Monday Rewrite: A Whole Different Language

‘What the frappucino you goin’ on about?’ At least that is the gist of what he says. ‘Frappin ‘ell, get the frap outta here,’ he froths, stings of spit firing like missiles from his foul mouth. You can guess he isn’t buying it. Why should he? He isn’t the type anyway. Not for that sort of thing. ‘Stop wasting your time with freedom-dreamers and let’s get going on another frappin’ ambush,’ he sneers. ‘I wanna see how those Romans are doing.’ And what he means by that is how many have bled to death after the clubbing he gave them. He’s a jigsaw of scabs and scars. A face like mildewing blue cheese on the wrong side of off. Then bam – she comes towards us right at that moment. Now, some folk curb their way of speaking in the presence of certain others. He isn’t one of them. ‘Frapitty frap, what’s she doing here?’ he says, just at the right level for her and everybody to hear. She’s used to it, plenty of customers speak that way when she’s around. ‘You on for tonight?’ he grunts, with a leery, cock-eyed wink. ‘I’m in the money.’ And by that he means he picked the pockets of those Romans he drubbed. She sighs, shakes her head. ‘Things change,’ she says, and his patchwork face frowns and he answers as he cracks his punch-pocked knuckles. ‘You need to eat though don’t you?’ he says. She gives a strange smile and pulls some money from her pocket. ‘Where d’you get that?’ We both ask, as if we’d rehearsed the timing. ‘A friend,’ she says, ‘a gift.’ From who? ‘Someone who cares.’ ‘Oh I thought they all cared,’ he quips. ‘Every loser you ever slept with for your next meal.’ Her face changes colour a tad and the smile drops, but she won’t be cowed by him. ‘He didn’t want nothin’ from me, that’s the thing. That’s the difference. You think I’m making it up? Come on now, come with me and see.’

And she shoves the money deep inside her clothes, in a place that neither of us can pinch it. We go. And there he is. The man I saw yesterday, the man I was trying to tell him about hardly a few minutes back. She’d seen him too and we all three of us stand there, like statues waiting for a coating of snow. And the more he talks the more I see the glow grow in her eyes, but the odd thing is, I see a fire ignite in his eyes too, a strange furnace inside the soul of Simon the foul-mouthed, Roman-clubbing Zealot, and I wonder what that means. And I get suddenly stomach-sick scared, as if things might never be the same, and eventually I slip away. Just as they’re moving closer. I keep a lot of distance and the next time I see them the years have ticked on and it’s a crowd-pulling shindig they call Pentecost, a good day for picking-pockets. But he’s not doing that, or clubbing Romans. And she’s not out hustlin’ for money. Instead they’re both more alive than a couple of new-born kids and speaking a whole different language. I want to run, but I clench my guts and wait to see if whatever they’ve caught is contagious…

Matthew 10 v 4; Acts 2 vv 1-6

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