Crucifixion Reloaded by PVT - HTML preview

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practical laws. Rules that can be easily understood and followed.

No one will join us with this feeble commandment of love.‖

Peter nodded and said, ―First point of order. Divorce‖

―We could connect it with adultery. Listen,‖ suggested Matthew

picking his writing up into his hands. ―I say to you that everyone

who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes

her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman

commits adultery.‖

―Good, Matthew, this seems something Jesus would say,‖ said

Peter.

―Wait there is more,‖ said Matthew raising his hand. ―I say to

you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already

committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes

you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose

one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into

hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw

it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that

your whole body go into hell.‖

―I don‘t know, this seems a little too harsh…but sounds pretty

cool. Next point of order. Homosexuality…‖

―Jesus never spoke about them directly, shouldn‘t we leave

them alone?‖ asked Andrew, his eyes filled with doubt.

―That doesn‘t count,‖ answered Philipp. ―He didn‘t speak of

many things. This is his first visit, he can‘t see everything, we

must help him and translate his words into our language. What if

we spread the word that we were chosen by the Saint Spirit as

vessels to convey the message of God. What do you say?‖

Everyone nodded and sat up a little bit straighter as they tasted

the manna that made them chosen.

―So listen,‖ said Peter opening his mouth. ―God gave them over

to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural

function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the

men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in

their desire toward one another, men with men committing

indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty

of their error. So?‖

―Perfect, Peter,‖ said Philipp. ―Saying to love each other is easy.

What homosexuals do is unnatural. Jesus clearly didn‘t want to

speak against the laws of traditions of a million year old society.

He cannot expect that everything changes with a snap.‖

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―But these people don‘t harm anyone…‖ said Andrew a little

aggravated by this meeting.

―Maybe they don‘t, but if we turn against the traditions of

society, no one will listen to us. We must reach out to them, make

them believe that we don‘t want to change the world. Once they

do believe this, we can start by making small amendments, taking

out passages here and there until only one law remains: Love

each other as I love thee.‖

Everyone nodded.

―Listen to this, people, this will blow your mind,‖ said Matthew

smiling. ―A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of

heaven.‖

―Good, good, the rich, blame everything on the rich,‖ said

Peter.

―And what about his words about hate without reason? Shall I

take it out? It will do no harm, only a few words less,‖ said James.

―Yes,‖ said Peter, ―and that part about the victims too, we

cannot permit anyone to believe that we are selfish. We are prone

to sacrifice, and through sacrifice, we will win the heart of the

people. Everyone feels sorry for a victim.‖

Everyone agreed.

―I actually like writing,‖ said Peter. ―It‘s fun. A perfect exercise

for the imagination and the mind.‖

Everyone agreed once again.

Philip felt the heat becoming unbearable. The sun was beaming

down on the world punishing it with its melting rays. Philipp felt

the world deform around him as if he were drunk. The sky

became wavy, and the three dimensional world began to

compress itself into a two dimensional one as the millions of

colors of the world began dripping down from the canvas. He was

the only three dimensional object in the picture. Wherever he

turned, the paint was dripping down, and Philipp saw a perfectly

white canvas behind it that shone so brightly he had to close his

eyes. When he reopened them, he was lying in bed in his room.

He stood up and knew what he had done was a mistake. The

cognizance spread through his veins and turned into pleasure, a

pleasure that seemed to have no specific cause, just a tint of

recognition. He had to touch himself. His checked pajama pants

slid to the floor, and his firm instrument rose toward the sky. The

morning sun caressed his tanned muscles, shining and bulging.

The wind brought the scent of lavender as his joy was

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culminating. The rapture was building up, and Philipp realized

that beyond the recognition, this was a celebration, a celebration

of the gift of life that should be cherished over all, all times. He

reached the summit, and the seed of life fell to the ground as a

revitalizing drizzle.

He stepped into the shower and slowly returned into reality

from the elevated state he was in. For a second he was over the

clouds, so close to the sun that gave light but did not burn, gave

hope and did not ask for anything else just to accept the gift itself.

He obeyed it and now knew what had to be done.

He jumped into his dark blue suit and tied the red tie around

his neck. He combed his blond hair backwards elevating the front

part, creating a wave like the ones of a turbulent sea. He hurried

down the stairs and said farewell to his parents sitting in the

kitchen. Through the rectangular window over the door the rays

of the sun fell onto the pine parquet, the specks of dust flying by

carelessly. Philipp rushed out the door and made haste to the

reverend.

He hurried down the lane lined with lavenders, leaving his

home the color of a pale banana behind. He was strolling down

the main road protected from the sun by the great oak trees when

he saw the bus approaching the stop. He jumped onto it, knowing

that any second of delay is a sin that will never be forgiven. The

bus doors closed, and his home sped by.

The bus floated through the suburbs, and Philipp could not tell

where he was exactly. The homes and roads were all the same,

little boxes on the hillside, it seemed like a set in the world‘s

greatest studio, and perhaps it was. Everything seemed fake. It

felt to him as if in the night the roads sometimes rearranged

themselves. It was just a feeling and nothing more because he

could not tell whether anything changed at all. The church finally

appeared, and Philipp gripped to this familiar point, pulling

himself out of the transient perdition.

He jumped off the bus and hurried to the small building by the

church, its white wooden board gleaming in the sun in

revitalizing contrast to the neon green of the yard and the red

bricks of the church itself. The roses were glittering with drops of

dew, tiny diamonds on the red petals of lust. He jumped up the

stone stairs leading to the entrance and burst inside his office. He

did not look around and focused on the golden door handle, the

mean of defeating the door, the last obstacle barring the way to

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his goal, the reverend. He pushed the golden handle down, and

the door opened obeying to the energy he invested into the

movement.

He was conscious of his body as the two-winged door burst

open. He saw his shadow distend on the Persian rug in the

reverend‘s office, a blackness surrounded by light. The reverend

looked up, and in his eyes, Philipp saw wonder and awe. He knew

that something was manifesting itself through him to the

reverend.

―What is it, Philipp? I wasn‘t expecting you on a Monday?‖

―I know, I must hurry over to the fish shop, but I met someone

you must meet.‖

―You are radiating, Philipp, who is this man?‖

―I don‘t know exactly, but he bears a tangible divine presence,

something I never felt before. He might be suited to work by your

side. With him we will be able to reach out to the younger

generation.‖

―Great, Philipp, bring him to me, and we‘ll see.‖

―I promise, you will be satisfied.‖

Philipp smiled at the man who was on a separate journey,

proceeding on a different road from the mainstream religious

values, at the man who was so close to God yet missing

something, making him not much better than the church he

himself despised. As Philipp hurried out of the building and

headed through the park leading to the fish shop on the other

side, he examined these newly born thoughts of betrayal inside

him. His hero was not perfectly clean.

James‘ Gospel

James stopped before the red bricks of the church still smelling

of liquor from the night before in a black T-shirt, cut-offs, and

leather boots. He took his great shades off and examined the

roses smiling at him, seducing and charming him, inebriating

him. This was caused not by the scent itself but by what it awoke

in him, something that was there but could not be named,

something lingering in the darkness, still afraid to step into the

light, fighting against the sweet voices of the roses.

The stream of clouds flowing into the building was made up of

white heads of the elder creating an endless cumulous. James

looked at the red brick tower of the church where the great brass

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bell was reflecting the rays of the sun beaming on him and

worsening his hangover. He was one of the few young ones here,

and the old faces were smiling at him, happy to see life in a place

where there is so few of it.

Is it the young generation‘s fault that so few attend church, not

just this specific sect‘s church, but any other? He tried to examine

why he did not attend and knew that it was because the things he

could learn in there were old and pagan, just a mystique set of

rules, hazy and not pure good. It was not his fault, but the fault of

the religions written into stone, unable to change, primitive and

cold. Blaming the young was the simplest thing to do as self-

examination was something painful and always over-looked by

the religious leaders. Finding the flaws and fixing them was

something no one had the courage to do.

The cloud of elders diminished, and James hurried to take his

place inside. He walked past the many cameras standing by the

entrance and facing the stage, ready to channel the show to the

many TV sets connected to them. The white wooden seats were

filled with sick people. The blind, the deaf, the disabled all

gathered here in hope of change. The narrow windows let the

sunshine in, lighting a very simple and puritan room waiting to be

filled by the presence of the reverend.

He found an empty seat and sat down. He nodded to the old

woman next to him who just patted his back as James sank into

his thoughts. ‗I will not perform any wonders, I will not commit

the same mistake twice,‘ he heard Neil‘s voice. As he waited for

the mass to begin, he wondered whether he was truly the son of

God, if he could perform any magic at all. He shook these

troubling thoughts away but could not deny that they were

growing in him. This was Neil‘s first appearance, and James

hoped he could see the proof of his divinity.

A door swung open, and the reverend stepped onto the stage,

his great belly protruding from under his black robe, and his face

resembling that of a well-fed infant. He was wearing a golden ring

with a diamond that was in contrast with his humble mannerism.

He approached the front of the church bowing to the ones

gathered here. ‗I will perform no wonders,‘ he heard the voice of

Neil again, and preoccupation started growing in him. He was

scared that they would blow their only chance.

―Welcome, everybody. I greet you in the name of God. Today is

a special day, the first day of a never-ending crusade to conquer

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the heart of the youth who have turned away from God toward

the foul material goods of the devil.‖

The crowd murmured and nodded. The old woman looked at

James and gave him a wink. James tried to smile but still felt

uncomfortable and felt as if the reverend were pointing at him.

This first sentence would have been enough to close the ears of

many, but James was determined to listen, at least once.

―They have turned away from God because they have been

lured and tricked from us. Instead of choosing the way of God,

they choose the easier way. They seize what they need and fall

into the arms of evil. They are lost, and they must turn back to

God. This is our job, we must try to regain their trust.

―I am growing old, and I found my successor. God led to me his

lamb, the lamb through which he will manifest himself after I am

gone. God is between us all the time but shows himself only

occasionally. I have found my successor, and you shall see his

power, the power of the healing of the Holy Christ. I present you

Neil, please give him a round of applause.‖

Neil stopped in the door with doubt in his eyes. He smiled and

stepped onto the stage, and James was enchanted by his radiance.

It was as if he were emanating a gentle light that didn‘t lose

strength as it spread like strands of hair. He felt a wire slide up

his back and connect itself to an invisible socket at the back of his

head. He was connected, yet through the wire nothing was

coming, only a pleasant feeling of the promise of a message.

Neil stopped by the reverend who patted his back. James saw

Philipp too was enchanted by Neil‘s presence. James looked

around to see that apart from them, the others were facing the

reverend who gave them what they needed. He knew that if he

could somehow solve the riddle of what it was, they could finally

find a way to deliver the infinitely complex message that Neil was

here to deliver, whatever that was.

―Now, do we have any volunteers?‖

This was the signal, the first crack in the dam. Those who

could, stood up and began waving madly with their arms like

algae at the bottom of the river. They whirled in the current

created by the words of the reverend. James saw an insatiable

craving across the hypnotized face of the old lady sitting beside

him.

―Who will be the first one to be cured by this lamb of God?‖

asked the reverend.

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The arms moved wildly, arms trying to reach the sky, arms

ready to leave the ground to rise higher than the rest, wanting to

be chosen. The reverend moved through the corridor, past the

rows, pacing on the red carpet, his hands clutching one another

behind his back, enjoying the arms reaching out to him. He

smiled and stopped, grabbing an arm and pulling an old man out

like a fish from the river. The arms slowly calmed down, and

everybody took a seat.

The old man limped to his right leg, and slowly, led by the

reverend, he approached the front. The man was moving very

cautiously as the rhythm of his movements was disrupted by the

way he put down his injured leg trying not to encumber it with

the weight of his body for too long and quickly putting the weight

back onto the healthy one. The man stopped before Neil and knelt

down.

‗I will perform no wonder, I will not commit the same mistake

of my predecessor.‘ James hoped that he would see another proof

of his ancestry as he felt the happenings of the past fade into the

world of illusion, making him think that everything he saw before

was the manifestation of a need. The same need he shared with

these men and women facing the reverend here, the need that was

slowly taking form and was waiting to be named so that it could

step onto the dark stage.

―Now, I ask everybody to bow their heads and pray…‖ said the

reverend raising both his hands into the air.

Everyone obeyed, including James, and murmur filled the

room.

―Neil, now it‘s your turn, prove to the world that God decided to

manifest himself through you, show them God, let his power

shine,‖ screamed the reverend, his voice growing louder and

louder and turning into a shriek. James‘ heart started beating

faster.

Neil stepped to the old man kneeling before him. For a moment

he hesitated then knelt down as well and put his hand softly onto

the limp leg of the volunteer. James was afraid, afraid that

nothing would happen, afraid to witness that Neil was not the son

of God, that Neil was only human, and perhaps that God didn‘t

even exist.

The murmur in the church rose over the wooden beams. It was

this monotone chanting that originated from the need that caused

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the letters slowly to unite inside James‘ head naming the one

hiding in the back of his skull.

Neil stood up and stepped back. The murmurs ceased, and all

heads were facing the front now. James‘ heart sank, Neil did not

perform the magic expected from him. The man kneeling before

Neil slowly stood up. He placed his weight onto the wounded leg,

giving out a hiss. They blew it.

The man did not give up. He gradually put more and more

weight onto it until he was balancing all of his body on the

limping extremity. The healthy foot rose into the air, and the man

was standing solely on his once unusable leg. The man looked up

smiling and spoke to the crowd.

―I am healed.‖

The crowd began to applaud and everyone stood up

unanimously. Cheers rose into the air, whistles pierced through

space.

―He is healed,‖ squealed the old woman beside James, raising

her hands and facing the sky. The crowd roared, screamed,

applauded, and all of their faces gleamed. James felt something

that was so much more than joy, so much more than the greatest

orgasm ever. It was the recognition that we aren‘t alone, that

miracles truly exist, that the world is so much more than what it

is, that after death life begins, a life with God, that nothing ends

when we definitively close our eyes, but everything begins from

there. James could not contain his joy and cheered so loudly not

caring what the others thought, not caring that maybe he was

making a fool out of himself because he was celebrating,

celebrating eternal life.

The reverend raised his hands into the air as if he were trying

to embrace the sun itself and yelled to the sky, ―We praise the

power of our Lord Jesus Christ who has died for our sins yet saves

us over and over again for his love is infinite, and everyone living

in his name shall live in the grace of God for eternity. Thy Lord is

great, thy Lord is mighty, thy Love is eternal.‖

The wounded man performed a cartwheel then finished it with

a summersault landing right next to his seat. He sat down, and

the sermon continued. James was in an elevated state throughout

the ceremony.

The unknown figure embodying the need finally stepped onto

the stage and raised his hand bearing a white glove into the

spotlight, the rest of the body still hiding in darkness. A soft

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music began playing, and the hand began snapping to the rhythm

of the drums. He stopped and started shaking his hand as jazz

defeated the drums. He clapped once, two hands in the light.

Then, as if the figure were swimming, he spread his arms through

the air, and his body became visible, the tap shoes glistening in

the light. The music was growing louder and louder, and his feat

started moving. He was wearing a cylinder hat, and his face was

hidden by the rim‘s shadow.

He felt camaraderie with this group of unknown people here,

they were all sharing the need. The body was dancing on the

stage, ruling it with his moves as the trumpets, drums, and pianos

battled.

The ceremony ended, and the people embraced Neil, caressed

his face, shook his hands, their eyes fixated to a point somewhere

over Neil‘s head. They were not seeing Neil but were seeing the

figure dancing in the spotlight on the stage inside their heads.

When finally the last man left the building, James rose from his

feet, hurried to Neil, and hugged him.

―I knew it, I knew that you could do it. For a moment you really

had me there, for a moment I really thought you were a hoax.‖

The man on the stage raised his left hand and grabbed his hat,

tossing it into the air, and James recognized him. James rose in

the deserted auditorium to clap and felt joy. The greatest need of

all, the need to be stupefied. This is what everyone is after, to be

stupefied, to see that life can be magical, that there is more than

matter, that there is a possibility that something mystical

happens.

―I didn‘t do anything,‖ said Neil making the figure on the stage

burst into thin air.

―Don‘t be so modest, Neil, you saved that man, you saved

him…‖ said James desperately trying to bring the dancer back.

―James, wake up, listen to me, this was just a show and nothing

more…‖

―What do you mean, Neil?‖

―That man was just an actor, a friend of the reverend…‖

James felt his heart break. He felt ashamed, tricked, and

ignorant. He looked at Neil and wanted to punch him right in the

face, he wanted to grab his beard and pull him to the ground.

―How could you, Neil? How could you deceive these people?‖

―James, you knew this would be a hoax.‖

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The hangover was still tugging his head. Neil was right, James

knew this would be an act yet, for some reason, forgot it.

―It is for a good cause, James. I must deliver the message, and

at the moment there is no better way…‖

―But still it doesn‘t seem right…‖

―You saw the cameras, thousands of people saw me through

them. First I make them believe me, and when they do, I will

deliver the words. Do you have a better idea?‖

―I guess not…‖

―Great, let‘s go, I‘m getting hungry.‖

Matthew‘s Gospel

Peter, John, James, and Philipp left, the sound of their car

slowly dying and the disrupted night gradually going back to

sleep. Matthew reached for a bottle of mineral water and poured

it onto the flames burning in the metal can in the middle of the

abandoned playground, dying out with a last sizzling scream. Neil

threw the cigarette‘s butt to the ground and stepped on it.

―Where is your car, Matthew?‖

―A few blocks down.‖

Matthew‘s beige linen pants danced as his legs moved and his

leather sandals appeared. He adjusted his shirt decorated with

flowers and turned the peace sign around so that the shiny part

faced the world. He felt the breeze caress his Rasta hair and

somehow felt at peace with the silent Neil pacing by him.

―How many months have you been working with the reverend?

Two?‖ asked Matthew kicking a stone down the alley.

―Probably,‖ said Neil not looking up.

―And how is it turning out for you?‖

―Fine, I guess, he has the key to open the lock to the people‘s

heart, but I am afraid he is trying it in the wrong door.‖

―What do you mean?‖

―The reverend won‘t let me speak. He says my charisma is far

too strong, and if used in the wrong way, I could cause more

trouble than good, so I must stay in the background and only

perform those frauds he sets up every Sunday. This is what he

says, but I know that he is only afraid I would rob the spotlight

from him.‖

―He always seemed an attention whore to me…‖

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―Yes, but this is not the main problem. Mostly the audience is

made up of old people, fanatics, and ignorant. The future is not in

their hands. These people are not the ones who will rebuild

heaven on earth. It is the youth, they are the ones who should be

taught, they hold the bricks of the future, and they are deaf to any

teaching coming from any religious institution.‖

They turned onto the darkened road in silence.

―And how are you doing, Matthew?‖

―Not great, I am still searching for a place to play, but I am

happy, and of this, I am thankful,‖ said Matthew patting Neil‘s

back.

They walked past dark four-story clinker brick buildings, only a

few windows glowing here and there, the rest were barred. Most

of the people living in this part of town moved into the city

creating a border of death between the prospering suburbs and

the bustling city. In the distance they heard the highway going

around and omitting this part of the city. The streetlights blinked

here and there. The carcass of a car floating on bricks surrounded

by a group of bums warming themselves by a barrel of fire came

into view as they moved through the abandoned roads. They

walked by the mall, its glasses shattered, the dead palm trees

lying across the parking lot. Neil stopped and so did Matthew.

―Do you still miss her?‖ asked Matthew.

Neil did not answer and hurried across the dark road into an

abandoned alley. Matthew heard raging hip-hop emerging from

the windows of a car painted neon lilac with neon green streaks of

flame on its side. The car was jumping on its suspensions as it

rolled past him. Matthew waited for it to pass then hurried across

the road into the alley after Neil.

Neil was standing at the orifice of the narrow passage. Matthew

heard voices coming a few feet down, voices of the youth,

screaming and yelling. Matthew stopped by Neil and saw a group

of boys surrounding another boy lying on the ground.

―How dare you come here, you cock-sucking faggot?‖

One of the boys kicked the one on the ground in the groin. The

poor boy moaned. One of the boys unzipped his fly and knelt

down to their victim.

―Come here, Jamey, suck on my balls a little, isn‘t this your

dream?‖

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Neil started toward them, and the group of boys faced him. Neil

moved with his usual confidence, his motions flowing one into

the other like a two-legged river.

―Leave the boy alone…‖ he commanded.

The group of boys began to laugh. They were a few years

younger than Neil and were not scared, still their laughter had a

nervous fragility about it.

―Who the hell are you?‖ asked one of the boys. ―Get the hell out

of here before I stab you to death.‖

Neil did not move, and the lack of fear in his presence made the

others uncomfortable. They attacked, and the prey did not flee.

This is not how it should go down in nature.

―Leave the boy alone, why should he be punished for being

different?‖

―Who…the hell…are…you?‖ asked another boy, spacing his

words and emphasizing each one with a tone of incredulity.

―Wait a minute, I know this man, he is the one performing

miracles,‖ said yet another one making air-bunnies with his

middle and index finger.

The boys started laughing. ―You are a phony, you are just a

cheater. You heal the sick, right. Pathetic.‖

Matthew could not stand their words. He found an iron tube

lying on the ground. He picked it up and swung it in the air a few

times before heading toward them. He stopped by Neil and

crashed a wooden barrel standing by the wall, its splinters rising

into the air. The group of boys jumped back.

―Get…the hell…out…of here,‖ said Matthew.

The boys looked at each other and decided it was better to flee

before this pacifist shatters their skulls.

―Thank you,‖ said Neil ashamed.

―No problem,‖ said Matthew stepping to Jamey to help him

stand up. When Matthew pulled him up, he realized that the boy

had no weight. ―Are you alright?‖ asked Matthew. As Jamey

nodded, Matthew saw that the boy was translucent, a ghost. The

boy had bruises running across his face, but he smiled and his

gentle hazel eyes radiated with gratitude.

―Go home and have a rest. Believe me these brutes will be

extinct in a few years when they realize that bullying is for losers.‖

Jamey nodded once more and left, his tears sparkling like the

stars in the sky.

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Matthew stepped to Neil and patted his back. As Neil spoke,

Matthew was astonished by the purity of his voice. ―You see,

Matthew, all I did was make myself deaf in their ears. I worked

for the reverend and became a laughing stock in the eyes of the

youth. They‘re right, I am a cheater. I must leave the reverend

and find another way.‖

They left the alley and stepped onto the road. Matthew‘s car

was parked behind a saloon.

―I just don‘t get it,‖ continued Neil. ―He tells me to deliver the

message, and he doesn‘t tell me how. He even watched me as I

step onto the wrong road.‖

―He will help when the time is right, you‘ll see…‖

―The thing is I don‘t want his help. We must start again, we

must build up our own group of followers, fish them out from the

road, fish out the sane, the young, and the strong…‖

―How do we do that?‖ asked Matthew intrigued.

―You‘ll see. I‘ll tell the others tomorrow. It is so hard to learn

that you were heading down the wrong road. So much time and

effort only to understand that you were wrong.‖

―Don‘t think of it like that,‖ said Matthew trying to console

Neil. ―You have changed, you are much more confident. The

charisma the reverend was talking about was not always this

strong. I saw you perform a few times, you have something that

many don‘t, and that x-factor is something you developed now,

standing before a crowd…‖

―I guess you‘re right, I am not scared of them like in the

beginning…‖

―Now that‘s more like it.‖

Matthew opened the door of his buggy, and they sat in. The

motor rumbled, and the black car left the saloon behind, rock

music filling the air.

John‘s Gospel

John stood in the middle of the bustling road with humanity

rushing in all directions. He was like a rock in the middle of a

turbulent river causing the water to part around him. The many

bodies brushed against him, and he felt as if his rugged edges

were slowly becoming smooth, formed by their touch. He knew

that this was not the case, he was not being formed by them, but

by Neil‘s presence. He was the one who tamed his adolescent

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fury, and now John was the one who was trying to form

humanity, at least this was their goal. He took a deep breath and

just didn‘t know how to start. He knew that there was no other

way than diving in. He collected all his courage, closed his eyes,

and focused on his breathing before stepping to his first victim,

offering her a flyer.

She was a business woman wearing a dark suit with outlines so

straight it seemed she were carved out of the coldest marble. Her

black bob-styled hair was so strict that it almost caused John to

jump back, fearing from the scolding that would emerge from the

lips the color of blood. She was talking to someone on the phone,

not talking but screaming. The woman looked at John, then to the

paper, and just ignored him.

John felt blood rush to his head. He was declined, and this was

so hard for him. John, the stud, turned down. He caressed his

blond hair the color of the sun. His chiseled muscles were always

tanned, and he always wore white. He was so different than

James yet the same.

He saw a young man humming merrily to himself, coming his

way. He wore a red checked shirt and was dangling a brown

bowling bag in his hand. He took every step one after the other

rhythmically. He smiled at John who offered him the brochure.

He looked down and took it. John smiled at his first success. His

eyes shone with gratitude, and the man gave him a nod. John

watched the man leave, and he was only happy until he saw the

man stop at a trashcan to toss the flyer inside without even

reading it.

He offered the invitations one after the other, but no one

seemed to care. He was turned down over and over again, and

slowly he was giving up hope when in the distance he saw

something shining, rushing toward him. The crowd parted, and a

girl appeared, a girl so special and enchanting, not like the empty

female idols of today, but bearing a beauty that was eternal and

could not be assigned to any specific century.

She was smiling, and it seemed to John she was nothing but a

smile on a bicycle. Her long black hair swayed in the wind. She

was wearing high heel shoes, yet she turned the pedals so swiftly,

dodging the men and women before her. Her teeth, her teeth

were shining. The girl stopped the bike before John, and he could

not speak for a second, mesmerized by her beauty when he

realized she wasn‘t alone.

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Coming swiftly behind her was a young man who was less

human and more like a deer. His eyes were so placid and calm yet

radiated a knowledge that happiness is for all, you just have to

reach out for it. He gave her a kiss, two halves meeting. They took

the paper from John and read it thoroughly.

―Will you come?‖ asked John, his voice filled with hope.

―Definitely,‖ said the girl, her voice shrill and sharp carrying

the melody of the sirens.

―Really?‖

―No,‖ said the man, not as if he wanted to hurt John‘s feeling,

just telling him nothing but the truth the girl was afraid to tell

him.

They hurried away leaving John to sink deeper and deeper in

despair. John was giving up when finally a man stopped, a man

that looked like the cutest little teacup in the world residing in the

castle of the beast. As the man smiled, his front teeth appeared, a

chip missing from his top central incisor. He took the brochure.

As he left, John saw him slide it into his pocket. John rejoiced for

a second until he realized that this still didn‘t mean he would

come.

He needed reassurance, so he walked down the road to find

Neil handing out his stack of papers. The men and women

hurrying by James were constantly bombarded with so much

information but have adapted to it and created a filter through

which only the necessary information can pass, excluding

everything else.

He found Neil by a fountain. The little angel atop of the rock

emerging from the pool was standing on his toes, the other foot

raised into the air, and was peeing down into the water.

Neil saw John approaching and asked, ―So how did it go?‖

―Not good.‖

―It was a stupid idea, right? Now what do we do?‖ asked Neil

hanging on John for an answer.

John just shrugged and sat down feeling the cool fume

emerging from the water settle on his face, soothing him and

cooling him underneath the raging summer sun. Neil sat down

beside him as John closed his eyes facing the sky, bathing in the

warm rays.

They were at the end of the road with darkness before them,

not knowing how their road would continue.

―May I sit down?‖

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John opened his eyes and saw a lovely old woman standing

before him. Her hair was white with a lilac undertone. She

smiled, and the wrinkles running around her face turned into

many smiles as well. She was wearing a white blouse with a medal

on her breast representing the face of a man, probably lost or

dead. She was wearing a purple skirt on which wrinkles appeared

as she sat down. John smiled at her then turned away knowing

that he was staring at her for too long.

―What are you holding in your hands?‖ asked the gentle old

woman.

―Oh, this? Here, take it,‖ said John handing her a flyer.

―A meeting where the truth of God will be revealed,‖ she read

then turned to John, ―By whom?‖

―Neil,‖ said John nodding toward Neil who smiled at the old

woman and waved.

―What a lovely idea…‖ she said taking a long pause, ―…not.‖

John and Neil faced the lady who was still smiling kindly.

―What the hell were you thinking?‖ asked the old woman as her

voice morphed into a deep baritone.

Both of them jumped up not believing their ears. The madam‘s

face started changing as if it were made of play dough. Her hair

started growing longer, and from around her mouth, a long white

beard emerged, flowing down onto the pavement.

―It‘s you,‖ said Neil recognizing his father ―Don‘t you ever grow

tired?‖

―Me? Of course not, I love disguises. It‘s really fun, you should

try it.‖

―Leave me alone, let me go down my own road.‖

―And where is that leading?‖

Neil did not answer, knowing that his father was right.

―You are not a teenager, you don‘t have to defy me anymore.

Just listen to my advice for once.‖

―He‘s right, Neil,‖ said John interrupting, feeling sorry for the

father whose son doesn‘t want his help. ―Just hear him out.‖

Neil looked at John for a few seconds then faced his father and

said, ―Alright, I am all ears.‖

―You must become a rock star or a pop star or whatever you call

these people you worship.‖

―What?‖ said Neil not believing his ears.

―Don‘t look at me like that. It is not as if I were trying to

convince you to try green hams and eggs. I want you to become a

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star. How many fathers would want the same? I am quite

awesome, right?‖

―How do I become a star, father?‖ asked Neil with a sarcastic

grin across his face.

―First you should start a band.‖

―With whom?‖

―Are you blind? Look at your friends here, John plays the

acoustic guitar, James plays the bass, Matthew plays the piano,

and Peter is a DJ.‖

―A DJ?‖ asked Neil surprised then turned to John.

―Well, something like that,‖ said John. ―He used to play music

every time the church held a ball for the youth.‖

―Exactly. Philipp could be your manager,‖ said Neil‘s father.

―You just need a drummer.‖

―What type of music will we play, father?‖

―Electric-pop-rock-sacrilegious music will be trending soon.‖

―Doesn‘t sound too good?‖ said John.

―Believe me, it doesn‘t, especially for me,‖ said Neil‘s father. ―I

prefer disco music, you know, Gloria Gaynor‘s I will survive and

stuff.‖

―What will we sing about?‖ asked Neil a little irritated.

―Anything you want to say,‖ said Neil‘s father with a matter-of-

fact tone.

―What do I want to say?‖

―Neil, c‘mon what is wrong with you? Deliver the message. Now

I must really go.‖

Neil‘s father, who was still dressed as an old woman, turned

into a cloud with a puff and rose into the air. Neil and John

watched him leave.

―He seems a little crazy…‖ said Neil still facing the sky.

―Who knows, maybe, or he is just happy.‖

―Maybe.‖

Peter appeared in the distance. They both looked at him and

did not believe what he was wearing. His white T-shirt was tucked

into his beige pants just over his belly. He was wearing white

socks with sandals. He waved to them and smiled, his eyes

glistening behind his thick glasses.

―Why are you so happy?‖ asked Neil.

―I don‘t know, it‘s just good to see you. Did you see James? I

miss him.‖

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―Shut up,‖ said John. ―How long haven‘t you seen each other?

Half an hour?‖

―You can‘t understand until you find love. I don‘t think handing

out these papers will do any good though,‖ said Peter careful not

to hurt Neil‘s feelings.

―Daa,‖ said John.

―What will we do now?‖ asked Peter turning to John then to

Neil.

―We are starting a rock band,‖ said Neil with his presence

emanating sturdy reassurance.

―No, shit,‖ said Peter, doing a pirouette and landing it on his

knees, giving the world a rock fork with his thin little crooked

fingers.

Josephine‘s Gospel

―You must be kidding me,‖ said Josephine looking at Neil,

hoping that he was only joking. She faced Marry for help, but she

just smiled.

―Who gave you this idea?‖

Neil was staring at his fingers as he fiddled with the corner of

the tablecloth.

―Neil?‖

Neil stayed silent for a few seconds before admitting the truth.

―My father.‖

―Your father? How the hell did he find you?‖ snapped

Josephine losing her temper. ―How can he tell you something like

that? Of course he can, he is not the one raising you and caring

for you. He just wants to be your friend. And what will he do

when you fail? What will he do when you realize a few years later

that this will be nothing more than a dream? Do you want to be a

loser? A guy who thought he could be a rock star and failed.‖

Neil still played around with the tablecloth trying to tie a knot

on it.

Josephine continued, ―I‘m sorry, Neil. If you decide to go down

this road, I am afraid you must leave our home. If you are not

willing to come and work at the furniture shop I am sorry, but I

cannot feed you anymore. If you think you are an adult then act

like one.‖

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Neil stood up and walked up to his room without saying a word.

After the door closed behind him, Mary and Josephine sat in

silence for a few seconds.

―Am I too strict?‖ asked Josephine hoping for some

reassurance.

―I don‘t know. To tell you the truth I think he has something

that others don‘t, but I don‘t think this is enough. He is a talented

young man of this I am sure, he has a nice voice and good

hearing, but in this world, talent is not enough. You need

something, not luck, nor godly perseverance, but something that

is so hard to name, an amorphous power that lifts you up from

the river‘s bed toward the surface to be thrust into the air.‖

―So?‖ asked Josephine not understanding where Mary was

going.

―We cannot take the risk to raise an adult who still lives with

his parents. If he wants to stand on his own two feet, we must let

him, and hopefully he will succeed.‖

―And if not?‖

―Then we will help him our way.‖

Josephine heard Neil stomping upstairs in his room, back and

forth, back and forth. ―He is leaving, right?‖

―I am afraid so,‖ said Mary.

Josephine knew that both of them were terrified what the

future would bring. Like all parents, they dreaded that when their

child leaves the nest for the first time he falls to the ground,

unable to fly, and splatters across the pavement.

Neil walked down the stairs, stopped before the entrance, and

put his luggage down.

Josephine and Mary stood up from the dining-table and walked

to him.

―You are right, mothers, I must grow up, and part of this is to

step on the road of life, even if it leads nowhere, even if it leads

toward a precipice.‖

Mary hugged Neil stronger than ever, but Josephine turned

around and walked back into the living room without saying

farewell. She was disappointed, it was their fault, it was because

they weren‘t strict enough that their child wanted to be a rock

star. As she closed the door, she heard them speaking.

―Where will you be staying?‖

―At Peter‘s apartment, I guess.‖

―You know she loves you?‖

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―Of course.‖

After Josephine heard the entrance door close, she felt Mary‘s

arm caress her shoulder. ―It‘s not your fault. We always knew that

there was something in him, something that was not like us,

something extraneous, something wild and raunchy, a confidence

that is not human. He must have inherited it from his father.‖

―Will we ever meet his father? I want to see who this man is,

Mary.‖

―I don‘t know, perhaps.‖

85

THE FIRST STEPS

Judas‘ Gospel

Judas opened his eyes feeling the sunlight caress his face

through the glass walls of the apartment. He sat up and saw the

city around him. The bed was standing in the corner of the room

surrounded by immense glass walls making him feel on top of the

world. The love of his life, the woman with yellow hair grown

down, was sleeping placidly beside him. Her smudged make-up

created a black aura around her eyes. As she lay there with her

mouth open as if she were deep in thought, the red lipstick

staining her teeth appeared. The glasses of champagne were left

lying on the carpet along with hundreds of earrings, bracelets,

necklaces, rubies, sapphires, diamonds, and gold sparkling

among them. He saw the crooked black crown and dark

eyeglasses she wore the night before, sunken into the long hairs of

the white rug.

Judas looked at his watch to see he was late, so he slid out of

bed exposing his nude body to the world, his snake tattoos

running around his body. He flexed his muscles in the mirror,

and they bulged thanks to the many hours of exercise. He combed

his long black hair and found his pants lying in the corner of the

room. He jumped into his light blue jeans and put his white slim-

fit T-shirt on, finally sliding his feet into his boots thrown down

by the entrance.

The minimalist style in the apartment was not quite his taste,

but nonetheless he felt at home. As he tied his shoelaces, he

thought about the home of his dreams, the smell of lavender

entering through the tiny windows flowing down onto the strip

floor, drifting over the flower patterns of the living room sofa and

beneath the black metal chandelier hanging from the low ceiling

with its wooden beams exposed.

86

He walked toward the entrance and stopped, fixating a point on

the wall. The control panel with the many numbers stared up at

him, waiting for the code to open the door that was barely visible,

blending into the white surface, only a thin black slit giving out

the silhouette of the orifice. She would disappear from time to

time in here only to emerge renewed and shining. Judas was not

granted entrance no matter how many times he begged. The only

secret between them.

He reached for his leather jacket with his name written on the

back, the letters running over the embroidered skull. He

descended with the elevator, stepping out into the silent garage

and hurrying to his motorcycle.

His steps echoed in the abandoned space, and even though he

knew he was alone, he felt watched. He listened attentively, but

his footsteps were the only ones that echoed. The mild lighting of

the garage made everything look even more obscure than it truly

was. He was relieved to find his silver motorcycle with its iron

poles emerging from the front like antennae ending in leather in

the far end of the parking area. He jumped on it, started the

rumbling motor, and sped out of the building into the light.

As he turned onto the main road, he was relieved to be out of

the darkness. He slalomed through the many yellow taxis

flooding the road at this early hour. It took time for him to leave

the many skyscrapers behind and reach the bridge leading to the

highway. He stopped before the elevated bridge saluting a boat

hurrying toward the sea. When they let it finally down, Judas

rocketed away on the six-lane road.

He felt the air rush into his face as the abandoned buildings of

his destination appeared on his far left. He found the exit. As he

curved away from the road, he noticed how the concrete here was

cracked by blades of green grass fighting to reach the sun. He

drove through the empty roads until he reached his destination, a

four-story building made of clinker brick. Most of the windows

were barred. Judas checked his GPS. He was where he was

supposed to be. He approached the building and stopped his

motorcycle in an alley with drying lines filled with clothes

hovering above him, connecting the two adjacent buildings. He

heard two men speaking.

―Cleopas, could you please hurry up? We‘ll be late…‖

―Coming, Anonymous, coming.‖

87

Stupid names, thought Judas. He jumped off his bike and

hurried to the front where he found the entrance door open. He

stepped into the decadent building and shuddered at the sight of

the musty wallpaper peeling off here and there. He was the last

one to arrive, so he sat down at the end of the row of wannabe

rock stars. He took the advertising out of his pocket and reread it,

not being able to believe that this was his destination. The letters

told him he was in the right place.

As the line decreased, Judas‘ anxiety grew, and by the time it

was his turn, he was crackling his knuckles and felt butterflies

flattering in the darkness of his stomach. The door opened, and a

wild head of a man appeared. The man looked at Judas as if he

were about to gobble him up, not to decrease his hunger but

placate his sexual desire.

―Next one,‖ he said and smiled at Judas. His smile made Judas

uncomfortable, knowing that he was looked at the same way men

look at women, like a piece of meat to plow. Judas forced a smile

on his face and entered.

The man who called him in was distended on a sofa filled with

holes. His head was in the laps of a thin boy who was typing

something on his phone. A well-groomed man was leaning

against the windowsill ridding his nails from dirt as another one

with Rasta hair was smoking a joint.

―My name is James,‖ said the man who called him in, ―this is

Peter, John is over there, Matthew is getting high, and Neil is in

the bathroom.‖

The man typing on his phone looked up.

―Oh, my God…‖ said Peter staring at Judas not believing his

eyes. Peter slowly stood up and stepped to him. He put his hands

on his shoulders and turned him a little right then left, examining

his profile.

―Oh my God, it is really you…‖

―Who, Peter?‖ asked James with a tint of jealousy in his voice.

―It‘s her boyfriend…‖

―Whose boyfriend?‖ asked James then stopped, looking closer

at Judas. ―Oh my God, it is him,‖ said James recognizing him too.

―This is such an honor, I am her greatest admirer. I know every

part of her life through the papers. You are hired…‖ said Peter

jumping up and down, clapping his hands.

The door opened, and Neil emerged from the white tiles of the

bathroom, and for a second Judas was shocked by how much they

88

resembled each other. Only their eyes were different, Neil‘s was a

pallid blue, Judas‘ was a burning brown.

―No one will be hired just like that. Sit down and show us what

you can do…‖ he said pointing toward the set of drums by the

window.

Judas felt a tint of rage in his veins. ―You speak as if you were

someone important, but you, just like me, are a no one…‖

―You can leave if you wish…‖

―I don‘t wish to, it‘s just this arrogance I cannot bear. Give me

two sticks…‖

Peter threw him the sticks, and Judas caught them then turned

them in his hand like a majorette leading a parade would. He sat

down behind the drums facing the corner and felt their eyes upon

his back.

The drums started rolling enunciating power. Judas felt a fire

awaken in his heart. From the darkness surrounding the flames,

bodies came forth, their skin red in the kindling light. They

danced to the rhythm round and round, the tip of their spears

glinting now and then. As the rhythm sped up, faster and faster

they moved around the fire, their dance originating from deep

within. The flames started vibrating and turned into a head of a

wolf howling toward the red moon ruling over the world. The

howling stopped, and the canine head rose into the air followed

by its body, and running on all four, the flame hurried away

leaving everything in darkness. Only the red moon shone down

onto the darkened world.

Judas struck down the last time, and both his sticks snapped,

the two pieces whirling in mid-air then falling to the ground with

a high-pitched clatter. Judas stood up and turned around to see

the faces of the audience staring at him with awe, not making the

faintest noise.

―Why do you want to join?‖ asked Peter breaking the silence.

―Why don‘t you speak with her? Why join a band like ours?‖

―She won‘t help me. I must build up my own fame, only then

will she help…‖

―You‘re hired,‖ said Peter clapping.

―What next?‖ asked Judas.

―Our songs are ready, the lyrics are done. We didn‘t hear Neil

sing yet though…‖

―You mean you didn‘t hear your front man sing? What the hell

is wrong with you…‖ asked Judas not believing his ears.

89

―We don‘t need to…‖

―What do you mean?‖ Judas looked at the men in the room

feeling as if he had just stepped into an asylum.

―You‘ll see,‖ said Peter reaching beneath the table before the

window and handing him a CD. ―Could you please give it to her to

sign it?‖

Judas nodded and grinned, Peter leaped into the air with joy.

Peter‘s Gospel

Peter rode down the hill as the buildings flew by him ever so

swiftly. The only time he actually felt free was when he rode a

bicycle, much freer than on a motorcycle with James, because his

own muscles were propelling him, making him fly over the

blistering pavement. He rode in the middle of the street knowing

that cars didn‘t use it anymore.

He saw the periphery of the city from up high, and he couldn‘t

tell whether it was dead or alive. This caused shivers to run up

and down inside him in contrast with the body‘s outer layer

burning under the summer sun. This ambivalent feeling was

emphasized by the stinging sensation of anticipation that made

him choose the bicycle as means of transportation to work away

his restlessness.

They entered the competition of local bands. The first round

would take place in a few weeks, and they still hadn‘t heard Neil

sing. What if he can‘t sing?

He was taking chances with Neil all the time, and only now did

he realize this, riding his bike over the city, seeing it from a bird‘s

point of view. Even if they were taking risks, it never felt as such.

It was faith that didn‘t let them see it this way, it was faith that

made him feel that this was the only reasonable thing to do, but

Peter knew that becoming a rock star was never a reasonable

thing to do. Still people went down this road from time to time

and succeeded. It wasn‘t the faith in Neil itself, a blind faith with

no reason, it was the faith in the world that was awaiting him.

Even if Neil never spoke about it, they all knew that it was the

same world residing in all of their hearts. They were following

him, but had faith in the future.

He finally reached the bottom of the hill and parked by the

garage they were renting a few blocks away from his apartment.

He jumped off the bike and raised the metal door into the sky and

90

his band appeared; a group of losers wanting to rule the world.

Judas was already waiting behind the drums, John and James

were holding an acoustic and a bass guitar, Neil was standing by

the microphone, Matthew was resting his head on his keyboard,

the turntable was waiting for Peter.

―Hello, everyone,‖ said Peter.

―Get the hell to your place,‖ said Neil with a nervous frailty

about his rudeness.

All of them were silent, and Peter tried to go to his place

without making a sound, unsuccessfully, tripping over the wires

here and there, sitting down after several apologies.

Peter saw an inexistent light emanating from Neil‘s pores. The

light formed invisible wires and slid to the ground and like golden

snakes approached the band. The strand of light slithered up his

body and connected itself into an invisible socket at the back of

Peter‘s neck. The wires were connected waiting for the message,

the light was there, waiting to be filled by essence.

Neil counted to three, and the music rose into the air. It was

not bad, but it wasn‘t exactly good either, music played by

amateurs preparing for the championship of local bands. Peter

felt the wires tighten, but still nothing was pouring through them,

the music was missing the last component, the words.

Neil‘s contours started burning. Light rushed through the wires

into their skulls and burst out through their eyes making their

surrounding burn brighter and brighter until everything was

completely white. The music died and even though they played,

they only heard a high-pitched whistle. Their hands and bodies

moved in perfect silence as Neil‘s body slowly dissolved in light.

Peter felt the light enter through his mouth, slowly filling him up.

The words came from all around, emanating from the light itself,

so elementary but bearing a weight that no human could deliver,

simple words yet so hard to understand, a group of letters

conveying the essence of the universe itself.

―Love everybody as I love thee.‖

The light was flowing faster and turning brighter. Their

contours gradually dissolved in the white liquid of the light until

all they felt was the light itself, the essence of the greatest orgasm.

When Peter felt he would explode, he returned back to reality.

He looked around and saw that everyone had experienced the

same. Neil was panting at the front, his energy drained, his spinal

column curved, using the microphone as a walking stick to bear

91

the burden of his body. He slowly erected himself adjusting his

hair a little then turned to them.

―This is it, not more, nor less.‖

They all smiled hoping their goals would be fulfilled some way

or the other.

L€ne‘s Gospel

―Please, L€ne, help us…‖

The joy that filled L€ne‘s heart a few minutes before when she

heard Neil‘s voice quickly went down the drain giving place to

disappointment.

―I knew it, Neil. I knew that after such a long time, you didn‘t

call me just to ask me how I was…‖

―What do you mean, L€ne? It was you who decided to leave. I

thought you were better alone…‖

―Just because I left, it doesn‘t mean I left forever, it definitely

doesn‘t mean that I don‘t want to hear at least from you.‖

―Then why didn‘t you call?‖

―Me? I am the girl, Neil, hello. It is your duty to call…‖

―Women…first they battle for emancipation then to be treated

as women…‖

―Neil, shut up…‖

Both of them waited in silence determined not to speak until

the other, determined not to hang up either.

―I‘m sorry,‖ they both said at once and chuckled a little then

L€ne continued, ―I guess life flew by so quickly I didn‘t have time

to acknowledge how far we drifted away, and when I did, it was

too late. I thought it was better not to call, that you would be

furious, that we wouldn‘t know what to talk about, that we would

be strangers to each other…‖

―And I thought that you becoming a superstar meant you didn‘t

have time for losers like me…‖

―Well, this isn‘t the case, so what do you need, my dear old

friend?‖ asked L€ne with a tone of mockery.

―Help. I started a band and signed ourselves in for a local

competition…‖

―A band?‖ L€ne rejoiced. ―That‘s marvelous. And how is the

competition going?‖

92

―Very well, thank you, we are in the finals…which is great, but

even if we win, I am not sure we will achieve the notoriety we

need. We don‘t want to be local celebrities, we want the world…‖

―I see. You know, Neil, I may be a star but I‘m not omnipotent.

I‘ll try to speak with my manager, he is the one that makes all the

calls and we‘ll see…‖

―Great. How is your life turning out to be, L€ne?‖

―Great.‖

―Great. Will we meet someday?‖

―I think sooner than later. See you, Neil.‖

―Good-bye, L€ne.‖

She hung up and smiled patting her suitcase. The fleet she had

planned a few days ago would have to wait at least a few more

hours. The uncertainty she felt before the call left her

immediately, someone was waiting for her, the man of whom she

perpetually thought of, the man she saw on the streets every day,

the man who visited her in her dreams. A few moments before

she wasn‘t sure whether leaving her present life was a good idea,

but now she knew. She knew she wasn‘t alone, and she would be

able to endure the nothingness of this life a little longer.

L€ne coughed a little and glitter stained her hands. She cleaned

them with a handkerchief, then stood up adjusting her whore

make-up and ragged skull T-shirt she used as a dress, and finally

jumped into her boots. ‗The show must go on,‘ she said to herself

stepping out of her hotel room and smiling at how dramatic she

sounded. ‗The show must go on, L€ne.‘

She got into one of the taxis parking before the hotel and took

way to her manager‘s office. The skyscrapers moved as L€ne‘s

attention shifted toward the inside. She was empty, just a puppet

and nothing more, leading a life without meaning. Even if she was

more than wealthy, it didn‘t make her happy. She was just moving

through the darkness, without any goal except death itself, just

existing and nothing more, living for the sake of living, and this

was not enough, and she couldn‘t bear this anymore.

The car stopped before one of the many skyscrapers, and L€ne

stepped out onto a blood-red carpet with a circus-like pavilion

above her. The doorman‘s Hulkian muscles bulged through his

uniform as he opened the door. L€ne stepped into the atrium

where a dwarf sitting behind the receptionist‘s desk greeted her.

The elevator doors opened, and two women sharing the same arm

stepped out.

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―Hello, L€ne,‖ they said unanimously, and L€ne tried to smile

sincerely. She pressed the button and the elevator rose. The

Entrance of the Gladiator was playing as usual, over and over

again, never ceasing even for a second. The music crawled into

her head and wouldn‘t let her go.

The elevator door opened, and L€ne stepped into a small room,

the shelves reaching the ceiling, filled with gadgets and jars of all

sorts, skulls, amulets, fetuses, frogs, and snakeheads. The

secretary, a fortuneteller, was sitting behind a crystal bulb and

smiled as L€ne entered.

―We‘ve been expecting you,‖ she said caressing her crystal bulb.

L€ne smiled knowing that her predictive powers resided under

her table, a monitor connected to the camera facing the entrance

in the atrium.

―May I enter?‖

―Wait a moment.‖ She pressed a button that gave out a buzz

then a few moments later the head of the manager appeared in

the bulb. ―L€ne is here to see you…‖

―Let her in.‖

The fortuneteller pressed another button, and the heavy

Baroque door gave out a buzz. L€ne stepped to the door and

pushed it open. She entered into the office, the carnival themed

cloth hanging from the top of the ceiling creating the interior of a

circus tent. The manager was wearing his usual red coat and black

cylinder hat. He was playing with his whip when he saw L€ne and

stood up.

―L€ne, my dear friend, how are you darling…‖

―Fine, Julius, thank you.‖

―In what way can I help you…oh please, sit down.‖

L€ne stepped to a Baroque sofa and sat down as the bordeaux

cushion embraced her behind.

―Let‘s get to the point, Julius.‖

Julius nodded giving her permission to continue.

―A friend of mine started a band, and I think they are really

great,‖ lied L€ne who had never actually heard them play,

knowing that being good was not enough without the proper

representation. You can be the worst untalented singer and with

the proper management, still rise to the top.

―Go ahead, L€ne, go ahead…‖

―They play a type of electro-rock-pop-disco-sacrilegious type of

music…‖

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―Very eclectic, what are their genders?‖

―Six boys,‖

―Great, great, we don‘t represent a boy band yet, they sound

really interesting…‖

―They are, they are,‖ said L€ne agreeing. ―I can ask for a demo

if you‘d like…‖

―And what do they sing about?‖

L€ne tried not to show the hate bubbling inside her towards

him. Julius knew this very well, and as he waited for the answer,

he played with his pointy moustache that looked like two spears

growing out from right beneath his nose. L€ne knew that all she

could do was tell him the truth.

―Religion, self-acceptance, tolerance, about the new world,

sometimes abortion and adultery…‖

Julius laughed and started shaking his head. ―L€ne, L€ne,

L€ne. Why did you come when you knew what I would say?‖

―Who knows, I had to try. I was hoping that you have become

illuminated over time…‖

―L€ne, you know very well that people don‘t want to listen to

this. They want to hear about love and heartbreaks, parties and

hangovers, nothing to think about, all the banalities in the

world…‖

―Are you sure this is what they want to listen to? Isn‘t this what

you give them and all they can choose from?‖ asked L€ne. The

frustration was growing in her, and she shifted positions in the

chair now and then, trying as hard as possible to remain seated

and not to tear him apart.

―People don‘t have time to think, and they want to hear things

that are so trivial…‖

―But look at Lady Dada. She sings not only about love and

parties, but many other things and still people seem to listen…‖

―L€ne, Lady Dada is a one-time phenomenon, just a

momentary deviance from the mainstream. Don‘t you think that

she is so much different than you are, she has a really great

management this is the secret and, L€ne, I don‘t know how to put

this…you know that she is a little more interesting than you‘ll ever

be…‖

L€ne felt her hands tighten into a grasp, but luckily she could

still control herself. ―Maybe, but this is not what I am talking

about. She seems to have a message, no matter how primitive,

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still it is more than what I sing about, why can‘t you let me sing

about something else?‖

―Because you are not like her, you are just one of my many

products, L€ne. I warned you when we started working together.

I raised you so much higher than your talents would ever let you

on your own. You should be grateful…‖

―I am not, Julius,‖ said L€ne hitting down onto Julius‘ desk

making him jump back in fear. ―You don‘t really care about talent,

all you care about is money. There is so much more in me, but

you try to silence me. I am leaving, Julius…‖

―Go ahead, I‘ll sue you, and you‘ll find out how unpleasant I can

be. I created you, L€ne, and I can destroy you.‖

―Go ahead, Julius, but I know you won‘t dare…‖ she said

standing up.

―Why not, L€ne?‖

―Because then the world would find out what a slave merchant

you are. I will tell the people that you owned me, you owned my

body and voice, and soon you will find yourself without

customers…‖

―I am not the only one, L€ne, I am not the only one…‖

L€ne stood up, turned around, and left slamming the huge

Baroque door behind her. The crystal ball rolled to the ground

and shattered, the secretary looked at her surprised, she did not

seem to see this coming.

Matthew‘s Gospel

Matthew stepped out of the changing room into the Western

saloon packed with the youth wanting to have some fun, their

chattering filling this tiny space with smoke and laughter. He

nodded to a man standing by the jukebox. The man nodded back

then turned to the jukebox kicking its side. A tired country song

emerged from it, crackling away, not intruding, just underlining

the prevailing murmur. Matthew adjusted the peace sign dangling

down his neck and threw his Rasta strands back, winking at two

girls looking at him. The girls giggled and hurried away.

In the thick cloud of smoke, he saw Neil sitting by a table alone,

surrounded by many standing around him talking to others. He

smiled at how Neil was able to seem so lonely even amidst so

many people. He headed toward him then, patting his back, sat

down.

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―What‘s up?‖

―Nothing much,‖ answered Neil staring into his beer before

him.

―It‘s because of your parents, right?‖

Neil nodded and took a sip. ―I understand that this is not the

life they want for me, but at least they should show some

support…‖

―They love you more than anything, you know that.‖

―Hey, Matthew,‖ said a girl passing by, and Matthew nodded at

her then faced Neil once more.

―You know this, right?‖

―Of course.‖

―Cool.‖

The murmur suddenly stopped, even the jukebox died, in an

instant everything went completely silent. Everyone faced the

door. Neil didn‘t care to look up, but Matthew was too intrigued

to leave this phenomenon unnoticed, so he stood up.

In the entrance he saw a huge black man, his muscles seemed

to be carved out of the hardest ebony. His strong cheekbones and

maxilla made him look as if he were the son of the mountains

themselves. He was masculine in every way, yet he was quite the

opposite. Over his dark stern eyes the eyelids were colored a pale

pink. His full lips were shining red with the lip-gloss reflecting the

mild lighting coming from above. The man adjusted his blond wig

and pushed his breasts up then pulled his pink tank top a little

higher and his neon pink miniskirt a little lower. He headed

through the room as the crowd parted. His smooth hairless legs

pierced through the air as his pink high heel shoes moved with

confidence, not even quivering a little before the staring eyes. He

stepped to their table.

―May I sit down?‖ he asked them. Neil did not react, but

Matthew felt the urge to stand up and pull the chair out for this

being. The man sat down and searched in his little purse. A tiny

mirror emerged through which he examined his reflection,

reaching for some mascara to adjust his make-up. When he was

done, he placed the mirror back into his bag then looked around,

frustrated by the silence.

―Would you mind?‖ asked the man with a voice so deep as if it

were arriving to them from the bottomless deep abyss. His voice

almost echoed in the silence. Matthew felt the tension in the air,

felt the invisible battle going down. The man was serious, and the

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crowd felt his power that made them turn away, the murmur

filling the room once more. Neil just drank his beer. Matthew

smiled awkwardly.

―How can I help you?‖ asked Matthew.

―You might be wondering who I am….‖ said the man.

Matthew nodded.

―He is my father,‖ said Neil spoiling the surprise. ―Why did you

come?‖

―I heard you are having the showdown today. I just came to see

you. I am so proud of you munchkin,‖ said the man reaching over

the table to squeeze Neil‘s cheeks. Neil grabbed his wrist and

tossed it away.

―Don‘t touch me. Please leave. I am tired of being your little

puppet. What were you thinking? You can just throw me down to

earth every two thousand years to die? We started the band, of

the idea I am thankful, but everything else we did alone, without

your help. Now, get out of here.‖

Neil stood up and left without turning around. Matthew looked

at the man and saw his lips quivering. The clearest tear rolled

down his cheek and fell to the ground. The moment it touched the

stained parquet, it shattered, its fragments rolling away like

diamonds.

―Don‘t mind him, he can be quite the punk sometimes,‖ said

Matthew consoling the father.

Neil‘s father nodded, stood up, and left. Matthew watched his

hips sway. The beauty of this presence was undeniable, he was

perfect in his way, every last detail. The door closed behind him.

Matthew finished his beer and was about to return backstage

when he saw four bald men hurrying out the door after Neil‘s

father. Matthew knew that they were up to no good, so he stood

up and hurried outside.

He did not see them anywhere. He heard a yelp coming from

the back alley. He hurried to the back but froze with fear at its

orifice, not being able to enter. Neil‘s father, squirming on the

floor, was surrounded by the four men.

―Don‘t you dare return to our bar….‖

―Wait,‖ interrupted one of the assailants, ―let‘s teach him a

lesson, let‘s make him a woman if this is what he wants.‖

―But I am not a transsexual…‖ said Neil‘s father, but the group

didn‘t seem to listen.

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The man found a plank of wood lying nearby. He raised it into

the sky and a nail stood out of it, glistening in the sun. He

adjusted his grip on the plank then stepped to Neil‘s father, lifting

his skirt with his feet and pushing it back. The other two pulled

his pink panties off.

―What do we have here, we are doing you a favor aren‘t we, you

little faggot?‖

―I am not a faggot, I am a transvestite for God‘s sake…‖ replied

Neil‘s father begging them helpless with horror as the man raised

the plank into the air ready to strike.

Neil‘s father started laughing and winked toward Matthew.

Tink. The little worm between his legs morphed into a great snake

rising above the four men who were shaking in fear.

―Let‘s get out of here,‖ one of them shouted.

The snake struck, ripping off their heads one after the other.

Their headless corpses fell to the ground. The snake gobbled them

up then shrunk back to its original size. Matthew ran to Neil‘s

father and helped him up.

―Are you alright?‖

―Of course, Matthew. What God giveth, he taketh away,‖ said

Neil‘s father and grinned.

―Right.‖

―I must really go now.‖

And with that, he burst into millions of butterflies. Matthew

looked at them amazed, each a different color, embracing him as

if they were an always-moving rainbow. The butterflies flew away,

leaving through the sun.

―C‘mon, Matthew. It‘s almost time.‖

Matthew turned around to see Peter at the end of the alley. He

nodded and hurried after him back into the bar.

Josephine‘s Gospel

―Why do we have to go, Mary?‖

―Because he is our son?‖

―We cannot encourage him. Why can‘t he come to work in the

furniture shop?‖

―Because he doesn‘t want to. I am fed up with you two, you

must talk eventually…‖

―I will when he grows up,‖

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―We can‘t ignore the elephant in the room anymore. You know

very well who he is...‖

―We were young back then, young and stoned…‖

―Really, Josephine, were we?‖

Josephine looked down, and she knew she couldn‘t deny it any

longer.

I guess you‘re right,‖ she said.

―Now that‘s a good girl,‖ said Mary caressing her face.

They were sitting in their red convertible. Mary raised the key

and inserted it into the hole. As she turned it, the diamond skull

dangled a little. Josephine lay back in the beige leather seat and

closed her eyes. She felt the car roll down from the garage, and

Mary began revving the car. Josephine felt the tires squeal

beneath her, then, like a jet, they burst down the road the next

second.

―Why do you have to do this?‖ asked Josephine.

―I love the smell of burning rubber.‖

They sped onto the highway leading into the city. The hills

rolled away toward the horizon with the never-ending pinewoods

covering them like a warm blanket, interrupted by the desolate

periphery surrounding the city, their destination.

―We‘ll be late, Mary.‖

―Shut up,‖ she said giving Josephine her rebellious grin that

turned Josephine on. She caressed Mary‘s thighs a little.

―Stop it,‖ she said without any sign of conviction.

Josephine slid her hands higher and higher until she felt Mary‘s

garden of pleasure bathing in a warm liquid beneath her hands.

Josephine pulled her dark blue dress up as Mary started grunting

with pleasure. She pressed down on the gas pedal, and the red

convertible sped up, surpassing the many Sunday drivers. The

speed meter started rising higher and higher and just when

Josephine thought they would take off, Mary gave out a squeal

that rose into heaven and caused God himself to grin.

They reached the exit and rolled through the desolated city

stopping by the saloon where Neil would be playing. They stepped

into the overcrowded room and sighed with relief when they saw

the other group still on stage waiting to perform.

A slightly obese middle-aged man stepped to the microphone,

his stomach protruding from his heavy-metal shirt a little too

short and emerging like the great white. He adjusted his leather

jacket before speaking.

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―Ladies and gentlemen,‖ he said with his deep silky voice. ―We

have come to the final duel between the last two bands that made

it into the finals. First, we will hear The Pharisees then the

Crucifixion Reloaded. When they‘re done, you all can vote by

placing the ballet into the box right after you register yourselves

at the table in the back. Now let the show begin!‖

Josephine examined The Pharisees. Their long black hair

covered their pale faces, but Josephine saw their eyes that were

up to no good, tingling with the darkness of evil. The lead singer

stepped to the microphone and with an au fait husky voice said,

―The title of our song is What you do, I would never do, not when

you see it at least. Have fun.‖

He patted three beats on his thigh then gave a nod. The music

exploded, and Mary and Josephine almost collapsed by the pain

caused by the noise. All they could hear was a deafening raucous

of cacophonic cords poisoning the air around them. Then the lead

singer began to sing. They looked at his face and saw that his eyes

were sinking deeper into his eye sockets until they were nothing

but two black holes. His mouth grew wider and wider. The voice

that emerged from that darkness was the voice of the devil

coming to end the world after he had defeated God.

Josephine hugged Mary, and they soon noticed that they were

alone. Everyone around them was hypnotized by the music. They

were alone, standing in the spotlight in the middle of the sea of

enemies. The singer was draining the world from light, turning

the world around them dark. It was like black ink dissolving in

water, and soon the strands were surrounding them, closing in on

them. When Josephine thought she would scream, the tune

ended, the ink dematerialized, and the crowd started cheering.

The Pharisees bowed several times then left the stage blowing

kisses toward the audience. As they disappeared into the

changing room, the Crucifixion Reloaded stepped onto the stage.

They just gave a nod to one another before beginning.

Peter pressed something on his turntable, and the beat started

thumping, resonating with Mary‘s and Josephine‘s heart.

Josephine examined Neil and thought he looked like a homeless.

His dark shirt was ripped at the sides, and his black leather jacket

was decorated with wrinkles deriving from a time long lost.

She didn‘t understand the youth, not anymore, but she knew

there was no sense in fighting them. It was better to step aside

and let them prosper. Yet, she felt sad and in the back of her mind

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a thought wriggled, maybe their time was better. This feeling was

natural, and she never tried to silence it because it filled her with

sweet, sweet nostalgia.

Neil faced the ground, and his strands of hair dangled in the air

as he moved his head to the rhythm. The second he looked up

John and James struck the chords of their guitars, Judas hit

down on his drum, Matthew‘s arachnid hand accelerated on the

keyboard, and Neil began to sing. Mary grabbed the arms of

Josephine, marveling at the light bursting out of Neil‘s mouth.

Light washed over them, embracing them, caressing them, and

both of them felt safe, protected by this immense power that was

so tender, like the soft wool of a sheep. They were swimming in

light, and they saw Neil for who he really was for the first time.

His immaculate white cloak swayed as he moved in slow-

motion. He raised his arms, his palms turned to the sky,

delivering a gift from God himself. His hand stopped in mid-air,

distended toward them, offering his saving hands. He opened his

mouth and words emerged in the form of notes of all colors of a

neon rainbow, warm and strong, gentle and confident. The notes

danced around them before sinking into their ears.

―If someone tells you homosexuals should not adopt because it

is against the will of God, tell them to be careful and think about

the infertile. If it is allowed to cure them with the help of

medicine, why couldn‘t the homosexual infertility be cured as well

by adoption or IVF.

―If someone tells you homosexuals should not adopt because it

is against the will of God, ask them how dare they claim to know

what God‘s will is?

―If someone tells you that homosexuals should not adopt

because a child needs parents of two genders, tell them to be

careful and think about the widows and divorced whose child is

also raised by one.

―If someone tells you homosexuals should not adopt because it

is against the will of God, tell them that God has no gender and

still bears millions of children, some are sane, others are mad.

―If someone tells you that homosexuals should not adopt

because their child will see that the homosexual family model is

the one to assimilate, ask them whether they think that

homosexuals learned this behavior from their parents.

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―If someone tells you homosexuals should not adopt because it

is against the will of God, tell them God is pansexual and loves

everything and everyone just the same.

―If someone tells you that homosexuals should not adopt

because their child will experience hate, rejection, and exclusion,

tell them if this is their worry, then they must look into their heart

and ask themselves who is to blame.

―If someone tells you homosexuals should not adopt because it

is against the will of God, tell them there is no greater evil than

blind hate.‖

Neil punched into the air, and the white light embracing them

burst into the sky like sharp knives rushing away, making them

return into the crowded room where smoke ruled over all. They

both started clapping, looking into each other‘s eyes and

understanding that they did a good job raising him. Mary winked,

and Josephine knew that she was right. He was the son of the

One. As they clapped, they realized that they were the only ones

applauding, the rest of the audience stood in silence.

Neil noticed them in the back and hurried to them. He first

hugged Mary then faced Josephine. He gave her the apologetic

smile that Josephine saw so many times when he was still a child,

causing all her rage to melt. She stepped to him, and they hugged.

Josephine felt tears rush to her eyes as she felt Neil tighten his

grasp around her waist, but she tried to contain them.

―Son, you were marvelous, I am sure you will win,‖ said

Josephine at the verge of tears.

―We‘ll see,‖ said Neil.

The rest of the band stepped off the stage, hurried to the

counter, and ordered a round of shots. The transparent fluid in

the cups disappeared one after the other into their mouths. Mary

and Josephine joined the celebration and felt young again.

Rounds came and rounds went. Josephine was soon inebriated.

The host stepped onto the stage and cleared his throat.

―Would the bands please come up to the stage…‖

The bands obeyed. Judas cleaned his mouth into his sleeves

and went after the rest of them. He stepped onto the stage

intently bumping against the lead singer of the Pharisees.

―What the hell do you want?‖ asked their lead singer.

―Come hit me,‖ said Judas a little drunk.

Neil pulled him away from the others and apologized. The host

continued after this brief intermezzo.

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―First of all, I would like to congratulate to all of you.

Unfortunately, there can only be one winner who will be able to

record his album with the help of our sponsor, the Sox factory

that gives you the softest polyester socks in the world.‖

Josephine stepped closer to Mary, and they smiled at each

other, knowing that Neil‘s dream would finally come true.

―So, ladies and gentlemen,‖ Neil took a deep breath, ―the

winner of the battle of local bands,‖ Mary squeezed Josephine‘s

hand, ―is no other than,‖ no sound could be heard, only the

tension in the form of a high-pitch whistle, ―the band that will

take its first step toward glory,‖ Peter almost fainted and was

caught by James before collapsing onto the stage, ―issssss‖, his

voice was turning into a scream culminating into the last two

words, ― the Pharisees” .

Mary faced Josephine with disbelief. The Pharisees jumped up

and down. Their leader stepped to Neil, and even though he was

standing far away from the microphone, his words were amplified

by it and could be heard coming from the speakers. ―How does it

feel to lose?‖

Judas almost jumped on him before the many eyes and was

stopped once again by Neil.

The crowd embraced the winners and left Neil and his band

standing on the stage alone. They stepped down and walked to

Josephine and Mary who congratulated each of them

nonetheless. Neil stepped to Josephine to say, ―I guess you were

right. It‘s better if I give up my childish dreams and go to work in

the shop.‖

Josephine put both her hands on his shoulders, looking deeply

into his eyes. ―You cannot leave the path designated to you only

because it is harder, because any other road leads to delusions

and disappointments. You know that if God closes a door

somewhere, he opens a window somewhere else. Maybe this time

he closed a window and will open a door for you, who knows.‖

―Mom, are you drunk?‖

―Maybe…a little.‖

Mary approached Josephine from behind, putting her hands on

her shoulders.

―Don‘t give up, Neil, never. Now we‘d better go because

Josephine forgot that she is not eighteen anymore. Are you

coming, Neil?‖

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―No, we are celebrating with the others in the playground. See

you tomorrow.‖

Josephine kissed Neil one more time then they left, stepping

into the cool night, free and without worries, knowing that their

child was learning to fly and will rise into the air.

105

THE RISE

Judas‘ Gospel

―How long will you stay there?‖ heard Judas from the phone as

the flames warmed his back.

―I don‘t know, the whole night, come whenever you want…‖

―I must see him…‖

―Him? I thought because of me,‖ said Judas a little let down.

―Not this time, I must see him.‖

―Why so suddenly? I thought you didn‘t have any time.‖

―I‘ll explain everything later.‖

Judas heard a click then the monotone ringtone returned, and

he knew he was alone on the line with God. He kept the phone

near his ears for a few seconds hoping he would hear her voice

telling him that she wanted to see him and not Neil, but her voice

did not return.

He always felt that she did not belong to him, to no one, in fact.

This made him love her even more, an unreachable specter just

within reach never to be grasped. Because she was made of air, he

was afraid he would lose her. It was the fact that he could not

possess her that made him love her. Judas saw Neil the way all

the others did, and specifically because of this, he was afraid that

she would choose Neil over him.

He walked past the many cars parked in a circle toward the fire

burning in the center. He saw six male figures, each of them with

a can of beer in their hands. James and Neil were wearing tight

jeans with black boots that shone as they reflected the light of the

flames. The flowers decorating Matthew‘s shirt were swaying in

the shadows cast by the fire, Peter‘s thick-framed glasses reflected

the light, John‘s white suit was tinted orange, and Philip‘s suit

was the color of the smoke rising to the sky. The six of them were

standing in a circle, but he did not feel like joining them, not until

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the jealousy was still burning strong. Alcohol and jealousy is just

a little better combination than alcohol and driving or alcohol and

guns.

He waited in the darkness for a few seconds then approached

the others, leaning against his motorcycle facing the ring of

people at the other side of the fire. Peter spoke to him over the

flames and under the stars decorating the night sky.

―Who was it, Judas? Do you have to go home? Were you a bad,

bad boy?‖

―Shut the fuck up. She‘s coming here.‖

―No shit,‖ said Peter, joy speeding across his face. ―Hey, guys,

she is coming here.‖

The others broke the circle and now stood in a semi-circle

watching Judas.

―What does she want?‖ asked Matthew opening another can of

beer and taking a deep sip from it.

―I don‘t know, she says she must see Neil.‖

―Me?‖ asked Neil sitting down onto the hood of his red

hundred-year-old Mustang. ―What does she want?‖

―I said, I don‘t know, so just get off me.‖

―What‘s the matter, Judas?‖ asked Neil lighting a cigarette.

―Shut up,‖ said Judas reaching for a Lucky and putting the

cigarette in his mouth.

―Who wants to smoke a joint?‖ asked Matthew.

Each of them put their hands up, everyone except for Judas.

―Oh, Judas,‖ said Matthew. ―Come here.‖

Judas shook his head. Neil approached him, leaning against the

motorcycle and staring into the destroying flames casting their

light onto his placid lines.

Without looking toward Judas, Neil said, ―You know we are

friends, I would never touch her. I know how jealous you are, but

I would never do anything to hurt you. I am sure she is in love

with you. She could have had all the men she wanted, yet she

holds out next to a loser like you.‖ Neil smiled and punched

Judas‘ shoulder playfully.

―I know, I know, all this seems so improbable, you know, me

and her. I am happy that she decided to see you, I truly am, yet I

am scared that it can end any second. Let‘s be honest, Neil, you‘ve

got the looks, and the charisma that makes the panties just slide

off the girls… ‖

―Don‘t be silly, Judas, I am sure she is not so superficial.‖

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Judas knew that he was right.

―C‘mon Judas, let‘s go to the others.‖

They stood up, and Judas put his great muscular arm around

Neil and hugged him a little, kissing his forehead as they

approached the others.

―Ah, how cute,‖ said Peter. ―Don‘t tell me that you‘re playing for

our team.‖

―You‘re terrible, Peter,‖ said James and kissed Peter firmly on

his mouth.

―Get a room,‖ said Matthew lighting the joint. It moved from

mouth to mouth as the incense embraced them, swirling in the

air, swaying left to right like many snakes dancing to the

monotone tune of the flutes, slowing down time itself. Soon their

moods rose high along with the smoke, and they were young

again, far from the worries and disappointments of adulthood,

free from the shackles of duty, free to be careless for a few hours.

Slowly the empty cans started filling the ground, and their manly

laughter echoed in the abandoned playground.

They heard a deep rumble, and everyone turned to see the

headlights of a limousine approaching. Gradually their voices

subsided, all of them were waiting for the car to stop and for her

to appear, but time moved slower than the slowest snail, and the

limousine did not seem to end, distending for infinite miles over

the horizon.

When they thought the car would never stop, the trunk finally

came into view, and the vehicle stopped. The driver jumped out in

a perfectly ironed suit with a black bowtie and a hat. His white

moustache sparkled. He hurried to the back door, put his

wrinkled hands onto the knob, and paused for a second. They all

held their breath as the door opened, but all they could see was a

dark cavern where one of the most peculiar creatures of their time

resided ready to manifest herself in her full splendor.

The orifice of the cave flickered as the light emitted by the

dancing flames illuminated its edges, not strong enough to

penetrate inside the vehicle.

First the limbs emerged, landing on two great black extremities

of a crab hiding somewhere in the depths of the Marianna trench,

a monster so terrible humanity had never seen before. Growing

out from the scissors the white legs emerged. They followed it up

to the middle of the thighs until it disappeared inside the

limousine.

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An eel-like formation slid out and grabbed hold of the side of

the door. The black snake twirled and squirmed. Echoing from

the hole, they heard a barking-like sound that made shivers run

up and down their backs. They saw a flicker then a tiny flame was

born, lighting her lips the color of blood and a mole with great

hairs growing out from it. The monster lit her cigarette, and as

she inhaled the smoke, the ash turned dark red. Another eel-like

formation slithered out with the cigarette, grabbing hold of the

other side of the door.

The seven men were petrified by fear, hoping that if they stay

this way, immobilized and silent, the predator wouldn‘t see them.

They saw the eels tighten their grasp as if they were bearing a

great weight that wants to pull them back into the pit, but they

did not let go, and from the cave, the monster presented itself,

mother of all monsters, a creation so great and feared by many,

an elongated figure wearing a tentacle-like gown with the many

protrusions all alive, swirling, covering her white body the color

of the moon. The black gown continued into a dark corset ending

right over her breast. Her hair, the color of piss, made of snakes,

rose into the sky to flow down around her neck framing the face

that wasn‘t like any human face but of the emperor alien

descending from a spaceship to defeat humanity. From the deep

sockets of her pale face two eyes shimmered, the palest green,

topaz mixed with air, the same color of the eyes of death himself.

Gathering some energy, she pushed herself out of her cave and

almost lost balance on her great shoes. The men feared that if she

would collapse the deepest canyon would form, cutting right into

the heart of the globe, but luckily their lives were spared once

again.

She reached into the car for a leather jacket decorated by a

great unicorn, its horn sparkling in the light. The jacket moved

out of its own accord and slid up her back. Next, she reached back

in the car for a translucent apple filled with a blood-like fluid. She

raised it to the height of her shoulders with her elbow bent,

balancing the apple on her palm. She placed her other hand on

her hips, held her head high, cleared her throat, and finally took

her first step to approach them.

She did not move like humans do, but more like a fluid flowing

towards them. Her contours morphed as the dark waves washed

through her, coming closer and closer. She wasn‘t simply fluid. It

was as if her cells were remodeling themselves, changing

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positions and forms, approaching them with almost a godly

bearing. The apple in the palm of her right hand was floating

toward them. She moved in slow motion, and it seemed to them

that the tentacles forming her dress and the snakes growing out

from her head lived a separate life, waving in the night sky,

illuminated by the flames that never rested feeding on the wood

like parasites.

She walked past the cars with an aristocratic elegance, and her

pale green eyes were glowing in the darkness. She moved toward

Neil who just looked up at her as an apparition, a dancer in the

dark. Everyone stepped back a little, fearing that they would be

seized by one of her tentacles, everyone except for Neil and Judas.

The queen stopped before them and did not say a word.

She moved the apple from the side to the height of her belly as

the red fluid swayed a little. She raised her other hand and

pinched the stem with her thumb and index finger then pulled it

out releasing a sweet perfume from the phial. The scent lingered

about, and all of them knew that this was the essence of the Eden

long lost. She tilted the phial, and the red fluid dribbled to the

ground dampening Neil‘s dark leather boots and the ground

around it. The scent exploded, and all of them felt dizzy and

hypnotized.

This wife of the night knelt down before Neil, looking into his

eyes all through the ritual. Neil could see her hair slide up onto

his boots, and the strands began dancing. She placed her

arachnid fingers onto the boots and started washing his feet with

the greatest care. They saw this woman degrade herself into

shame, yet it was not shame they sensed in her entity but the aura

of being gifted, gifted to wash the feet of this man, gifted to know

him, gifted to be with him. It was an act of humiliation tinted with

a sexuality felt by all of them watching. This erotic scene was only

emphasized by the syrupy scent of Eden. Everyone was

mesmerized, everyone but Judas.

―What the hell do you think you‘re doing?‖

Judas heard a female voice but couldn‘t find its source. L€ne

stepped out of the darkness and hurried toward the petrified

men.

―L€ne?‖ everyone gasped in shock.

L€ne looked into Judas‘ eyes, their eyes said everything, the joy

of finding a kindred and a touch of green jealousy.

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They broke this glance, and Judas stepped to Lady Dada to pull

her up and away from Neil‘s feet.

―I asked,‖ said L€ne emphasizing the next few words and facing

Dada, ―what the hell are you doing?‖

―What do you think I‘m doing?‖ Lady Dada replied, and her

soft voice of Circe disrupted the illusion, turning her back into

human from the mother monster she was a few seconds before.

―I don‘t know, that‘s why I asked.‖

―This is how the prince of heaven should be treated,‖ said Dada

bowing her head towards Neil.

L€ne stepped to Neil hugging him stronger than ever. Agony

ran across Neil‘s face because of her tight grasp, but he smiled a

little proudly.

―Get away from my man, you bitch,‖ L€ne said.

―Hey,‖ said Neil pulling L€ne back, preventing her to jump

onto Lady Dada so that she can rip her to bits and pieces with her

teeth. Judas grabbed hold of Dada‘s waist firmly, knowing that he

too was holding a ticking bomb.

―Don‘t call her that way, cunt,‖ said Judas.

―Why shouldn‘t I? This is what she calls herself, a fame hooker

prostitute witch. Why should I call her otherwise?‖

―Listen to yourselves,‖ said Neil interrupting the debate. ―What

is the matter with you, L€ne? You judge her with the slurs and

prejudices of the world that is about to end. Maybe she was a

prostitute before and sold herself many years ago but not

anymore. She stepped onto the godly path, and from all her

previous sins, I absolve her.‖

―Thank you,‖ said Lady Dada bowing her head once more and

placing her fist onto her bare chest.

―And as for you, Judas, you must really understand the many

definitions of love and make a difference. The love she feels for

me may emerge from the same source, but the result is totally

different. Affection, eros, friendship, and unconditional love are

the four faces of the same feeling growing from the same root.

Unconditional love is the one that shows God in its full splendor,

but do not forget that all of them are a gift, and thus should be

treated as such. You must learn the difference between them even

if sometimes they overlap. Her pussy is yours, Judas, I told you I

would never touch her.‖

They all laughed as the flames warmed their faces and hearts.

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―He is right, Judas,‖ said Lady Dada huddling closer to him. ―I

wouldn‘t spread my legs for anyone else.‖

―And even jealousy derives from God, and it is not evil,

representing the greatest love, the fear of losing the other, but like

all gifts, this too should be used with caution because too much of

anything proves to be harmful eventually. Continence is what I

teach you,‖ said Neil looking at L€ne who quickly turned away

but in a few seconds turned back, her eyes sparkling this time,

and blew the most gentle kiss onto his cheeks. She broke free

from Neil‘s arms and stepped to Dada.

―I‘m sorry, I shouldn‘t have called you that.‖

―Don‘t worry about it, I am used to be called that and even

much worse. I am a prostitute in their eyes, but I don‘t care. To be

called evil by the evil I guess makes you virtuous.‖

L€ne then turned to Neil. ―And as for you, Neil, fuck you. You

and your words. They make me wanna puke all over, yet

somehow I don‘t, on the contrary, I inhale them.‖

She reached for her flask decorated with the finest brown

leather and raised it into the air. ―Let the party begin. Here,‖ she

said giving the flask to Dada, ―You drink first.‖

Dada obeyed.

―That‘s more like it,‖ said L€ne reaching for the whiskey. ―So

what brought you here?‖

―A dream and a goal,‖ said Dada.

―A dream? What did you dream about?‖

―It doesn‘t matter, all I can say is that it was extraordinary and

horrifying at the same time,‖ said Lady Dada secretively.

―Oh, c‘mon, these dreams,‖ said Neil a little annoyed. ―Why

does he always have to help me out?‖

―He is your father,‖ said L€ne. ―He wants only what is best for

you, you can‘t have rancor because of this.‖

―No, you shouldn‘t, because if it weren‘t for this dream, I

wouldn‘t be here,‖ said Dada.

―Why have you come then?‖ asked L€ne lighting a cigarette and

putting it in her mouth.

―Neil must reach out to far greater crowds. You are all coming

on tour with me. Maybe this time things will change for the better

and will not end the same way like the time before.‖

Neil looked away and faced the darkness surrounding them.

Judas could see by his profile that his heart broke. Peter stepped

to Dada, trembling like a little girl. ―We accept your help with the

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greatest humiliation, and I, your faithful fan and most vicious

little monster, give my life to you.‖

―What‘s the matter with you?‖ asked Dada, tired to be treated

as a star. ―I am not your queen, but one of those, who like you,

fight for a good cause, going against the world, against petrified

tradition, trying to free the calcified gyres‘ of the brains of

humanity and make them see the new world.‖

―I know, but still you will remain the Mother Monster in my

eyes. Now please sign my chest,‖ he said ripping his shirt apart.

Peter handed her a pen, and she signed his bare chest as James

shook his head in disbelief.

―I will never wash again!‖ exclaimed Peter.

Neil stepped to L€ne and kissed the top of her head. ―You must

answer the question pending in the air, L€ne, we already know

why Dada came, so I must ask you what brought you here?‖

―Long story,‖ she said.

―We have time,‖ said Neil leaning against his hundred-year-old

Mustang and taking a sip from his beer.

The flask moved round and round as L€ne recounted the

happenings of the past that led her to flee the music industry. The

group disrupted by the apparition of two women calmed back

down, not being less than before but much more.

When the morning light came, Judas stepped to Lady Dada and

whispered in her ears.

―Let‘s go, sweetheart.‖

Lady Dada was far too drunk to answer and nodded. As they

hurried to the limousine, they saw Neil leaning against the trunk

of his car with a beer in his hand. The figure of L€ne appeared,

kneeling before him. They both thought that she too was washing

his feet, but soon they understood that she was praying, but in a

different way. Dada stopped for a second watching them, her face

turning sad. Judas pulled her away fearing what Dada felt.

They sat in the car, and Dada placed her head on Judas‘

shoulder. He caressed her thighs as she fell asleep. Judas saw her

now for who she truly was, a girl afraid and hurt, wanting a better

future for those who were broken inside by the normal majority,

just like her.

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Peter‘s Gospel

The stage was dark as Peter hurried up to take his place before

the hundred-thousand eyes waiting for the concert to begin. He

felt a tingling sensation coming not from his chest but straight

from his prick. This electric spark rushed down his shaft into his

abdominal cavity and dashed into his brain. Anticipation and

fear, a sense of unstoppable destiny.

The lights kindling above them and keeping them in

semidarkness went out. The crowd went silent, not silent, dead,

not holding their breath but ceasing to breathe completely. The

darkness seemed irreversible.

He felt someone brush against his shoulder, and he knew that

Neil had stepped onto the stage. The show was about to begin.

Judas pressed down on the pedal connected to the drumstick

beating the drum bass at his feet. Rhythmically he thumped over

and over again, a heartbeat speeding around the arena

synchronizing the thousands of hearts to beat unanimously.

Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump.

He heard John strum down on the strings of his electric guitar.

The instant the first sound rose from the chords, the hundreds of

spotlights behind them were switched on at once, and just for a

second, everything became visible. Neil was standing at the center

of the stage not moving, facing the ground, his hair covering his

face, dangling like seaweeds. Then everything turned dark again.

The only difference now was that the murmur of the crowd was

becoming louder and louder.

Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump. The guitar whined

once more, awakening the light itself, making the motionless Neil

visible again. Then everything returned to darkness. Peter‘s heart

started beating faster knowing that the third one would be the

one of revival, the moment when darkness would be defeated by

light definitively.

Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump, Thump. John awoke the light

with his guitar, and this time the lights stayed on, growing

stronger and stronger and stronger until the band dissolved in the

light. A beat that was so much different than the one of the

drums, sharper and more synthetic, emerged from Peter‘s DJ

table. The lights dimmed a little, and green lasers erupted from

the back of the stage shooting into the sky, moving to the rhythm,

reminding them of the nineties yet so very different. Then John

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started playing accompanied by James with his faithful bass

guitar always in the background and only seldom stepping out

into the light. Matthew was striking the electric piano so swiftly

Peter feared it would go up in flames. The music reached its peak

and vibrated there for a few seconds to die the next, giving place

to the voice of Neil.

It was his voice that made him stand out. It was a tenor, but it

was much more than that, bearing the tone of the devil decorated

by a blush of heaven, awakening a strange feeling of awkwardness

in the listeners. His tight jeans emphasized his thin, lady-like

legs. His deeply cut out shirt was feminine, yet it wasn‘t, making

his rippling pectorals visible with his manly hairs curling about,

covering his chest, giving him a feeling of carelessness. He was a

man in every way, but his feminine placidity made everyone

uncomfortable, forcing everyone out of the box, making them

question the meaning of normality. As he sang, he inhaled the

smoke from his cigarette and blew it out through his teeth. In the

instrumental parts, he would drink his beer and clean his mouth

with his sleeves just to continue his immaculate singing. His

beard seemed to grow without rules and prescriptions. He

seemed so natural, yet he wasn‘t, not completely.

He was made to be this way, giving him an aura of a rock star

that would seduce his listeners. His clothes were chosen ever so

carefully, designed by the greatest designers of his time.

Everything on him was brand new yet seemed as if he had just

thrown on something before stepping onto the stage. His beard

was trimmed to seem to grow freely, and his hair was carefully

done by hundreds of hairdressers, each caring for a single strand

of hair.

The music died, and the last notes still hung in the air then

popped the next second to disappear into nothingness.

Neil cleared his throat to speak, and the crowd was eager to

listen, not only to his music, but his words as well.

―Thank you, thank you all for coming.‖

The crowd roared, preventing him from continuing. Neil looked

back at Peter and gave him his snicker-like smile. Peter smiled

back unable to believe the reaction of the crowd. They actually

mattered to the ones listening to them, Neil‘s words were now

worth to hear and not to ignore. This was something so

astounding and not normal that elevated Peter into a state that

was not happiness but the recognition of one‘s power.

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―There is one rule to obey over all,‖ said Neil when the roar

subsided, ―make the rule your own, incorporate it in your life, and

too great a sin shall not be committed. Do not cause harm to the

other and yourself in any way.

―No matter what bigots may tell you, do use condom every time

because it gives defense against so many harmful deeds. It not

only prevents the spreading of sexual diseases but prevents

unwanted pregnancy as well. Sexually transmitted diseases cause

harm in the other, this is plain to see, but remember that an

unwanted pregnancy causes harm as well. It is as harmful as a

small car accident, ruining the lives of at least three people if they

are not ready to receive the gift. The world of sacrifices has ended,

a life sacrificed is a life ruined, a ruined life is the gift of God

thrown away, three ruined lives are worse than one life not even

existing. For those who say contraception of any kind is murder I

say that your sperm and egg are cells, just like the cells of your

skin you shed. No one will be punished for that.

―Have a great night, and do not forget, do not cause harm to the

other and yourself in any way.‖

Neil raised his hand to wave, Peter and the others followed.

They ran off the stage through a narrow corridor. A figure dressed

in red silk was standing at its end, looking like an archbishop. The

figure stood erect, and as they approached it, they recognized the

face of Lady Dada partially covered by the finest red lace, her

blonde hair mounted high onto her head like a bird‘s nest. She

smiled as they hurried past her.

―Good job, little buggers, now get the hell away from my stage.‖

Judas stepped to his woman and kissed her passionately then

they hugged.

As the others hurried to the changing room, Peter turned

around and saw Neil coming behind him. In the distance he

noticed Dada staring at Neil over Judas‘ shoulder with a smile on

her face, a smile representing something that is much more than

affection with a tint of bitterness. Peter followed Matthew, John,

and James into the dimly lit changing room with six tables,

chairs, and mirrors with many light bulbs framing their

reflection. Peter humped down onto a sofa in the corner.

Neil sat down before a mirror with the light bulbs illuminating

his sweaty face. He cleaned the make-up off as Judas stepped into

the room and jumped onto the other sofa sprawling in the chair,

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closing his eyes. Neil turned around and said, ―This is exhausting,

right? And tomorrow we are going oversees...Jeez.‖

Everyone nodded, too tired to speak.

―How does she do it?‖ asked Peter.

Judas answered without opening his eyes. ―I don‘t know, but

we must keep on going.‖

―Who wants to party?‖ asked John reaching for a bottle of

whiskey.

―No one,‖ said James pushing himself away from the wall and

walking to Peter to grab his hand and pull him up. ―Let‘s go to

sleep, Peter, I am really tired.‖

Peter rubbed his eyes and nodded then said, ―Good night, guys.

Have a good night‘s sleep. We are leaving early tomorrow.‖

Everyone nodded. As they walked down the corridor, Peter

huddled closer to James and felt his arms around his shoulder

tighten a little. Peter looked at the profile of his man and smiled

knowing that he was his rock, his energy that would keep him up

and alive along the tour.

They stepped out of the stadium and heard the voice of Dada

echoing in the night. The crowd roared inside, mesmerized by her

being, a phenomenon given birth by the will of change, an

objection toward meaningless art, empty words, and mass

production, even if it still was the latter in so many ways.

They walked to the trailer and opened the door. Peter

unbuttoned his checked shirt and threw it onto the floor. He

jumped onto the bed caressing his own slender waist and

stopping his hand on his hairless chest. James threw his T-shirt

with Lady Dada on it to the ground and pushed his pants down

standing nude before Peter. He walked to the bed and crawled

over him. They looked into each other‘s eyes with passion when

James blew out some air and rolled off him.

―I am too tired, Peter.‖

―Me too.‖

―Do you think we are losing it?‖

―Don‘t be paranoid, our relationship is only morphing,‖ said Peter

in a reassuring tone.

―Are you sure?‖

―Of course, besides, there are so many more important things

than sex.‖

―If you say so.‖

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Peter stood up to switch the lights off, but before flicking it

down, he watched James lying there nude with his eyes closed,

feeling a comfort he never felt before. Their relationship was

morphing into something greater, from being lovers they slowly

drifted to being companions. He switched the lights off and

carefully lay down beside him.

He was happy not only because he accepted himself but

because he was surrounded by men and women not caring about

who he loved and why. Self-acceptance is very important but

surrounding yourself with the right people is as well. Peter was

lucky, very lucky, and this Peter knew very well and reminded

himself every day. He placed his head onto James‘ chest feeling

the hairs tickling his face, and as he listened to his heartbeat, he

slowly drifted to sleep.

NEIL‘S TWITTER. The world of sacrifice has come to an end.

The sacrifice of one doesn‘t absolve you from your sins, only

repent can give you peace.

James‘ Gospel

James opened his eyes to three knocks sputtered hastily one

after the other.

―Who the fuck is it?‖ he asked grumpily.

―It‘s me, Judas, open the door.‖

James staggered up, trying to rub off the haziness the dream

had left behind. He opened the door, and by the shock on Judas‘

face, he understood he was naked. He covered himself with his

hand.

―Oh, c‘mon. You must be kidding me, don‘t tell me you

overslept,‖ said Judas annoyed.

―What time is it?‖

―It‘s late, we are leaving this moment. Hurry up, your taxi will

be waiting for you. We‘ll meet at the airport.‖

As Judas left, he turned around and said, ―By the way, nice

asset…‖

―You want some?‖ shouted James after him.

Judas gave him the middle finger and shook his head laughing

to himself. James jumped back to the bed waking Peter up. Peter

sat up abruptly, still in the realm of dreams. ―What is it? What

happened?‖

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James started throwing the clothes into his luggage. ―C‘mon,

hurry up, it‘s late.‖

―Did you forget to set the alarm?‖ asked Peter with a tone of

frustration.

―So it seems.‖

Peter jumped out of the bed. ―I really can‘t believe how

forgetful you are sometimes,‖ he said huffing and puffing, not

speaking to James anymore. James knew very well that he was

pissed off, and the best thing to do was to wait for the storm to

blow over.

―What would happen to you without me, huh?‖ asked Peter

trying to provoke him.

James just shrugged looking at his bag that seemed to contain

twice as much clothes compared to when they unpacked. He

scratched his head and tried to compress the luggage but still

couldn‘t zip it.

―Get out of the way, James,‖ said Peter jumping onto James‘

bag. ―Zip it, zip it quickly,‖ he screamed.

The zipper slid to the other side sealing the luggage shut.

―Let‘s go, sweetheart,‖ said Peter.

James picked the bags up and hurried after Peter. The morning

air was fresh, and the sun was still lingering beneath the horizon,

preparing for the show called day. As they approached the taxi,

Peter turned around and blew a kiss over his shoulder, giving

James an apologetic smile. James knew that everything was

forgiven. They jumped into the taxi and sped off through the

sleeping city toward the airport.

As they dashed through the many skyscrapers, here and there

lights began to shine, the city slowly coming to consciousness.

They were the rock stars, yet they were up long before the rest of

the city. The illusion had to be maintained that the lives of the

stars is so much easier than the lives of the rest, conveying a hope

that kept many up and moving. The moment you take away the

hope for a better life, everything ceases to work. Why would

anyone wake up if amelioration could not be achieved?

The airport appeared, a great complex of glass and concrete,

and the taxi drove around the back. They jumped out of the

vehicle with their luggage flying in the air, hurrying toward the

plane through a narrow corridor running down between two

buildings at the end of which a figure was waiting for them. When

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they saw it was Lady Dada, they slowed down, knowing that the

plane wouldn‘t depart without her.

She was leaning against the wall with the wide rim of her huge

black hat covering her face. She wore a black pencil skirt with a

white blouse, black tights, and high heels almost a foot tall. As

they approached her, she looked up showing her face, her eyes

hidden by dark round shades. She was wearing a thin vertical line

of red lipstick, just a finger wide, running down the middle of her

mouth. She threw the cigarette to the floor, stepped on it, and

started playing with her pearl necklace as the light appeared over

the horizon and red flames embraced her slender figure.

―What is it lovebirds, too early to sing?‖ she said in her docile

voice.

―We‘re sorry.‖

―No need to be, the plane only leaves when I am on it, but don‘t

think I was waiting for you, you just got lucky.‖

She smiled, and they both knew she was playing with them. It

was the gentle voice that gave her away, making her much more

human than most of the people and less like the monster she

portrayed herself to be. It was soft, almost motherly with a deep

and strict tone of a father. She giggled a little and turned around

to walk towards the plane.

She turned around and waved toward them. ―C‘mon, we must

leave.‖ Her shoes moved in a perfectly straight line, one after the

other, a sensual apparition deriving from the pages of the most

progressive minds of fashion, a show, theater itself, exaggeration

squared, freedom of creation.

They hurried up the plane and greeted everyone already in

place. The beige interior felt soft and welcoming, the carpet

beneath them muffled their every step as they walked to their seat

and sat down, the beige cushions embracing their behind. With a

thrust, the plane sped down the airstrip. Just when everyone

thought that the strip would end before take-off, the plane rose.

They felt their insides being pulled down as they rose higher and

higher and saw the world bathing in morning glory fade under the

tiny little cumuli that turned into greater and greater huffs of

white until they were over a thick layer of cotton, solely

accompanied by the sun.

The plane was silent. Everyone was sleeping except for Neil

sitting before him.

120

Neil turned around and spoke silently between the head of the

two seats, careful not to wake Peter up. ―How did you sleep?‖ he

asked giving him a mocking smile.

―Great,‖ whispered James.

―This is really crazy, a few months ago we were in the

playground and now here, flying toward a destination unknown.

Providence, right?‖

―A fatherly one. I wonder where we would be without him…‖

―Who knows.‖ Neil turned around deep in thought, and James

tried to relax as the plane dashed through the sky like a bullet

shot out from the purest gun that meant no harm.

James felt his eyelids slowly turn to lead, too heavy to keep

open. His eyes closed. When he was just pivoting on the threshold

between dream and reality, he heard Neil whispering, ―What are

you doing here?‖

James opened his eyes and saw the profile of Neil facing the

window. He turned his head right to see what he was looking at

when his blood froze, not terrified, rather surprised.

He saw a man flying by the plane, sitting in a tiny little cotton

cloud as one would in a two-deck plane. His white hair flowed in

the wind accompanied by the man‘s snow-white robe. As he flew,

he left a streak of cloud behind. He was wearing goggles

protecting him from the wind. The man raised a board with the

following word: ‗Congratulations.‘

―It was you, right?‖

The man nodded.

―I knew it. I can‘t do anything out of my own consent, you and

your dreams, pulling the strings. Why do you always have to

manage my life? Why don‘t you let me follow my own ways, find

my own strengths?

The man scribbled something onto the board. ‗You have the

world‘s best management and still you complain. Don‘t you

understand that whatever you do, you do within me, by my

consent?‘

―It would just be nice to accomplish something on my own, to

be able to say, ‗Yes, what I did, no matter whether it is right or

wrong, was my choice.‘‖

Neil‘s father wrote on the board once more. ‗You know you can

follow your way and renounce my providence any time, but

beware, this never leads to good. Everyone acts within me from

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the second they are born, but some leave it and proceed down evil

roads as they grow up. You can leave me if you like…‘

―Maybe I shall.‖

‗As you wish, but remember, I warned you. If you choose to

return, I will be there to re-embrace you…‘

―Go to hell,‖ said Neil.

James saw that the broad welcoming smile on the man‘s face

disappeared as his docile expression turned furious. The cloud on

which he was flying turned darker and darker. Tiny lightning

bolts erupted from the bottom of his vehicle. The streak of cloud

he left behind him dissolved in the clouds around them turning

the white cotton black. Neil‘s father steered away from the plane

into the furious clouds. A bolt struck down behind them, and the

plane began to shake.

They heard a bling then the voice of the captain came on.

―Please fasten your seatbelts.‖

Everybody woke up. The restlessness was tactile in the

luxurious palace drifting through the clouds as rain started

pouring down around them, a rain so thick it seemed that they

were moving through the sea. The plane started rising higher and

higher until they were over the storm.

―You may unfasten your seatbelts.‖

James felt his pulse slow down but thought it was better not to

unfasten them. He turned left and saw Peter sleeping beside him

without a care in the world. James felt the feeling of joy overcome

him, the joy of recognizing providence in someone.

He felt the glaring eyes of Neil upon him. This look was enough

for James to understand that Neil knew that he had witnessed his

dialogue with his father. James felt sorry for him, and only now

did he realize that Neil was human, the relationship with his

father was everything but godly, completely human, frail and

fragile.

―You know he only wants what is best for you, you cannot

despise him for that,‖ said James trying to console him.

―Maybe, but you all can‘t deny that he is sending me to die, he

is not perfect, believe me,‖ said Neil facing the front of the plane.

James closed his eyes and fell into an undisturbed sleep that

could only be compared to the tranquility of death.

He opened his eyes feeling the plane lose altitude and grasped

his chair in horror. He heard Peter laughing.

―Don‘t worry we‘re just landing.‖

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James closed his eyes and took a deep breath, relieved by the

good news. As they sank through the clouds, the never-ending

city became visible beneath them. It was one of the greatest

anthills in the world, a world so far away and different from their

own, so closed and hard to grab its essence, conveying a

possibility of the future, with so many virtues and just as many

flaws.

The sun was setting in the country of the rising sun as the plane

gently touched down. James felt the wheels roll on the rugged

surface of the asphalt and just when he though they would run

into the airport, the plane took a right and stopped. He reached

for his luggage, and they quickly got off into the world of

compulsory duties that one must survive in order to finally die.

They hurried across the airport toward the great black bus

waiting for them at the back as if they were up to no good, aliens

entering without permission, and in a way, they were. They were

in a world so much different than their own, not permitting them

to feel at home. James knew that difference was the problem. The

difference originating from the variances of cultures that is so

hard to break down and should never be completely destroyed in

order to maintain the variability that is so inestimable on this

planet. James jumped up and walked to the back of the bus to

take his seat.

The huge black coffin glided through the streets lined by great

skyscrapers rising into space. The roads were flooded by the most

turbulent sea of people, made of many particles bubbling to reach

their destination. A flood with no conscience yet made up of as

many attitudes, beliefs, and moral principles as particles in it.

For a moment James felt afraid, not because the flood would

wash him away, not because it was made up of many distinct

particles with different goals, but because the flood itself didn‘t

have one. Its existence did not have a cause or a meaning, it just

existed because of its existence, because the particles united

coincidentally, not because they wanted to, but because they were

there, one next to the other in this specific moment. He knew very

well that this disembodied embodiment of casualty moved the

world, and only occasionally would a distinct wave emerge and

steer the river toward another destination.

The bus stopped before a red light, and the crossing soon was

covered by humans as if four waves collided from four different

directions creating a deadly force that can make even the greatest

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marble crumble if used by anyone for destruction. A child that

can build a house of building blocks if in a good mood but wipe it

away as well, just for the sake of destruction, for the joy of seeing

it crumble to the ground if he sees fit.

The sea flowed away from where it came from, and when the

light turned green, the bus slid away leaving the greatest crossing

in the world behind as the sun gave place to the moon. Suddenly

between two great skyscrapers of glass, James saw a magnificent

ancient red gate. The roof was withheld by four red pillars,

symmetrically were two statues, one immobilized the wind while

the other froze the thunder, two gods guarding a red lampion

decorated with a great black symbol awakening restlessness in the

heart of James, an arriving storm, he thought. Past the gate was a

long road piercing through a bazaar leading to a great five-story-

high pagoda reaching the stars, something ancient amidst the

modern, something ancient not thought as old, lesser than the

new, but just as good, living in harmony with the city that, as they

say, is far too great for any human to feel good in.

James looked into the narrow eyes of the pedestrians but

couldn‘t reveal any discontent, at least nothing greater than in the

eyes of any other human living anywhere else, suggesting that the

fear of this society derived from the outer world and not from the

ones living in it, born into this city. Behind the chaos and

loneliness James saw life organized down to the tiniest detail so

that it doesn‘t collapse over the heads of its inhabitants. A culture

so different in many ways yet still human, with some citizens

loving their lifestyle while others damning it for its inhumanity,

again others protesting against the fate of every city with suicide.

If the overpopulation of the planet is not prevented, the cities will

grow beyond the extent of sustenance, initiating decay. No one

can tell whether humans can live happily in cities this big.

Nothing will be ever good for everyone until humanity learn that

what is good for one is not necessarily the same for the other.

The bus turned right onto the road that led to the great hotel in

the distance, their home. The bus hovered to the building as the

sound of cheering became louder and louder. When the bus

stopped, they all understood what its source was.

Lady Dada stepped out, and the screams escalated. James saw

some in the crowd faint and fall to the ground. Their bodies were

pulled away by invisible hands, and their places were filled up the

next second. James was the last to step off the bus and did not

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quite perceive what was happening, mesmerized by their love.

The flashes from the cameras blinded him, and for a few seconds,

he did not know where he was going. He felt the soft hands of

Peter grab him and lead him through the stroboscopic world.

He heard the roar soften, and his visage slowly returned as the

doors of the hotel closed behind them.

―Thanks, Peter.‖

―What‘s the matter with you?‖

―Nothing, I‘m fine,‖ said James rubbing his forehead.

―Great, let‘s check in.‖

James nodded and looked around in the lavishly furnished five-

star hotel with a taste so different, awkward in its way yet

intriguing and mysterious. Across the beige marble-floor, a great

red rug led the way toward the golden doors of the elevator. Next

to the wall, there stood a Baroque table with a golden dragon

spiraling in the air. Some of its scales sparkled green and in the

socket of his eyes two red rubies shone. By the dragon, there was

a tiny bonsai, years of work creating a tiny tree. They checked in

and hurried up to their room. Neil was waiting for Peter and

James before their door.

―You two will be sleeping with me and Matthew.‖

Neil opened the door, and they stepped into the room. Past the

narrow corridor leading to the living room, the city lay beneath

them, distending itself over the horizon, the sparkling windows

brighter than the stars themselves. They stopped in the middle of

the room. The simple furniture gave the room elegance, not

boasting, knowing that nothing could be compared to this

panorama, artificial yet one of the most beautiful in the world.

―I‘ll put down the luggage in our room,‖ James heard Peter‘s

voice coming from behind. He stepped closer to the window,

feeling dizzy, knowing that the window was a fragile layer

separating him from the realm of the dead. He shuddered as

humanity manifested itself before him in the form of a great city.

He turned around and saw Neil staring at his Blackberry.

―You and your phone, are you glued together? You could really

give yourself a break.‖

Neil nodded and continued typing on the phone.

NEIL‘S TWITTER. You live in an overpopulated world, feasting

on it like parasites, don‘t expect anyone to accept family planning

policy if you can‘t either.

125

Peter‘s Gospel

The cameras were flashing as Neil spoke to the gathered press.

Peter stared at the glass of water before him knowing that he

wouldn‘t take a sip from it, and the water would be poured down

the drain. He felt his eyelids closing under their own weight

because of the never-ending concerts, the check-ins, the

departures, the take-offs, the flights around the world, and the

landings. Over and over again like an unbreakable cycle. Neil

stopped for a second, and this was so utterly strange that even

Peter looked up.

―Follow me,‖ said Neil jumping off the stage. The crowd parted

before him. The bodyguards shrugged and gave out the new

orders. Neil was leaving, and Peter knew he had to follow.

―Where are we going, Neil?‖ asked Peter.

―To your basilica.‖

Peter did not understand. They hurried by the river under the

great green trees. They took a right to proceed down the Road of

Conciliation. A great marble palace towered over the city,

intimidating and scary.

―Is this necessary?‖ asked Peter tired of Neil‘s theatricality,

envying his energy.

―Of course it is, that monstrous building of marble is a perfect

symbol of the false and corrupt base of the church. It is marble,

but in reality it is sand on which one cannot build the kingdom of

God.‖

―Where are we going?‖ asked one of the reporters hurrying to

the front of the line.

―To the church that was financed with indulgence.‖

―Shouldn‘t we get over the past sins of the church, isn‘t it time

to move on?‖

―We should move on, but in order not to repeat our previous

sins we must remember. Isn‘t it strange that the center of the

church was built with sin?‖ Neil turned around. ―C‘mon

everyone.‖

―Aren‘t you afraid of the pope? He is there this moment,‖ asked

another reporter catching up with them.

―Why would I be afraid of someone just like yoü and I? How

dare they say that he is the Vicar of Christ? That he bears the

headship of the church in virtue of the commission of Christ and

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with visceral power derived by him. He is just a man and nothing

more, just as lost as anyone of you.‖

―Aren‘t you lost?‖

―Of course not.‖

As Neil walked down the avenue, motorcycles sped by

slaloming between the cars. Waiters stepped out of restaurants

with plates bearing pizzas and with bowls of spaghetti. Peter

walked passed a bar where a group of men celebrated a goal, their

voices escaping through the door. Peter left himself flow with the

river of actions knowing that he was in good hands.

As they walked down the road, more and more people joined

them, the people recognizing Neil. The tiny stream that emerged

from the hotel was growing into a tumultuous river with the

power to wash away anything that tried to block their way. The

stream was composed of a few locals, the rest were tourists, short

pants, shirts too big for them, their cameras dangling from their

necks. They soon arrived to the square before the church,

surrounded by the many columns and statues as if they were in a

prison cell, hurrying by the obelisk and the fountains, getting

closer to their destination.

The church rose toward space blocking the sun, casting a great

shadow over the city. Peter was standing on one side and John

the Baptist on the other. The great facade ruled over the city with

its giant order of Corinthian columns bearing twelve figures,

Jesus and the rest of the apostles. Maybe it was because of the

sun, but Peter could see in their eyes the agony of being poured

into stone, committed to watch how all love is drained out of the

message of Jesus. What have they done to deserve this?

Neil hurried up the stairs as the multitude awaited, filling the

square like water of a sunlit pool in Malibu.

Neil cleared his throat to speak. ―Welcome everybody and

thank you for coming.‖

The people at the front repeated the words to the one standing

behind them, and the words spread through the crowd.

―What has religion come to? Look at this monument and look

at it well. A building built out of stone, a stone so cold and

inanimate, lacking the heart and most of all, the mind. What has

religion come to? A list of rules to obey blindly, carved into stone.

How could God be so primitive and simple that it could be carved

into stone? There is only one message that you all should obey.

Love each other as God loves thee. This is the message that is

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capable of melting the stone into fluent magma, capable of

consolidating it in whatever form it wants.

―God gave you the power to think. If he wouldn‘t have, you

would still be suffering in caves. God gave you a mind that you

can use to build or to destroy, this is up to you.

―All the priests do is tell you what is wrong and what is right,

but how dare they? They are all men thinking that they are better

than you, that they know what God‘s secret is, but believe me,

they don‘t. They are not evil, don‘t be mistaken, in fact they do

everything thinking that they serve the Lord, but they are not.

What their fate shall be, who knows, and I have not come here to

judge anyone.

―All they teach you is that the answer to the question ‗why‘ is

‗because‘. Because God says so, because this is what the Bible

says, because this is what the Ten Commandments say, because

this is what the council of elder say.

―Now ask yourself the following questions and try to answer

them actually giving an explanation. Why is it a problem if people

of the same sex wish to marry and with this don‘t cause harm to