KendallJaye Collard’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: The Judgement of Dismas
A lousy loaf of bread. How was I to know it was a cart bound for the King’s palace? All I knew was that my infant and wife were starving at home. My hunger aside, she needed sustenance to feed tiny Asher. Without food they would both die.
The King had been cruel with his taxation. There were no jobs to be found. I offered my carpentry skills to everyone who crossed my path. I begged on street corners for coin. And when all of these options yielded no result, I resorted to theft.
I was returning home. It had been a long day of looking for work. My entire body ached. I saw a street vendor with a broken cart on the road. I recognized the floor of his cart was broken and food had tumbled to the ground. He was sitting on the ground, sleeping against the crooked cart. I was thankful I had my tools with me. Maybe he would be willing trade me some scraps for repairing his cart.
“Sir!” I cried as I approached the man. With each step closer the picture became more focused.
“Sir?” I tested, praying my eyes were lying.
I knelt and shook his shoulder. “Good Sir?” I asked in a near whisper.
His head fell to the side and I noticed the enormous gash decorating his neck. He was sliced from ear to ear. Blood soaked his shirt, and I recoiled at the discovery of his blood on my hand. He was dead. There would be no work for me today.
Immediately I thought of Marae and Asher at home. The goods here would last months. Knowing just one loaf of bread would buy my family almost a week, I knew what I had to do to save them. I gauged my surroundings. I reached into the cart and took a loaf of bread.
Suddenly the thundering of hooves froze me in place. Three men on horseback came over a small rise in the road. “Halt! Thief!” one of the King’s guards called to me. I immediately dropped the loaf. The bread bounced on the hard ground. My bloody palm print was undeniable on its surface.
My mind began to race knowing the situation looked much worse than what it was. “Please. Your Royal Guards. My family is hungry.” I quickly dropped to my knees and raised my hands in submission. “I was only trying to keep my wife and son from dying. I took this….”
“Looks like more than just petty thievery to me,” he declared while pointing to the dead merchant. “Planning on taking the cart for yourself, Murderer?”
“Caught him red-handed at that.”
The guard closest to the body used his foot to kick over the dead man. “And tried to hide that he was stealing from the King, no less.” The body toppled to the side and revealed the King’s insignia painted on the side of the cart.
“This isn’t what it appears…”
“You know what happens to murderers and thieves who steal from the King?”
Unfortunately, I did.
I was bound and carted to the city proper. I was tossed into a tiny cell with another thief after being stripped and beaten. The verbal assaults never ceased. Even the taunting jailer offered no comfort. “Maybe you two will be famous. You’re being crucified with royalty tomorrow. Maybe he’ll name you his Princes.”
I watched my last sunrise from behind the bars of my prison. I heard the crowds outside who had gathered to watch me and my fellow prisoners meet our fates. I smelled the iron of dried blood in my nose. I felt the sting on my back from last night’s beating. Maybe this was a better fate. Better than wasting away. Better than dying from hunger.
My cross was placed at the right hand of the King of the Jews.
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KendallJaye Collard gets her kicks above the waistline, Sunshine. Wine drinker, Cancer Survivor, and protected by rocksalt. Spread the love with her at @KJCollard.