Her fingers trembled as soon as the old, old scroll passed into her hands. She couldn’t see him very well in the dank light of the lantern, but her grandfather’s eyes glinted like gold flecks in a Klondike stream. They’d found them!!! It had been two years of grueling 10-hour days and nothing to show for it. Until today.
For two years they had slept on the floor of the wind-hollowed cavern, awakened in the night by cougars and coyotes. For two years they’d eaten rice and fire-baked paratha with whatever wild game Mandy had been able to hunt. For two years they had bathed downstream in the lukewarm water of the desert creek, and for two whole years they’d potted and sanitized the water from upstream to drink. They were all over sun-burnt and sand-whipped, and had sand grit in every possible bodily crevice, but they smiled at each other like two teenagers in punch-drunk love.
They had found the lost scrolls of Christ.
“Go on,” he urged, wiping his sweaty hands on his worn khaki shorts.
Most scholars didn’t even believe they existed. But they had gone on a hardly anything but a hopeful whim.
Mandy sat on one of the cavern’s rock ledges and slowly lowered the scroll into her lap. Ever so slowly she unraveled it. And exhaled. “Grandfather, it’s in Hebrew.” Disappointment laced the twenty-year-old’s words. Sighing, she took her grandfather’s seventy-year-old hands and tucked the cherished scroll into them. “Please read it aloud.”
He pulled down the glasses that had been stored on his greying head and cleared his throat. “I have been commissioned to take out the enemies of my father who have usurped his kingdom and stolen from the ones he loves.” He blinked. “It’s a list, dear girl.” He glanced at his granddaughter, eyes wide. “It appears to be a…hit list…of a sort. Turn the lantern up higher, would you?”
Mandy scrambled to the lantern, tweaked the dial, and her grandfather continued in his steady, awe-stricken baritone.
The older man continued to read for a whole two minutes. And then he paused. “There’s one final listing.”
“What is it?”
He took the glasses off. “Death.”
Mandy’s eyes filled with tears. “And he did it.”
“Yes, he did.” Grandfather lowered the lenses once more and pushed them further down on his nose, squinting to read the final line. “For the fame of my father and the glory of his name, I will do this.”
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