Jesus Christ, PI: A Slay In A Manger

(Disclaimer: if you're offended, please consider the wise words of Kevin Smith: "God has a sense of humor. Just look at the platypus." Either that or do the Christian thing and forgive me. I'm just being silly here.)

Chapter 1: Let There Be Light

And there was light. A huge red and gold ball of fiery furnace jumped over the horizon, turning the sky bluer than stripper's toga and the desert outside town to a white-hot field of ash, air all a-shimmer as sheep and bandits dove for cover, the sun's rays illuminating the whole city, all 80 000 prophets and paupers, whores and horsemen, asses and assholes, Romans and romantics, cynics and Cilicians, soldiers and sod-alls, prefects and imperfects alike squinting as Day burst its shackles and fried the whole place like a plate of greasy breakfast eggs (hold the bacon), its sharpest spear finding the rift between My curtains and piercing the side of My face until the sheer brute force of the morning light forced My eyelid to flap open and I was awake.

Thanks, Dad. Appreciate it. Really, I mean that.

As the rest of this mortal coil followed My poor blinking peepers into consciousness, I realized it was going to be one of those days that usually follow one of those nights with too much wine and not enough song. My initial theory was that someone had set up a smithy in My poor head, where the blacksmith worked a double shift with his sootiest hammer upstairs while the slag got dumped right onto My tongue, scorching it just enough to make it swell up and go stiff but not enough to stop the tastebuds from suggesting something crawled inside and died on it at some point during the last week.

The room kept spinning but after half an eternity slowed down enough for My grainy eyes to make out My surroundings. At least I'd made it back to the right place, in as much as any place is right in this town. My office slash home slash own personal drunk tank, fading "Wanted" posters decorating the bits of wall where the plaster still held except for the places I seemed to have bumped into last night on My way from the door to the bunk I keep behind the desk, scattering notices and newspaper clippings over the floor and a mostly-empty goats' skin of wine draped carelessly over the visitor's chair.

Realizing that the probability of someone with gentle hands and a soft voice suddenly appearing to hand Me something to drink, wash My feet and tell Me I didn't have to do anything all day was rapidly approaching that new-fangled invention known as the zero, I stumbled to My feet, parted the drapes and looked out over the city. Jerusalem. Shit, I'm still only in Jerusalem. A town built on clay and wishful thinking, inhabited by a teeming myriad of sinners and saints, every last oedipal one of'em convinced they were the one and doing their damnedest to act like the other. And then there's Me, doing His damnedest to keep them as straight as humanly possible.

What's that? Who I Am? Let's see, what should we call this unshaven, unwashed, hung over scrap of flesh who pulls the yellowed jute curtains closed again before fumbling around the room for his pants, a pick-Me-up and something vaguely resembling a clue as to what time it is? After all, I've gone by a lot of names. Man, buddy, pal, dude, "HEY!" by people who call themselves friends. Bastard, blasphemer, Son of a fiction and similar phrases by people who don't. I've got documents claiming I'm a Roman citizen, a carpenter, a member of the guard, a qualified faith healer, a rabbi, licensed to drive a donkey cart, permitted to carry a concealed crossbow, and last but not least a private investigator. That's one of the legit ones. The name on it is Jesus with a capital J.

The last thing I wanted on this Popforsaken morning was a new case. But as I emptied the dregs of last night's wine down My dusty gullet, the knock on the door let Me know that the universe was, to quote a phrase, cocking the fuck-with-Me gun once again. Of course if I had known that at the time, I would probably have gone back to bed to dream of green gardens with fresh fruit and a distinct lack of reptiles. But being the fool that I Am, I directed My shaky legs towards the other side of the room, flipped the sign in the window and pushed the door until it held what the sign promised: "OPEN".

It was a dame. Somehow that didn't surprise me; it was a trouble kind of morning, and trouble always seems to come attached to a pair of well-shaped legs and eyes the colour of a misty Sabbath morning, with just enough of a hint of dew on the lower eyelid to appeal to the sucker in you. And no matter how much you may claim that you've learned from past mistakes and know better than to get mixed up in something again, you soon find yourself right back in the same situation. Human weakness, helping your fellow man and all that.

"You Jesus?"

"I might be. Who wants to know?"

"My name is Mary." Of course it was. It's always a Mary, for some reason. "I- I think I'm in trouble. Please. I need your help. I have no one else to turn to."

And so I ended up with an even worse headache and eventually saved the world. It's a dirty job, but hey, we all need to pay the bills somehow and as I was about to be reminded, you never know beforehand who's going to come collecting.