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Signs and Wonders: Read an Excerpt
Jurja realized he was doing all the work for this enterprise, but did not begrudge Lamech that. His own talents for the theatrical, however, left him curious as to what had happened in the inn. He would probably never know; the plan required they keep their distances when in public. He found themselves lodging; this time it was a tool shed large enough for the two of them. It was dark enough by the time he reached Lamech that they proceeded immediately to their new home for the night. Both realized they were very hungry and had not had a full meal since setting out on this trip. Jurja's bread and some fresh tomatoes were satisfying but hardly what they really desired.
It was now time to commence their endeavor; travelers would be dining at the public inns, and since this was more of a town than a village, they had many places to choose from. Lamech waited while Jurja reviewed the first inn they approached. He said on his return, "it is too large, Master. There are as many as a dozen people there. Let us move up the main street a bit." "No, Jurja, I will try the first one." Lamech did not want to admit he was interested in seeing what would happen with a larger crowd.
He approached the inn and took off his gloves, opening the door. He stood at the door with his hands outstretched beside him, for all to see his wounds. The dining room was virtually the entirety of the first floor, with the exception of a kitchen in the back and a small table near the door for the owner to conduct business. This was a better lit room than last night's inn, and Lamech was for a second fearful the effect would be lost. It didn't take but a second or two for conversation to stop and all eyes to turn on him, but no one said anything for what felt like an eternity. At last a man said "He has come back, as he promised."
A woman began singing, an ancient Hebrew hymn which Lamech had heard regularly at the Temple. The singing spread from person to person, as they stood up and began to approach Lamech. "I bring you peace," he said. "Do not touch me; you may not touch me." Still they approached him, and several people began to grab for the hem of his robe. Lamech realized his back was to the door and he had very little time to react. He quickly turned around and opened the door, only to discover a crowd had begun to form outside the inn. He was not sure if somehow word had spread as to his appearance, or if the singing had attracted people. He now had several dozen people pressing around him.
His instincts took over, and forgetting his own admonitions, he began touching people on the head or shoulder, feeling once again the power surge through his body. "I heal you my son. Bless you my daughter. Do not be afraid, our Father will care for you. He will forgive all your sins." His hands had strangely stopped hurting. The singing had turned to a chant of praise—praise for the return of the Meshiach. He had begun to move in a circle, and the crowd grew larger and circled with him in the half darkness and half light from the houses and businesses which were beginning to open their doors. He was giddy with the delight that he had experienced the previous night, only now it was stronger and more intoxicating. He laughed with them as they sang praises for his return.
Jurja watched the scene from a distance, in wonder at the emotion of the crowd. He understood now what had happened to Lamech the previous night. His Master was clearly not himself, and Jurja wondered if he had not been infected or inhabited by the spirit of Jehoshua himself. The dead had strange powers, and Jurja had warned Lamech about profaning the spirit of a crucified man. And yet—he himself wanted to be part of the exhilaration of the crowd. He never felt such a feeling of joy before.
Jurja's rational mind called back to him: this had to end, and end quickly. The Master might lose himself forever in this feeling, which only Lamech and Jurja knew was falsely manufactured. He spotted stacks of hay alongside one of the buildings. No one was looking at him as he pulled the hay away from the building and set it aflame with a lantern that he retrieved from the inn. He then moved to the opposite end of the crowd and tried to close in on Lamech as well as he could.
It took a minute, but the smell of the smoke and an eventual cry of "Fire!" pulled the crowd away from its delirium. Everyone rushed to the scene of the fire, which gave Jurja an opportunity to pull Lamech into a darkened alley. "Come with me, Master." He initially had to pull Lamech by his cloak through the alley, keeping him well secreted in the darkness. He was sure no one saw them leave and they passed no one as they returned to the main road and safety. Lamech was whimpering throughout the return journey to the shed, and he occasionally broke into song. "I can help them, Jurja. You must let me help them," he implored his friend. "We shall help them Master, but we need some rest first," assured Jurja.