People of feeble or damaged character are prone to seek revenge for wrongs done them, or so it is necessary to tell me, for I have always believed that vengeance is the Lord's. Even after that unpleasantness at Wolfie's, I believed it - even after lying like a suicidal turtle on the motel bed, rigid with pain on my ruptured disc, and speaking into the phone out of the side of my grimace as if I were a spaceman taking off, trying all the while to sound powerful, rational:

But Mr. Wolf (I told the owner), the doctor says I ought not to be moved for another day.

But Mr. Rosenblatt, I promised your room to a man from Canada.

But Mr. Wolf, you can give the man from Canada another room, until I'm gone.

But Mr. Rosenblatt, I promised your room to a man from Canada.

But Mr. Wolf, I'd like to rip this phone off the wall and shove it in your eye.

Outside I heard Florida and the whooping bathers, and then the ambulance that had arrived to round off my halcyon vacation with a nine-day stretch in the hospital, there to dream drugged dreams of wolf slaughter, of the dumb, fat-headed chief of wolves being dragged by ambulance on his back through the bleached avenues of Cocoa Beach, while men from Canada jeered from the sidelines.

But those were unworthy dreams. And soon I regained my former virtue, trusting in divine providence to do whatever divine providence does in such matters. There was nothing I could do on my own anyway. Write a vilifying essay? Never write to get even. Sue him? I wouldn't know how. Live well - supposedly the best revenge? Out of the question. Kill him? Perhaps. But the giant wooden sign outside Wolfie's was in the shape of a Little Red Riding Hood wolf with teeth the size of toasters, and if the sign were a true likeness of my enemy, there'd be no killing Wolf. So I arose from my hospital bed, and quit Cocoa Beach, bearing only the noble thoughts for which I am universally known.

Not that revenge can't be noble too, of course. The Elizabethan playwrights wrote "revenge tragedies" in which some very low things were done by some very high people. In John Webster's "Dutchess of Malfi," for example, the dutchess marries the forbidden Antonio, flees, is betrayed by her servant, Bosola, then is captured by her brothers Ferdinand and the cardinal, tortured, and finally strangled, along with her two children. But then Bosola kills the cardinal, Ferdinand kills Bosola, and Ferdinand goes mad; so it all works out.

Then there's the lovely Greek story of Prince Tereus who marries Procne and fathers Itys, a son. One day with time on his hands, Tereus summons Procne's sister Philomela from Athens on the pretext that Procne is dead, then ravishes Philomela in the woods, and cuts out her tongue, in spite of which Philomela manages to tell Procne what happened, and the two sisters serve Itys to Tereus for dinner, after which the gods take revenge on the whole crew, and change them all into birds.

And "Hamlet" is a tale of revenge; as is "Macbeth"; as in our own day is "The Abominable Dr. Phibes," in which Vincent Price, seeking vengeance for his wife's death, recreates the plagues of "Exodus," such as the frog mask that fits snugly over his victim's head, and then decreases steadily in size.

Yet these are stories of great wrongs greatly righted; whereas in my experience it is the smallest offense that boils the blood. Hurl a grenade at my car, and I may yell. But give the slightest casual injury to my youthful vanity or sense of justice and I will see you hanging upside down, disemboweled, from Mt. Whitney, your hair aflame, your body coated with rabid bees.

But, naturally, I use "I" in the abstract, being one of those who upon injury seek nothing but guidance. Which is why I felt only remorse and piety last week, when I picked up the papers and read that a totally unexpected tornado had hit the city of Cocoa Beach, Florida, miraculously killing no one, yet knocking the daylights out of a motel called Wolfie's.

Thy will be done.