True Believer by Ken Cartisano

I’m nobody’s fool, that’s for certain.

I could see he was a huckster, a thespian with a flair for self-promotion. Just last night he gathered his little flock together for what he called a final, ceremonial dinner: The wine flowed freely, the food was good and plentiful: All were in a festive mood. My cup runneth over, with disdain.

It was he who put the damper on the occasion, not I. He bade us all be silent, and spoke in his usual rhymes and riddles. Some would face trials, and some would have doubts. Some would deny his fellowship, and still another would betray him. Yet he girded us to be resolute, to have faith. It was all I could do to keep from laughing in his face.

He seemed cognizant of my cynicism. His eyes met mine many times that night. Each time, he seemed to find amusement in my face, my expression. It infuriated me beyond description. It was part of his personae, to know his fate, and our hearts. It was all a scam.

I went along with it for the sake of my church. I wanted to know his secret, his methods, his ultimate game. I had no doubt about his motives. They were the same as any huckster. Money, personal gain, though he played the impoverished mystic with inerrant accuracy: From his bearded face, to his sandaled feet.

I was not fooled, not for an instant.

I knew he’d never go through with it. He would put on his little show of omniscience, then scurry out of town in the middle of the night with his ill-gotten gains.

I refused to stand idle while this self-proclaimed mystic made a mockery of my faith, my lifelong devotion to the God of my father, and my father’s father.

And so it came to pass, that once the phony merriment dwindled to a close, we all went our separate ways. I went to the Governor’s house to speak with the Captain of the Guard. They made it known that they were looking for this peddler of strange ideas: This mystical trickster. So grateful was the Guard that they paid me for the information. I tried to refuse the money, it was a trifling amount, and I am not a poor man by any measure. I am a priest, after all. They ignored my protestations, threw the money at my feet, and sent me on my way like a common street urchin.

But today I stand beneath him. Looking up at his face, contorted with pain and despair. His mother and his woman grovel in the dirt before him, pleading with the guards, who respond by tormenting him further. He dies a lonely, painful death, and as the spirit leaves him, it is as though the whole earth shudders with remorse: And me with it.

Storm clouds form in a matter of minutes, the sky is seared with fearful bolts and thunder roars with such force and number, it fills the air with a terrible and wrathful vengeance. I’m so suddenly frightened, I pray to my God for surcease and protection, but the sky only grows darker, the lightning closer and the thunder louder.

I clutch my robe about me tighter, preparing to run for the shelter of my stone house. But a guard grabs my arm with terrible strength, holding me fast, and points at the specter who is nailed to the cross.

“Your name,” says the guard, who knows me not, with words that cannot come from his own ignorant tongue, “shall forever and ever, be known as the name of a traitor.”

A bolt of lightening smashes the ground no more than two rods distant. Even the great muscled guard looks to the heavens in fear. I break free of his grasp and scurry down the hill, and in my haste, I bump into a patron of my church. He recognizes my visage and proclaims for all to hear. “I know you, do I not? Your name is Judas. Judas Iscariot.”

That night I prayed for forgiveness, from his God, not mine.

About Ken

I have written over 60 Short Fiction Stories. This is the only one that has any real religious content.

Oh man, I’m a sucker for stories told from Judas’ point of view, and this one was so good! I was sold as soon as I figured out who he was.

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