*NOTE: The following piece may be offensive to Christians. It also contains crude words.


..Aye, well, the boy always was trouble. I knew he'd come to a bad end. It doesn't surprise me one bit. Blasphemy and sedition, is it? Oh, the shame of it. He's no son of mine. No, really, he isn't. I'm only his stepfather, you know. We let on I was his real Dad, mind, for the sake of the wife's reputation and that. There's not many men would have taken her on in her condition, but I stuck by her and look where it got me. You would think the little whelp would show me some filial devotion and respect after I'd raised him as my own all those years, but no. Look at what he calls himself. Jesus 'Christ', for God's sake. The ungrateful little sod doesn't even use my surname.
..Mind you I was never that keen on the name Jesus, either. Poncey name if you ask me, the wife's idea of course. You're asking for trouble giving a kid a fancy name like that, gives them ideas above their station. A couple of times during his childhood I tried to shorten it to 'Jez' or 'Jed' but they never stuck.
..I thought we had a pretty good father-son relationship at first. One day when he was little I heard some other kids asking him who his father was and he replied, "I am the son of God." There was a tear of pride in my eye and a lump in my throat until the wife said, witheringly, "He doesn't mean you, stupid."
.."Well who does he mean?" I demanded.
.."His real father," she said, rolling her eyes.
..A few direct questions to Jesus satisfied me that this was in fact the case, so I dragged the little cur in the house by the scruff of the neck and started to thrash him with a leather belt. "I'm your father, and don't you forget it!" I snarled.
..In all the times I had cause to thrash my stepson during his childhood, adolescence and young manhood, he almost never stood up to me, the jessy. I suppose in fairness if he had done I would have put him in hospital, but the way he just stood there passively, as he did now, looking so bloody meek and mild and saying, "I forgive you," the superior little sod, used to enrage me even more.
.."I'll teach you to forgive me, you little bastard!" I yelled, and leathered him some more.
..On this occasion, for once, I eventually managed to make him yell back at me. I spent two weeks doing it and wore out half a dozen leather belts and a carpentry mallet in the process, but I succeeded in the end. During most of this period my wife was gliding about the house smiling tranquilly and humming hosannas to herself, as was her wont, but eventually even she noticed that all was not sweetness and light.
.."Stop, Joe, stop!" she started scriking. "Jesus, why do you have to provoke him? The two of you are tearing me apart!"
.."He's got to stop forgiving me!" I cried, grimly redoubling my blows. "And he's got to call me Daddy! Call! Me! Daddy! Call! Me! Daddy!" I snarled, driving home every word with a fresh thwack from the belt.
.."You're not my Dad!"Jesus blubbered. "You'll never be my Dad! My Dad's much bigger than you, and he'll kick your head in one day!"
.."Oh aye?" I said. "Where is he, then?"
.."In heaven!"
.."He fucking will be if I ever catch him," I muttered, glaring at my wife while giving Jesus a final backhand.
..This kind of thing went on fairly regularly for several years - until Jesus was thirty and left home, in fact. Once I tried family counselling. The shrink explained that it was quite common for stepchildren to fantasize that their missing parent was someone important. Understanding the problem at last, I went home with a new sense of purpose and attempted to beat the delusions out of him, but to no avail.
..Of course the question of who Jesus' real father was was something I brooded about a lot. "An angel visited me," my wife used to say, dimpling. I've been looking for a blond fucking dwarf ever since, I'll find the cunt one day.
.."It's not like you think," she'd say with her usual placid smile. "Nothing happened. The spirit entered me through my ear."
.."I don't wanna hear this!" I'd scream, putting my hands over my own ears. The interloper appeared to have been some imbecile yokel from a place where they didn't have any sex education. Mind you he found his way around in the end, didn't he, because nine months later he showed up.
..I suppose the mystery of Jesus' parentage was part of the reason we didn't quite bond with each other in the way I at first hoped we would. To be honest, though, even before he started to manifest his obsession with his real father Jesus was something of a disappointment to me, not quite what I'd hoped for in a son. He was a sissy and a mother's boy, he wasn't interested in sports, he spent far too much time reading books and pressing flowers. One year for his birthday I spent a month making him a full gladiator's outfit, with sword, flail, trident, the works, did he ever play with it? Did he shite. For a while as he grew up I continued to quietly nurse a dream that I might see him in the arena one day, and when he was a bit older I bought him a spear and a knackered old goat to practise on, but he stabbed like a girl.
..Any hopes I had that he might one day follow me into the family business also faded as he grew to manhood. He was the worst carpenter in the whole of Judaea. I reckon his one chance on Friday is if they let him build his own cross. He'd likely come up with a two-foot parallelogram and mumble something about the grain of the wood being wrong for a cross but he'd made a shelf-unit instead. That's all he could ever make, those bloody slanted shelf-units. Chairs, tables, roof-beams, whatever I set him to work on they all ended up as an out-of-skew shelf-unit. The house was littered with them. His mother wouldn't throw them out, she encouraged him. "That's nice, dear," she'd say with a tranquil smile as he showed her yet another fucking two-foot rhomboid. "We can use it to keep things in." And then she'd go off to smile and be radiant somewhere else. I used to thrash him for it, of course. I knew he'd never make a carpenter no matter how much I did it, but I thrashed him anyway. For the exercise, mainly.
..When Jesus used tools his left hand never knew what his right hand was doing. He was forever getting nails through his hands. "Shit that hurts," he'd yell. "God, God, why are you picking on me, what the fuck did I do to deserve this?" He never could take it like a man. He was always showing his wounds off, though, getting people to put their fingers in and stuff. He had this mate Thomas and he'd put his hands over his eyes and go, "Guess who?" and Thomas would go, "There are fucking great holes in the palms of these hands, so it must be you, Jesus, you klutz."
..Once I ordered a self-assembly flatpack wardrobe from Jerusalem and let Jesus put it together, reckoning even he couldn't balls that up. It took him eight hours and when he'd finished he'd turned into a fishing boat. With a mast and everything. Don't ask me how, but he did it. "A miracle," said the wife, but it wasn't, it was just very bad furniture making. We had the bloody thing sitting in the parlour for six months before I could work out how to turn it back into a wardrobe. We used to have to sit in it to eat dinner. I thrashed him with a belt daily during this period, of course, and twice on Saturdays.
..By this point Jesus had grown into a fragile, pallid young man with long floppy hair falling over his face and a dreamy, otherworldly gaze, the cunt. I thought he'd probably become a musician. Reasoning that this might be a means of turning his adolescent weltschmertz and burgeoning messianic complex into a profitable career, and that he was probably already on drugs anyway, I actually bought him a lyre, but he was never able to master anything beyond the first three bars of The Song Of Solomon. As much as he irritated me, I could see how his brand of junkie chic might be appealing to a certain kind of female, and with a brief return to my early paternal pride I looked forward to the day when he would ask if he could borrow the donkey to take some bird out. I remembered how I used to borrow my dad's donkey to pick Mary up, how I'd take her out to some secluded hilltop and pretend to run out of carrots, not that it ever got me anywhere. The night I found out someone else had got into her I went out on it blind drunk and wrote it off, took a corner too fast and rolled it three times and put it in a ditch upside down.
..But anyway, Jesus didn't seem to be interested in girls. He was too much of a prig and goody two-shoes. I remember once when he was young he found some of his schoolmates writing 'Mary Magdalene will show you her bum for two denarii' on a wall and he made them rub it off. "Hey, come on, that's not fair," he said. "If you've never shown your bum to anyone then you can talk." Now he was older he spent a lot of time hanging round the town bikes trying to convince them they didn't have to take their drawers down to be popular. At first I thought he must be queer on top of everything else, but then one day I came home to find Jesus sitting there with one of these loose birds kneeling before him massaging his feet with olive oil and looking up at him adoringly. One of his poncey bookworm mates was standing there looking shocked. "Jesus, Jesus," he said, "why are you letting that naughty lady mess around with your feet?" "She's a very misunderstood girl," said Jesus dreamily, a big smile on his face, "and don't knock it till you've tried it." "That's my boy," I thought, affectionately taking my belt off and thrashing him, the girl, and his mate.
..By now it was apparent that Jesus was no ordinary kid, even for a sissy. For one thing there was an increasing incidence of what the wife referred to as miracles and I called showing off. Looking back I suppose the first miracle was when he was four or five, when I threw him into the River Jordan to teach him to swim, and instead of swimming, or sinking, he just sort of stood on it. After giving the matter due consideration I decided to leather him for being a smart-arse and say no more about it.
..Another incident that strikes me as unusual in retrospect was the time he went on a school outing, up a mountain looking at flowers or something. That evening his teacher came back to the house with him, carrying a basket full of bread and fish.
.."What's this?" I said.
.."A most peculiar thing," said the teacher. "When we got there it turned out some of the children had forgotten to bring anything to eat, so Jesus started passing round loaves and fishes out of his satchel. There was enough to feed everyone and this much left over."
..I looked at Jesus, at the loaves and fishes, and then at my wife.
..I said, "What kind of a fucking packed lunch did you make that boy? He was going on a day trip, not to bastard China. You mean he's fed every cunt in the class out of my fucking larder? You want your fucking head examining, woman." She just simpered. God, she gets on my wick at times. Sitting on her arse all day smiling and being tranquil and radiant and full of grace, and glowing a bit. I've never liked to talk about this much, but she definitely glows. Does your wife glow? No, I didn't think so. Mine does. No, you can't notice it so much in daylight, but at night you can read a book by it. Come to think of it, he never needs a candle when he gets up for a piss either. What a fucking family. What really gets me goat is the way she's always going on about being a virgin. "How do you do, I'm the Virgin Mary," to every bastard she meets, I mean me mates and everyone. Aye, the Virgin Mary, and this is my husband, the Incredibly Frustrated Joseph, his bollocks are scheduled to explode any day now. Meanwhile the proof that she isn't a virgin is eating me out of house and home. God I got a bum deal. I take on her and her kid and she'll never let me touch her, she just lies there next to me glowing in the dark. I married a night-light, not a fucking wife. Anyway I leathered Jesus to sleep that night too.
..A while after that we went on a family holiday to the Sea of Galilee. One day we were down by the shore watching the fishing boats. They were having a slow morning, and suddenly Jesus says, "Look, Mum! I'm going to create some fish." "That's nice, dear," said his mother placidly. And bugger me if he didn't do it. All of a sudden the nets were bulging with fish, fish were leaping out of the water and hurling themselves onto the boats, they were practically wriggling up on shore and jumping into frying pans, you have never seen so many fish in your life. Of course the price of fish plummeted until you could hardly give the things away, and the fishermen tried to lynch him. That night I endeavoured to teach Jesus a few basic economic realities; luckily I'd brought along a trunk full of my favourite belts and some good knobbly pieces of oak, just in case.
..As Jesus got older his merry pranks became more and more difficult to ignore, and my right arm grew weary from chastising him. Once we were at the wedding of one of my wife's relatives and he turned the water into wine, the little shithouse. There were teetotal dowagers standing on tables doing the dance of the seven veils left, right and centre, and an uncle who wasn't supposed to touch a drop because of an allergy vomited on the bride.
..Another time he made a complete arse of us by ruining a funeral. Everyone's there in their best mourning gear, the catering's already paid for, and right in the middle of it laughing boy goes and resurrects the corpse. Made a hollow charade of the whole thing. Nobody knew what to do or where to look. The rabbi tried to carry on as though nothing had happened, trying to hold the corpse down with one hand while he was saying the prayers. "I'm alive, I'm alive," said the corpse. "No you're not, lie down," said the rabbi. What a fucking shambles.
..He was forever resurrecting local kids who'd died. The neighbours complained in the end, they couldn't afford to feed them all. They were sleeping fourteen to a bed in some houses in our street thanks to his one-man war on infant mortality. And he'd heal all the little crippled kids and that. Just to annoy me, I swear. I'd work three days making a pair of crutches for some kid and no sooner would I sell them than he'd be up to his monkey shines and I'd have the parents back through the door demanding a refund. Still, I found the surplus crutches could make quite effective cudgels if used correctly, as my stepson agreed.
..When Jesus was in his late teens he started going round with a gang of twelve lads. "Do you want to be in my gang?" he'd say to anyone he liked the looks of. And he gave them all tough gang nicknames. There was this lad called Simon and he said, "You can be called Rock," and Simon said, "Cool." At first I thought he was finally toughening up, but they never caused trouble or started fights. They just used to hang about on street corners making nice remarks about passersby, or go round helping old ladies across the road en masse, they were crap. Once, though, they got in a scrap with some rough kids, and Rock, who was quite hard actually, pulled a knife and cut someone's ear off. Jesus picked it up and stuck it back on. Unfortunately the guy thought Jesus was going to hit him and flinched, and the ear ended up stuck to his neck. Which was a conversation piece for him to say the least.
..Well, anyway, Jesus idled round like that for the next ten years or so, cluttering up the house and showing no inclination to strike out on his own. His mother kept saying he was going to be a great man one day, but he was certainly taking his time about it. He was always going on about his real father's house and how many rooms it had, but he was in no fucking hurry to move out of mine. So then he eventually leaves home at the age of thirty - thirty, mark you, the bloody slacker. And what does he do? Does he get a job at last? Does he finally put his learning to some use and enrol in Pharisee school? Does he fuck as like. He goes poncing off into the desert 'to try and find himself'. Swanning round some fucking kibbutz shacking up with hippy backpackers and that, no doubt.
..Anyway that was the last I heard of him until yesterday some cunt comes up to me and goes, "Hey, your kid's in the news, he's showing his armpits up at Golgotha at the weekend."
..Ah, he'll get off with it. His mother's there now trying to petition the governor, soft cow. He'll get off all right. He'll probably get some smart-arse mouthpiece to say he was abused as a kid and we didn't bring him up properly. Probably right, and all. I didn't leather him half as much as I should have done.

(September 99)