Bradley Schuster and the Holy Grail: The Cup’s Story, Part VII


Up to the point in her life where we left our story, The Cup had been awake and around people for around 75 years. She’d been handled at some length by two women—Layla and Rachael—and three men—Razuni, Rachael’s father, and David. In addition she’d had casual exposure to Layla’s servants, Rachael’s mother and mother-in-law, Barabbas briefly, and let’s conservatively say a hundred or so of Layla’s lovers.

During that time she’d become quite adept, in her words, at ‘rummaging around’ in people’s minds to discover both what they knew and how they felt. The end result of all that exposure was that the human mind, while still infinitely fascinating to her, had at least stopped being alien.

* * *

Barabbas’ fading footsteps hadn’t stopped echoing before a flea jumped out of the rags to investigate if this newcomer had any blood to suck. When The Cup turned out to be too well armored to bite, the flea disappeared back into the pile, leaving her alone with her thoughts.

Then the pile shifted and muttered a few choice profanities. A hand fished around until it discovered a hard foreign object where before there had been only rags and fleas. As soon as the hand grasped her, The Cup launched a brief foray into the mind of whoever was holding her.

I give you the rest of this part of the story in The Cup’s own words, which are both too fascinating and too dramatic to summarize. It came to me just like this, without outtakes or repartee, as close as I can remember.


* * *


The undisciplined jumble of thoughts and random emotions that assailed me was like nothing I had ever experienced before. My first assumption was that this creature was not human, although many of the thought patterns were familiar. ‘Insanity’ also popped into my mind, but although I had heard the word, I didn’t really know what it meant.

I finally realized that everything was just much more intense than I was used to. An intensity of love, although without a specific object, jumbled up with an intensity of anger, also without a specific object. And ambition. I guessed from the aggressiveness that the creature was probably male, although there was a lot of female energy in the feelings.

And then there was something I had never experienced before: monsters roaming the corri­dors of its mind. Fierce, shrieking, winged creatures sailed over the heads of slouching horrors that ate young cups for breakfast. So fearsome were they that I retreated from the depths of its thoughts, back to a safer, albeit more su­perficial, level. My information was thus limited to what you might get from eaves­dropping on someone talking to him­self.

The bottom line was that I had no idea who or what had picked me up.

“Barnaby, old boy, what the hell do we have here?” it mut­tered, and I tentatively catego­rized the voice as mature human male. “Well, Jesus Christ, will you look at this. God has heard the voice of my affliction and sent me a cup to drink my wine out of instead of sucking it out of the bag. Let’s test it out.”

In came a stream of something vaguely reminiscent of wine with a hint of rot from a badly made wine skin. The mature human male creature that called itself Barnaby took a drink and smacked his lips. “Better. Much better. Verily, God hears the cry of his needy servant and answereth.”

He looked around the alley, perhaps recalling the echo of the footsteps in his subcon­scious. “Well, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Jesus Christ, I’d better shag my ass out of here before that angel of the Lord who gaveth me this cup comes back and finds me still here.”

He stood up, shook out his dirty cloak, dumped me into a sack of jumbled possessions, and started wandering off down the street. After a bit he found a place that he deemed safer and went back to sleep.

Neither Barabbas nor the soldiers discovered us, for morning found me still in the custody of the mature male named Barnaby. He poured a cup of wine and tossed half of it off, then rum­maged around in his sack until he located the grungy remains of a chunk of bread. Not bothering to wipe the dirt off, he devoured it for his breakfast, washing it down with more wine. Then he completed his toilet by wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his robe, running his fingers through his greasy hair, and scratching his beard to chase the fleas to places less obvi­ous. All the time he was doing this, he kept up a run­ning commen­tary on the manifold blessings of a spiteful god who grew more impatient every hour with the unfaithful­ness of his people, and how the day of reck­oning was near at hand. “There will be wail­ing,” he muttered, biting off a big hunk of bread and letting out a wail. “And moan­ing, thus sayeth the Lord,” tak­ing a swig of wine while moaning where my ear would be if I had one. “Verily, and gnashing of teeth,” grinding his teeth vigorously as he wiped his mouth.

When he finished getting ready for his day, all in less time than Layla typically spent selecting a shade of eye shadow, he took up his sack and headed out, clutching me in his other hand like a priceless treasure.

It was still early enough in the day that the streets were sparsely peopled. Anyone who saw us coming crossed to the other side of the street and increased his pace without making any effort to be polite. Nonplussed, Barnaby generously raised his voice and continued his monologue loudly enough so they could share the blessing of his thoughts as long as they were in hear­ing distance.

After a short walk we began to move down toward a lake. Clustered around the edge was a crowd of fishermen, some still getting ready to go out, others just leaving the shore, a few beginning to work their nets although they were still close to the beach. See­ing a more-or-less captive audience gathered and waiting for him, Bar­naby headed straight for them although this time he kept his voice low enough that they wouldn’t be warned of his presence in time to flee gracefully.

Then when he was close enough he launched into his spiel. “For behold, thus sayeth the Lord. A voice shall cry out from the wilderness, and that voice shall be heard by many. And some will hear and listen, and to them the words shall be like cool water on their parched tongues. But others will laugh and mock, and woe be unto them, for verily they shall be cast down amidst the flames, there to cry out in their anguish.”

Perhaps you recognize my hand in that little speech. Certain­ly it was pure poetry com­pared with the drivel he’d been spouting earlier that morning. But he was holding me, and I was doing just what I had been created to do.

The fishermen looked up in surprise. “Hey look,” someone yelled. “It’s Jesus Christ.”

old book2


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