Book II: Chapter 25
“But how could Benedict hold our Nails in his hands without being destroyed?” Alan pondered at my unexpected revelation about the Pope.
“And without dying?” Miriam was still in shock herself at my suggestion.
Another long pause followed as they tried to make sense of things. I smiled as they prattled on, enjoying my drink.
Naturally it was Miriam who rained on my parade, “For you, O Lord, are the Most High! Don’t you see, this merely confirms what I’m saying — Benedict will be filled with divine power at the appointed time, so that he CAN hold the Nails in order to destroy Ma’bus and thus enable Christ’s return!” And she smiled winsomely at the thought.
(Dammit! I hadn’t thought of it that way — she just might be right).
“Envy rots the bones.” I muttered under my breath, before replying to her, “If that’s true, Mary, then what are WE still doing here? In your theory we three are useless.”
“John.” Alan raised a hand. “You know our mission – we are to guard The Nails until the day they are needed, until The Second Coming. Nobody said our role would be in the spotlight. Isn’t it enough to know that our work will be directly responsible for aiding Christ’s return?”
<SMASH!> I threw my glass against the wall. “No, Laz-a-rus, it is not! Do you think I wanted to wait around here for two thousand years, guarding a worthless piece of iron, only to give it off to someone else at the moment of truth — so THEY can get all the glory? That’s a raw deal!”
“John, you know that’s not true.” Miriam reminded me. “YOU, more than anyone, know the value of Jesus’ love.”
“Two thousand years is a long time — I guess I plumb forgot; just like HE forgot about me.” And before anyone could reply, I continued, “Besides, who cares about all your theories, you’re probably wrong… again.”
“What do you mean?” Alan asked.
“Don’t you see?” I said wearily. “There is no many faced man, there is no antichrist!”
“How can you say that?” Miriam gasped.
“Just how often have you two been wrong about The Beast?” I jabbed back. “Oh let me count the ways. First there was Nero – but that was on me – he’s the one I wrote about in Revelation – or so I thought. So I’ll take the bullet for being wrong there.
“But it was you, Mary, who brought us Attila in the 400’s,” I hastened on. “Now Attila was a ruthless conqueror indeed, but NOT the antichrist. Which brings us to Alan’s theory about Archbishop Arnulf of Rheims in the late 900’s.”
“Well, he was a thinking man’s antichrist.” Alan offered.
“Yet again we were wrong. “ I concluded. “So after that, I stopped trying to guess, but you two plodded ahead. You listened to Charles V when he brought you Martin Luther in the early 1500’s – yet why you two couldn’t see that Charles was playing you for a fool, I’ll never know? Luckily I was able to talk some sense into you. Oh sure, Luther caused some problems for the Church, but on the whole, I think you’ll agree he’s proven to be a catalyst for change which the Church needed.”
“Touche.” Alan nodded. “And your poi—“
“And then there was Adam Weishaupt.” I cut him off. “Or should I say George Washington? Indeed, after he pulled his little identity switcheroo he had the world fooled – and us too. And while he advanced the cause of the Illuminated Ones, and laid the foundation for America to become a world harlot, he was surely NOT the Antichrist either.”
“How can you be so sure?” Miriam asked.
“Which brings us at last to the one person that you two really had me convinced on – Hitler.” I pressed ahead with my own designs, ignoring Miriam. “Yes, despite my pledge that I was done listening to you two after the Weishaupt Fiasco, even I couldn’t resist your arguments about Ol’ Adolf.”
“Well he DID fit the bill.” Miriam whined.
“And yet, we were wrong about him too.” Alan said. “Oh, he was indeed evil, but… as John pointed out, even Hitler was NOT the antichrist.”
“And so it goes.” I concluded. “There IS no antichrist. Jesus is not coming back. And we three will be forced to rot here in this world forever. Therefore, will you two please just let it be and leave me alone.”
It seemed that my arguments were having the desired effect on Alan, because he was at a loss for words. Yet Miriam continued to protest, “You’re wrong, John. This time is different. Ghaz al’ Ridwan Ma’bus IS The Beast!”
“Mary, why are you so sure this time?” I grimaced. “Just because this Ma’bus fellow meets all your criteria?”
“He does!” Miriam slapped fist to hand.
“But so did all the others!” I retorted, in disbelief at her doggedness.
Yet Miriam just sat there — jaw jutting out, back straight, unwilling, or unable, to give up.
Knowing she wasn’t going to leave without saying her piece, my shoulders finally sagged. I felt as old as I looked, “OK, let me hear your story. If you must tell it, get it over with so I can get rid of you two and… get back to the business of trying to kill myself.”
“John!” Miriam said. “You’re blaspheming Christ’s work in you.”
“Whatever. Please, just tell your tale and then go. What makes you so sure that Dr. Ma’bus is the Beast? Enlighten me.”