Thursday, June 02, 2011

Jesus Murphy: Back to Bethlehem (Ch. 18 - 20)

 - Chapter 18 -
Back to Bethlehem


The landscape that surrounded them was familiar, even welcoming. Jesus remembered this place so vividly, memories of his childhood flooded his mind. He hadn't been here in eight years, ever since they went on the run from the Sicarii.

Jesus had been with Martin for less then a year when their protector, Madonna Riviera, up and vanished from the small fishing town of Bethlehem, leaving them unprotected and vulnerable. Jesus was young, not yet an adolescent, when he healed an old man's injury. He was unaware of this special ability until that day and news quickly followed of a boy who could heal wounds. 

Threatening situations soon followed and Martin decided best to run while they still had the chance. His nephew was too immature and uneducated in the matter to truly grasp the reality of the threats. His abilities, however great they were, could be used for darker, more sinister deeds. Martin explained this to Jesus and promised to elaborate more when the latter would turn sixteen.

A promise Jesus intended for Martin to keep.

They arrived exactly where Jesus expected; Martin's house. It had changed through the years. The past owner's must have disliked the country feel of it and updated the features. The red tin roof was gone, replaced with the usual black, sparkling shingles. The stucco had been painted a dark blue, giving the house a sombre shade.

"I don't like what they've done with the place" Jesus remarked as they pulled into the driveway.

"I'm glad we're on the same page. I'll need some help getting this place back to shape" Martin answered, bringing the car to a stop.

It was silent in the car. Martin gave a friendly punch on Jesus' shoulder making the latter one laugh. "Welcome home, cowboy."

The moment Jesus stepped inside the house, he was overwhelmed by the smell that rushed at him. The placed looked like a wreck. Everything was gutted, including the walls. Jesus sighed and stepped to the side to let Martin thru.

"She didn't mention the whole gutting..." Martin said.

"I didn't think it would bother you, Martin Christ." Madonna answered, walking out of one of the bedrooms on the right.

She was just as Jesus remembered; tall blonde with the expression of a snarling bulldog.

"You left us when we needed you the most!" Jesus lashed out unable to control the anger that boiled inside his pit.

"You haven't told him, Martin? How are we suppose to suceed without trust?" Madonna said, looking directly at Martin.

Jesus could sense the dissapointment in her voice. Something stirred in his gut. Regret.

"I want to talk to Jesus alone" She continued.

Martin nodded in approval and stepped outside, leaving Jesus alone with the Agent. Madonna removed her lavender jacket and made her way towards the kitchen. Jesus followed her into what probably used to be a kitchen but was now just another empty space.

"You probably feel a lot of anger towards me Jesus and I understand. I'm shocked that Martin hasn't explained to you the importance of my departure. Had I stayed, this world as we know it wouldn't be. You have to trust me, Jesus."

Jesus listened to every word she was saying even though he didn't want to hear anything she had to say. He knew she was using her own abilities to make him focus on her words.

"I'm back now and that's all that matters. I am not going anywhere and I promise that. Nobody remembers what you did and I personally made sure of that. The Agency has placed a protective barrier around the city. We shouldn't be having any problems for a while."

Something about her had changed. She wasn't as stern as he remembered nor as stuck-up. Jesus felt comforted by her words, reassured even. As if the past nine years of running, hiding, and fearing capture had never occured. He would never forget Joan, he wouldn't let that memory fly away.

"So what happens now, then. We just live a normal life?" Jesus asked, shifting uncomfortably.

"Not exactly. Normal doesn't apply to people like us, Jesus. I want to show you something"

Madonna walked into the space that would normally be reserved for the dining room. There was an antique oak table in front of the patio doors, a laptop resting on its freshly polished surface. A photo of a boy took up half the screen. He was surely Jesus' age and looked very average. Short brown hair, fairly straight features safe his curved upper lip.

"His name is Goliath Zane. I think you should befriend him at school, get to know him a little." Madonna suggested, smiling at Jesus.

"You sure don't skip a beat. What's the reason?"

"I just think you guys can learn something about each other. You see, you're going to heal him."

"Really?" Jesus remarked, somewhat arrogantly.

"Yes, really. Don't be smug." She said, frowning at him. "In a way, he'll heal you too. What you need to attend to in his case you need to work on yourself first." She said, closing the laptop and walking out of the room. Before Jesus could even ask what that was, Madonna answered his question.

"Anger, Jesus. Work on it."

Jesus couldn't see her face as she stepped outside but he knew she was smiling.
- Chapter 19 -
Bedroom Confession

The rain hadn't ceased since they arrived back at 45 Willow Road. It was molesting the bay window in Jesus' bedroom and distorted the view of the woods that surrounded the yard. Jesus was looking out but wasn't focused on anything in particular.

He was still trying to make sense of it all; His future, his past, his present. What waited for him before the death that was predicted? Did he cause every event that happened before him, simply so he could be born into this world as destiny wanted? And most importantly, as he lingered in his humid bedroom with all lights shut off, Jesus pondered what would happen now, in the moment?

Thoughts of Joan Archer were running by when a gentle knock came at the door and when Jesus spun around, Martin was slouched in the door frame.

"Want pizza for supper, cowboy?" Martin queried.

Jesus just shrugged and kept his eyes on the blurry image that was created by the downpour outside.

"What's up? You've been gloomy for the past week. Anxious to start school?"

"I guess. I've been thinking alot about what Madonna said to me." Jesus started. He turned around and let his legs dangle off the edge of the windowseat, "I mean, maybe I am angry about what happened to mom, to dad. He wasn't the best father but...he was all I had."

Martin kind of half smiled and went to sit by his nephew. He wrapped his arm around his shoulder and looked into his eyes.

"Joseph was a marvelous man. Your mother loved him. Sometimes when bad things happen, it can really destroy someone. I think he would be proud to see you overcome your anger, Jesus. Give yourself some time."

Jesus shifted in his seat then got up and walked aimlessly around his room.

"Where do my abilities come from?" Jesus asked, finally gaining enough confidence to ask the question that had lingered for too long inside his mind. He needed - no, deserved - answers.

"That, I don't know Jesus. All I can say is that you were blessed. You are going to change the world, cowboy." Martin answered, staying seated by the bay window.

"You guys keep telling me that. All I know is that I am going to die so that people can live, how is that even fair?"

Martin could hear the start of a tremble in his nephew's voice. He didn't like it when Jesus would doubt the mission, the prophecy. It just made it harder for everyone.

"I made the mistake of letting you in on that tidbit of information. I promised I would tell you everything and I will. But you have to get rid of that anger inside you. It's growing, Jesus, and anger eventually leads to hatred. We can't...lose you to that, Jesus."

Jesus rolled his eyes and sighed. He dropped himself on his bed and turned away from the man he now called father. He often wished that his parents hadn't died and in moments like these, he wished even harder. He was glad that his back was turned. He hid the tears that pearled down in his cheeks and didn't bother to wipe them away.

"I wish we could communicate better, Jesus" Martin finally said, after a few minutes of silence. Dissapointment and sadness took over his voice.

"How can we communicate when I feel like i'm talking to myself?" Jesus turned around and sat up on his bed. That emotion that polluted his soul, anger as Madonna had put it, was painted all over his face. "You never answer my questions! You don't tell me anything of what we are about to do and why! I don't know if you trust or don't trust Madonna! You don't communicate with me, dad. You don't. How am I suppose to open up to you when I...I..."

Jesus looked away.

Martin didn't quite understand what he was feeling inside but it tore away at his heart. He hadn't notice how secretive he had been with Jesus. What was it that he wanted to say?

"What is it, Jesus? Say it, don't be afraid."

"I don't trust you."

Both men stood in the silent bedroom, looking away from each other. Martin walked closer and wrapped his arms around Jesus.

"I'm so sorry."
- Chapter 20 -

The sun was shining when Jesus woke up from a well needed rest. The rain had finally stopped and it would pave the way for a week of complete sunshine and warm temperatures. There was only a few weeks left before school started and Jesus was taking full advantage of it.

He didn't linger in his room for long, he felt compelled to apologize to Martin for his bratty behaviour the night before. He knew the feeling of entitlement was wrong and wanted to express this to his guardian.

The house smelled of fried eggs and bacon and the aroma flirted with Jesus' hunger. He hurried down the stairs and into the galley kitchen when he noticed Martin wasn't alone.

His guardian was in a heated discussion with Madonna Riviera. They hadn't notice Jesus. He spun backwards and hid from view, listening in on their conversation.

"...and Elizabeth. They didn't want him to be part of this, Martin. I did what I had to to secure the players in the prophecy. That was long ago, you know I have changed since then. My loyalties lay with Jesus and with you." Madonna said. Jesus found it odd to hear this woman defend herself. He remembered her being more stern and tenacious.

"We need to fix this. I can't let my friends live like this; that is their son, Madonna!" Martin answered, his voice firing up with anger. Ironic that they could express such emotions but they so desperatly wanted Jesus to oppress it.

"I can't change it, Martin. What is done is done. You have to accept that, there's nothing I can do. If we change it now, if we bring Jonathan back to his parents, he will never meet Jesus."

"And what would be so bad about that?"

"Jonathan will enlighten Jesus, share his wisdom of peace. His message alone is what will shape Jesus to become the man he needs to be."

Their was silence in the room. Jesus tried not to stir too much.

"He will be downstairs any second now. It would be best if we continue this talk some other time, Madonna."

This was his cue. Jesus ran his hand through his thick curly blond hair and walked inside the kitchen. He acted surprised when Madonna smiled at him. She was always so dressed up, Jesus noticed. Her shining fair hair was pinned up and she had a lilac headband keeping it in place. She wore a summer dress that seemed white at first but when Madonna got up from her chair to leave, purple hues could be seen in the creases.

Madonna kissed Martin on the cheek and patted Jesus on the shoulder as she passed by him and towards the entrance. Jesus waited for Madonna to be out of the house before adressing his uncle.

He took a seat at the table just as Martin slid a plate full of food in front of him. There was a scent of cologne that came from his uncle. Jesus noticed Martin was dressed up in a black suit and tie. His naturally frizzy and wild hair was slicked back, giving Martin a very corporate stature. His apology speech was placed on the back burner.

"What's with the get-up?" Jesus asked, curbing his desire to laugh.

"I have an interview for a job today" Martin answered, sitting down across from Jesus.

"Cool. What are you going to be this time? A clerk, a mechanic?" Jesus queried. During their years on the run, Martin had held many different jobs and excelled at all of them.

"Actually, It's a job at the Agency"

That didn't really surprise Jesus at all. He expected Martin to settle down once they were in Bethlehem. Once he saw Madonna inside their house, he quickly understood what would happen next. Martin would have to join the Agency. They would protect Jesus until he reached maturity and then they would unleash him to the great country of Jerusalem to spread the good news of hope, love, and respect.

"It's time I tell you about my history with the Agency, Jesus."

"Their was a time," Martin started, sliding his plate to the side, "when the Agency and the Sicarii were known to the public. It was a time of war. Your grand-parents died defending our home and their children. The same night they died, we were divided. Uncle Malcom and your mom were too young to join the Agency so they were taken away to live with Agents."

"Your uncle Michael and I travelled through Jerusalem in various training camps. I rebelled, of course, as would any teenage kid with anger," at these words he paused and smiled at Jesus. "I met a very beautiful young girl who challenged my views and eventually my loyalty to the Agency. She was very deceiving and manipulative and managed to pull me into her circle. All along though, she was an Agent and she was testing me."

"For some reason unknown, she kept a promise she had made to me before she revealed her true colours. She let me leave the Agency without them ever knowing I was part of it. Years later, I learned she had switched sides and pled allegiance to the Sicarii alongside her colleage, Jenna Crown."

"Times had changed though. The Agency had went underground when the citizens demanded a more stable organization to run the country. When the Mayor took power of Jerusalem, the Sicarii went into hiding as well and became even more dangerous then ever.

"When news of this broke, Michael was now a high-ranked Agent and he mounted an attack on Jenna's estate to retrieve her adopted daughter."

Jesus didn't need for Martin to say it. The realisation had struck him the moment he paused. Jenna Crown was the Agent who had adopted his mother. Michael didn't want his sister to be tainted by the manipulations of the Sicarii, Jesus thought to himself. He didn't know much about his uncle but he didn't picture him as being guided by emotions.

"What happened next?" Jesus was curious to know, anxious even. He always loved hearing stories about his mother, and this one topped all of them.

"Michael took her away. Jenna was out for the evening and the nanny didn't hesitate at the site of a squad of Agents. Soon we were all reunited and eventually relocated here in Bethlehem. Michael continued his work for the Agency. Your mother settled down with Joseph and Malcom continued...well, being Malcom."

Jesus chuckled. He had only seen his uncle Malcom once when he was younger. He remembered his odd style and quirky habits.

"When your mother died I was approached by Madonna who wanted me to watch over you and guide you through life. I never trusted the Agency. I prefer them to the Sicarii, but organized societies often have very corrupt centers. Anyhow, I accept the role with some hesitation, I won't lie. I didn't want to get involved with the Agency again."

"It leads me to this, Jesus. I want you to trust me when I tell you that I will stop at nothing to protect you from those who seek to harm you. I don't want you to doubt what I am doing, even though sometimes I myself may seem uncertain. I want you to be a teenager, Jesus. Don't worry about what we are doing, okay."

Jesus nodded. This was a lot of information to absorb. He wondered if the Agent who had toyed with him was the prophetess that mapped out Jesus' life.

"Who was that Agent woman? The one who turned bad? You mentioned something she did that only one other person can do; Madonna."

Martin sighed. He was getting Jesus tangled in webs he didn't belong in. Martin cleared the table and took a moment for himself, to also clear his thoughts.

"Her name is Anna Simeon. She's Madonna's sister."

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