THE GRAIL’S STORY, PART XV: Mary M and Joseph A
The Grail’s description of the next chapter of her saga was pretty sketchy. We engaged in a lot of back and forth as I tried to draw out more details, but there simply weren’t very many. So I have broadly summarized this part of the history.
Later on, when it became apparent that the exact details were much more critical than just a matter of being as accurate as possible for inclusion in some erudite work of history, we poured over the same material again. But that is a tale for later, and truthfully, gained me little.
Mary M and Joseph A—not to be confused with that other, somewhat more famous Mary and Joseph—relocated about a day’s journey from Jerusalem, figuring that was plenty far enough for safety. But shortly after, the news caught up with them that the Romans were looking for Joseph in earnest, confirming their fears that had triggered them to flee the city in the first place. When Jesus turned up missing, it had started all sorts of rumors among the superstitious, which in first century Judea meant almost everybody. Elijah had come down in a fiery chariot and taken the body away. Jesus had just pretended to be dead, and his disciples had whisked him away to Joppa to heal. Yahweh had raised him from the dead; people had actually seen him walking around. The sort of miraculous stuff that people mired in the ordinary crave so. Same reason The National Enquirer sells millions of copies at supermarket checkout stands across the country every week.
Because of the unrest it was causing, however, the Romans were treating the missing body a little more seriously than your typical story of a two-headed baby or an alien abduction. The authorities had surmised what Joseph A had done and were a little pissed; in particular, they wanted to know where Jesus was buried so they could nip this new trouble in the bud. So rather than live constantly looking over their shoulders, the couple kept moving, leaving Judea behind for the wilds of Idumea.
Civilization got scarcer the further south they went. At a little nameless collection of huts too crude to merit the label ‘village’—the Palestinian version of ‘last chance for gas, next one hundred miles’—they bought three pack animals, loaded them down with supplies, and ventured east through the Wilderness of Judea until they reached the western edge of the Dead Sea.
A fortnight of passion and one dead mule later, we finally ended our journey in a roomy cave that overlooked an intermittent rivulet near where it flowed into The Salt Sea. I say we, but in fact I wasn’t any part of the proceedings. Mary regarded me as a keepsake of Jesus, not something to drink wine out of. Not to mention that we probably hadn’t hauled much wine by mule across the desert. The only way I was able to keep up with any of what was going on was that Mary would take me out every so often to polish me and reminisce, and when she handled me I could catch up on the latest news.
I could have spoken to her, of course—at least early on, before my power began to fade from lack of nourishment. But to be truthful, I was in mourning. Jesus was a very complex person, half scoundrel and more than half saint, a scary combination of relentless ambition and real caring. Plus I never quite got over my fear that he would flip out and make good on his threat to melt me down for some imagined slight. But he’d been a real pisscutter once he got going in the messiah business. We’d had one hell of a good run at it, he and I. I didn’t know how much difference his message about feeding the poor would ultimately make, but maybe it had helped. Although personally I thought we should have taken our shot at overthrowing the Pharisees. He couldn’t have ended up any deader.
I also didn’t trust Mary as far as my own livelihood was concerned. She was a loving person—loved her husband even though she’d chosen him for his financial stability, loved her child, and most of all, was still intensely in love with Jesus. But at her core, Mary M was a simple, motherly type of woman, with many of Layla’s appetites but none of her intrigues. Had I spoken to her, I believe that she would have stopped to consider what impact a talking cup could have on her life, and then proceeded to ignore me. If I’d persisted, she probably would have simply left me wrapped in the old linen cloth where I stayed between visits
The Grail never even knew Joseph, except through Mary’s eyes. The only two facts about him she could say for sure were: 1) Joseph was getting more and better sex than he’d ever imagined, and 2) whatever leisure time that left him was spent writing a History of The Life and Times of Jesus Christ. Since Mary couldn’t read or write, the first years consisted of her telling Joseph everything that she knew while he took notes; after that, he mostly slaved away on his own.
After more than a year had passed where the most exciting event was the birth of a baby boy and a baby goat in the same week, I finally began to rouse from my lethargy. Realizing that unless I took some direct action I was going to pass out, I tried gently inserting a suggestion into Mary’s mind that she should put some wine in Jesus’ favorite cup as a tribute to his memory. But she didn’t seem to hear a thing. I followed that with a really hard push, and finally abandoned subtlety and tried screaming. But it was too late; nothing got through. I didn’t have enough power left to make myself heard.
So I gradually drifted into the dreamy semi-conscious state that foretells impending unconsciousness. The last thing I remember before passing out was her worrying about the Romans finding them, and deciding they should hide the history in case the authorities came.
THE GRAIL’S STORY, PART XV: OUTTAKES
“So what happened to the children?”
I have no idea, of course. Mary and Joseph could have lived in the cave for another thirty years and bequeathed it to their kids when they died. They could have packed everything up the week after I passed out and moved to Turkey.
“OK, this passing out and leaving big gaps in your history sucks.”
Sucks for you? How do you think I feel about it?
“Hmm. I guess I don’t know the answer to that. I can only speculate about how cups feel about things, and I sure as hell don’t know how women feel about anything. So how do you feel about it?”
Well, I like the excitement of being awake. But being asleep is better than being bored. Way better than getting stuffed in a chest 364 days a year. So all-in-all, I suppose it’s not too bad.
“It’d sure be a historical coup to know for sure what happened to Jesus’ daughter.”
Want me to make something up?