Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hide and Seek (08/07/08)
TITLE: Any body will do
By Gregory Kane
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"We're still not sure," replied Solomon, not even trying to disguise the tremor in his voice. His patron scared him witless at the best of times. But this latest episode had driven his employer into a state of mind that was more akin to that of a lunatic. Solomon half expected to walk in on him and find Tobias foaming at the mouth.
"We've searched high and low. We’ve spoken to dozens of informants and interviewed nearly two hundred witnesses but no one seems to know anything. Except for the, er, hallucinations, that is."
Tobias struck the table with such force that it sent a cup crashing to the floor. "Then find me a body. Any body will do!"
Yes sir," said Solomon, poised to flee his master's rage. "Only that's not quite accurate, sir." He paused, glancing at his patron to check if it was safe to continue. "The puncture wounds are quite characteristic and people would notice if we displayed the corpse of someone who had, say, died of fever."
"Then find me someone else who's been executed. It happens often enough around here."
"I can't easily do that," explained Solomon. "There's been that recent moratorium because of the Festival. Moreover, of the two murderers who were crucified with him, one has had his remains claimed by the immediate family and the other was entirely bald and that’s rather obvious too."
"So what am I to do?" screamed the older man. "Those blasphemous Nazarenes are claiming that their so-called Messiah has risen from the dead and we can't even locate the body to prove them wrong."
"There's always Caiaphas' solution. Say that the disciples stole the corpse."
Solomon lifted his eyes to heaven, appalled by his sheer stupidity of his assistant. "Stole the body? From a sealed and guarded tomb?"
"But the soldiers have confessed that they fell asleep. Everyone has heard that."
"They're only saying what Caiaphas paid them to say. And it's only on account of some additional hefty bribes that those foolish soldiers haven't found themselves in the stockade for neglect of duty. And besides, if by some miracle they had slept through the din of a gang of men rolling away the heavy stone, how could they possibly have known it was disciples? They were asleep!"
"I can see that, sir. It doesn't exactly stand up to close scrutiny. So what do you suggest?"
"I want you to go undercover, Solomon. Infiltrate the disciples. Pretend to be one of them. Attend their gatherings. They're bound to let something slip. Maybe you'll find this Jesus is still alive."
"That's not possible sir."
"You what?" Furious, Tobias staggered to his feet, his jowls quivering at his assistant’s apparent impudence.
"I only mean to say that he can't possibly be alive." Solomon's voice was barely a squeak. "I was there ... at Golgotha ... I saw them take his body down. He was quite dead ... I’m certain."
"Get out! And don't you dare show your face until you've found what I'm looking for."
Solomon left. Immediately.
The letter lay unopened for several weeks. First there had been the shock of the old man’s death and all the pomp of the funeral. The consensus was that given his irascible temperament it had only been a matter of time before his heart packed in. Then had come all the commotion on the day of Pentecost when the Nazarenes had taken the city by storm and the ineptness of the High Council as they quibbled over an ineffectual response.
“Most esteemed Tobias,” said the letter, “forgive my impertinence in writing to you rather than coming in person. I have been successful in my mission but I remain unable to supply any answer that you would find acceptable. You see, I have found this Jesus alive and well on a hill in Galilee. I have talked with him and measured the marks of the nails in his hands. I came looking for a dead man’s body and I have found a living Saviour. And it is my prayer that one day you too will seek and will find him. Your faithful servant, Solomon.”
Tobias’ secretary scanned the parchment, grunted in mild astonishment, noted the address and filed it away. His former master could have no use for it. But the secretary would quite like to hear some more about this most remarkable Jesus.
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