Un extracto de mi nuevo proyecto novelístico que se llamará The Son of God (El hijo de Dios) en lo cual se descubre un pergamino del siglo I que resulta ser un testimonio de José de Arimatea contando el viaje que hizo con su sobrino Jesús desde Nazaret hasta el Ducado de Cornualha en Inglaterra en el año 17-18CE.
«A most disagreeable incident occurred before we were able to set sail for Greece. Lucca and Octavius, whom I had already paid in full and taken my leave of, were off bidding farewell to their concubines. I who am only human was eager to install myself in a paradisical lupinarium up in the hills above the city that has a fine view of the port. I encouraged Yeshua to accompany me if only so that I might keep an eye upon him but he set himself against it. His attitude was prudish and tedious and after attempting all manner of arguments to soften his rigid young mind I turned my back on him and left him to his own devices. He assured me he would stay with the caravan men until it was time to sail.
But rather than enjoy myself as I was accustomed I passed an almost sleepless night due to the worry the boy was giving me. Early the following morning I ordered a litter and was carried down into the city and when I arrived at the bazaar my worst fears were confirmed. The caravan had left. An informant I was pressed to compensate told me the one-eyed gentleman who had proven so reasonable when Yeshua had proudly negotiated the price for our journey from Bayet Jan was a
well-known trafficker in slave boys. Clearly he had his cloudy cyclopean orb on Yeshua from the beginning and now had kidnapped the boy to sell for a price as handsome as the boy himself.
I proceeded directly to the port bank where my provisions were being held, availed myself of some additional money and then set out to find my Romans. During the journey to the north of the city to an area of low hills and farmland that came down to virgin shores I could think of no other thing save the horror weighing upon me. I repeatedly imagined myself having to tell Myriam
that her prized son, left in my care, had been sold into slavery – with all that such a condition implied – for he would be bought for his beauty, not his brawn.
I found the Romans engaged in swordplay upon the beach, putting on a demonstration of their skills it seemed. For Lucca’s young man sat near to them in rapt attention. The young woman was nowhere in sight. The house built by their parents sat low and white upon a hill behind them surrounded by oleander bushes and two palm trees. They stopped as soon as they saw me, lifting my robes, removing my sandals, making my way as hastily as I could over the hot sand until a cooling tide pool came to the rescue. I remember thinking how odd it was in life that such monstrous things could happen in such proximity to other scenes, like this one, of advanced tranquility. An infant can be sleeping in house across the way from an execution. On that day a gentle Mediterranean sun shone and the beach and the surf there were clean and calm and the entire tableau I was about to disturb spoke of ease and harmony.
I got to the point. Lucca seemed especially angered by the news and he went over to his boy and spoke severely with him before patting him on the back and coming back to us.
‘I think I know where to look.’
‘May it be so.’
‘The family here have only a pair of horses so we shall have to leave without you.’
‘Stay here,’ Octavius said, ‘and wait for us to return.’
‘What else can I do?’
They stood straight and gave a short military bow and then began to walk with admirable speed up to the house where the horses were kept. I had been prepared to plead with them to go after Yeshua and yet it seemed this unexpected call to action gave them pleasure, allowing them to revert to a state that had formed a part of their life for many years and that, until that moment, had all but disappeared.
The Greek family did their best to entertain me that day, trying to distract me. They were very kind. But the state I was in, the frustration I was feeling at not knowing what was happening, made of me an irksome guest. As darkness began to fall with there still being no sign of them I went for a long walk along the strand. The evening star was already in view and the sound of the surf as the tide rolled was comforting to my weary soul that, over the course of the day, had found a way to harden itself against the worst outcome. I knew that under the beautiful view I had of the sea, so close to me there, predators fed upon their prey. Back in the hills, and higher still, up in the coastal mountains, owls swept down upon the mice and rabbits. All that seemed so majestic and inspiring and in concordance with God’s grand design, that nature, seen from the outside, seen partially, seen with needy prejudice, also contained savagery and an absolute dearth of pity within. Why should my own race be any different? And indeed it was not. Demonstrations of great tenderness could also be followed by acts of brutal cruelty. At least the lesser creatures killed quickly – mostly – and only for sustenance, while we were capable of going about it for sport or for profit, for domination, and sometimes carried out with tortuous lentitude. As I walked I thought of all these things even as I was forced to marvel at the great beauty of what I saw before me and then as I retraced my steps I could hear, over the noise of the breaking waves, cries coming from the direction of the house where a large fire had been built out front. I hastened my step and was rewarded by the sight of Yeshua, alive, somber, his robes stained with blood, getting off a horse behind Octavius. Lucca was already standing by them and helped Octavius down who seemed to be wounded. It was from a dagger that had caught him between his ribs, but it was not deep. I put my arms around Yeshua who allowed me to embrace him for the first time. ‘I beg your forgiveness uncle.’ He said to me. ‘Are you well my son? Have you been harmed?’ ‘Here I am.’ Was all that he was able to answer. I embraced the Romans as well who seemed calm and who expressed a ravenous hunger. The girl helped Octavius into the
house to clean and tend to his wound. And her father said to me, ‘Let us prepare the boy a bath and give him fresh robes.’ And tears came to my eyes such was my relief and gratitude. Then, once Yeshua had gone into the house, Lucca took me aside.
‘He had already been sold by the time we found them. His face had been painted so as to liken him to a woman. I do not know what they may have already done to him. I am sorry for that. But he is alive and shall recover. We gave the curs a choice taste of Roman justice. Not a single man, woman or child was spared. Though we were vastly outnumbered we ran them all through with our swords, cursing them as we did. They were so surprised by our arrival they offered scant resistance. I considered bringing you the head of the one-eyed man but the boy was too upset by the sight of it.’
I was in no position to reprimand them. They had brought him back to me and done it in their manner. It was not a moment for moral quibbling. This fierceness was, after all, the reason I had hired them to begin with. I embraced Lucca and said to him I would be forever indebted to the both of them. The flowing morning both Romans approached me and offered me their services for the duration of our journey. They were restless and had no desire to return just yet to Jerusalem. I told them I could not pay them their customary fee for such a lengthy period of time but we came to an arrangement and I felt greatly at ease because of it. They were eager to see the Empire they said and they now felt protective of Yeshua.
Yeshua refused to speak for days and I did not push him. It was only when we had been out at sea for two sunsets with a faint glimmering of the Cyprian coast on the horizon that he was able to address it. He seemed changed. He was older, tougher, less sure of himself and more suspicious of others. All good things. I remember how during all the early days of that voyage both the sky and sea were transparent and that when Yeshua spoke to me of what had befallen him a lavender light prevailed. He spoke in low, quiet tones, staring out to sea. Lucca and Octavius were below deck casting dice for money with members of the crew.
‘Ahmed, the man I came to befriend, was the one who betrayed me. He sold me, like a rug, like a camel, like a courtesan obtained as booty from a battle. The man who bought me, a soft fat man, had them strip me and paint me as if I were a woman, and then he greased his member with oils and pushed his way into me. The shame I feel has no limit upon it.’
‘There is no shame Yeshua. It has no meaning. Take your finger and place it in the mouth of a small dog. The meaning is the same. The important thing is that you were rescued.’
‘My rescuers are wild beasts. They killed everything that lived. I shall never forget that.’
‘There is no need to forget, only a need to go on and to live with it. Think of what your life would have become had they not found you. The world is a dangerous place and terrible things befall us and now you know these are not just words from a teaching or a sermon but something you have witnessed – witnessed and survived. It will make you stronger.’
‘I have seen animals slaughtered for food. But I had never seen human innards. Now I have seen too many. I do not know what I expected but inside we are the same as sheep and goats. I do not know what to make of it.’
I could think of no other thing to say to him. I put my hand on his shoulder and looked out upon sea with him. I too felt shame for having driven him away into the hands of his captors. It was good to be under sail and heading west and it was my most fervent hope that no further calamities would come our way.»