A pimpled, club-footed teenaged boy with hair the color of rat’s fur picked up a stone and lobbed it over the line of people standing before him, striking a feeble, bent old man square on the head. An unsatisfying “Uh” squeezed through the old man’s clenched teeth as he crumpled to the ground. The people standing in line to draw water from the well looked around for the assailant. Two women nearest the old man tended to him.
“Stupid old fucker,” Jesse of Nazareth, thrower of the stone, muttered to his buddy, Bill O’Scariot. “He was holding up the goddamned line.”
“Old stupid fucker,” Bill O’Scariot chuckled.
The line moved along, someone drew water for the old man, and soon Jesse and Bill filled their buckets. As they turned to leave, Jesse ogled one of the women aiding the unconscious old man, and said, “Man, chicks like that put the ‘gal’ in Galilee.”
Jesse hated Nazareth. The place was boring ole Squaresville. Jesse’s older brother, Jesus, left home two years ago and traveled the land with his homo bum-buddies—Jesus called them “Apostles;” Bill O’Scariot called them “rear admirals”—while Jesse was stuck at home helping his mother. Jesse dreamed of leaving Nazareth for Tiberius, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He’d heard the fishing and surfing there were kickass, and that any man with two arms and two legs could be a muff-magnet among the ladies. Everybody knew that Tiberius babes were the easiest lays in the land.
Even worse about Nazareth, Jesse was only known there as “Jesus’ younger brother.” Do-gooder Jesus, whose expression perpetually hovered between smirk and grimace, and who spoke in maddening non-sequiturs. After some tricks with lepers and blind people and loaves and fishes, Jesus was a local celebrity, casting a long, narrow shadow over Jesse’s life.
On his way home with the well water, Jesse Christ saw a group of pregnant women standing around talking, and holding baskets of figs. Jesse elbowed Bill. “What the fuck do these idiot skanks think they’re doing?”
“Idiot skanks,” Bill chuckled.
Jesse ran up behind one of the women and knocked the basket out of her hands. “A woman’s place is in the kitchen!” Jesse sneered as the others protested.
“Whaddya smuggling watermelons under your house dresses?” Bill said as he ran after Jesse. “Cows!”
The last time Jesus Christ preached in Nazareth Jesse and Bill stood at the rear of his crowd of listeners. As Jesus droned some bullshit about the meek and the righteous and the poor of spirit, Bill bowed his head, cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “Shuddup!”
People gasped and looked around for the culprit.
Jesse had to leave the crowd he was laughing so hard.
Later on, in an olive grove, Jesse said to Bill, “Man, that was hilarious what you did to Jesus!”
Bill grinned. “That’s what my Dad says whenever my Mom talks—‘Shuddup!’”
When people on the street recognized Jesse as the brother of Jesus, they asked him to do tricks, too. Jesse said to each and every one of them: “Go fuck yourself!”
Jesse Christ didn’t like his mother, whom he thought of as a sullen nag; “a real wet blanket,” Bill would say. He had even less respect for his father who sat around all day drinking White Russians made with goat’s milk and mead, as he muttered shit about having been made a cuckold by the Holy Ghost. Jesse didn’t believe in ghosts, holy or otherwise, and generally thought his old man was a fucking idiot.
After months of saving his shekels, Jesse went to Mary Magdalene. She was a whore who had seen more cockends than weekends, but still had a great bod. One evening, high on peyote, Bill had said, “Magdalene put the ‘lilee’ in Galilee.” Jesse actually pissed his robe he laughed so hard.
Jesse took his shekels to Magdalene. Although he’d told Bill he’d been laid countless times, Jesse was a virgin. There was a long line of men waiting in Magdalene’s courtyard. Jesse thought about coming back another time when inspiration struck.
“Hey,” he shouted in the courtyard, “a catering wagon lost a wheel and a shitload of bagels and candy bars and sodas fell off. Everybody’s grabbing something for free!”
The courtyard emptied immediately. Even the man riding Magdalene dismounted and ran out. Leaning on an elbow, Magdalene peered through the gauzy curtain enclosing her fornication area. “Who said that? Who drove the men away?”
“Hey, you’re Jesus’ little brother,” Magdalene said.
“Yeah,” Jesse said, his mouth suddenly dry.
“You wanna save my soul like your brother?”
“No,” Jesse said. He held out his shekels. “I want you to pinch my penis with a hair clip and take a shit on my face.”
The day Jesse’s older brother rode into town on the back of an ass—every lame-o in Nazareth seemed to be out, laying palm leaves in his path—Jesse said to Bill, “Who gave Jesus the gold key to the shitter?”
Bill laughed and said, “Hey, which one’s the ass?”
They collapsed into one another, toppled by laughter.
With Jesus back in town, it wasn’t long before Jesse was absolutely sick of people stopping him in the street, saying, “Hey, your brother’s back in town.”
“That fucker does everything to make my life miserable,” Jesse said to Bill as they sat in an olive tree. Jesse had brought a few stones with him. He tossed one into the nearby roadway and struck a young child in the side of the face.
“Maybe if we put a scare into him, he’d leave.”
Jesse threw another rock into the roadway, striking a woman helping the crying child in the left breast. “That dizzy fucker? He’d just turn it all around and perform another miracle, or some shit.”
“Not if Pilate hauled him in.”
Jesse looked at Bill, hopeful for a moment, then skeptical. “Yeah, sure, why would Pilate care about some dip with goat shit on his sandals?”
“Maybe if we made up some shit and told the Pharisees. Those crusty old homos are always looking to kick the shit out of somebody new.”
“I guess you’re right,” Jesse said, and hurled his final stone. He struck a blind man in the face, breaking his nose, sending him to the ground in front of a horse drawn cart, which mangled him under a crush of hooves and wheels.
Bill had a cousin in the civil service. After telling him a bunch of shit about Jesus, that he and his disciples wanted to overthrow Rome—Bill could hardly keep a straight face; Jesus, that dippy fucker, hardly knew which way was north, much less how to lead a rebellion. His cousin, Rush Lymphoma of Nain—a thick-lipped, mouth-breather with heavy-lidded eyes and a perpetual whistling sound issuing from his nose—scratched his groin and said, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Soon it was Passover and Jesse and Bill hung-out below the window of the room where Jesus and his group of rear admirals were having dinner.
“Smell my bum!” Jesse stage-whispered at the window.
“Tiberius babes rock,” Bill rasped, “Jesus sucks!”
They ran away laughing.
Sure enough, Rush Lymphoma came through. He didn’t care about Bill, and really didn’t care about Jesus, either, but thought it would look good on his record if he had turned in someone for sedition before his thirtieth birthday. Jesus was rounded up by some Roman guards and brought before Pilate. Ever the glib bastard, Jesus had little to say for himself. Jesse was embarrassed feeling some sympathy for Jesus when Pilate had him flogged, but Bill elbowed Jesse as they stood amid the crowd of spectators, and said, “Shit happens.”
That weekend, everyone who knew the Christ family was aflutter with the name of Jesus on their lips. They felt so bad for Mary who did little more than shake her head and stare at the ground. It seemed Jesse’s plan was backfiring: everyone was still talking about his older brother. Then came the afternoon when Pilate stood Jesus before a crowd of onlookers, asking them what he should do with Jesus. Without thinking about what he was saying, Jesse shouted, “Crucify him!”
Bill looked at Jesse, stunned. Then grinned. “Crucify him!” Bill shouted.
Soon the whole crowd was chanting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Later on, Jesse remarked to Bill, “Bunch of fucking cattle. If I knew these inbred imbecile villagers were so easy to control, I would’ve run for office by now.”
“Fucking cattle,” Bill chuckled.
The day Jesus was crucified, Jesse and Bill watched from amid a crowd of spectators. “Boohoo,” Bill said and laughed.
“Goodbye granola-eater,” Jesse spat.
Jesus died, and that was that. A century or two later, people wrote that he came back from the dead and visited his apostles, and ascended to heaven. None of that really happened.
Not long after Jesus’ death, Jesse became a money changer in the temple. He grew a wispy mustachio and changed his name to George W. Burning Bush. Not only was it a pain in the ass being recognized as Jesus’ brother, but following the crucifixion, it was downright dangerous.
George W. Burning Bush didn’t do so well as a money changer. Trying to keep all of the numbers straight was too difficult. Most of his customers walked away with more money than they should have. Abandoning that career, he went with Bill O’Scariot into the desert where they’d heard men were making fortunes drilling into the ground and locating oil. After a few sweat-filled, oil-less days in the desert, George W. Burning Bush wiped his sunburned brow and proclaimed, “This is the Middle Fucking East. There’s no oil out here, just sand.”
He left his friend Bill, and went to Tiberius where he was the only man with two arms and two legs who was not a muff-magnet among the babes. He didn’t do well at fishing, and he was too frightened of the water to try surfing. So, he took up drinking full time, ordering those enigmatic White Russians his father used to drink, made with goat’s milk and mead.