Seymour Stackhouse was disciplining his son Adam under the watchful eyes of his wife, Beth. Adam was lying in the prone position with his buttocks bare and tight as a drum. He was being disciplined for watching a Hollywood movie, Conan the Barbarian, at a “friend’s” house.

Of course, this was not his friend. Adam had no friends; he was just a neighbor who bullied Adam. Adam’s mother wanted him to visit his “unsaved” neighbor in order to “witness” to them. Much to the chagrin of his mother, he usually failed to do this and never succeeded in “winning them to Jesus.” Every time Adam tried, he just got an additional wedgie or swirly, so he was reluctant. His mother was very ashamed of him for this and deemed him a great coward. She always told him about how Daniel had the courage to stand alone in the lion’s den, so the things he had to face for Christ were no big deal.



“Now, Adam,” said Beth, “do you know why you got in trouble today?”

“Because I was watching a movie.” Adam replied.

“Why were you watching a movie?” his mother said.

“Because Kevin’s mother put it on,” Adam replied.

“No Adam, it was because you watched it. You could have asked to be excused.”

Adam sighed.

“Five more whacks, Seymour, he’s not taking responsibility.”

Adam’s father, after slightly wincing, once again raised the paddle and started swinging.






Now, once again, his mother asked him, “Why did you get in trouble?”

Adam just cried.

Seymour put down the paddle, got up, and left.

After he walked out, Beth said to her husband, “He needed five more whacks; he still didn’t take responsibility.”

Seymour replied, “Enough is enough.”

His wife retorted, “If you keep spoiling him, he is going to wind up like Absalom.”

“I don’t know,” her husband sighed.

“I know your son is going to bed without dinner tonight,” Beth said. She left the living room, walked into Adam’s bedroom, and informed him of his fate.

Adam was just glad the beating was over. He thought about the half-truths his mother spoke. He did want to see the movie on the Andersens’ VCR, even though he would never have taken such an ungodly initiative on his own. If he had asked to be excused, he would have probably just annoyed the Andersens and “damaged his testimony,” which could have also earned him a beating. He did sin by watching a movie with such Satanic themes anyway, so he confessed his sin to Jesus and went to sleep.


Orwell’s year had just ended; it had come and gone just like any other. It was the dead of winter in Perth, New York. Yes, you read that correctly: it is in the state of New York, not in Australia, and much smaller, assuming that you even heard of the Australian city, which is not all that spectacular itself. It was still too big for Elizabeth Stackhouse and her family. The local independent, fundamental Baptist church in Amsterdam (also a small town near Perth, although the name of that uber-sinful Dutch metropolis occasionally gave Mrs. Stackhouse shivers) was the center of her family’s life now that they were saved; everything outside of it was of the Devil. Mrs. Stackhouse’s favorite pastime was peering out of her window, the phone nearby, ready to call in anything unusual that caught her eye, especially during the winter. The activation of 911 services in the town was an occasion of momentous happiness for her. Above all, she was concerned for the fate of her son’s soul, for as much as she feared to admit it, her son was getting older and she was at a complete loss as to how to address the sort of temptations he might now face. She looked to her husband for guidance, but he was at a loss as well. To chasten and scourge the son that they loved was all that they knew how to do.

Her son just turned 13 and was saved, too. He believed in Christ and in the power of his salvation. He knew this from the transformation of his family. Before they were saved, they were a family like any other with its ups and downs, traumas and tribulations, virtues and vices. Now that they were saved, they were in a perpetual state of joy, or at least that is what he heard and what he had better say unless he wanted a beating. There was not an ounce of doubt in his soul; he only had doubt that he would say the wrong thing. When he was younger and just “a babe in Christ,” he asked his parents why they were going to send him to vacation Bible school that summer, since the Rapture was bound to happen as the result of the syzygy back in 1982. He wasn’t beaten, but he feared he would be during the stern talking he got about mocking the faith. He eventually tried to say nothing to his parents except the exact words they told him. This began to worry his mother, too.


“Why are you looking at him? Are you gay or something?” said Jerry to Adam after church on Sunday.

“No,” Adam replied. “He just looks familiar.”

“I was trying to look down Lisa’s top, but I guess a fag like you doesn’t care about that,” Jerry retorted.

Adam shrugged his shoulders and sneered at Jerry.

“How about if I kick your ass?” Jerry said.

Adam quickly walked away. Jerry was tougher than Adam; all the other boys were, but getting his ass kicked by Jerry didn’t scare him. It was the possibility of messing up his Sunday suit in a fight that would probably earn him a beating, or worse yet, his mother finding out he was hanging out with a boy who used words like that, even though Jerry was a Christian too. For that, he would get the beating of all beatings, so he just tried to get away.

It didn’t work.

Jerry came after Adam and grabbed and punched him. In the ensuing brawl, Mrs. Stackhouse turned the corner and grabbed her son. Jerry had taken off in what at this point seemed like an eternity ago. His mother looked at him crying and asked him:

“What happened?”

“Jerry punched me,” Adam replied.

“Stop making excuses!” his mother screamed.

Adam began to cry.

“Get in the car now! Your father is going to straighten you out big time when we get home!”

With the tears freezing on his cheeks from the cold, Adam trudged toward the car. Despite the cold and his mother’s specific instructions, he did not get in, but rather sat down against the door and put his head in his hands. He thought about the days before he was saved when his father took him to the movies. He remembered the good time he had watching Star Wars when…


The man Adam had spied who had been the genesis of this whole commotion approached him.

“Hello, Adam,” He said.

“Hello,” Adam replied.

“You know, your father is going to beat you to a pulp when you get home.”

Without even thinking to ask how this mysterious stranger knew this, he just burst into tears.

“I can spare you from all of that if you come with me,” the stranger told him.

“Who are you and where are we going?” Adam replied.

“It matters not who I am or where we are going. All that matters is my car is right there, and if you hop in, you will be spared a beating,” the man replied.

“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” Adam retorted.

“Maybe it’s time to stop following the orders of those who beat you,” he said.

“I obey because they beat me,” Adam replied.

“How’s that working out for you?” the man said while smiling.

“Your mother will be exiting the church door in exactly five minutes. You have that long to get in my car. It is the Cadillac with tinted windows two spaces away. I will be in the driver’s seat. The doors are unlocked, so just enter.”

The man was gone. Curiosity about the stranger and the fear of being beaten overcame the fear of the stranger. He got up, walked over, saw the Cadillac and entered.

“You made the right choice,” said the stranger.


The stranger drove to Albany. He was staying at the Turf Inn. To even see people living such a lush life convicted him. He was persuaded he had entered Satan’s domain and the punishment would be harsh when it came. The stranger told him to sit down anywhere and handed him a menu for room service.

“If you believe the crap you learn at church or on TV, you probably think I’m going to try to molest you. I’m not; I’m not a faggot and I know you’re not either, even if both of us have been called that. I am here to give you something.”

“What?” Adam replied.

“This,” the stranger said.

Adam observed what looked like a plastic or metal headband, but he was unsure of what it was made. Without asking any questions, he put it on his head, and then it was gone.

“I lost it,” Adam said.

“No, you didn’t,” the stranger replied.

“Where is it?” Adam said.

“Let me tell you a story,” said the stranger.

“It is about a man named Gyges. Gyges was the bodyguard to King Candaules of Lydia. Lydia was a country in the same area modern day nation of Turkey and the time was the time of the Old Testament. Candaules wanted to prove to Gyges that his wife was the most beautiful woman in the world, so he told Gyges that he should spy on her while she was naked. Gyges pretended he had no interest in this proposition but then agreed to it anyway. What happened was that his wife caught him and informed Gyges that she preferred him to her husband and that he ought to kill her husband and seize the throne for his own and marry her, which he did.”

“So he became a king by his own hand?” Adam inquired. He was shocked that he repeated the words from the Satanic film he watched.

“Yes, Adam,” the stranger replied as room service brought their food.

“Does that story seem true to you?” the man asked Adam.

“No,” Adam replied. “How can one bodyguard just kill the king and get away with it even if the queen helped? Besides, shouldn’t the next prince in line become king when that happens? The Bible teaches that a true king must be anointed by a priest of God. Gyges didn’t have the help of God. It just doesn’t seem right.”

“Well, a few hundred years after that, Plato, a Greek guy, thought there was more to the story. Gyges was a shepherd in his younger years who found a ring that made him invisible when he put it on. Since nobody could see him, he could easily become the king’s most effective bodyguard. He could also figure out the political intrigue, such as problems with his wife he might have been having. By the time of the night Gyges killed Candaules, he could have had all the plans laid out,” the stranger told him.

Adam shrugged his shoulders.

“You still don’t get it, do you? I just gave you the Ring of Gyges.”


For all installments of “The Ring of Gyges,” click here.