Monday Rewrite: Hebron Street

by James Clarke

Yesterday – in the Temple, I saw something that took me back 30 years in a moment.

A man was talking – arguing really – with the Pharisees and lawyers – it looked as if they were trying to get him to say something incriminating, but he kept turning their questions back on them. Suddenly he looked across  and our eyes met, and in that instant I was transported back all those years to Hebron Street… Hebron Street  Bethlehem wasn’t much of a place. Very narrow, so that the sun only shone there at mid day when it was too hot to go outside, the rest of the time it was stuffy and gloomy…

One day very early in the year a young couple came into the street, and took a tiny house, they had a very young infant…  days old I should say… the mother was young, but seemed composed and able to manage. The man was older, and before you knew it he had got hold of an old lathe and set up outside the door… You’d see his skirts flying as he pedaled away morning and afternoon… the children loved it, chasing the curls of wood and the shavings as they flew of the edge off the chisels…  the toys he made! before long every child in the street had a
solid wood toy, which lasted and lasted. I’d bet that the furniture he made there is still in use in the houses along the street… and always very reasonable too.

Their boy grew well, joining in with all the other kids there, I guess they were there for a couple of years.
But there seemed something different about him, though an infant, his eyes seemed to know everything, and they looked at you, and deep into you – the same eyes I saw in the Temple not just looking through you, but deep into you, as if knowing everything there is to know… they are surely the same eyes, there cannot be two like that! But the strangest thing happened… one morning some fine horses came into Hebron Street, and went straight to that house… servant girls in fine clothes and pretty shoes went inside… of course the children were all open mouthed wondering what was coming next…  fine horses and youths and girls in silks don’t come into Hebron
Street then or now!

Next a couple of camels came in, and another fine horse, and girls and youths were waiting on them hand and foot, placing a carpet up to the doorway of the house, and going in ahead of three elderly but well dressed and aristocratic men each one with a servant carrying something into the house. But, you know, everyone of their
party, every one, took their sandals off before they went in.
After a while they came out and disappeared as soon as they had come. It wasn’t long after that the family moved out. As quietly as they had come, they were gone, no one knew where. I certainly did not like the look of the Palace Guards that appeared at the end of the street… Then there was the terrible massacre… what had the children done to deserve that?
Hebron Street was empty, devastated – no one remembered the visitors after that…

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