Here’s my biweekly post on DamnedFool.com. I normally refrain from posting short stories on the Web, as that counts as publication and precludes magazines from publishing it. It’s one of my favorites, but who’s going to publish something like this? Enjoy if you will.
by Bishop & Fuller
So the story is, this little Mideastern town, people going on day by day, they work, they pay taxes, there’s a tiff over who carts the garbage. They make love, have babies, eat dinner.
But all around there’s suffering and dying and pain and rape and lying and mucking up the smells of the sacred earth. And people thought, we need some help here. What we need . . . we need a leader. No, more like a teacher, a priest—high priest, no, he’s an asshole, but we need a prophet, a savior, we need . . . the Messiah!
So, according to the official biography of Jesus Christ, as authorized by the franchise, it goes like this.
Back east, there’s a number of experts on the talk shows and book tours, they’re talking about this magical child, born under a magical star. And the Administration, watching television to know what’s going on, they hear of the promised Messiah, who might make some long-promised change. The Messiah? Well fuck that. We better do a little preemptive dentistry on that.
So the Special Forces, they string out a perimeter of 20 kilometers around this little village where they pinpoint the clandestine development program. Orders are neutralize all male progeny under the age of two, males being the threat of action. And there’s a lotta grousing around the barracks, the soldiers, cause, first, we’re not those Roman sonsabitches, we’re Jews, this would be killing our own people. And this is quick-strike, you go in, do it, get out, how you got time to check every little screaming kid for a prick? And then too . . . a lot of these soldiers are daddies, and what if that kid looks like ours?
But they were pros. They were patriotic.
Now the story that is told— No. Right now, we should talk about the slaughter. We celebrate the birth, but we forget the slaughter. It’s like three hundred people die in a plane crash, and one survives, he says “What a miracle! God did it just for me!”
So we celebrate the Christmas season without smelling the blood. If you’re thinking about two hundred dead babies, you don’t feel much like shopping. But if we hold onto the gift and forget what it came wrapped in, what happens? We celebrate the divine gift this one day, and on each and every one of the three hundred sixty-four other days, we memorialize the slaughter.
The old proverb, it’s true: you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. So one solder, named Jim, he and his buddies take the left side the road, first house, family just standing there in their room, not even hiding. He grabs the baby, mother holds on, so he sticks his point on the baby and just . . . pokes. Goes right in like butter, pulls out, big glug of blood, and mama yells and he splits her head one chop. He needs to feel something solid. Jim goes outside, there’s a pile of little kids, ten or twelve in a pile, they’re dead but a soldier is whacking on the pile, just crazy, hacking away, then runs across the road and hacks his sword on a fig tree till the blade snaps and he keels over to vomit. Jim thinks what a nut, and he turns around, his two best buddies, they got a little girl, eight or nine, buck naked, and they’re trying, you know, to put it in, but they can’t manage. And Jim thinking why are they doing that, they’re nice guys, they’re just upset, and her mother is trying to stop it, but her arm is dragging by a tendon, and finally his buddies give up on trying to have a relationship with the little girl and stand up and stomp her head in. And the mother howls a great howl, and his buddies start howling. Jim thought they’re making fun of her, that’s not nice, that’s not who we think we are, but they couldn’t stop. They howled, they howled, and the dogs picked up the howling, and then the hills. Those hills are still howling today.
That’s all Jim remembered. They all got drunk that night. Round over the whole perimeter, there was maybe a hundred fifty, two hundred little suspected Messiahs, besides the collateral damage.
So the way it’s told is this: One little boy, engendered by the Lord God of Hosts to redeem us out of our sins, got away, skipped town, then came back and grew up to be . . . the Savior. Who, even if you are not of the Christian faith, was generally agreed to be a very nice person. Though not always polite.
But now suppose— Now we don’t want to offend anyone’s proclivities here, but just suppose . . .
Suppose the little baby Messiah, him or her, we don’t know about that, was in the village that day, about the fourth house down, and the soldier grabbed it and flung it into the air, and the Son or Daughter of God was skewered on a sword, like a puppy dog. It died dead. And the one that got away, he was just a kid. Just a kid.
Now just give it the benefit of the doubt. We’re just speculating. It’s just a story, like a speech by the President, it doesn’t have to be true. It’s poetry.
Suppose, about the age of twelve, the little boy that escaped—his mommy and daddy told him the story. What a miracle! It showed God’s love and they thanked God for bringing’em safe out of the plane crash.
And he asked, “What about the other babies?” And they said “Shut up with that!”
So the story goes, they took him to the big city. They’re looking at the big tall buildings, all the sights, and then suddenly, “Where’s the kid?” And they find him in the Temple, with the priests and the rabbis, asking all these questions. Why? Why why why why why? Why!!!? And they’re talking about sin and obedience and the scriptures and the opinions of Rabbi Horscht and Rabbi Borscht, and he asks, “Why?” And everybody’s saying, “Who is this kid?”
And his mom grabs him. “Don’t you ever do that again!”
They go back to their rented room. Mom makes supper. Nobody speaks. He’s alone.
He knew then that the Messiah was dead, and he alone escaped alive to know it. He felt so guilty. And he knew if there was ever going to be a Messiah, he’d have to do it. Fake it till you make it.
Over the years, he did better than fake it. He started out in his dad’s workshop, learning to plane the wood, carve joints, pound nails straight. And he studied up, applied himself, lost weight. Bought a pair of sandals good for walking.
Then he wrote some beautiful songs that went into people’s hearts, and you couldn’t help but dance. Even a big fat slob cavorting and prancing, it feels so good. Although, he didn’t hold onto his copyrights, so his label kinda simplified the lyrics, changed the arrangements, so you hear his stuff mostly in elevators or selling somebody a bill of goods.
Then he’s hung up to dry. Took’em thirty-three years but they caught him. They tacked him up like a poster on a bulletin board, riveted him onto a $24.95 bronze memorial crucifix hanging on the wall, with his own mother howling below. He wanted somebody to stomp his head in, cause it hurt so bad.
And he’s up there on the stinking hill, looking out over the city and the hills and the howling in the hills (I thirst!), and he knew he’d failed. All those babies that died, and the real Messiah that died with a sword up its little ass, (Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!) and he had blown it. He saw the villages, the town and cities, whole races of humankind upon whom the soldiers would charge down to wipe those babies off the face of the earth—in his name. (My God my God why hast Thou forsaken me?) In his name.
And he heard a voice: “Whatchu talking about?”
Now this might have been the voice of the Lord God of Hosts. Yahweh. Jehovah. Our Heavenly Father. But it sounded like a woman. Of course some guys have high voices, and you call on the phone, “Hi, Mrs. Wolinski, could I talk to Sam?” “This is Sam.” So it could have been the Father. But it sounded female.
She said “Whatsa matter, boy? You think you so special? You think they wasted the real Messiah and now they got the I’ll-try-my-best-to-be-the-Messiah Messiah? You think the Divine Breath of the Universe that spews out fish eggs and dandelion seeds and Big Macs and SUVs and mosquitoes by the quadrazillions, has only got the human eggs and spermatozoa for one Messiah? We got tons of plutonium and uranium and trillium and billium and congolium and vitriolium to blow the lid off the whole fucking planet, but we don’t got the makings for more than one Messiah? Oh my no.”
She say, “You hear that howling over the hills? That’s your mama crying down there, but up here, from the vantage point that you have achieved in life, with a scenic view, you hear the hills of the Promised Land. That is the howls of labor. That is the women birthing messiahs, numberless.”
And he hears it. The mothers of the sons and the daughters. Howling out what it takes to give birth . . . to a god. He’s hanging there hearing the birth of gods. The head crowns from the cervix, and she waits, she waits, and then she starts to push, and a god sees light. And the god on the cross, he laughed, cause it took him so long to get it.
And for these women, who will not say that they birth the Savior? Who will deny them this claim? Who will not see that these women give birth, by the millions, to Saviors every day? That we send forth commandos daily to neutralize these Saviors before they ask Why? These tiny suckling Saviors who despite our best efforts still live.
And some escape, pound nails straight, and sing. And the labor lives in their mothers, and the coming of light.
Brilliant. “Those hills are still howling today.” Indeed they are.