A Close Personal Friend

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The faithfulness,love and strength of a man for his friend and mentor, guide a decision made in a deadly storm at sea. The result of which may have helped to shape western civilization as we know


The sun was just rising again over the Levant. It’s rays now shooting above and around the temple of Dagon and flooding over the large busy port town of Ashdod. At the docks stood a serious looking young man, currently fleeing for his life. He looked off towards the east a moment longer. His beloved Israel. In his heart he knew he would never see his home land again. Lazarus turned and walked down the long pier to the boat where his sisters, Martha and Mary, awaited. Before he could step aboard, the pilot moved to blocked his passage. The old seaman put his hand out in a gesture for payment.


"Kapetánios?” Lazarus asked incredulously.

“Give me two more shekels.” the leather faced old man said.

He then leaned closer to Lazarus and said with a smile,


“I know who you are.”


The old man then looked over his shoulder at the two women who already boarded and then back at their brother.


“Or maybe we can work something out while underway.” he posited with a greasy black tooth smile.


The old man was close enough that he could smell his rotted teeth. Lazarus leaned in further and spoke directly into the man’s ear.


“I’ll pay your two shekels and then add two more to keep your mouth shut and mind your own business.” Lazarus said, in a voice that came from the grave.


The old man stepped back, shaken to the bone. He then looked the young man in the face and was immediately sorry he had done so.


‘Those eyes!’ he thought, ‘Gods help me. Those eyes.’


The old man could only nod in agreement to the new terms. He now wished he had passed on this short voyage. His greasy smile now gone, the old seaman backed away. Lazarus held the man’s eyes with his own and reached for his hand. The old man yelped in terror and tried to pull away until he felt the cold silver shekels in his palm. He looked into his own hand, as if death itself lay in it, breaking the paralyzing gaze. He never spoke to the women or ever looked Lazarus in the eyes again.


The weather beaten old seaman soon made ready the sail and before long the port city was at their back and the wide Mediterranean sea spread out before them.


That evening before the sun set, the sky grew angry with thunderheads and a great wind. The old seaman furled his sail and lashed it down, lest it be torn and the mast plucked like an apple stem. The women laid flat on the deck under a resin canvas clutching their belongings and praying. Lazarus sat on the deck, his back against the prow. He watched the old seaman unamused as he railed against the gods for his bad luck. The small craft was, at times, as high as a mountain and then it would seem to touch the seafloor moments later as it fared the tempest. The old man stood up and held on to the spar. He looked in Lazarus’ direction, avoiding eye contact, and cursed his very existence before letting go of it and reality altogether. The mad little captain then jumped headfirst into the roiling abyss. He never resurfaced.


The hours passed as they were tossed from crest to trough. At some point in the night, their belongings came unlashed under the constant beating the small boat had sustained and all of it was lost. All they had owned and all of their fresh water and food, gone. Martha held her younger sister through the raging storm and tears. Their prayers only ceasing when comforting each other with an “It’s gonna be alright, dear.” or a “We will prevail with the Lord's help, Sister.”

Through it all, Lazarus sat calmly with his back to the prow and his arms over opposing gunwales for stability.


Before sunrise, Lazarus heard the voice of a man in the sea calling for help. He turned and looked for the man through the tumultuous storm and caught sight of him just forward and starboard. The man looked like a drowning rat. His head going under then shooting up out of the waves that would in turn slap him back down. The man feebly made his way towards the boat. When he was close enough Lazarus stretched his arm out to the poor drowning man who looked half dead already, his skin taking on a pale gray hue. Lightning struck and splintered the mast. It lit the stub like a mad candle in the rain just as the man grasped his arm. Lazarus tried to haul him aboard but he remained in the sea. The drowning man looked up into the straining face of his would-be savior and smiled.


“Do not go to Cyprus, Lazarus.” the man said in a clear calm voice.


Lazarus recoiled but could not escape the man's grip.


“If agreed, I will calm the storm and guide your boat to Anemurium.”


Lazarus recovered quickly, knowing the man was an agent of the great adversary.


“And what would I do in Anatolia, demon?” he asked.

“You will travel and become wealthy with your stories of the famous dead Fakir, Jesus of Galilee. Your close personal friend. You will tell how his skill was unsurpassed in fooling the most suspicious. You will tell how the two of you contrived your own death and resurrection. You will deny his divinity!” he shouted this last.

Lazarus looked into the heavens as the pounding rain stung his eyes. There was light appearing in the east.


“No.” Lazarus replied simply.

“Then you and your sisters will die!” his voice boomed.


With that, the demon released his arm and slipped below the waves. He watched him sink into the dark brine. Lazarus fell back and collapsed in exhaustion on the deck.


He awoke hours later. The boat was no longer moving. His eyes burned with salt and bright sunlight. He heard the incessant cries of gulls and could smell sargo crisping over a wood fire. His stomach growled.


“I heard that!” his older sister Martha said, and then giggled.

“Oh, does the dead rise again?” his sister Mary teased and then laughed at her own joke.

“Brother.” a male’s voice said.

“It is time to eat and make ready for the day. Come now.” another male’s voice said.


Lazarus was groggy and disoriented but this last voice made him come to. It was Barnabas, Mark’s cousin. He hit the beach with both feet, steadying himself with one hand on the wreck and embracing his old friend with his other arm. Barnabas greeted his friend back with a hug and a broad smile. He then introduced Lazarus to Paul. The five of them broke fast together under a late morning sun and talked until it had set again. By the end of the day Lazarus of Bethany was made first bishop of the new church in Kition, where he spent the rest of his life shepherding his flock and testifying about Jesus Christ, his lord and close personal friend.


Submitted: December 30, 2017

© Copyright 2021 R.Guy Behringer. All rights reserved.

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