"The Thief" . . . by Karl Ogg
I had hoped that I would die during the night. Chained to this dungeon wall day after day. It stinks in here. I’ve been here for some time, but it still stinks. I don’t think the straw has been changed in years. Git! Git away you rat! Git! Git! I hate rats. These shackles have really made my wrists raw. Can’t do much chained up like this. I think the stink gets worse every day.
What? I hear, something, Ah-a-aaa-ah, it sounds like people, they sound happy. What is it they are saying?“ Long live the King.” What king? “Let all heavens rejoice.” What are they saying? “Glory to God in the highest heaven.” What does that mean? I… I… I wonder. They’re gone now. Who’s the king? Who are they following? And why?
I thought I smelled palm branches; ick, it stinks like everything bad in here. I wonder who he was?
Except for some cries and groans, it’s quiet again. Well I guess I’ll try to sleep. Get over you, stay on your own straw, mine’s about gone.
I hate this! Day after day, chained to this wall, with very little light. I can see that it’s getting dark. I’ll try to sleep. What? Wha-aat’s that noise? I hear more people. Yes! More people but they don’t sound happy. NO! they are cursing and shouting words I wouldn’t use at someone. I wonder what the uproar is about. Now they have quieted down. Maybe I can get back to sleep.
Wait! Kill ‘em, is that what they are saying? Kill ’im, kill ‘im. I…I … wonder who they are upset with? He must have done something really bad to upset the people like that, that they would want to kill him. All’s quiet again. I will try again to get some sleep.
What’s … what’s that noise? Sounds like … sounds like soldiers coming down to the dungeon. Oh no! It’s, its Horse. He is the most evil captain of the guards there is. I wonder who they’re after this time? Maybe that man over there in the corner. They’ve been working him over pretty good lately. They’ve passed by him. I know it’s not that man across from me. I’ve been told he’s been here over 50 years. He’s too weak to move and he has shrunken so much, I bet his hands would slide out of his shackles.
NO! They are looking at me, and coming my way. I’m going to fight them all the way with all I’ve got. They can’t do this to me. You sons of camel dung! Your Mother’s bald. Your father’s, ooo-oh no, Horse, you didn’t need to whip me. No! Horse, no! Not again, I’ll go. Oooo- uummm, that hurts to the bone. Horse’s whip takes everything out of you. You win Horse. I’ll go! Just don’t whip me. You need to help me after the whip. I can hardly walk. Ouch! Something is broken on the floor. It cut my foot. I can feel the blood. Ummm! We must be outside; the light is so bright, I can hardly see. What Horse? Pick up that timber? OK! Ouch, Horse, you didn’t need to whip me; I was going to pick it up. Hey, what kind of timber is this? It looks odd. It looks like a “T”. No a cross. It’s a cross!
I have to carry my own cross to die on?
Yes Horse! Follow that man? Ok. Just don’t whip me. What? I, I aaah, can’t see. What’s on his head? It’s, it’s thorns. There is a crown of thorns on his head. That had to hurt when they pushed it down on his head. Look at the dried blood on the side of his face.
Don’t whip me Horse, I’m going. Oh---Oh! HO---Horse, you didn’t need to whip me. I’m going. I’m going. With the whip it’s all I can do. It’s all I can do to pick up and carry this cross. Well we’re moving. Hey! He’s down. The man in front of me is down. Don’t Horse! Don’t whip him. Horse! Don’t whip him! Good! He’s getting up. They must have worked him over good. He can hardly move that cross. His cross is much larger and heavier than mine. He must be in great pain trying to carry that cross. We’re moving again.
These cobblestones are hot and burn my feet. Ouch! I wish I had my sandals. They were pure horsehide and camel skin. They were the best sandals I ever had. Lets see, where did I get them? O, yes! I got them from that vendor in Jerusalem. He chased me a long way, almost caught me twice. I still got away. He’s down again, get up quick, and get up before Horse sees you.
The people. The people. I don’t understand them. Some are shaking their fists at him, cursing him, spitting at him. But yet still others stand quietly, crying with hands folded. How is he? I don’t understand what this man could have done to deserve this.
NO! He’s down again, look, that man is coming out to help him. Good! They’re making the man carry the cross for him. Good! Look how big that man is, and strong. He could carry both our crosses. I dare not cry out or Horse would give me the whip.
Uhh-ooo-aa, Horse, why did you whip me again? Keep up, how can I keep up, when your whip takes all my strength? Yes! Horse, I’m moving. I’m keeping up. We’re to the edge of the city. I wonder where we are going? Look there! On the hill! Looks like soldiers. That must be where we are going. That is an ugly hill. NO! Can that be the hill they call the skull? Golgotha! I’ve heard about this place. This is a terrible place to die.
They’re laying him on his cross. No! NO! Oh NO! They’re going to drive spikes through his hands. 1, 2, 3, that’s got to hurt. Five times they drove the spikes. He does not fight back or cry out in pain. I don’t understand, it’s go to hurt. They’re going to nail the other hand.
He’s… He’s looking at me, aa-aa-aa-amah! I’ve never seen a face like his it seems to glow. His face showed kindness, warmth, pity, but yet joy. I feel funny… no not funny… I feel good! I feel good, why? I don’t understand the way I feel. They’re nailing the other hand, 1,2,3,4,5 times they drove the spike and yet he does not cry out in pain. His feet, they’re putting one over the other. NO! They’re going to nail both feet together. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. Yet he does not cry out. It’s got to hurt. Up, up he goes. NO! He dropped down at least a foot. That’s got to hurt. I thought his hands were going to tear out when they dropped the cross in that hole. But he is up there...
It must me my turn. Lay down? Ok. OOOH NO, Noooo! Horse not the whip, I’ll be glad to lay down, anything to get away from the whip. Lets see, NO! NO! You can’t! Not the spikes. Please tie me, or something, but not the spikes! You sons of snakes, vipers, ahooum, darn it Horse!, may your whip see your back someday. Ok, nail away! I’ll try to resist the pain. 1,2,3,4,5 Ouch! Now my other hand. 1,2,3,4,5 Humm-mm-m. I can’t take this. My feet, they’re nailing my feet separately.
Don’t drop me in the hole like you did him. Umm-aa-umph! That did hurt. I thought my arms were coming out of their sockets. It’s hard… it’s hard to breath.
Look at the people, some are still crying and standing quietly, looking up at him; others are still shouting at him and shaking their fists. What are they saying? You can save others, come down and save yourself, or something like that. Too many are shouting, can’t quite make everything out. Is someone calling him Jesus? He’s talking to those people at his feet. What is he saying? He’s saying something about mother. Mother, I wonder, that older lady must be his mother. This must be terrible for her to see her son die on a cross.
What’s that I hear? Yes! There is someone on a cross on the other side of him. Where’d he come from? I didn’t see him before. He’s cursing him too. What is he saying? I can hardly hear. Did he call him the Messiah? He should save himself and us too? Is that what he’s saying? How can he save himself and us? We’re nailed to these wooden crosses, and with all those people and soldier, how does he expect us to get away? Where would we go?
Hey, hey you, over there! Why are you cursing him? We deserve to die. We’ve stolen and killed all of our lives. We’ve been convicted of our crimes. Don’t you fear God when you are dying? This man has done nothing to deserve this. Hang there and die like a man.
Mother? Yes, Mother, what did she tell me about the Messiah, Lord, Savior, King who was to forgive man’s sins or something, could this be that man? I wonder. I think I’ll call out and ask him. Sir, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Why did I say that? O, he said something did I understand? Is that what he said? That today I will be with him in Paradise? I don’t know where Paradise is, but any place but here would be better. It’s starting to get dark. It’s getting really dark, and in the middle of the day. Putt—sputt! I hate wind; it’s blowing dirt in my eyes, ears and mouth. I can’t wipe it off. The thunder, the thunder is deafening, the lightning is brilliant and hurts my eyes. The people are moving back, some are running back to town. I don’t understand what is happening. It’s quiet now. What did he say? Forgive them for they don’t know what they have done. Why should he ask God to forgive the people who have turned against him? They did this to him. Forgive them? Why?
If I can be in Paradise with him, I’ll ask him why His head drops and there is a sign that says, “King of the Jews”. I didn’t know the Jews had a king. No wonder people were cursing him and wanted him dead. NO! NO! He drops again and his body slumps. I think he said, “It is finished.” He can’t die yet. I’m alone. I can’t see the other man to see if he is dead or not.
That soldier is going to poke him with that spear. No! Don’t. Don’t! He did not flinch. He must be dead.
My legs and arms are cramping badly and I hurt all over. It’s getting harder and harder to breathe. My mouth and lungs are dry and swollen and my eyes are glazing over. I think I’ll lower my head and relax some, maybe that will help. What did he say about Paradise? If I can be in Paradise with him, I’m ready....