Short Story — THE APOCRYPHA AND THE INFANT GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. THOMAS

THE APOCRYPHA AND THE INFANT GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. THOMAS

That most immortal of the literary aggravators Gore Vidal once claimed: “The fate of books is incalculable”, a statement I find most applicable to this tale. Firstly I find it quite interesting, when you walk in any library of sacred texts within the most well established of any libraries or depositaries of books around the world that you can find the same book, yet encounter the various versions of it as it relay’s its messages across the centuries. Of course, like a firm bloodstream a message can flow throughout the necessary passages of time with little to no trouble, but as times change and attitudes, like blood, can be squeezed, filtered, diluted, re- directed and reformed to wherever the canals take it, so think of such things as I tell you this story.

Firstly I was traversing into Melbourne to see a fellow writer friend of mine, to work on a new form of fiction to which a young boy of 8 becomes emotionally attached to a poltergeist which haunts the house on which he lives…an entertaining little side project which I must confess, I had little hopes for. The weather (as is typical of any location spotted around Victoria) was in a bipolar frenzy. The wind was hot and air was sticky and humid. This lead to the darkest and most vicious clouds I can recall ever seeing, so a storm struck Melbourne flooding most of it’s metro tunnels and turning the whole city to a standstill. Luckily I had just emerged from Melbourne Central station, where trains were now unable to move (as where the people who depended on its functions). The whole shopping complex to which the station was apart of was bundled with the stench of irritable humans and accompanied by a noise just as fitting. As I had no intention to stay around in such a place and seeing as how the train lines were currently indisposed I ventured across the street towards the State Library (which was standing on a hill thank god!) to indulge into some literary pleasures. As I entered the doorways I was surprised as to the lack of human presence and how quiet it all seemed (Oh what bliss it was!).

The pollution of the outside world, both scented and visual, was completely vacuumed in my mind by the affluence of the buildings interior. It was that perfect mixture of the embrace of ancient Hellenic architecture and modern infrastructure. I walked through to decide which aspect of the library I wished to go, but seeing as the biblical nature of the storm was rattling away the interior of the building it seemed only fitting that I gravitated towards the section on anglo-christian literature, something which i had long magnetised away from (the reasons as to why they are so agitative for me is too long a complicated story dating back to schoolyard years).

 

My eyes glided along the large hard covers of the various crumpled books, ascertaining to many varying degrees of literature which I had not seen. All of them began to blur into one however, seething into each other in recited out burgundy and crinkled browns, all seeming most unpleasant to look at, but the smell of these books! They tinged the air with their antiquity. But one particular, larger, more solidly constructed version took my investigation by surprise. This book looked larger, more formidable than anything that was on display. It didn’t even to seem to be a book but rather, a collection of ancient pages that should of being in a museum rather than cringing away into dust in a library seemingly unsuitable for such rare items.

It seemed to be a manuscript more than anything, so I picked it up and placed it delicately down onto one of the spare tables. The cover of it glistened with the charm of quill delicacy, a form so patiently calligraphied and so fluently smooth that it seemed to singe my mind with feelings of magnificence to which I had never known. It stated “The Forgotten Books of Eden”, and immediately I was fascinated. At first I was surprised at the state of the manuscript and of it’s age being published in english, the style and bearing of the letters, the formatting of the paragraphs seemed to me lie it should of being published in Greek, Hebrew, or Latin, but it seemed to translate into a finely tuned and lovely form of english verse and prose.

These were stories i hd never seen before, contradicting and rephrasing the bible in ways i had never imagined. It was spell binding. As I read onwards for around 2 hours (though it felt inconceivably infinite I was in such rapture) I stumbled upon a story most fascinating. It was entitled, again in exquisite penmanship, “The Infant Gospel According to Saint Thomas”, an intriguing enough title, though my attention was quickly grabbed by the words and phrasing of the early childhood of Jesus Christ, where he is described as brutally murdering a small child because of his dismissal of Christ’s miracles of turning mud into swalows:

And when Jesus saw what was done, he was wroth and said unto him: O evil, ungodly, and foolish one, what hurt did the pools and the waters do thee? behold, now also thou shalt be withered like a tree, and shalt not bear leaves, neither root, nor fruit. 3 And straightway that lad withered up wholly, but Jesus departed and went unto Joseph’s house. But the parents of him that was withered took him up, bewailing his youth, and brought him to Joseph, and accused him ‘for that thou hast such a child which doeth such deeds.’

As I read on I found more disturbing acknowledgements of our estranged spiritual leader. The world seemed to grow dark, and my soul darker with it. The rest of the day was tormented by this fact, I was afraid; why had this being omitted from most versions of the bible i could not say. I made a mistake though. As I headed to my friend’s and began to drink away, I told him about the tales and stories I found out of the manuscript and how it disturbed me, how rare and how strange the whole text was.

I had believed I had discovered some bizarre conspiracy; a murder tale taken straight out of the bible, something to which most believers of the christian faith choose to ignore. He was quick to grab his laptop, he typed it in most precariously, and he showed me the text, word for word of what I had seen, pasted on a internet search board.

The information had being there the whole time, so had the story, but the search bar equivalent was much easier, direct, and forward. I was confused, so I sipped away at my cheap Japanese beer, waited for some other conversation to pop up, and quickly pretended to forget the incident.
I was disappointed for purely selfish reasons, I was angry, but was I angry at how i had discovered it? Or was I disappointed in the text itself? I may never know, but when i went to the library the next day, i could not find the manuscript, it had disappeared, vanished…or had being removed. I asked the lovely library lady about the text, she searched it up in the computer:
“We have no such book, I’m sorry” She stated unblinkingly “but if you type it into google you should find it very easily.”
“Thank you” I said, and walked back out into the dirty streets.

Short Story — His Eyes Dancing

“You know this won’t do you any good Val, I know you’re arrogant when it comes to these things but you don’t need him, not while you’re like this, at least wait for a bit, i’ll come around in 5 yeah?”

 

How did she find out? I only told a few I think; from what I remember at the time, no one would have known better. Perhaps it was another slip of information that I belched out clumsily the other night, not the the previous night mind you, I mean the night before that, when I had just gotten over my recent breakup. We went out on a loud and obnoxious bender, and I may have said things i should of probably regretted a lot sooner then I did. Oh the blissful hindsight of a hangover. Regard- less, I was on my way to see him. He had decided to spark up conversation again over text, asking how I was doing, and if he wanted to catch up again. Of course when it’s someone you used to feel so attached to, there is that unexpected twang that strikes you; a certain tonic of excitement and re- demption, hopefulness and, even stupidity: sure it didn’t work before, but that was then, and this is now; or perhaps it felt more as if now felt more like then, especially when I thought of him.

Elise had sent the message, along with all of the other ones, begging me not to meet him. She knew what he and i were like together: vicious, irreverent; violent even. We were as if two spitting flames coercing around one another, dancing and burning everything around us until the kindling had gone and all we had was each other, slowly watching as we both burned out slowly and sadly. But again, that was then, this is now. It was two years ago, thats a long time for someone like me, for someone this angry and this much of a drinker. I thought i had grown up much since then, i was better. My outlook was better, at least, to the best of my knowledge. She knew I probably wouldn’t listen, but she knew it was at least worth the try. It’s nice really, to find out that someone finds you worth the effort. Elise was good to me, certainly a lot better than he was. In the end though I felt I had to see him again, to prove that I was better, to prove how much then was but an autumn leaf, slowly flying away, and that now was much, much better. I just had to see him, I simply must. I had locked my apartment and quickly left, knowing full well that she would not allow me to see him.

“Val? Please talk to me”

You missed call from Elise Rendal
You have two missed calls from Elise Rendal (3) missed calls from Elise Rendal

Sorry Elise, I just have to know; I have to know how much it would hurt to see him again, that I had finally gotten over him, even two fractured relationships later I had to know if those feelings were still there, tucked away silently in somewhere inside myself that I could no longer keep ahold of.

It was only around the corner that I could see him. Even then it was so dark i could only just see the outline of his bent over head and see the coursing smoke bellowing out of his mouth. He was one of

those smokers that would reek of cheap tobacco and the smoke would dance in and about his head, swirling above his messy hair. I don’t know why this made me fall for him the way it did; even back then, but something about that sting of nicotine and that overlapping leather coat of his always tin- gled my skin as soon as i was near him. then he would smile, creasing his cheek and his eyes would light up ever so slightly to hide his suave demeanour. even though he looked right at you his eyes always seemed half closed, a good enough indicator as to how he felt at any one time, but would also be a gentle reminder of the night before. Shit, it’s happening all over again. Now has become Then.

He flicked the butt of his cigarette away haphazardly as the sparks popped over on the sidewalk next to him, the cool orange glaze of the street lights reflecting slightly on his tortoise shell glasses, and he smiled. “Holy shit there you are man, it’s been too fucking long!” He walked up to me, hug- ging me more tightly than i would have thought he was capable of.

“You haven’t changed a bit Oliver” I said, my face star struck and my hands dangling limply by my side, desperately fumbling through my jacket pocket to get a cigarette.

“Come on, let’s go get something to drink, meanwhile you can tell me about whats being happen- ing in your life, I barely hear from you man!” I mutter something mildly in response, with my head hanging lower than usual and my eyes seeming embarrassed to look into his own for fear of what i might feel if I did.

We would walk for a little while onwards. joking about the things that took place since we last saw each other and the people we had met since. Sometimes we would laugh, or one would preferably stay silent as the other talked about his recent hookup, date or nightclub infatuation, going into vul- gar details and highlighting the sensuous delights of the guy they were with, both of us acting as though it wouldn’t or couldn’t phase us. The only way to properly be quiet as the other talked was just to puff away on a cigarette (which i had being sure beforehand to buy plenty, almost as if in preparation for him) and pretend that I wasn’t shaking, of course, it was the dark of night, and the tobacco had made my shakes a little worse, even with my oversized jacket, but it seemed I could control it well enough, especially as the thought of going back to his….shit, I was already thinking like that.

We bought a large bottle of a cheap combination of whiskey and coke, walking along the lonely streets, hearing bellow our footsteps shattered shards of beer bottles and such. It seemed that we were talking as if before, when we were just friends and didn’t expect anything from one another, as if that the last time we had saw each other hadn’t happened, though it coursed through my mind again and again, even when we were talking about better times.

It was pitch dark now, my phone was off so i couldn’t face any distractions, and my hands seemed to be shaking ever more uncontrollably. “Oliver” I said, stopping in my tracks, in the spotlight of the street lamp hanging remorsefully above me: “I don’t know what you expected of me tonight, I

gotta say, i’ve never forgotten you. Even when i said i would never see you again, when you were on that couch, barley breathing.” He turned to look at me, his slick hair now dangling about the top of his glasses, his eyes that were usually so soulful and expressive, now still, completely serious; I had never seen him like this before.

“Are you still on the stuff Oliver?”

He answered back indignantly, chugging the cold bottle of cheap booze down his throat, wiping his lips sumptuously, handing the bottle to me and sticking his cigarette in his mouth and breathing in the thick smoke as if it were air itself; his hands were shaking too: “Val you were always the sweet one; truth is i never got over you, even when I was with someone else. I scared you too much i think, i scared myself sometimes, but I don’t know what else to do, if I can go on without being on it.” Now i was staring as blankly as I could into those acrylic eyes. He walked closer to me: “You stopped talking to me, ran away when you could I guess, but I don’t know what i could do in the end. If I could make you love me more than I wanted you to, or if you did as well.”

“You are not answering the question Oliver” I replied, my face as frozen as it could as a soft wind blew through the street, dragging the urban debris of plastic bags across the otherwise silent road. “It’s fucking cold here Val, let’s keep walking.”

All through the rest of the night i remembered him on the couch again, his head yanking, his hands shaking and his eyes rolling to the back of the head. I was crying hysterically, worried about every- thing, feeling the burn of my tears dripping down on my cheeks. I quickly ran away, getting the am- bulance to pick him up, and i saw him dragged away. That was the last time i had seen him. It hurt to much to think about it up until now. Now it made sense to relive it as we talked, to try and make sense of who we were back then and who we had grown up to become.

He kicked his feet around on the ground as if a guilty child, and my emotions came flooding back all over again: “I could never get over you Oliver, I still am not over you, I mean, in the time we spent together…it was pretty wonderful.” Funny how even when you say something you wish to say, it still never sounds quite right when you say it out loud, and you feel that you need to say more. He stood closer to me, and i could feel the warm relief of his breath hitting my cold skin, and all we could do at that moment was lean in and kiss. It was the most abandoned kiss we ever had, and by that I mean it felt that way; it didn’t feel like a kiss, more to the fact that it felt more like some kind of a reformation, or as a reminder of lost times. Perhaps it was because it was a tendency to make up for fleeting memories that we still wanted to hold on to; it was too comforting to let go of in the end. Either way, it was sweet, and it felt right.

We didn’t say much after that. We held each other close in a long embrace and kept each other warm in the dead chill of the night. I felt his long hair slip through my fingers, and his breath was like a gentle flow that made me smile quite gently. We held each others hands and looked at each other carefully, kissing each other once again, calmly and emphatically.

We both took a deep breath and each had another cigarette, he lit it for me,gently caressing the flame about the tip, and i breathed in with a flurry of relief. Something had worked out it seemed, although nothing may be the same again, perhaps this night will make up for it. He then played a song that i used to listen too as we would hang around the skating park, a little over a year ago at that point, back when we were at school, drinking booze and smoking weed as we watched the skaters perform their little parlour tricks.

We walked away, into the night, feeling the cool air softly tingle the leafs on the overhanging tree’s. On his way back to his apartment not a few streets down the road and he played his favourite song and began to dance as he would before; seemingly carefree and without any doubt plaguing his head, and he danced away singing his song song as I smiled at him, with that dumb smile of mine I used to only reserve for him: he danced to the song No Waves by Fidlar, and he mouthed the lyrics as he danced.

I feel, feel like a cokehead
I feel, feel like I can’t get drunk no more
‘Cause I’m on the floor
Looking for some matches just to cook up a score

I feel, feel like shooting up
I feel, feel like giving up on my skateboard ‘Cause I’m fucking bored
 I wanna perfect left down a sunset shore

I feel, feel like a crackhead
I feel, feel like I’m not gonna make it no more ‘Cause I’m on the floor
 Just pick me up and give me some more

And he danced, just the way he used to, as we used to, and I smoked my cigarette, letting the smoke rise above me and him, and the music made us remember the times that we thought were better than we used to think they were. Then and Now, together again.