“King Harod,” says the first, “is not interested in a Messiah.”
“He is afraid he’ll be dethroned by the King of the Jews,” says the second. “Murder,” says the third, slowly shaking his head.
The first Magus rises to his feet. “Every firstborn son in Jerusalem,” he begins nervously, “is to be killed.”
The second Magus …says, “His men are even now, searching for…”
“innocents,” states the third.
“Who ARE you freaks?” Joseph blurts as the blood drains from Mary’s face.
“When the Rabbis have circumcised Him,” begins the first Magus after a brief incredulous glare,
“and named Him,” continues the second, who has hidden the hookah in the folds of his robe, “we shall present Him with…”
“Gifts,” says the third, who is now outside the barn.
Mary leans against the wall. “This is just freaking PEACHY,” she gasps. “What the hell are we going to do?”
“We have to find a Rabbi,” Joseph says absently.
“Bugger the Rabbi!” Mary shrieks. “How long do you think it will take Herod to find the damned sign at the damned Inn?”
“My family lives here, Mare. I’ll find a Rabbi tonight.” Joseph pockets a few coins and closes the door behind him.
“Well, fuck,” Mary says as she sinks down into the straw to nurse her baby.
“Okay,” Joseph pants as he bursts in the door. “Rabbi will do the brit milah the day after tomorrow!”
Mary is nervous. “Two days!? What are we going to do until then? That stupid sign will have every one of Herod’s men here by dawn!”
Joseph runs his hand through his hair. “We could ask to stay with my cousins!” Mary’s nervous glance turns to a glare. “You have cousins in Jerusalem and I gave birth in a fricken’ BARN?”
Mary has That Look again. “See, it’s like this: my cousins are my mother’s cousin’s aunt’s kids, so it’s not – look. You said ‘stop now or I’ll stab you with a stick’. I did what you said. They live all the way over on the other side of the city.” Mary sighs. “Whatevs. What if Herod finds us before then?”
Joseph grins…. “Derek and Gerald are posted outside. If they see anyone, they’re going to hide us in the fields.”
“How will the Magi find us?” Mary asks later, when the baby is sleeping.
“Who?” Joseph asks, as he eyes up a couple of beams for a cradle.
“The MAGI, Joey. The Zoroastrians?”
“The guys in fancy dresses.”
“OH! Those weird dudes! I dunno. They’ll probably follow that big flashing star that hangs around wherever the kid is.”
“The…big…flashing…star…” Mary’s face turns ashen white.
“DUDES!” Derek cries from just outside the barn. “Have you seen that creepy flashing STAR lately? I bet it’s scaring the crap out of all the other shepherds!”
“Bad time, Derek,” Joseph shouts, staring as Mary sinks heavily into the straw beside the manger.
“It’s SO BRIGHT!”
“Not now, Derek,” Joseph grits his teeth.
“We’re gonna be able to see Herod’s flunkies for MILES!” Mary and Joseph exchange a surprised glance.
Meanwhile, back at the palace, King Herod beats a servant. “You will do as I command!” he screams, his face purple. “I don’t care WHAT’S happening in the sky! I want you to get out there…” he pauses as the servant expires. Quite rude of the filthy knave, Herod thinks, as he hollers for another servant. The one good thing about being king is of course an endless pool of servants to beat and firstborn sons to murder.
A little-known fact about the 7th day of Christmas is that it’s the day Mary and Joseph spent at the Jerusalem library checking out the latest Tom Clancy novel. Herod’s men didn’t think to search the library. Mary gave up on Tom Clancy and checked out some “cooking in the desert” books by early evening.
“There we go!” Rabbi announces. “Just a little off the top, ha-ha! Have you chosen a name for the child?”
“Yes,” Mary says reverently.
“It’s not Derek OR Gerald!” Joesph proclaims proudly.
“Notderekorgerald?” The Rabbi asks.
“JESUS!” Mary shouts. “Just name him Jesus!”
“Has either of you ever heard the name, ‘Immanuel’?” asks a familiar deep voice from a darkened corner of the temple.
“It is the name by which we know the Messiah,” says the second Magus.
“Messiah!?” The Rabbi shouts, “what **Messiah**!”
“Um,” Joseph says, glancing around nervously.
“What, this Jesus baby? That’s putting the cart before the horse.” The Rabbi laughs with derision.
“Wait,” the third Magus whispers, and his voice fills the room.
“Wait!?” the Rabbi sneers, “I’ve been *waiting* for a thousand years. I’ll *wait* for a thousand more if I must. Messiah.” He scoffs and offers a quick blessing before he leaves the temple, shaking his head.
“Quickly,” the first Magus says quietly, emerging from the shadows, “You must leave this place.”
“It is no longer safe for you in this city,” says the second.
“Herod,” says the third, his voice full of disgust.
“We have brought gifts,” the first Magus gently guides Mary by the elbow.
“They will help you on your journey,” the second Magus walks at Joseph’s side.
“Frankincense,” the third Magus whispers as they pass him at the temple door.
“I’ve heard of gold…” Mary says.
“Very dear commodities,” the first Magus answers.
“…In very high demand,” says the second.
“Sacred,” finishes the third, who closes the temple door.
Mary and Joseph follow the Magi through Jerusalem. “Frankincense is used by holy men; you can use it to pay them, should you need a hiding place in their temples,” the first Magus says.
“Myrrh is sacred in Egypt and in Rome. You can trade it for money in either place,” says the second.
The third Magus steps forward and removes the veil from his face. He holds out a silk bag that seems very heavy. “Gold,” he says.
And so Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus join the Magi’s caravan, their gifts wrapped in sackcloth and packed in their saddlebags. The caravan exits Jerusalem and begins the long trek across the desert. As they exit the city, the Magi announce: “Behold! The Lord God made man. Immanuel, who is called Jesus!” Everybody in the caravan bows their heads. In the distance, the screaming of mothers can be heard.
Thus endeth the lesson.