The New Testament
"God does not really mean the world literally; it is a metaphor, an analogy, a figure of speech that He has to resort to for some reason or other, and it never satisfies Him, of course."
In those days following The Crucifixion, when the Apostles wandered about, words, maybe The Word, on their dry tongues, there was in the region a magician and false prophet named Barjesus. This is not a jape. It's in The Acts of the Apostles.
Let's imagine a story for Barjesus. Let's say it starts like this:
One morning Marcus Shikuma awoke in his straw bed in Derbe, in his house built of mud, and he was too bored to go to work. He was employed down at the pot plant, spinning pots. It was tedious work and underneath the fingernails on the hands of Marcus Shikuma there was constantly argil. Also, his boss, a Mr. Elymus, was a crude sort, always talking of Hermes and divination and Barnabus Zeus, etc., and it grated on Marcus while he spun away, the wet clay under his hands growing hot in his displeasure. I could be a magician as easily as Old Man Elymus, as this Hermes, Marcus thought as he lay in bed watching the morning light make suncats on his grey walls.
His wife came in from the other room just then, a shapely Semitic beauty from nearby Iconium, long-legged and dark, with a pubic patch as thick and brambly and complex as the fires of conquerors. Uma, Uma Shikuma.
"What are you doing, slugabed husband of mine?" she trilled.
"Pondering," Marcus answered her.
"Concerning?" Uma asked.
"The future. My future, ours."
"You don't want the ignominy of being a potter till the end of your days," his wise wife said.
"Come here, wise wife of mine," Marcus said.
Uma Shikuma slipped from her rough shift and her bronze and muscular body moved onto her husband's like a sinuous grimalkin. Marcus soon had his stiffened member out in the open air and his wife slipped her mouth over him, a balm like frankincense. They made love for much of the morning and it was decided, wordlessly, that Marcus was no longer in the employ of the magician and master clayman, Elymus.
"I need a new name," Marcus said, as the couple lay in post-coital sang-froid.
"Whysoever?" Uma purred in her husband's conch-like ear.
"I want to be a prophet," was his startling reply.
Uma Shikuma was startled. She loved her husband with a love as deep as Tophet but this seemed an unreasonable ambition.
"A prophet?" she repeated, stalling while her mind tumbled.
"Yes. I know there are many but with the right gimmick I can make a damn good living doing this, perhaps establish a new church, one that could rival this upstart Christianity. Help me, my sapiential partner to think on a new name, something memorable."
Uma scrunched up her beautiful brown brow. She was a child at work coloring the sky. She was a pharaoh. She was Solomon.
"Squirmees," she said and began laughing, a tinkling sound that pleased her husband and elevated the overly serious tone of the proceedings.
After they laughed, and they laughed with their hearts intertwined, Marcus' face lit up.
"But no, not a play on Hermes, who is dead and his thinking discredited. No, a play on this new thinking. Um, Christopher. No. Lajesus. How's that, Lajesus?"
Uma looked deep into her handsome husband's blue eyes that were atwinkle with joy and—we can postulate—a newfound holiness.
"Barjesus," she said. "It sounds, what?, more mystical."
"Barjesus," Marcus Shikuma rolled it around on his tongue. "I like it."
"Good, my sweet."
"What shall I preach? What shall I say? I'm a magician, that's a given, but what's the catch. The Christians are tossing around this eternal life paradigm, you die but you don't really. It's something to do with being crucified and then rolling stones and rising on the third day. I'm not sure I quite got it all but it sounded unbeatable. We need something that will last. Something as sweet as eternal life."
"Cookware," Uma said, with a straight face. "We could give away cookware."
Her husband, the newly monikered Barjesus, laughed a consecrated laugh.
"How about beauty?"
Uma sat up in bed, the deep dun of her nipples almost black against her perfect cupcake breasts, her body the ideal her husband was proclaiming. "Everyone could be beautiful?" she asked.
"How about it?" Barjesus said, his voice quivering like an excited child.
Uma thought about it for a heartbeat or two.
"It sounds good," Uma said.
"It does, doesn't it? Everyone could be as beautiful as you in this newly minted paradise on Earth, sayeth Barjesus."
"Oh, sweet," Uma exclaimed throwing her arms around her husband.
And again her husband renewed his supply of overabundant spermatozoa and they tangled and wrestled and shuddered together for hours in the new blessedness of their cofound religion. What to name it? What to call this radical new belief? Later it would come to them and their sect would be called the Pulchritudians.
But now they were skin to skin and their temperatures were rising and the suncats danced a fey ridotto and they were sanctified in their blessed conjugation and right before her proud husband exploded into her for a third time that morning he whispered in his wife's conch-like ear, "Call me Barjesus," and when she had done so, with a warm vibrato like a plucked harpstring, he came like a hanefiyah and a child was conceived, a child to be called LaHerod, a child who would last longer than Pulchritudianism, but let's leave our couple with a happy thought, a wish for a better world, for them, for us, for all who would follow, the halt and the lame, the comely and the plain.
Let's say the story ends this way: Amen.
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