I finished the cabinet, just. I didn’t think I would, I thought I’d fuck it up by rushing but it all went together great. It was a relief. I hate rushing things but I didn’t have a choice, not if I wanted to escape another earbashing. I had to hurry and hurry I did. I locked the workshop and then hurried to meet the wife. She just nodded when she saw me and when she looked away I rolled my eyes. After all that!
Actually I was glad I’d rushed because when we got there we were in a good space, a good open space and not five minutes later it was rammed. I started to think that maybe my luck was changing. Finished the cabinet, got a great spot – just needed the boy to put on a good show and it’d be a good day.
It was absolutely roasting and we’re waiting and the crowds are building and trying to push in. That was annoying, people pushing into me. If she wasn’t with me I would have cursed at them but I didn’t swear, I said, “erm, do you mind?” all sarcastic when people were getting too close for comfort.
After an hour of nothing but sun-baked jostling I was thinking that my luck hadn’t changed, of course it hadn’t, what was I thinking! I wondered why I’d bothered hurrying and I was even thinking about leaving. Just for a bit. A prime spot’s no good when there’s nothing to see and it wasn’t even prime any more, somehow there were people in front of me. It was fucking mayhem.
Why can’t things start at the time they’re supposed to? I mean, you advertise something at a certain time then ensure it starts at that time. Nothing starts on time, so I was thinking about going and then coming back later. I had some flooring I could start on. I’d have loved that. Get back into the cool, quiet workshop for a bit. I was even going to say it. “Mary,” I managed but she was just looking down the road, her veil held against her mouth. I gave up on that, I could tell she’d go bananas if I even suggested leaving. I could sense it. She’s been so miserable lately.
Disclosure: It’s true, I don’t turn up for many of his things but most of his things are mental, that’s what got him here — mental things, but she really was insistent I be here for this. Well here I am! Fun times! What a spectacle! Yay, there’s nothing to look at! One of his things I’d missed had been making a load of fish sandwiches and standing here in the sun thatsounded more appealing! A big fish sandwich jamboree.
Eventually she gasps and drops the veil from her mouth and I squint down the dusty road, into the shadows and… yup! They’re coming. Thank fuck for that! Only an hour and a quarter late. Take your time, lads! I’ve got nothing better to do, only work and make a living!
Even the relief of spotting them was short-lived. They were hardly moving and I mean literally hardly moving. Five minutes later they were no closer. “Bloody hell,” I mutter to my wife, “we’re going to be here all day.” She just stared at me for a moment then shook her head with her big wet eyes. “What?” I said and then because people were starting to shout I started to shout. “Come on, Jesus!” I shouted. “You can do it!” A lot of people were shouting for Jesus. There could have been a few Jesuses so I shouted, “Come on Jesus of Nazareth!”
“That your boy, Joe?” Asked somebody near me. I didn’t look to see who said it and I just nodded. I was watching the race. Fuck me they were slow. It was going to take ages.
“Nearly there!” I lied when he was finally close enough to actually hear my encouragement but my eyes were drawn to the mad man’s bollocks he was dragging along with him. “Why’s he done it like that?” I asked Mary. “The fucking state of that.” I said to myself. Jesus was struggling and it looked like he was trying his best but you can never tell, you know? With kids you can’t tell. It was hot but he was about sixth and the fucking mess he’d built… Christ. It reflects badly on me as a carpenter. Family name and that. That’s what they don’t understand.
Ah, she says I’m too hard on the boy. I’m not, I do encourage him. But you don’t praise Jesus when he fucks something up. She does. She applauds effort but anybody can try. Anybody can do effort. It’s doing thing’s well that’s important. No point doing things wrong but she doesn’t understand. Get a name for yourself even associated with shit carpentry in this town and you’re finished and then… damn, if she’s miserable now, how’s she going to feel when I’m out of a job?
So after I don’t even know how long he’s nearly level with us and Mary’s bawling her eyes out but I can’t take my eyes off the cross he’s built. Jesus has got a hat on made of plants and he looks a bit ridiculous, to be honest, but what’s bothering me is the construction of his cross. Cross, ha! It was barely a cross. I mean in the loosest possible terms it was possibly just about a cross. Wasn’t even square. Measure twice, cut once, had he not heard me saying that over an over and over? Nails all fucking bent. Jesus is staring in my face. He was looking for encouragement and that’s what I wanted to give him but I couldn’t ignore it. “What you fucking done it like that for?” I shouted at him, pointing at the disaster he’d constructed. When I’d heard they had to build their own crosses I thought he’d have an advantage. So much for that. “That’s not how I taught you!” He was really struggling though and I felt a pang of guilt. “C’mon, I mean it’d be easier for you if you’d centred the cross member,” I said. “It’s all lopsided.” Jesus looked at the ground and dragged himself a bit further and then I felt really guilty.
He was about eighth now. He was going backwards. It was like he was nailed to the ground. I took a deep breath, sighed and shouted, “don’t worry about it, you can still catch them, go on!” I clenched my fist and raised it. Mary was in pieces “It’s alright, he can still catch them, maybe he’s pacing himself,” I said but he wasn’t pacing himself, he was knackered and I could see he wasn’t going to win. No fucking chance.
The crowds started moving (slowly) along with the boys and it got a bit mental. They were heading to Golgotha and I worked out at the rate they were moving it’d take an hour at least for them to get there, probably longer. Much longer. “Oh, Mary, I’ve just remembered! Oh, damn! I’m just going… to get some wood, yeah, before the merchants close, need it for tomorrow morning. I just remembered. Damn. I’ll meet you up the hill, yeah?” I don’t know if she heard me such was the noise from the crowd. She wouldn’t have noticed if I’d been gone for twenty minutes. “Go on Jesus!” I shouted for the last time and then fought my way downstream against the crowd.
Though still hot it was lovely to get in some open air and then I got chatting to Jaraka, the wood merchant. He had some new wood in that he wouldn’t shut up about. Too expensive though, okay if you were doing a temple. I got a few boards of cheaper wood, took it to the workshop, checked the cabinet which was perfect and then headed to the finish.
It didn’t seem it but I must have been longer than I thought. There were still a lot of people milling around, a bunch of soldiers with sour smelling sponges and women, but the main bulk of the crowd was back in town. The boys were all silhouetted against the low sun and I had to shield my eyes and walk around most of them before I found her. She was slumped at the foot of the cross. She wasn’t crying any more, she was silent. I looked up at Jesus and then back to Mary. “Hey!” I said but she didn’t look up. “Mary! Did he win?” No response. He hadn’t won. “Mary!” I said tapping her side with my foot. Slowly she looked up at me. “Fucking held up then!” I said patting the cross. I smiled at Mary, then surveyed the cross again. “It’s a fucking miracle this held together,” I said and then looked at Mary. “Maybe my boy-”
“Your boy?” She asked, fixing me with eyes that were no longer sad. They were hard. I was in no mood for a fight.
“Well, I’m going to shoot,” I said, puffing my cheeks out. I looked around, patted the cross twice and then headed down the hill.