Jesus didn’t know why he’d hopped on that caravan going east. He only knew that something old Eebajeeba said had really gotten to him. Eebajeeba had given him a satchel, and in it were some carving tools, a bar of soap and a toothbrush, (“No one’ll listen to you if you don’t gots no teeth! Hee hee hee hee hee”) Poor Eebajeeba knew this fact from experience. But he had said something that made Jesus really think.
“Lookie here, kid. See this hump on my back? Had it since I was about your age. Know why it’s there? ‘Cause I always slept on my right side. Never turned over. Now it’s the only hump I get without payin’ fer it, ifyaknowhatImean. Both sides, m’boy…..both siiiiiides….”
Eebajeeba had backed away ominously with his hand outstretched toward Jesus. Up until the old man tripped on some camel dung and fell over, Jesus was pretty wigged out.
“What could he have meant?” The boy wondered. Sure there was the obvious meaning–so the boy made sure he rolled around a lot at night. But he knew there was some other meaning. There had to be. Old Eebajeeba was a temple priest. They always said stuff in code.
Another boy had hopped the caravan before Jesus. His name was Kringle. Kris Kringle. He was from up north and was looking to find the secret to flight. He’d heard about ‘magic carpets’ from the east, and so decided to find one for himself. Jesus wasn’t so sure his friend would find any such thing, but he didn’t want to burst his bubble.
The young ones of the caravan had taken liking to Kris. He had strange light hair and sparkly eyes, and an engaging, full laugh for just a young man. Jesus had let him borrow his carving tool and Kris carved silly animals and dolls for the children out of driftwood and soft rocks found on their travels. One night, Jesus heard a quiet knock on his tent pole. They had stopped for the night and he could hear nothing but the sound of the sea and birds.
“Jesus! It’s me and Wang, open up!”
Jesus untied his tent flap and the two boys slipped in with a lantern. “What is it?”
Kris looked sheepish as he produced something from his robe. It was a large satchel of black silk and ornate, fine embroidery. Kris reached in and pulled out thin slabs of a creamy, glinting green stone. Jesus scowled.
“Kris! You must return those to whomever–“
“No, no it was a gift! From the old man, Confu…Cofun–“
“Confucius, idiot.” Wang shook his head. Wang was Confucius’s apprentice and they had travelled many places in the west. Now, they were on their way home to continue his studies with other holy men in the region.
“Right!” said Kris. “Anyway, he told me to give them to you because he wants us to record our time in the east for the future generations! He said you were the smart one, but that I was a good storyteller, so we should work on them together. I figured we could call the writings: The Adventures of Kris and Jesus!”
“Uh huuuuh. That’s catchy I suppose.” Jesus glanced at Wang. “What do you think?”
“I think that any man who can share his life will have a life to share.”
“Uh huh. Always helpful, Wang.” Jesus smiled politely and looked at Kris with wide eyes. “Maybe we should talk more about this later. I mean, these thingys look expensive. Maybe the old man shouldn’t be giving away such precious possessions. He’s like, 5oo years old.”
“Four-hundred and thirty-nine, to be exact.” Wang the Helpful offered.
“Okay, yeah, whatever. Maybe we should give them back.”
Wang closed his eyes and bowed. “To return a gift of love is to return the gift without love.”
Jesus and Kris stared at Wang for a long moment. Sometimes he hit it and sometimes….
“Okay,” Jesus said, “where’s my carving tool?”
“Right here.” Kris handed him the small device and Jesus, hands a bit unsteady, began scratching on the slab. “Another Testament of Jesus Krist.”
“Hey, my name doesn’t have a ‘t’ at the end. And you forgot ‘and’.” Kris frowned.
“Sorry, it was supposed to be an exclamation point.”
“Great, now everyone will think my name is Krist. It’s bad enough you think we have the same birthdays.”
“It is my birthday.”
“You could always change your name to what the cute oriental kids call you.”
“What, Sand da Carves? I’ll think about it.”
“Wang will you bring the light closer? I can’t carve in the dark.”
“He who writes in the dark will find light.”
“Thanks Wang, just the light, okay?”
Jesus and Kris told stories all night and recorded them on their jade plates. Wang added some, too. Together, they began recording their journey throughout the east. By sunrise they had all fallen asleep in the tent and the clanging of bells and hustle of people jarred them awake.
“Jesus, we have to go put up our tents or they’ll leave without us! Talk to you later.”
“He who forgets to pack–“
“No time, Wang, no time. C’mon!”
Kris dragged Wang from the tent and hurried into the morning light. Jesus sat in thought. Deep in thought. He did what he always did in the morning.
He knelt down,
bowed his head–
and checked for a hump on his back. One could never be too careful.
Then he began talking to himself, aka praying: “Okay, if anyone can hear me, can you just, I dunno, give me a clue as to what I’m supposed to do with this story? I mean, anything. I just don’t have any direction with this thing, these plates.”
Silence greeted him as he heard the caravan ready to become mobile. Jesus sighed and exited his tent.
The voice that he had tried to shut out before leaving Jerusalem came back to him unexpectedly and unwelcome. The old priest who had accused him of blasphemy had whispered one thing before Jesus hurried out of the city late that long ago night:
“If you return here, you will die.”