What I think went down in Jerusalem c. 30 AD

Nov 2009

Jerusalem, the Roman year 783 or thereabouts; that many years after the founding of the Great City of Rome, under whose indirect rule the slightly less great city of Jerusalem now groans and kvetches.

Two merchants sit down in a bit of shade, sipping small cups of wine, and feeling sorry for themselves. This is not because of their current fortunes, but rather their unchangeable natures; both Simon and Ben are pessimists. For this reason they are mostly in the company of each other; despite the Romans and all, the people of Jerusalem are happier than the two think proper.

"So, how did you get your hand broken?" Ben finally asks. It does not seem like a topic promising anything pleasant and nice, but maybe it could just be better than sitting in silence, waiting for the next fart of John the Camel-Merchant's mangy beasts.

Simon sighs. "There was some sort of disturbance in the Temple courtyard."

"Ah. And you got involved?"

"No --- got caught in the rush, and some yahoo threw me against a wall. There was one of them messiahs doing mischief."

"Ah, gods!" Ben blinks, then amends his vow. "Ah, God, I mean. The Roman phrases are really rubbing on onto me. Ah, which messiah?"

"The new one." Simon scratches his head, rattles the gourd, and hearing enough sloshing pours himself more wine. "The one that came out of Galilee. The one who made a show of it --- palm leaves and asses and all that. That was a pretty sight and no mistake. Shame that the miracles don't seem to have followed him out of Galilee."

Ben laughs. "Yes; miracles seem to avoid big cities indeed. You hear the tales, but when the man comes, he's not half as tall as the tales would have you believe. He didn't, er, didn't... ah, what was the ruckus about, exactly?"

"Apparently he went camelshit because of the moneychangers."

"What, he's never seen them before? Ah, what am I supposed to do, plonk coins with the image of the Most Cussed Roman Emperor on them at the priests? That is not proper, is it?"

"Not by what the priests say, and they should know, right?" Simon said this with a smirk; his dislike of priests was well-known.

"Ah, ah. They caught this... Jesus, was it?"

"Nah. Apparently you can go upturning tables and whipping people if you have a few big country lads at your back, and you walk out soon enough. Mind you, the priests are real bastards when it comes to people trying to call the wrath of the Romans on them."

* * *

Some days later, the same place, the same duo. Simon has his arm again in sling. Ben, again, can't think up any pleasant topic, so he chooses the sure one.

"So, what's with the arm now?"

Simon frowns. "Would you believe it was because of that Galilean again?"

Ben considers this. "I would not; dead men rarely break the arms of the living. The Roman bastards killed him a few days ago, ah, right?"

Simon frowns. "Roman bastards and those of ours. The no-good priests. They don't like a man, they rat him out for sedition, and the Romans snap him right up."

"Ah. Hard to like someone who rouses rabbles in the Temple courtyard."

"But ---"

"Or keeps saying that very soon the Romans will be driven back, and we will have God's kingdom here on earth."

"Still isn't a good way to go. They nailed him up --- there weren't any of his big Galilean fisherman boys around then."

"Ah, I've seen a couple of them skulking around, really shocked-like. Who'd think a messiah would be crucified? Ah, that goes against all tradition and common sense; you'd see kings cleaning latrines next."

Simon touched his broken arm, and flinched. "Oh, I've seen the Galilean boys around too. That's how I got this arm like this. I was visiting a lady who lives on the Wainwrights' Street ---"

"Ah-ha. A lady or a... 'lady'?"

"A lady. A woman of high repute and great beauty. I despise those insinuations of yours, my friend Benjamin."

"And I feel awful for making them. Well, a married or an unmarried lady?"

Simon scowls, then laughs. "Uh, a married one. That being so, I left in a hurry in the middle of the night --- she hadn't mentioned the fact to me. I ran so quick I feared my sandals would catch fire. And running like that, I run into a couple of people in a corner near the road to Golgotha, and somersault high enough to feel like an elephant's kicked me. Hence the arm."

"What kind of shady, disreputable people would be skulking around those parts in the middle of the night? In addition to honest merchants like you, ah, of course."

"That's what the Roman guards that came to the scene wanted to know too. Apparently I screamed so loud --- people with broken arms tend to --- they decided they wanted to see if anything illegal was going on. Or to see whether they could just persuade me to shut up."

Ben noticed Simon had quite forgotten his arm --- was actually waving it as far as the sling allowed --- as he related the tale.

"And I look around, lying down there with a busted arm, and the big beefy guys I ran into have scampered already, spooked by the Romans' whistles and yells. And what's lying next to me but a dead body."

"Dead --- were you wearing, ah, a coat of swords or something?"

"No, and had none darting out of my mouth either. It was the bloody Galilean! A day dead, with all the wounds of hanging up and all --- my best guess is robbed from either the cross or that grave someone supposed donated to him."

"So you ---"

"So I got up and ran as fast as I could. I don't want to explain anything like that to the Romans. They have this nasty habit of punishing people just in case. Probably they found the body and dumped it to the common pit; a messiah reunited with the poor at last and forever."

"Ah. That's an ugly thing to say."

"Give the broken-armed a bit leeway, please."

"Anyway, who on earth who want to rob the grave of an honest wannabe messiah? Ah, they don't use them for medicinal parts... please, say they don't."

"Well... I think the big ones I ran into were like fisherman big; like Galilean fisherman big."

"Ah. Why in the name of the Almighty would they be robbing their own messiah?"

"Maybe they thought he'd wake up."

"Oh, please. Let's change the subject. This is just disgusting."

last updated: (Mar 15 2011)