On The Road To Golgotha

1: On the road to Golgotha, on the streets of New York, the Messiah met a wino, crumpled body face down in a whiskey-soused haze on the littered sidewalk, wallowing in a puddle of his own vomit as passers-by ignored the tableau. With firm but gentle hands He lifted the wino to his knees and passed a hand over the gnarled, stubbled face with its foul and sour breath, and behold, the wino did awaken. And the passers-by ignored the miracle.

And He spoke unto the wino, saying, "My child, blessed are ye, for ye hath nothing, yet ye shall have my blessing and peace eternal in my Father's mansion, if ye will follow me."

And the wino gazed upon His visage, and spat upon the concrete, and spoke unto him with a Texan drawl, saying "Sorry, already got somethin", and reached for his bottle. The Messiah shook His head, puzzled, and walked on.


2: On the road to Golgotha, in the halls of the rich, the Messiah met a Company President, arrayed in resplendent shirt, coat and tie, seated behind a desk with gilded telephones and leather-bound drawers, filled with symbols of avarice and offerings to Midas, talking on the telephone to amass more wealth than the world itself could encompass. He did smell of expensive cologne, and a half-filled crystal goblet of champagne did sit by the side of the large desk.

And He spoke unto the Company President, saying "Abandon all ye have, and follow me, for I shall provide riches for thee in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys, and which will never be exhausted."

And the Company President gazed upon His visage, and in an instant the scales fell from his eyes and he knew who He was, and his face did light up with joy, and he smiled and spoke unto the Messiah, saying, "I can see it now: television specials, movie deals, toys, books, merchandising - we'll make a mint - sign here." The Messiah shook his head, puzzled, and walked on.


3: On the road to Golgotha, at the castles of diplomacy, the Messiah met two Arms Negotiators, exchanging terms of megadeath, playing with the lives of each living thing on the planet, speak ing in tongues inspired by thermonuclear fire, of ICBMs and MIRVs, of SLBMs and ABMs, of MX and Cruise, of MAD and SDI. They did shout at each other across the table, with faces red and stained with sweat, and above the spy satellites did dance in their video waltzes across the face of all that was, lasers trained and lenses set. The Messiah approached and spoke unto them, saying, "Love thy enemies and sheathe thy swords, and ye shall witness the Coming of my Kingdom."

The first Arms Negotiator looked at Him and then at the other and spoke, saying, "We would love to, but that would leave Europe wide open for a conventional attack."

The second Arms Negotiator looked at Him and then at the other and spoke, saying, "We would love to, but their satellites have weapons that can disable us."

"Nevertheless," said the first, "We will eliminate if you will."

"Of course," said the second, "You first."

"No," smiled the first, "You first."

"No," growled the second, "You first."

Then the first did call the second a satanic pawn of a mindless and Godless society, and the second did call the first a capitalist bourgeois pig of illegitimate ancestry, and the first did call the second a simp and a dork and the second did reach across the table to strangle the first, and both collapsed in a sea of pounding fists and incoherent ravings.

The Messiah began to understand, but walked on.


4: On the road to Golgotha, in the fields of the hungry, the Messiah met a Boy with bloated belly and sunken eyes, with shriveled limbs and parched lips, with skin drawn tight over hollow bone. The desert wind did howl over the barren sands as the cries of the hungry drifted with dried-out gusts, stinging and acrid, hot and not refreshing.

The Boy spoke unto the Messiah, asking, "Who are you?"

"I am He who came to save," replied the Messiah, "And now comest again. I am the Son of the Most High."

The Boy considered this and asked Him, "Can you save us?"

"I have come to lead all into my Kingdom, where none shall hunger."

"Where is it?" asked the Boy hopefully, for he was hungry.

"It is not of this earth," He replied, kindly.

The Boy grew silent, and bared his little white teeth at Him, crying, for he knew nothing but this earth. "What other is there?" he cried, and walked away into the yellow sands. After a while a general gave an order and iron golems spat death and sands erupted and the cries of the hungry were silenced.

The Messiah walked on, weeping.


5: On the road to Golgotha, in the cathedral of the righteous, the Messiah came upon a Group of People holding placards and screaming at a group of children who were being led away into glass cages to be shut up forever. And He asked why the People were screaming and an Old Lady spoke unto Him, saying, "They have a disease, which is called AIDS, because they are unclean, and must be shut away for eternity."

"But why?" asked the Messiah, "They are but children!"

"It does not matter," smiled the Old Lady, "They have the disease, a judgment from God, so they must have sinned. Therefore, they must be shut away, to avoid defiling the righteous and making us unclean."

"Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone!" He hotly demanded. And He was not surprised when they began to pick up the stones from the rocky ground.

The Messiah, sorely distressed, walked on.


6: On the road to Golgotha, at the foot of the Skulls, the Messiah met a Writer, a young man with untidy hair and wrinkled clothes, with faded jeans and lunatic eyes that peered through behind greasy lenses. The writer knew who He was and had been waiting to talk to Him. The Messiah did drag his feet, for He was shaken by all He had witnessed, and hence did not notice the writer until the young man spoke.

"Excuse me," spoke the Writer unto the Messiah, "I'd like to ask you a few questions if I may, questions that have been asked before, old questions that never have been answered, so I'd like to ask them one more time."

The Messiah stopped walking, but did not speak. The Writer continued.

"Apparently you came here two thousand years ago to save Man. I've always wondered why you chose that particular time. What was it that made Israel in the first century so special? Was it the Jews under the Romans? The tyranny of Herod?"

The Messiah did not speak. He sat beside the Writer.

"You've seen a little of this world today. Wars cover half of the globe, disease, crime and famine riddle the rest. Civilization is spiraling down a nuclear plughole, AIDS, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Iran - does the world need a Messiah any less that Israel two thousand years ago? I'm just asking."

The Messiah grunted inanely.

"Well, it doesn't matter why. Maybe Israel didn't need a Messiah. Maybe we don't need a Messiah, have you considered that? Maybe it's all a game between you and the Big Guy downstairs and we're the pawns, the scores on a card you can mark up at the end and say, ‘Well - I got more souls than you.’ Maybe we don't want to play anymore. We were kicked out of Eden, as I recall, for the simple, deadly sin of curiosity. Where was Forgiveness and Mercy then? And now, after a million years of slogging our way through filth and blood and sweat we're supposed to run to our Holy Papa and reject our accomplishments, what we've worked for as meaningless? Well, thanks but no thanks."

The Messiah did not speak, did not move.

"It's a screwed-up world, evil rampant, brink of destruction, all that crap. It's not the best of worlds, but it's our screwed-up world. And it's my screwed up world. And it's one we built without you. It may not look like much, but it's something tangible, and satisfying, because we did it on our own."

The Messiah sat there. After a while, the Writer arose and walked back from Golgotha. After a while, the first drops began to fall, and for the first few seconds it was not certain if they were rain or tears.


7: At the place called Golgotha, at the place of the Skulls, the Messiah stood there in the pouring rain and stared at the heavens and raised his hands and said to no one in particular, for no one was there, "My children, my children, why have you forsaken me?"

And two boys walked up to Him and asked Him for His wallet. When He gave no answer they stabbed Him several times in the chest with a switchblade and He fell without saying anything more. Finding no money on Him, they left in search of richer prey.

And the body of the Messiah lay there, in the rain, on the road to Golgotha, at the place of the Skulls.

this story first appeared, in edited form, in the 1988 Anglo-Chinese Junior College yearbook

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