One of the reasons the OWS movement and most certainly the 99% remind me of the Dyscards in THE AGE OF THE CONGLOMERATES:
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Gabriel Cruz, one of the characters in "Conglomerates", is a Dyscard; a person deemed unfit for society by a board representing the interests of The Conglmerates, the political party founded by the C.E.O.'s of the leading industries and banks that control both houses in addition to the White House. Cruz sneaks a poem to Christine, a co-worker and crush, to attempt to describe the world he has found.
We abide among the abandoned.
A collection of the isolated,
We enrich the space reserved for the maginalized.
We make utility from other's excess, we
Equate the necessary with the beautiful, we
Excel at experience, made at a young age.
We pirate animation from rails long forgotten
And traffic in ink and lead
In lines connecting history to invention.
Left to learn from relics
And remains; in stone,
Steel, cinder, ash,
We are a congress of kind,
Born from a common currency,
Grounded in laws; elementary and practical.
If you're interested in THE AGE OF CONGLOMERATES, it is still available, or if you'd like to chat, let me know? Thanks.
I have also written a new story, well new to me. IN BETWEEN. There is a scene of action that could also remind one of the OWS / 99% movement, even though this action goes back a couple of thousand years.
Overturn the Temple
Seen from afar, it got him every time. Even though that was the point, the mastery of the masonry, the quality of the carpentry, the grandeur of the architecture with a design that appeared to defy physical law. The dominance of the temple over the landscape of Jerusalem was as if there were nothing else there, it was the city on the hill, the shining light for the heart of darkness, the kingdom of God on earth. No matter how many times he approached the city it overwhelmed him. He felt as if he was seeing the temple for the first time. It was right to give thanks and praise.
He hadn't been in Jerusalem in a while but the time had come. There was no courage without action. What was preaching without bringing the word to power. Still they traveled in small groups with their faces covered.
He was coming from Capernaum to Jerusalem. He hoped that he had been away from the city and its authority long enough for them to take on new concerns beyond him, to be so confident in their success in suppressing him that they had moved on to other ways to please Rome.
He had removed himself from the community of Judea and taken the word to the Samaritans and Galatians. He had been happy with the way the Gentiles had taken to the message. He was grateful for the work of Timothy who had a gift for language and handled the translations for them lifting a number of souls to the message of God in us all.
Rallied by the experience, by the collective energy of this small group, he felt at his peak. John was gone. His time had come.
From this view the temple seemed close, though he knew he still had a long way to go. He was glad to have the majesty of the complex to focus on, a reminder of the glory of God's creation, as Peter and the others talked among themselves he stopped listening. He looked at the work of men like his father, a building that was the result of strength, character, determination and will.
As he entered the temple grounds the difference between the view from a distance and the intimate details were evident. The group passed the Bethesda pool, with its five porches jammed with the lost, the down trodden, the sick and the afflicted, waitng for the hour the angel would come to stir the waters. They entered through the Sheep's Gate. The women's court was to the east, passed the outer altar burnt and blood stained, but Mary din't go to that court. She was dressed as the men were and she wrapped her cloak atound her full lips and delicate chin and stayed with him. The coutyard was an oasis full of flowers and fountains which created a fragrant kiss of mist that filled the air covering the smell of the masses.
It was crowded and they blended in with the rest.
At the far end of the space he noticed the tables and stalls, he heard the bickering of the market's commerce; the grunts of vendors and mules, the frantic cries of the doves stuffed into cages. There voices demanding exorbitant exchange rates and the high prices for goats and sheep for sacrifice.
He put his head down and headed in their direction. Peter and the others scurried behind him trying to keep pace. He reached inside his cloak and pulled out his carpenter's knife and cut the cord that held the cattle and goats. He gathered the cut cord in strips in his clenched fist and chased the animals toward the stalls. He lashed the rope on the money changer's tables sending coins into the air and rolling along the ground. The crowd trampled one another to seize the booty before the bankers did. He shouted above the din,
"You defecate in the House of God!" and overturned a table loaded with coins. Pandemonium erupted in the temple courtyard.
Mary was sure all had recognized him now, it would be impossible to ignore this out burst. It wouldn't take long for the word to reach the Pharisee that Jesus was back in town. She grabbed him by the elbow which brought his violence to rest.
"Cover yourself," she said to him and steered him away from the panic and crush. For the moment all attention was on the money and even the temple guards weren't sure what to do. Mary led her fugitive back toward Sheep's Gate and off the temple grounds. The intersection was filled with traffic going in all directions, but one figure followed them.
They walked along the road to Caesarea until they found a clearing surrounded by poplars and brush. They built a small fire and tried to get some rest, everone was quiet, afraid to speak of what had happened and afraid to ask what they were going to do next. They would wait in silence trusting he'd have an explanation and it would all make sense.
Instead he walked away from the group. He wanted a chance to catch his breath and and digest his actions and the ramifications of his anger. All he could recall was the sight, the sound, the smell of profiteering. It swept him in a rage faster then reason could object. And, what was worse was how the emotion had translated into violence at the offense. He understood anger now in an intimate way and he would need his own forgiveness if he were to reconcile this past with his future. There was so much to learn.
The silence was broken by the grinding sound of a heavy foot, a sandal stride on the gravel road.
"Ah," Jesus said, "he comes out of the darkness, I've been expecting you". Having dealt with the devil before he was prepared. The authorities would want to question him and Nicodermus was an elder who patroled the temple grounds as if it were the house of Nicodermus. But he wasn't on temple grounds now, Jesus smiled.
Nicodermus had intended on catching this rebel by surprise and instead had been disarmed by the greeting. Expecting him, Nicodermus thought, how could that be? Perhaps he was a prophet? He dismissed the thought and took a deep breath to swell his chest and ask,
"Rabbi, we know you are a teacher sent by God," he said, determined to regian his position in this exchange and distract this rebel with flattery and false acknowledgement.
Jesus ignored the high-priest's point and challenged him with the reqirements of heaven.
He was brazen, Nicodermus thought, each specific question the elder raised was answered with a poet's abstraction. They debated the law, he questioned the elder's knowledge and faith, and quoted Moses amd the Prophets back to the priest's inquisition. 'Who did this belligerent bastard think he was?' Nicodermus fumed.
"Are you above the law?" the frustrated Pharisee asked.
"One must be above the law and more, it is the base from which we move beyond, but never stray," he answered and didn't let up until Nicodermus fled back to the temple's refuge and his report to Rome.
To start IN BETWEEN from the begining, please read below? Thank you:
A man and a woman,
Life and death,
Humanity and the divine
There was a moment...
In Between by Tom Nevins
Mary ran her hands along his naked chest, kneeding his flesh in aloe and glycerin. She had never touched him like this before, much as he may have wanted her to, he never asked or, as most men did, demand it of her.
Most times Mary had no desire for men beyond their money. She had no use for their rudeness, their violence, their vanity, their incessant need. But this man was different; he did not take what was not given. As a result, Mary had yielded to him in different ways, her affection to his eyes, his voice, the words he chose when he spoke to her, and her heart to the way he made her feel. She surrended to that in an instant.
They talked as if they had known each other forever, in a voice warm with respect. He acknowledged her opinion and appreciated her point of view. But, most of all, it was the way he listened to her. The time he allowed for her response. She received all of his attention. She knew it seemed foolish, but he listened with his eyes, heard with his heart. And while there were times she wasn't sure what he was talking about, she would hear the timbre in his tone and the emotion of his ideas and she would understand. They could speak for hours, or just as soon be silent; they could confirm each other's thoughts with a nod.
That was as far as it went between them, and Mary wasn't sure if she'd gone that far before? She had hoped it would go on that way forever.
And while he was a man like no other, he was still a man, and as such he wanted her, Mary could tell, his heart jumped when she entered a room. She could feel the heat rise from his body when she was at his side, she could see it in the veins in his neck, the pulse at the edge of his rich brown eyes.
But not now, now she bathed and cleansed him and there was no joy to her touch. His eyes were closed; his heart was still beneath his battered and broken ribs. Mary had never seen a body so badly beaten. There were wounds, and lacerations, gashes and holes, but the bleeding had stopped along with his heart.
She would need all she was born with as a woman and a spirit; she would need all her powers and her skills as a healer to close these wounds. She could not heal him. She would try to do for him as he had done for her, share her talents, her experience, her love, and than she would prepare his body for burial.
Mary had come to him alone. It was the Sabbath and she didn't want to ask the other women to break the law. What was the law to her; stones and ridicule. They would join her later. Truth was she wanted him to herself, one last time before he belonged to all.
It was agreed and the Arimathean who owned the plot appealed to the authorities for the body, so he could be cared for, protected from the dogs, man and beast. They brought him to a garden outside of the gates. Pilate ordered the tomb be watched and Mary bribed the soldier who allowed her entry. The Roman didn't mind guarding the temple now, despite the teeming rain, for the chance to see this Jewish beauty again.
It was cool in the tomb; the rock absorbed the humidity, the sound, the lamp light. Mary couldn't stay the night, but she could take care of him and leave before the dawn. How many times had she done that for others, she thought, she would have done anything for him.
The smell of myrrh was thick and intoxicating and Mary was feeling light headed. It was her will alone that kept her going. She hadn't eaten or slept since they had taken him.
She had asked the other women to bring her back the linen veil that she had woven from the finest flax and saved as if she knew what was coming. She wanted to wrap him in something of herself. The women paid their respects and said their prayers, and had waited outside while Mary completed the anointing and covered his face with her veil. She hesitated a moment before leaving.
The first time Mary saw Jesus was inside Herod Antipas' palace, the thought alone made her laugh - despite the gloom. Wasn't it just like him to stare the devil in the eye, death be damned. He wanted to reclaim hearts from the home of the man whose father had tried to kill him as an infant and murdered a hundred sons in his name. There is no redemption without forgiveness, he would always say.
Mary was employed by Herodias, the second wife of the tetrarch of Galilee. Herodias had heard of Mary's skill at anointing, massage and healing and had become a client. After Mary had proven her worth, and gained her trust she was given access into the opulent court of the Judean king. Herodias was demanding, and often condescending, especially in front of her family and friends, and it has been hard work, but profitable for Mary. And that night promised to be an opportunity to increase her clients, her contacts and her revenue.
The cycle of the moon was full and Herodias wanted to celebrate the Roman feast of Bona Dea. She wanted to impress the occupiers from Rome and replicate her idea of the feast to win favor for her husband and herself. She wanted the Romans to know that her husband valued the alliance with the Empire and that they were more than mere tax collectors.
It was a feast for the woman god, and for women only and Herodisas saw this as an opportunity to insinuate herself into the lives of the occupier and derive information that would be valuable to her husband. So, she had invited the wives of the generals and magistrates and the wives of the Pharisees, and she had invited the wives of Herod Antipas' court.
As Bona Dea was the Roman goddess of fertility and healing, Herodias did not think that she would threaten the one true God, or raise suspicions of the temple in Jerusalem. It was to be innocent fun and a welcoming gesture. There was entertainment to please her guests, and that was how Mary came to be there, and what brought him there as well.
Mary was in a room off the great hall in the tetrarch's personal palace. Herodias had installed a pool, heated beneath by a fire turned to embers. In the water floated jasmine and rose, eucalyptus and cinnamon steamed into the air. There were silk covered pillows stuffed fat with down, and wide oak tables with alabaster canisters of heated olive oil along with earthen jugs of their favorite wines.
He was to be a surprise and the only man in attendance. Herodias planned on sneaking him in like her husband snuck in his little play things. It was said that he was a wandering rabbi, and a carpenter, that he had a strong voice, a way with words; he was funny, engaging and told a good tale. Besides, he was said to be young, handsome and well built and Herodias thought the women would enjoy that too, maybe between the man and the wine she might be able to loosen the tongue of her guests.
Mary stood at the door watching the room. He spoke with no introduction. He had told Herodias that was part of his perfomance, as if he had just appeared among them. Mary saw him right away, though not all of he other women did. Those around him were startled and drew back allowing the man a distance between them, and a space in which he could project his voice. Mary couldn't make out the words through the women's conversations. When they became aware of the man they gossiped and giggled, voices high-pitched and excited, hands flying in front of their faces and just as quickly they all fell silent, wanting to hear what the man had to say. Mary too leaned her body toward the direction of his voice, she wanted to turn her head thinking that would help, but she couldn't take her eyes off him. She could barely make out the words but she could hear the cadence and the tone and it calmed her. And, apparently, she wasn't the only one; the other women too, she watches as their hands fell to their sides, their shoulders relaxed.
This wasn't what Herodias had in mind. This was no fool, no clown, no dreamy distraction. He talked about love and mercy, sisters and friends. He said if their hearts were occupied by the One they would be free, Roman and Jew.
Herodias was enraged and scared. She wondered what she would tell her husband when she realized she couldn't tell him that she had invited this man into their home. But, he seemed a success as she saw how the women looked at him, and to a woman, they were smiling and that made Herodias smile, and nod her head to her guests. She would speak to the Roman wives and hope she could explain it away as a quaint and local folklore. She would give more wine to the wives of the elders.
He spoke for about ten minutes, though it didn't seem that long, and as he appeared so had he gone and the women broke up into groups to talk about the man and what he said. They were far too busy to seek Mary's sevices. Her room was hot, steamy, and besides, she didn't want to be alone. She stood outside of her area on the periphery looking past the crowd to the place where he had stood, hearing the music of his voice, relaxing into that calm that music made her feel.
Mary turned and he was standing beside her. He pulled back.
"I didn't mean to startle you," Jesus said.
"You didn't," she replied, not wanting to give herself away. Mary was flustered and she didn't know why. "I am sorry I couldn't hear you from back here," she said to him, "are you the Nazarene I have heard about?" Mary asked, giving herself time.
"I am a Nazarene, though one of many," he replied, "And, so, does that make you the Magdalene?" he asked.
How did he know that, she wondered.
"I, too, and one of many," Mary said and smiled.
"I doubt that!" Jesus laughed, "besides you're in Roman dress," he stepped back to admire the embroidery decorating the neckline of her tunic. He looked into her eyes; they were sky blue, rare in a person from Judea. It appeared as if she had moonlight on her cheeks even though they were indoors. Her hair was ebony black, with a face too pale for the desert, which made her full lips appear even more soft and lush. The woman was an oasis.
"My name is Mary." she said and looked down and let her haid fall to hide her blush. How long had it been since she had felt this way? He could see the tips of her ears turn red.
"I could use your talents, Mary," he said.
"I am not for hire," Mary lied as her heart sunk.
"No," he said, now it was his turn to blush, "that's not what I meant at all, I am sorry," he said, coughed and started again, "Mary, you heal and there are many wounded, you anoint and there are many with unlcean spirits, you give and there are many in need," he said. "Besides," he looked into her sky blue eyes, his composure regained, "you're not afraid... of anything," he said.
The zealot emerged from the wilderness and drew the attention of Herod Antipas' court. Mary had heard the whispers, the gossip, the laughter, and she had heard the tetrarch of Galilee spit the zealot's name in anger at the reports of what he said about the ruler of Judea and his marriage to his brother's wife. And Mary had heard this zealot in the flesh outside the palace gates, where he preached and accused Herod not only of flaunting the law, but of breaking his covenant with the people by allowing Rome to claim the Sinai which, of course, belonged to God.
Because of these accusations against Herod, the zealot found it prudent to stay on the move, and worked as a guide transporting the devout from Damascus through the desert, ferried pilgrims across the Jordon, and brought them to the temple in Jerusalem. Mary had heard the zealot was fearless even in the face of bandits, who feared him, and let his caravan pass without paying for the privilege. Mary wanted to find this man and sign on for a few reasons, as a woman she couldn't travel alone, and his might be an effective cover, but even more appealing was that she heard the zealot knew the Nazarene. She was hoping he did and would take her to him, or at least, tell her where he could be found.
First, she weighed her options of staying, or shutting down her business and leaving the palace. It was lucrative with Herodias; she worked hard, and put up with a lot to build her business. It didn't take her long to decide. Herodias husband, the tetrarch, was a pig. Whenever his wife was not around, Herod Antipas' hands were. He grabbed, he groped and he fucked whoever he pleased. And he pleased himself a great deal. Herodias wasn't much better, they deserved each other. She was a shrill woman, who schemed and plotted. She was a goat who poked her nose into other lives, she even had the beard.
While the money had been good, she would make money someplace else. She always had. Besides, Mary wanted to find the Nazarene and that was what confused her. Following a man was not something Mary of Magdalene did. She just wasn't interested. She found her comfort and her passions in other places, and that was what pleased her. Even if it had gotten her into trouble and indeed almost cost her, her life.
Mary hadn't thought it possible for her to be an adulteress until she got caught with the Rabbi's wife. They were both found guilty and brought to the pit to be stoned. Rocks had been thrown, Mary's legs had been bruised and bloodied and she still had the scar. But someone had stopped the execution. Mary had never seen who it had been. She had been at the bottom of the pit with her arms protecting her head and face. She couldn't hear what was being said, but one by one the men started dropping the stones or piling them up before they left the pit. By the time Mary had enough courage and strength to climb out, she and the Rabbi's wife did. The Rabbi was waiting for them. He was crying, he was sorry for condeming his own flesh, and this was how Mary first heard of the Nazarene and how he had forgiven them, and while the Rabbi was asking for his wife's forgiveness Mary slipped away.
She had been on the run until she worked at the palace, and she could be on the run again. All Mary had to do was find the zealot, and that hadn't taken too long, she used the community of women to find out where he spent his nights. That initiative and energy and a few coins were incentive for the zealot to agree to take Mary on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Mary wanted to leave right away; she'd made up her mind, found her contact, paid the price and was ready to go. But the zealot would have none of it, he wanted a group, not only was it safer to travel in numbers, Mary knew, that he didn't want to leave until he had collected fees enough to make the trip worthwhile. From the looks of him, Mary didn't imagine he spent the money on himself.
He looked like a zealot; his hair and beard were long, matted. He wore no sandals and his feet were calloused and cracked. And he smelled like a guide; camel and the road. He was said to exists on locuts and wild honey and he was scrawny enough for this to be true. Ordinarily you wouldn't have found Mary in the company of pilgrims. But she had more than her skills to move, she had her life savings with her. She reasoned if she wrapped herself in the traditional dress of the female pilgrim, covered head, veiled face, long sleeves and full bodied gown, with her valuables benetah her tied like a belt around her small waist and led by the zealot and his reputaion, she thought she could make the trip in relative safety.
It took more than a day and a half of dusty travel before the pilgrims started to speak to one another, and that had been fine with Mary. They had only stopped to rest once and they hadn't had much to eat and the travelers grumbled to one another in complaint. When they finally stopped, the zealot had spoken enough to tell them that his name was John and Mary couldn't make sense out of what followed. He spoke of one who would come after him that was here before him, who would baptize not with water but by the Holy Spirit, not a lion to banish Rome, but as a lamb who would take away the sins of the world. John said to be ready for the one who would fill in the valleys, and level the mountains. Which made Mary wonder could this really be the Nazarene that she had met, he seemed neither lion, nor lamb, but a man, not so much a messiah but the one who made her blush. Was that her baptism by fire?
As they got closer to Jerusalem people came out to meet the zealot, to hear him preach and perform baptisms. Even soldiers and tax collectors, along with the rogues and thieves, were received by John. When the Pharisees arrived Mary knew the word of John had preceded them. Mary pulled the veil higher across her face. John stared down these men like they were the thieves. He answered their questions with accusations of his own, and directed them to practice charity and humlity and to leave their usury ways behind, until they went away.
While Mary hoped otherwise, John did not seek her out, and that had never happened to her before. She figured she would wait and see if the zealot came to her, and if not, she would offer a coin in support of John's cause in exchange for a little background information and where she might find this Jesus Christ.
The path had been strenuous and steep, and the valleys had been deep and hot. Even so, Mary enjoyed the walk. That is until they approached the Jordon. The wind whipped the road dust in swirls, as a fog hugged the river bank. The camels and mules grunted in protest and dug in their heels. The current was swift and would make crossing difficult, if not impossible. Mary wouldn't have known what to do and it appeared neiter did John. He looked around. The weather was threatening. It was clear they couldn't go on, and it was also clear that they couldn't stay where they were either. They had no shelter. John did what a zealot does; he fell to his knees and prayed. Mary wrapped her cloak a little tighter. A small break in the clouds appeared, and the sun burst through, a lance of light pierced the dark to light the River Jordon as if it were in flames. Birds took to the air and circled the circumference of sunlight. A solitary dove hovered above the water, which stilled as if the current ceased.
From out of the shadows on the far river bank the Nazarene appeared and descended the banks of the Jordon and waded into the water to his waist. His chest was bare and a bright band of sunlight shone across his broad shoulders and back. His robe, wrapped around his waist, floated up in the river below. Mary was transfixed and thought she saw him look to her and hadn't noticed John wade into the water until she saw him stand next to the Nazarene. John leaned close, speaking with him, but it was too far away for her to hear what they said. So, Mary thought it couldn't have been them that she heard. It sounded like a breath, a whisper in the wind and Mary couldn't tell if it had been the dove who had spoken, but it sounded like the words in a poem, or prayer. Mary wouldn't have been surprised if it had been the bird she heard, except she didn't know what to think. There was too much happening at once for her to think about it without missing the detail.
The zealot put his hands between the yielding Nazarene's arms and chest, raised him slightly before he immersed Jesus into the water. Mary swore she could voices cheering, people clapping, but the people around her were silent, their mouths open in awe.
It seemed he was gone before John stood back upright. At first she was scared the zealot had drown him and she noticed he was just no longer there. Mary found herself wading in the river, not bothering to hoist her dress. She was up to her waist in the Jordon. The water was cold and she braced herself while she waited her turn. His mother Mary was there beside her, though she did not know that at the time, along with the others from both sides of the river who witnessed the event and wanted to be baptized in the water by the same man that anoninted the Lord.
John climbed back on the riverbank exhausted and alone, Mary approached him. Before she summoned the nerve to speak to this holy baptizer, he straightened and spoke to her.
"He's gone to the desert," John said, "time to face his struggle, but he's not alone," and he looked up to where the dove had been at the radiant center of the shaft of light. Mary noticed the fog had lifted.
The rain was unrelenting; cold, uncomfortable. It had rained just about the entire time of his fast. The first three days were the hardest. His hunger ate at his gut, the acid and bile rose in his throat. Because of the rain he had enough water to drink but what little foraging he may have been able to do was made near impossible in the deluge. Even the insects had burrowed away. He sucked on catus at the end of the first week. He had been able to stay focused on his prayers despite the rain, the hunger and the pain. Ecstasy set in whenever he climbed the mountain. The elevation, the exertion and strain blended into a physical hum that set his mind on fire with purpose and vision.
He was climbing as much as ten hours a day. He felt that if he just kept climbing he would rise above the storm. And while he ascended the rocks and narrow path, he would look for caves to spend the night, or to wait out the squalls.
On the night of his thirty-third day in the desert the storm lifted. He sat at the edge of a narrow cave, close to the moon, overlooking the vast shadows of the valley below. Clarity set in, his vision met his mission and his future became evident. He felt the weight of his fate and the depth of his responsibility. He had a lot to do before his time.
The first visit happened at dawn. The sun rose to lay a yellow light across the arid landscape and he smelled the fresh baked bread coming from inside the cave. He turned to find a banquet table spilling over with grapes and figs. There were plates full of melons and pomergranates, bread and goat cheese. There were sweating pitchers' full of spring water and sweet wine. A small fire burned beside a stool set at the head of the table. He felt the presence.
"Eat," the voice suggested. He placed the voice from dispelling spirits, listening to that voice bargain and cajole. The bread split open emitting a fragrant steam. A jewel of moisture caught the fire light and ran down the swollen belly of a plump plum.
It was more as if his stomach moaned than growled as he stepped from the cave and away from the devil's table. He sat atop a stately rock and peered down at the ravine below. Falcons rode the air currents that swirled beneath him.
"Fly," the voice commanded. "My angels will catch you, I will not allow even a hair upon your head to be harmed," he said.
He closed his eyes and prayed. But his sight remained. He was in a tower, on the parapet. Red and gold banners flapped in the wind. In the distance he could hear marching and drums of a military parade. If it were a fort it was formidable and if it were a palace he had never imagined one so grand. Beneath him was a courtyard full of troops at the ready. At the head of each column a lieutenant sat atop a steed. All eyes were turned toward him.
"Command," the voice said, "a legion greater than Caesar's awaits your order to march. No one will defeat you, you are the king of kings," the cheering grew louder.
He opened his eyes and looked to the rising sun.
The devil knew that riches, and kingdoms, servants and power would not sway him, but he used it first to set Jesus up for the unexpected, to distract him and have him lower his guard before Satan introduced his vision of a wife, his wife and a home and family, his family. The face of his wife filled in and it was the face of Mary of Magdalene. She wasn't in a tunic, but rather wrapped in a scarlet robe that clung to her body like his dreams. And they had children, lots of them. They were under his feet and running around him in a gaggle of laughter. He smiled so hard it hurt. He would have to admit that the thought of kids, the warmth of a wife, the prospect of unwrapping that scarlet robe gave him pause. That is until he saw the devil licking his lips, his mouth watering, the lascivious leer behind the seductive smile, and heard his thoughts say with a voice staright from hell, 'all shall be thine, just come and worship me', and that was all he needed to see through the evil and the lure of the lie of this fallen angel.
He faced his demon, "Get behind me," he commanded and heard his voice echo back from the empty cave. Somewhere he thought he heard an angel's horn.
He knew that evil wouldn't give up that easily and imagined that wasn't the last he would be dealing with him.
It wasn't as if she was going to just wait for him. Mary had decided that much. She was embarrassed with herself that she had allowed it to get this far. She was wondering if she had misjudged the man and misread the situation, and that too was confusing. She found it all disconcerting.
She had been living from her savings for longer than she expected and it was time to bring in some money. Mary decided she would go into Jerusalem and see if there were any prospects for her talents and perhaps see if she could find out more about him, maybe she could re-connect with the zealot in between his excursions and see if he had any news.
Mary took the main road into the city connecting with travelers about the needs of the surrounding villages when she saw a woman running erratically. She was distraught, screaming at all she aproached, "My son! my son," she was calling to God and begging for the Nazarene. Mary grabbed her by the arm, "What's wrong?" she asked. The woman's face lost what color it had from her efforts and covered her mouth with her hand.
"My son is possessed by evil spirits who are chocking him to death. I need the Nazarene," she said.
Even in the excitement, the irony wasn't lost on Mary, but instead she said, "Maybe I can help you?" The mother doubted that, but she was desperate.
When they entered the tent Mary saw the boy curled in a ball with his hands at his throat. His lips were blue and his complexion was too. Mary could see he was trying to scream but had no air to let out his cry. His father was standing above him chanting in prayer while his grandmother sat in the corner and wept. Mary surveyed the room and saw the pomegranate split on the table and wondered if it was a demon that possessed the boy, or a seed. Mary took the boy's face in her hands and made an O of his mouth by pressing her fingers into his cheek. She gasped. It wasn't a seed. The boy's throat was enflamed, swollen shut, cutting off the air to his lungs. There was little time.
"Hold the boy down," Mary said to the father, "and you too," she said to his mother. They seemed afraid to even touch their son.
"Look, he can;t breathe, but we may be able to help him," she said. They stood there motionless when Jesus lifted the tent door and entered the scene.
"Thank God!" the boy's mother said.
'Agreed,' Mary thought.
"Rabbi," the boy's father had stopped chanting, "save our son," he pleaded.
"Your savior is here, and she's hard at work," Jesus said, "How can I assist you?" He asked Mary.
She was glad to see him too, but that would have to wait.
"It appears the boy had an ill reaction to something he ate, it has closed his throat, cutting off his breathing. We need to get him some air," she said. "Please hold him down by the shoulders and have them hold his legs," she ducked through the opening in the tent and returned with a stem of bamboo plant that she cut into a tube and she was blowing through the opening on one side. She walked over to the cooking fire and rolled the end of the stem into the kitchen fat to secure the end and turned back to the boy. Jesus had the boy by his shoulders and he had convinced the parents to cooperate, even the old woman was silent.
"Hold him down," Mary instructed, "we need to still his struggle," she said. Mary held hid cheeks open with one hand as she inserted the bamboo stem into the boy's mouth with the other hand, twisting the bamboo with the slightest pressure until she felt the resistance stop. Mary blew into the end of the shoot and pulled her head back and repeated the procedure until the boy was breathing on his own, and his normal color returned to his face. Mary's hair was wet with sweat. She carefully removed the tube from the boy's throat.
"Bring me some hot water," Mary said to the mother. She opened her satchel and blended a tea of chamomile, ginger and other herbs. Once it had cooled Mary wet the boy's lips with the liquid until he was able to take a sip, and finally a swallow which seemed to relax him and his constricted throat and once the boy caught his breath he began to cry.
"Now that was miraculous," Jeus said to Mary.
Mary blushed at the remark. 'Here we go again,' she thought.
The mother didn't know whether to stand back in fear of this woman, who saved her son, or get to her knees and kiss the hem of her gown. She had asked for the Nazarene and received this woman instead, only to have him assist her in saving the boy. She wondered at the number of spirits that surrounded her.
Mary wasn't exactly sure what had happened either, the moment she was engaged in working on the boy and Jesus was nowhere in her mind, or thought, he walked through the door. And like the mother, Mary thought, if these are the results who was she to question it.
He had re-named Simon, Peter, the rock, and Mary could not have picked a better description. Simon was a rock; rock-headed, rock hearted, stubborn as a rock and just as thick. He was built like a rock, his chin and brow chisled from stone, a mass of muscle wrapped around bone. And he had a rock beneath his robe of which he was most proud. The idea that Mary wasn't interested in any of these attributes annoyed Simon and raised his suspicions of her. But Simon was suspicious of all women. He even had complaints about Mary the mother, and the power she yielded over her son. He thought women had their place, and that place was not in authority, or in dialogue with men. Simon preferred women in service, or not at all. But, Mary felt, he held a deeper grudge against her personally for her proximity to Jesus, for the way he chose her first for conversation and companionship.
Simon was a born fisherman, from a family that worked the Sea of Galilee for generations. He had a broad chest, and thick thighs from years of hauling in the large nets loaded with fish. He was the brother of Andrew who had introduced him to Jesus and his teachings, which Simon had embraced, as he did most things, with a single minded passion.
He was rumored to have been married, a marriage he claimed to have sacrificed in service to the word. Mary wondered the real reason behind the breakup and his distaste for her gender.
Simon claimed to know the law, Mary wasn't sure about that, but she did know this Peter was fond of quoting the law; he did it all the time, while he lived the law of convenience, as Mary saw it. In her estimation, he used the law like a club, intimidating the weaker, or those who would not fight back. He administered harsh judgement to all save Jesus and himself, and, Mary thought, there were times he wasn't so easy on Jesus either.
Like a rock, Simon could be an obstacle embedded in the middle of the road, difficult to get around. Mary found him fundemaental, rigid; he looked to build a wall around ideas and concepts, as if he needed restrictions to ensnare the limitless vision of the Lord. Simon wasn't comfortable if things weren't structured, contained wihin the boundaries of conformity. He needed his fish in the nets and not in the sea.
And he was even more obstinate when Jesus wasn't around. Mary thought Simon was intimidated by the man. She found Peter incapable of self-discipline and guidance and sought order and purpose from outside sources. In that way he could blame others for his sins, as he wasn't responsible for his own failings and left individual choice behind in favor of the law. While Simon, as Mary couldn't help but think of him, transferred his discomfort to Mary and the other women around them, he witheld his greatest contempt for Jesus' brother James, who he resented for the blood James shared with Jesus. When Jesus was not among them Simon would argue with the brother James picking at his points of view with overbearing criticism until there was no space for James' voice in the barrage of rhetoric.
One journey, as a group of disciples walked together, Mary and Jesus led the way engaged in their own conversation. They heard Peter's voice rise above the twelve. It was hard to make out exactly what they were saying but they could tell by their inflated chests that the men were boasting, divided by the opinion as to who among them was the greatest of the group.
Jesus stopped, turned and faced them, freezing them in their place mid-sentence.
"What are you talking about?" He asked.
"Nothing," Peter replied - not wanting him to know.
"What is the greatest but the least, for they live in the kingdom of heaven," Jesus said, "I am where the forsaken are celebrated, and the humble exalted," he directed the next toward Peter.
"You are concerned about the things of men, of honor and the acknowledgement of this world. You have much to learn, much to experience. It will challenge you - and me, and cause us suffering and death," he said, not looking at anyone now, but stared at the ground beneath him.
Peter protested, not him, he would never allow it, it wouldn't happen. He puffed out his broad chest and stuck his rock of a chin into the air.
Thinking of what was to come, Jeus became disappointed in his choice of leadership.
"Peter, get behind me, I turn my back on your devilish way," he said in disgust and turned on his men.
When Mary thought about what was to come; Peter at the supper, in the garden when the guards took Jesus away, and thought of what Jesus must have known back on that day when they had traveled that road together, and even when he chose Simon to lead. Sometimes Mary just couldn't figure this Jesus out, what were his motivations and meaning, what were his intentions in picking this Peter as leader, foundation, rock of his church. Sometimes Simon was no rock; he could be spineless and bend to wind and whim. And, Mary knew, there was no dependeing on him like one could count on a stone. Peter hadn't always been there for him, as the last few days would attest. He didn't have the courage to stand up to the authorities, he wasn't even strong enough to challenge Jesus relationship to her; instead he chose to talk behind his back in whispers of insinuation that cast doubt upon her and the other women.
But, what troubled Mary most about, Simon, now Peter, was that he thought it his obligation to bring rules to what had been a concept, a way of life. He wanted to establish an organization, a hierarchy snd rank to what had been a population of the equal. His desire was to encase the revolution in a room without light or air. Mary thought that perhaps he needed to do these things in order to better form and control the movement.
Mary thought Jesus must have chosen Simon, because of what Peter was to become, and where he had to come from to get there. He was so human; so in need of reform; he was stubborn, prejudice, flawed. Jesus must've been challenging him to be a rock to build upon, not one used to grind dreams into dust. She thought he must want the next leader to be the one who experienced the biggest transition, one who had come the furthest, and she knew that Jesus would know better, but sometimes Mary did have to wonder.
His mother didn't know what to make of this Mary, her son attracted the odd ones, she thought. This Mary didn't look like anyone else; his mother had to give her that, with her wavy, raven hair in contrast to her sky-blue eyes. She looked more Egyptian than Galilean. She wore a ruby ring on the small toe of her left foot. She plucked her eyebrows with careful precision, and painted her lips blood red. Her complexion had not seen much sun, and Mary knew what that could mean. Everyone has a life, she thought, and who was she to jusge?
After all, Mary had been misjudged, ruled a harlot for her child, only to be saved by a man who took them both on and treated her son as if he were his own. That's why Mary didn't come to any conclusions, if her son loved this woman than so would she. That was reason enough.
But the mother was concerned that this Mary's unique appearance wasn't an advantage as it brought even more attention to her son. And he was doing enough of that himself without anyone's help. And his mother knew this Mary couldn't help but attract attention no matter where she was.
People were following her son in the hundreds; the down trodden, the helpless, the sick, and those who had just lost their way. That didn't concern her as much as did the attention he was receiving from the Pharisees, from Jerusalem, and worse, from Rome. This Mary with her ruby ring had nothing to do with that.
What worried his mother was that her son didn't seem to care about the authorities; if she didn't know better she would think he was looking for the challenge. His stories and parables, his metaphors and talks took on the political and military power and put them up against the true authority, God the Father and the kingdom of heaven, which, she knew, the Roman's weren't going to like. Her son had disrubted commerce with his mass food distribution and his talk of servants becoming masters, he welcomed those who had been shunned, like the Samaritans and the Gentiles, to live and honor God together, he had taken on the tax collectors by bringing them into the group, and if he were to effect revenues and taxes she knew that no one was going to permit that. He would not listen when she counseled adainst his boldness. It was as if he thought it was just a matter of time, an inevitable face off between his destiny and theirs.
As a mother she felt the special bond between this Mary and her son. She saw how his eyes ignited when he looked at her, and heard his voice turn tender when they spoke. They respected one another and enjoyed each other's company. And, for her part, this Mary stood her ground with her son and carried herself with confident assurance. And why not, Mary thought, with those looks! It was natural for her, she wasn't satisfied being the silent woman, she demanded her time and spoke her peace, especially to Peter, that drove Peter mad, and for that alone Mary had to like this Mary of Magdalene.
The group needed money; so Jesus and the disciples had gathered their nets and their boats and gone out to the sea, while Mary agreed to accompnay his mother to Cana, to the wedding of the daughter of a very good friend. Jesus would return in time to meet them for the ceremony.
His mother and Mary had seen each other several times and spoken enough to know they really didn't know each other. That changed once they had a chance to be alone.
On the road to Cana his mother told Mary that she and the mother of the bride were the best of friends and she was as excited as if it were her own daughter about to be married. His mother talked about planning, preperations and the dozens of worries such an event creates. She was excited and chatted away in an uncharacteristic manner that Mary found charming.
They had stopped in an inn outside of Nazareth to share a meal and spend the night. His mother grew nostalgic as she grew tired. She told Mary about her own marriage to Joseph and how it hadn't been easy for him at all, or for her either. There was a time when she thought he wasn't going to marry her. She was single, alone and pregnant. There had been a time before they were married, before Joseph had accepted her, after her small frame bloomed with child and no one would talk to her, her family was shamed, and her closest cousin, Elizabeth, had just had her own child and couldn't travel to help, this mother of the bride had taken her into her home.
She paused; the muscles of her face relaxed, his mother said to Mary, "Did you know that Jesus and the zealot are cousins?" She asked. "Jesus first met John before I started to show and travel was restricted; I was frightened. I hadn't told anyone of my condition, so I went to Judea to tell my cousin Elizabeth that I was pregnant. Elizabeth was much older then I, I thought of her much more as an auntie than a cousin. To my surprise she was pregnant too and much further along. It had been a surprise to her cousin, as she thought those years had passed, and it was a shock to her husband, Zacharias, who not only questioned his wife's sanity as well as the Lord's and with such passion that he was struck speechless," Mary chuckled. "And that may have been the greatest miracle of all," his mother said from behind a broad smile.
"Elizabeth was in her final month and John was a zealot even then," his mother continued, "we met outside of their home and John danced in Elizabeth's womb at the presence of Jesus," she laughed until her eyes looked distant. She resumed her story.
"Things weren't so good for me back home, before Joseph had taken her back, it had been my friend, this mother of the bride, who stood by me and kept me company, she took care of me in a manner that made me comfortable and normal enough to be excited by my pregnancy and the life grwoing inside of me".
And than, she said, Joseph came around. He was righteous and in love and his heart was as strong as his broad shoulders. His mother recalled how he had told her he was old and hard from years of labor and amazed that a young woman like her would be willing to have him. Besides, Joseph told her, with the child he was getting a built in family as a dowry. His mother smiled as she told Mary that, "Little did he know that he'd have two moore sons with me after I had given birth to Jesus," she said.
"The just are rewarded," Mary said and knew that his mother must've been a beauty because she was a stunning woman now. The stunning woman blushed.
"I was rewarded as well," his mother said, her blush growing deeper, "he was a strong man and he was a good man and I will miss him," she said. She took Mary's hands in hers and placed them in her lap.
"You know, I saw you before my son even introduced us," she said, pulling herself away from her longing. "It was when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordon. I too was moved by the spirit and went into the water, the sun, the voices, the light, I hadn't seen anyting like it," she said.
"I saw you in the water, you were hard to miss, even in your pilgrim's disquise," his mother said, "your veil fell from your head and your skirt floated up and I hadn't seen anything like that either!" she smiled.
Now it was Mary's turn to blush and she wasn't sure why? This man and his family had more of an effect on her every day, she thought.
(and so IN BETWEEN continues, stay tuned for more serials from this, my next story...)
Re: 1st Drafts: This may sound generational, and I guess it is, but I have come to find that a first draft written in long hand is the most useful. Not only is it easier and more convenient to translate thought into word with a pen and notebook, what one has written remains there even if at first glance it doesn't seem worthwhile. There's no rash delete key and the idea, phrase, whatever remains active and in play. One never knows when it might come into use and, like the teacher's say, the first answer is usually the correct one. - I was recently at a reading and discussion with John Irving where he spoke of his hand written first drafts too! For him, it was more a question of slowing him down to achieve a better result, to have more time to think about the words he was writing. Me, I haven't gotten THAT far yet, but the process of hand written first draft still works well. Thanks for reading! Tom 11/09
In answer to the question below: Hi and thanks for the question. For me the end of "Age" is about how acts of mercy can be their own reward. The Salter family is reunited, and really for the first time. That genuine acts of mercy done from the heart can save more than others. Without me knowing it until I was in revision any character who helps another is saved in the end. And like the wise Patsy said, "It's about time." Now I am not sure I answered you, if not ask me again, please? And you can send me a message through contact the author link on the right. Thanks, again, I appreciate the interest! Tom
Ques: what are you implying at the end of book
Hi there! And thanks for checking in. Re: Writing; I have found that when things get rough, it's good to get writing. When a situtaion is beyond my experience I find that writing it down can help sort it out. Writing formulates thought, and if I am confused, or unsure, translating uncertaintity into words can make the issue clearer. And it need not be restricted to the wrong, writing can help celebrate the right in one's life and serve as a warm reminder. So, in either case, but especially if the emotional and economic challenges of these troubled times have you perplexed, and you're not sure what to do, take out your own pad and pen and jot a few things down, you might find it helps. I have and thought I would pass that along. Let me know what you think? Thanks! Tom
Hi, thanks for coming to my site! When friends and co-workers speak to me about writing, they often say that they can't imagine writing a book while having a full time job. And, knowing the talent and taste of these folks, I think that some fine books aren't being written because of that opinion. A famous writer once said, "the key to good writing is getting your ass in the chair." And if one is a habitual creature and can get their ass in the chair each day, well, that's how good things start. I have found that by the practice and habit of writing, stories and characters happen. So, if you have an idea, or always wanted to write a book; sit down and start writing. Try it at night, and if you have time, take a look at what you wrote the next morning. Take it with you in your mind and imagination. This can help keep it fresh so that when you return to write that night you know where you are. Try it for a week and let me know what happens? Or if you have any questions, or advice of your own, please feel free to post it here, or contact me from the link to your right. Thanks, for reading! Have a good day, Tom
ANS: Re; Mercy/Redemption. Hi, Walt! First thing; thanks for reading THE AGE OF THE CONGLOMERATES, I appreciate it. I don't want to give too much away to those who may read my book, but after I was writing for awhile I noticed that the action of the characters created their futures beyond their intentions, or mine, especially characters like, the Lucky Brothers, Ichabod, Dr. Walters, and, of course, the Salter family. Until, finally, fate's sense of justice had its hand, and place, in the end. Or, it seemed to me, when all was said and done, Mercy = Redemption. I hope that explains it a little? Thanks for asking, Tom Nevins (Bklyn)
Hi, I read your book and wonder what you mean about mercy and redemption? Walt from NJ
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Love the web site. Very clever, clear and simple. Spent some time prowling. Will be back. Best regards, Chris Kerr