Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Paul in Arabia: A Novel" by Tucker Cordani, Part Two

Saul looked up to the precipice to see a man in white, a lone figure silhouetted against the sky, looking down at him. Saul saw the glorified body of Jesus of Nazareth alive forever after he was crucified and died and resurrected.

He did not believe what he was hearing. Who? Jesus of Nazareth is dead. He was crucified in Jerusalem two years ago. Caiaphas and Annas confirmed this, that this Jesus died on the cross during Passover. They buried him in the sepulcher but then the disciples came in the night and stole the body so they could say he rose again. Pilate let it happen. He never should have washed his hands of this ordeal. That was two years ago and I wasn’t there when it happened. Then what am I doing on my back with my arms outstretched to the sky?

“Jesus of Nazareth is dead,” Saul said.

“Get up and go into the city and there you will be told what to do.”

“What then?”

“It is hard for you to kick against the goad,” the Lord said and then he went away.

Saul was blind. Not a blackness, but twilight, a state of grayness and oblivion. He couldn’t hear very well and for some time remained speechless.
The men traveling with him looked like trees, grayish figures against the murkiness, some standing over him like trees. They glanced nervously around, hands on their scabbards, ready to draw and despoil the marauder.

“What happened to you, Saul?” one of them said.

“We heard the voice but didn’t see anybody. Who was it that was speaking to you?”

“I didn’t hear anybody,” the other said. “But I saw the light. It was as bright as a thousand suns.”

“Are you okay, Saul?”

“I’m blind. I can’t see. Help me from the ground.”

He lay on his back, arms toward the sky, his cape sprawled around him, blind eyes suckling the last of the light, which had faded away with the Lord. He clutched handfuls of sand to maintain a grip on reality.

The soldiers looked on him. It was pathetic to see the masterful Saul, victorious and vicious persecutor and conqueror of the disciples, now helpless as a child.

They helped him from the ground and then led him by the hand into the city. They entered through the western gate into an alley that led to the agora. The temple of Jupiter towered over all the buildings, constructed by the fearful Romans when they held the city. Before Aretas, the Nabatean. Now he had some governor holding sway but things were about to change again. The new governor wasn’t working out very well and the king wanted to replace him.

They continued their procession through the city. They walked—or, the soldiers walked; Saul followed as they led him by the hand like an old blind beggar.

Like an animal, Saul’s sense became more acute. He could hear things he ordinarily couldn’t hear: the magnificent sounds of the bustling agora. Instead of going to the synagogue, they turned and traveled south down a small side street, and then onto the Street called Straight, the city’s thoroughfare. Why go to the synagogue? Saul was too shocked to pray and he could not read the scrolls.

A man approached offering a bowl of something stewed and aromatic but the other guard, Demetrius, pushed him away. “Get away, you toothless, bearded maggot.” Saul felt too scared to make any moves or even to speak. He knew the situation, simply ignored the merchants who tried to push on him their wares. The noise from the nearby Agora—the music, the vendors, the monkeys screeching, and elephants trumpeting as they moved slowly through the streets—frightened Saul, because though he could distinguish between the noises he remained disoriented from the fall.

Visit Tucker Cordani's blog at http://tucker-cordani.blogspot.com

No comments:

Post a Comment