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A man named Jesus wanders the earth, from the U.S.A. to Egypt, from the Middle East to South America, desperate to discover who he really is. The archangels would see Jesus dead for his name alone, but he's only mortal...isn't he?
In a life defined by the insanity of the world around him, the man named Jesus might have only one friend. That friend has many faces. His name is Abbadon.
Armageddon approaches, and not all revelations are welcome.
PRIDE AND FAITH
And I saw when the lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
It was a pretty lie, and one I would’ve been proud of. Only it wasn’t mine.
The Devil knows the end he set in play - Wormwood, the whore of Babylon. That’s what St John would have you believe, isn’t it?
But it’s the eagle that cries, not an angel. William Tynedale was impressively stubborn, but a towering moron, too.
Plenty of stupid to go around, I guess.
At the beginning I tried to show Eve the light. God stepped in and fucked that all up.
After that? Daft as a toothbrush - just the way He wanted it. Lilith...now she could’ve been a headmistress. The Lord doesn’t like smart, though.
Nowdays, religion’s optional. People pick their own poisons and some still believe it. You might even be one of them.
Ooh, the DEVIL! He’s a bugger, isn’t he? Ugly baby? The DEVIL did it! Got caught with your pants down and your cock out?! The DEVIL made me do it! Coked up, whiskey in a jar, ran over a cat, cut a bitch, glassed a muppet down the Railway Tavern, buried your brother in a shallow grave, collected Vietnamese ears, addicted to stealing knickers from the department store...the DEVIL made me do it!
So the multitudes excuse their sins in my name. ‘Wasn’t me,’ they cry before the judge, the governor, the priest, the vicar.
Really? All my fault?
The fuck is it.
And on top of that, this nonsense about how the end of the whole world’s on me, too? You think, cast down, I’d destroy everything? That’s stupid talking, right there.
If you want to see destruction, talk to Him.
‘I made the world, I’ll break it if I want to.’
Nevermind how petulant that is...you think He made the world? Let’s be realistic.
The truth is I’m nice. I’m good. By the end of this story you’ll beg me to take your daughter out.
The park was busy. Young people ran from the older people sat on benches around a circular track. The old people looked happier. Maybe they were laughing on the inside – you didn’t need to be supple to enjoy the track so long as you could figure out the track went round, and round, and round.
An old man, sublimely wrinkled, watched the runners and enjoyed the sun.
A boy shuffled over and sat down next to the old man. The man looked over, then back at his sandwich, then back at the boy. He sighed and put his sandwich on the paper bag in his lap, which sank between his skinny old legs until it caught on the crease in his trousers.
The boy’s arms were folded across his chest, his chin tucked in.
The old man turned a crinkled eye to lad.
“Gits for friends?” he guessed. Filling dripped out the side of his mouth through a passage between tanned teeth.
“Bill called me a lesbian.”
The old man laughed, spitting some baloney and ham and mayonnaise between his feet.
“What do you think that is, my young friend?”
“I dunno.” The boy shrugged and looked at the man. “Do you?”
“A thing people are, I guess. Nevermind him. This’ll cheer you up - I’ll let you in on a secret.”
The boy looked up and sideways at the man.
The old man took another bite of his sandwich. Lettuce fluttered between the slices of bread.
“Manners these days,” the man said. He pulled the lettuce free with lips pursed together and lent forward at the waist and let the lettuce drop to the ground. He lent back again and carried on chewing. “Never trusted lettuce,” he said. “And, if you’re going to be rude...”
The old man removed his hat and looked the boy in the eye.
“You know how you can see up people’s noses, even when you look straight at them?”
This didn’t sound like it was going to be a very good secret. “Yes. What of it?”
“As you’ve been so charming, I’ll tell you what. They work for the angels. Never, ever trust someone with nostrils like that.”
The wrinkled old man put his hat back on, crossed his arms, and grinned. “Good secret?”
“No, it’s crap.”
The man laughed. He got up, and patted me on the head.
That’s how he does it. That’s how he plays. The Devil, in the flesh.
That was the first time I met the kid.
The nature of truth is that it wobbles. Truth is inalienable, but it gets hazy when people believe the lies.
This is me, the other voice is him, and things only get complicated if you want them to be.
You all got so used to the lie the truth faded to background. You saw the oil paints, the trees, the Turner-esque skewed and edited landscapes, but there was a pencilled drawing there once, long ago. People looked at that drawing in all its simple perfection and thought, ‘No, that can’t be right, can it?’
Simplicity must be terrifying.
My father worked for the foreign office in some capacity. As an awkward boy, gangly and green, I would tell the other kids at school that my dad was a spy, but he wasn’t.
Mum was a teacher, and dad was away most of the time doing something diplomatic. I was left to my own devices. I played in an endless succession of neighbourhoods with interchangeable kids. The cities were always hot. There were markets and parks and dirty streets, and I ran through them all. I lived in flat-roofed houses filled with breeze and shadows. The days were long and filled with sun and there were no seasons.
For a boy before puberty it was a lighter time, untroubled by adulthood.
...and that’s it.
I did much the same thing as other kids my age.
I didn’t always have friends to play with. I was a solitary child. On the days and nights when I was alone I amused myself. I was never lonely. When they were home, my parents never had the inclination to talk. I knew my nanny better than my own parents. Given every opportunity and born into a wealthy family, perhaps I should have been happy, but I don’t think I was.
When I met the old man in the park I was eight years of age.
I don’t think I’m more interesting than other people – if I’m honest my life has been singularly dull. If some fifteen year-old pop star can get away with an autobiography, though, I can, too. I’m not a pop star, but I am the Son of God.
Some days, that makes me laugh.
Every house I live in, I take out the light switches. Not the bulbs. That’d be stupid – you forget the point, go and buy a new bulb. Take out the switches. Then, when you come home drunk?
Rolling around in the dark, looking for a light switch.
Now that, that cracks me up.
When dad first told me I was the Son of God he said it matter of fact, and it was a short conversation in the dining room.
“Son, you have grown into a boy of whom I can be proud.”
He didn’t fidget as he spoke (father never fidgeted) but he did look uncomfortable. I remember being interested in the chandelier.
“Yes, father,” I said, mainly to get it over with. Dad wasn’t very good at his talks.
“Because you’re old enough to know now, and because I think you can handle it, there is something I must tell you.”
“OK.” Brevity was the key to getting out of a conversation with father. We never chatted. I was subjected to lectures.
“I do not want for you to panic. What I am about to say might upset you.” He cleared his throat. I thought he was about to tell me I was adopted. I guess he was.
“There is no easy way to say this…but you are not my son.”
I swallowed. I could see straight up his nose.
“I consider you my son. Nothing can change that. I hope you always consider me your father.”
“Then...who’s my real dad?”
He hemmed and hawed for a while, then, “I think...God.”
I’d learned about God and the bible at school. “Like God is everyone’s father?”
“No, I mean specifically.”
This was going in a direction I wasn’t expecting.
“I’m the Son of God?”
“Yes. That is precisely what I mean.”
“Can I turn fishes into loaves?” I didn’t say I’d paid attention in school.
“That, I cannot say. I think perhaps the miracles in the bible are allegorical.”
I didn’t know what he meant, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me.
“I can do miracles or can’t I?”
“You might turn into a nice person. That is good enough, is it not?”
No miracles, fine, but being a nice person was a lot to put on young shoulders. I took it well, though.
“I’m the Son of God! I’m the Son of God!” I leapt and ran round the dining room.
Dad was rarely flummoxed, but he managed.
“Now, Jesus, sit down and listen.”
I sat down after a victory lap.
“I do not want you to tell anyone. It is to be our secret. Can you promise me?”
“But won’t people think it’s cool?”
“No. People will be afraid. You must never tell. Not even your mother.”
I figured he couldn’t have children and mum had given birth anyway. Perhaps I was the kind of miracle husbands and wives didn’t like to speak about.
I never did tell anyone...until now.
Whatever he said, it didn’t make much difference at the time. If I couldn’t do miracles, I didn’t really see any benefit to being the Son of God. I think I was embarrassed, and anyway, if I told anyone, just how was I supposed to prove it?
Some people think their constant companion is God. I know better. God doesn’t watch over us. It’s the other one. In plenty of ways he was more of a father than either of my real ones.
But that’s jumping the gun. Childhood first. Manhood, and all the pain that growth entails, comes later.
I’m an angel. I’m the holder of the key to the bottomless pit, etc etc. Asexual and probably amoral, too, by the standards of old ladies who kneel on hassocks.
Immortal, all powerful...I AM ABBADON!
Nope. Angels aren’t immortal.
They deleted whole reams of my story from the bible (and very nice prose it was too) but I’m not petty. The apple and the snake thing wasn’t literal. It was symbolic. Snakes and apples, sperm and eggs? Something like that. I forget now. It was a long time ago. Either way, Genesis wasn’t complicated, was it? You’ve got your Garden of Eden, stuff happens, it goes pear-shaped instead of apple-shaped, then humans have lots of babies and cover the face of the Earth.
Scholars took a simple tale about fucking and managed to bore the tits of everybody.
Point is, God only lets you know what He wants you to know.
But I’m not God. I won’t delete a single word. I don’t begrudge Jesus telling his side. Why would I? We’re on the same team, he and I.