Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jesus and Lazarus

In homage to Terence McNally and Theodore Jennings

Asleep on his chest after the dinner they’ve shared with the others, the boy doesn’t really understand what’s about to happen, any more than the rest of them. They all imagine that somehow he’ll wave his hand and the fundamentalist thugs who are coming for him will drop to the ground. Or all but one of them: the one who’s betrayed him to the authorities knows well enough that they won’t.

His heart aches for this innocent, who’s too young to lose his first love–much less to the brutal death almost certainly to come. His desire to spare him such anguish almost swamps the fear he feels for himself.

But it’s all in motion now, and the shit’s about to hit the fan. Even if he wanted to flee, the chances of escaping the net they’ve cast around him for days are negligible. He’s staked everything on blind faith that somewhere--beyond the cold, calculated brutality of those who hate him, beyond the limits of imagination--some good can come of surrender to suffering at the hands of Power for the sake of Love.

He loves them all; has loved them to the end. This boy who slipped into his bed the first night he stayed in the house of the lad’s older sisters. The hairy, thick-chested fishermen he picked up on the shore of the lake. The one everybody still labels as a sellout to the Occupation. Even the politically correct zealot who's already revealed his whereabouts to the Temple mafia.

In the flush of the wine, he’s behaved tonight like an outrageous, theatrical queen: passing bread and wine around the table and telling them all that he’d feed them his body and blood if he could; halfway through the meal, stripping off his robe and washing their feet like a half-naked slave in a bathhouse, his erection tenting the towel around his waist while he cradled his beloved's ankle in his hand.

But he still means all of it. Nudging the boy awake, rousing the others from where they sit, some of them slumped and dozing, some of them gripped by silent, half-comprehending dread, he tells them, time to move on. Time to meet what’s coming next.

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