“Turn left. Now right.” Lord-IT follows each instruction instantaneously. Sirens wail in the street below him. The terrifying crashing sounds of another explosion, though small this time, come from high above in the building he’s fleeing. Black smoke billows from windows along two sides of the twenty-sixth story. The floor and interior of the conference center on the level above are two-thirds obliterated, destroyed by the initial blast. The death toll has not begun—yet. The year is 2029. The first conference to announce our new Nuke-li-Aerial and Bitsi-Lite technologies has ended in catastrophe before it began. My priority now is to get the Lord-ITs to safety.
“How’s my wife?” demands Lord-IT. “Rebecca’s still with the bodyguards, still in the building. I’m still constantly in touch with her. She’s still safe. Focus on yourself! Eight meters, elevator on the right. Take it down to the fourth floor. We’ll be waiting there.” Lordy will have to take the stairs to the ground floor. Security teams strictly control the elevators on the lower levels, which is slowing them down considerably.
After a short while, three discernibly unmarked and highly secure cars screech to a halt outside a back entrance to the building. Lord-IT is in the back seat of the middle vehicle. Bodyguards hurry Lordy’s wife out to join him; the initial blast had irreversibly, temporarily separated them. Getting Rebecca to safety proved far easier than was the case with Lord-IT.
Eighty-three minutes later, in my office at home, I pour a drink for them and my wife.
“Thank god, you’re safe,” says my wife, again. “That was a close call.”
With a grave expression and a strong hint of worry in her voice, Lord-IT’s wife replies, “A little too close, if you ask me.”
I cannot refrain from reminding Lordy he needs to step up his personal security measures. “Maybe now you’ll listen to me. The publicity of that conference was risky, the security badly planned, especially for such a location. Hotels are accessible to anyone. It’s impossible to tie them down properly. And I’ve told you before, your identity is too well-known. Once placed, they couldn’t move the bomb around. But they could wait for you to get close to it.” It’s easy to criticize in hindsight. “If it weren’t for your doubles…”
“That poor couple,” mutters my wife, obviously distressed.
“Yes. Horrible,” Lordy shakes his head slowly, sadly. “Their families have been informed. Devastated, of course. A nightmare.” The outcome of the day sorely burdens him.
“It’s time we do something about our security. Hiring an external team didn’t work well for us. And maybe it’s finally time to do something about hiding that famous face of yours, Lordy?” I try again.
“Bitsi, I don’t want to do that.” He quickly kicks back. “Not unless it’s really needed.” Stubborn as ever on that subject. I don’t push it. I’ve tried before. And I can’t force him to go under the knife.
“We’ll need to employ our own teams,” I push on.
“Teams, Bitsi? Plural?” Lord-IT counters. “Yes, I believe it’s best to have one focused in the office. Analysts, researchers, a team that can lead investigative work that requires unlimited hardware to hand. Confuzers, I mean. Another team to take the more physical and on-location approach, security guards, protective, even combative when needed. Tonight’s events make me certain of that. It will happen again at some point, I’m sure. Possibly worse.”
“So, two teams. Will that be enough?” Lordy’s wife asks pointedly, unbelieving. She’s still shaken up by her first-time experience of being close to a violent death. Her own. Nothing short of an army would satisfy her at this point.
“Three in total, Rebecca.” I quickly take advantage of her eagerness. “The last team for you and your family. Enough people to take shifts and cover you all twenty-four-by-seven, all year round.” Rebecca nods thoughtfully, seeking comfort in contemplating the idea.
“Are you really sure we need to go…”
In a rare moment of obvious frustration with Lord-IT, I cut him off abruptly, mid-sentence. I’ve lost my patience with this ever-recurring discussion. “Yes. No question about it. I’ll start arrangements tomorrow. Would you like to meet your personal chief of security before I hire him or her?” Almost Bitsi-Tone. All eyes suddenly turn to Lordy. Bitsi-Tone never goes unnoticed.
But he’s a seasoned professional and simply eyeballs me. “Most certainly. We’ll need to ensure their trustworthiness.”
“Of course,” I smile, “and loyalty and commitment are paramount. They must be prepared to take a bullet for us.”
Rebecca resumes her worrying. “Oh dear, I hope it never comes to that.”
Knowing that it unfortunately may well come to that, I ignore her. “I have thought and prepared a lot for this moment.”
“The first two teams will be mine. Let’s call them the Bitsi Security Teams for now. To head up the non-field agents, I’ll look for a woman. They’re far better suited for the complex analytical questions, especially those that require fast decisions when missing otherwise pertinent data. The chief of the field agents will be a man. Big, strong, scary, preferably ugly, and soup-ah smart so that hopefully his brain will override his macho-ego from time to time.” The women can’t hold back their smiles. “They must also be prepared to take a bullet for each other. They must operate as one team, with one goal.”
“So,” says my wife, after forcing a straight face, “one team, with you as the leader, a man-chief outdoors, and a woman-chief indoors?” I know where she’s heading with this question. But it’s not the right time for that now. “Yes. Samson and Delilah, I will call them.”
“Er…” Lordy stumbles over his words. “If I remember correctly, Delilah is not to be trusted. Wasn’t she the heinous, deceitful, traitorous bitch who handed Samson over to the enemy?” It’s as if he were proudly giving his indisputable closing arguments in a court case with a death sentence as the worst case—yet desirable—outcome.
“The foundations of history, Lordy, were written, for the most part, by men. Tailored by men. Flavored and favored by and for men, Lordy. The Bible was written, thus, by men. God himself was depicted as a man. Woman made from man’s very body. Why?”
Lordy attempts the question. “Well…”
But I charge ahead, enforcing my rhetoric. “It’s obvious, isn’t it? Big, strong, scary, ugly, and with a macho-ego that easily overpowered the brain capacity of the average Neanderthal. Wouldn’t you agree? Good! It goes without saying, therefore, that Delilah’s character and behavior were drawn with the sole intention of making Samson look good. In the eyes of men, that is.” Judging from my wife’s expression, it appears she has dropped her argumentative gender-equality-related question. She’s smiling.
“As a child,” I continue, “The story of Samson and Delilah was my favorite Bible story. It captivated me.” Colored biblical illustrations flash before me, followed closely by images of the movie I created in my mind at that age. “But later, the fascination with this powerful strongman-cum-warrior faded from my mind, and I focused more on Delilah. That was probably around the age that my balls dropped a few centimeters, and other weird and wonderful things started to happen.” Lord-IT does not contain his laughter. My wife rolls her eyes but with a cheeky smile on her face.
“Bitsi, behave yourself!” exclaims Rebecca.
“OK,” I concede. “I made that part up. But the point is the story lost its glamour. I became disillusioned. I was disappointed in Delilah, and yet, that didn’t feel right. But I could not put my finger on it. I could not find an explanation for what I was feeling—for my apparently painful loss.”
Rebecca’s expression, softhearted soul that she is, shows that she’s feeling my disappointment, even hurting on my behalf. “Did you ever find an answer?” she asks.
“Decades later, I came across another version of that Biblical fable. And the very first reading was like pouring honey-tea with a dash of cognac down a parched, sore throat. Blissfully soothing and slightly intoxicating. Later readings had me weeping and smiling in unison. But yes, this was the answer.”
“Oh good,” Rebecca expresses her relief and sheds her pained look.
“We’re not in a rush, are we? I would like to hear it again. It’s a short story. Would you mind?” I ask.
“Not in the slightest!” Rebecca answers enthusiastically for the group. She’s a sucker for a good Bible story.
And so, before anyone has time to object, I summon the narrator. “Beast, would you please read the story of Samson and Delilah to us. My favorite version, please,” I request, politely—even though he is a machine, my soup-ah mega-confuzer: I’m teaching him manners, as well as how to narrate a piece of text or a novel. After pointing him at an audio library with text, however, there’s not much teaching to do. It’s more tweaking of nuances, which are hard for a machine to compute. I finished tweaking Beast’s narration of this particular Biblical passage many years ago.
“Certainly, sir. Narrator-style, or movie-style, sir?” responds the Beast. “Movie, I think, Beast,” as I settle back on the sofa and lean gently against my wife, resting my head on her shoulder. She runs her fingers slowly over my cropped hair. “Shall I begin, sir?” requests the Beast.
Closing my eyes, I begin again to conjure up the images of my two favorite Biblical characters. “Yes, please.”
And it came about that Samson passed through the valley of Sorek. And while he was dining there, he saw a woman whose name was Delilah. He looked at her, and what he saw was good. And though he knew it not to be so, her skin seemed pale and pure as that of a virgin.
As Samson’s gaze falls upon Delilah, her cheeks blossom and flush as a freshly ripened cherry waiting to be plucked. Samson notices his loins stirring. Yet more significantly, something moves in his heart. Or is that his soul shifting from deep within? Smitten with adoration such as he has not known before, Samson moves toward Delilah, carefully. He is conscious of his own feet and attempts not to fall over them.
Delilah knows of Samson and of his reputation. Yet, he far exceeds what she has heard. As he moves toward her, in her minds’ eye, she sees her hair and clothing. Her face reddens with embarrassment. Would that she had been prepared for this moment. Delilah bows her head as Samson reaches a hand to her. He raises her gaze to meet his. “I would know your name, woman?” he asks. “And I would be greatly pleased should you dine with me.”
Samson and Delilah spent much time together. And the people talked much of this. Then one day, the lords of the Philistines came to her and commanded her, “Entice him, and see where his great strength lies, and how we may overpower him that we may bind him to afflict him. Then, we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.” This command greatly troubles Delilah. And Samson notices Delilah’s discomfort.
Samson inquires of Delilah, “Tell me, my love, what distresses you so?” But Delilah does not answer. Many times, Samson asks, “Tell me, what troubles you?”
Then Delilah answers him, “Samson, my love, my true love, the Philistines have commanded me to find the source of your great strength. If I do as they command, you will be afflicted. If I do not, then, I…, I,…”
Samson seethes with anger but fears for his true love. “Delilah, my love, my one true love, we must find a way. I could kill them all,” Samson offers.
“I do not want that,” says Delilah. They are my brethren; some are my family. We must find another way.”
After some time, Delilah feared the Philistines would wait no longer. “We must give them something,” she said to Samson.
And Samson said to her, “We shall try this: tell them, if they bind me with seven fresh cords that have not been dried, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.”
Then the lords of the Philistines brought to her seven fresh cords that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. Now, the Philistines had set men to wait in an inner room close by. And when she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” they entered Samson’s chambers, but he snapped the cords as a string of tow snaps when it touches fire. The Philistines fled as they saw his strength had not failed him. Samson did not attack them, for he was afraid they would seek vengeance through Delilah.
But then the Philistines summoned Delilah. And they said to her, “You have failed us.” And they afflicted great pain upon her with needles and with the venom of poisonous snakes, so that no marks were visible on her. “Do not fail us again,” they said to her.
When Delilah returned to Samson, he asked her, “Did they harm you?” And Delilah said “No, my darling, they did not harm me.” She said the Philistines took time plotting how to find Samson’s secret. And she said to him, “Samson, my love, my true love, I have contemplated this much, but I know not what we must do.”
Again, Delilah feared the Philistines were becoming impatient. “We must give them something,” she told Samson.
And Samson said to her, “This time, tell them, if they bind me tightly with new ropes which have not been used, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.”
So, Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” The men lying waiting entered the room. But Samson snapped the ropes from his arms like a strand of wool.
Then, the Philistines summoned Delilah, saying “You have failed us again.” And the lords of the Philistines ravaged her. Delilah suffered greatly at the hands of her people and to protect her loved one. One after the other, many men assaulted her. But to the eye, no marks were visible on her. “Do not fail us again,” they said to her.
When Delilah returned to Samson, again he asked her, “Did they harm you, my love?” And Delilah said no. She said the Philistines were still plotting how to find Samson’s secret. And she said to him, “Samson, my one true love, I know not what we must do.”
Samson sees Delilah’s deep distress, and he is greatly troubled. He could kill them all. Then, this problem would be solved. But they are her family and brethren. He would risk breaking her heart and losing her.
After some time, Delilah says, “Samson, my love, the Philistines are waiting.”
But Samson says, “I do not know what to do.”
Delilah tells him, “We must give them something, anything. They are waiting!”
Samson says, “Let us try this: If you weave the seven locks of my hair with the web of the loom, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.”
So, while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his hair and wove them into the web of the loom. Then she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled his hair free from the web.
And the Philistines summoned Delilah once more. “Again, and again, you fail us,” they shout at her. They call Delilah’s family before her. Brothers, sisters, mother, father, and grandparents. “Whom do you choose?” They demand of her. “Samson? Or your family?” They murder Delilah’s father while she looks on. “If you fail us again, we will kill all your family.”
On her return, again Samson sees great distress in Delilah, and he questions her. “What troubles you so, my love? Did they harm you?” But Delilah does not want to make Samson angry, for fear of what he may do. And she does not want to lose him. She says to him, “No my love, they did not harm me. It is this problem that vexes me so. I cannot see a way.” And Samson embraces her and tries to comfort her, but he, too, is greatly vexed.
Samson sends a man to the place of the Philistines to hear what happened while Delilah was there. And he learns of the threat to Delilah’s family and of her father’s death. Thus, Samson knows there is no good way to solve this problem.
One more time, Delilah says, “Samson, the Philistines are waiting. What shall we do?”
And Samson answers, “Soon, my love, I will have a plan. But for now, let us try this. Tell them that a razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”
As Delilah regarded Samson, she saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, and she feared to bring this knowledge to the Philistines. Delilah became sick and delirious with worry. A servant tending to her, heard Delilah whisper Samson’s words in her delirium, “if I am shaved, then my strength will leave me.” And the servant went to the Philistines and told them the secret. And the Philistines lay in waiting. They put a sleeping potion in the water, so Samson and Delilah fell asleep together. They called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of Samson’s hair. And he began to afflict him, to see if his strength had left him.
But Delilah woke, and she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!”
And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.
The Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him to Gaza and bound him with chains, and he was a grinder in the prison. Grief at the loss and torture of her beloved overwhelmed Delilah. She went to Gaza, and each day she listened for news of Samson.
And the hair of Samson’s head began to grow again.
Now the lords of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon, their god, and to rejoice, for they said, “Our god has given Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”
When the people saw him, they praised their god, for they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hands, even the destroyer of our country who has slain many of us.”
It so happened when they were in high spirits they said, “Call for Samson that he may amuse us.” So, they called for Samson from the prison, and he entertained them. And they made him stand between the pillars. Samson said to the woman who was holding his hand, “Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them.”
And Delilah, who in disguise had followed Samson to this place, and who was holding his hand, said, “Yes, my love, my one true love. Let me help you find the pillars that you may lean upon them.”
Upon hearing Delilah’s voice, Samson was both filled with great joy and greatly vexed, and he knew not what he must do.
But Delilah said to him, “Samson, my darling, your hair has grown long. Will you not see if your strength has also returned? I am with you now, my love. And thus, shall we be together forever.”
Now the house was full of men and women, and all the lords of the Philistines were there. And about 3,000 men and women were on the roof looking on while Samson was amusing them.
Then, Samson called to the LORD and said, “O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that we may at once be avenged of the Philistines for the death of Delilah’s father and for my two eyes.”
And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. And Samson said, “Let us die with the Philistines!” Delilah threw her arms around Samson’s neck and kissed him.
And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So, the dead whom he killed at his death and the death of his beloved were more than those whom he killed in his life. His brothers and all his father’s household came down, took them, brought them up, and buried them together between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. Thus had Samson judged Israel twenty years. And Samson and Delilah lay finally together once more. Out of their love, they had both sacrificed themselves for the other. And in their love, they chose to die together, that they may remain together, for all eternity.
“Well, that is an example of true love, if ever I heard one,” Lordy said.
“Yes. Devotion and sacrifice. Beautiful, sad, and true—true love.”
And so it was, the two leaders of the Bitsi Security Teams were named Samson and Delilah.