the street in front of the palace, he paused long enough to wipe the palace dust off the soles of his sandals. Then he breathed deeply of the fresh air around him and visually surveyed the streets and neighborhood. What he saw sank his spirits once again.

Rich merchants, who before were at least surreptitious in cheating the poor, were now doing so openly and laughing in their face.

Nathan shook his fist at them. “You are abusing people who were made in the image of God!”

The rich merchants all laughed. “’Image of God!’ he says. Then God must be old, smelly and raggedy! Us? We would rather make ourselves in the image of King Donald! Much more profitable!”

Then they laughed some more. And their laugh seemed to find echoes throughout the countryside.

Nathan fled to the wilderness. He wandered around aimlessly for many days until he found himself approaching an old familiar mountain. Mt. Sinai. The mountain where Moses first heard the call of God to free God’s people. The mountain where Moses later received the Law, which had guided the people ever since. As a particularly pious youth, Nathan had climbed to its top many times. Yes, sometimes just to flee strict parents. But also, many times to meditate and discover his path in what had become a confusing world.

This was where he needed to be right now.

It was an arduous climb, and Nathan was weary, not only because of age, but because of the despair weighing on his heart. Still, he was driven upward by the memory of the peace he had always felt at the summit. He knew God’s presence was everywhere, but somehow he always felt it more profoundly on that mountaintop.

This time he found something much more disturbing. A statue of King Donald where Moses had once stood.

Nathan tore his sackcloth garment. He raised his hands to the heavens and shouted. “Dear God, how long must we put up with this man? Why don’t you do something?”

Now, God didn’t always answer Nathan in a direct, audible way, any more than God has in any era since. However, perhaps God sensed the urgency in Nathan’s voice—or perhaps He felt a little of the urgency Himself.

“Yes, Nathan!” boomed the voice in his ear. “I have heard your cry. What would you have me do for you?”

Nathan fell to his knees. “Yea, I know this is holy ground,” he said, “but can you tell me how that statue got up here? I came up here to get away from that guy!”

Instead of a booming voice, there came a deep sigh, which blew across the mountaintop. But then nothing.

After what seemed like an interminably long time, even for someone waiting for God, Nathan ventured a word. “Uh… Lord, I’m listening!”

“I AM… a patient God.” A pause. “Am I not a patient God?”

“Yea, LORD, you are a patient God. I have always said that. Ask anyone—my friends, enemies, anyone—I have always said, ‘The LORD is patient and kind, not wanting any to perish.’”

“I was patient for a long time before sending that Flood. Stewed for a long time over that one.”

“Yes, LORD. You were a model for humankind.”

“And that Egyptian Pharaoh? I gave him a lot of chances to let my people go.”

“Most true, My LORD. Most true.”

“So, why am I saying this now?”

“I was wondering that myself.”

“Because I have run out of patience with that man!

Nathan nodded his head. “Might I suggest that a well-placed lightning bolt—”

“Tried that,” said God. “How do you think he got that hair?”

“I did wonder about that.”

“Well, in the interest of full disclosure, there is a history with him I should tell you about.” God paused to let out another big sigh, and for a moment Nathen thought he might be blown off the mountain, but he recovered.

“As I was saying,” the Divine Presence continued, “there is a history. How can I say this? King Donald wasn’t originally… from around here.”

The old prophet nodded. “He does talk kind of funny.”

“In point of fact, he was slipped in here from another place and another time.”

Nathan stroked his beard. “That happens?”

“It’s not supposed to. But things get really hectic sometimes when you are God, and you have to delegate. You don’t want to. I mean you’re God after all, and people expect a lot from you. You don’t want to disappoint them. But you have to. So, you can focus on all the other things.”

“So… you delegated King Donald to someone and he ended up here?”

“I’m afraid so. The man was in a faraway country called the United States of America, many human centuries from your time. He was really messing up! You’ve got to realize that I not only have to manage this whole world, but many distant worlds and alternate universes, and I must do so for eons of human time simultaneously. It’s a real juggling act! So, I delegated the task to some Angel, Second Class. Clarence, I believe his name was. I told him to get rid of the guy. Okay, maybe I should have been more specific. But this guy Clarence is a gentle celestial soul who doesn’t like to hurt anybody. So, he whisked him down some wormhole in time, and he ended up here as king. The guy who was supposed to be here, King David, was sucked down that wormhole the other way.”

Nathan shook his head. “I hope that country with the strange name appreciated the one we were supposed to get.”

“Not so much. Didn’t even get elected.”


“Never mind. I have to straighten all of this out now. Not an easy task, given all of the historical interactions involved. Has to be done, though. I have big plans for a descendant of King David, and ‘Son of Donald’ simply won’t do.”

Nathan shook his head. “I would hate to wish that man back on some other poor, unsuspecting people…”

“Got to do it, though. Humankind by that era will have had centuries to learn and grow. I can’t do everything for them! A Parent loves His children, but there comes a time when you have to set them free to make their own mistakes and figure out how to fix those mistakes themselves.”

“But we are such slow learners, LORD,” Nathan said with his head bowed. “Have mercy.”

“Mercy to the merciful”

Nathan sighed. “That’s exactly what I was afraid of!”