The Chair

This is one of the first short stories I wrote, and it has not been edited all that much.  

If Jesus was a carpenter, have you ever wondered what he made?  There is no Biblical evidence for this story, but it made me think…

The heat.  The heat was the worst, but it was only at the top of a long list.  The food, the people, the politics, the loneliness, it went on and on.  When the commission first arose he convinced his wife that it would be a great adventure, a stepping stone to greater things, besides whoever said no to these things?  He was not sure the arguments even convinced himself anymore but there were worst governorships.  He could have got Germania.  It was as bad where he was but with the cold and wet as well.  He thought it would be worse to be cold and wet than hot, at least he tried to convince himself of it to make the situation feel better.

He walked into the receiving hall.  It was one of the most impressive rooms in the city and yet just reminded him of how far from Rome he really was.  The floor was nothing like the polished marble of the Emperor’s rooms.  At least it was cooler here.

“Who is this?” he asked gruffly steeling himself for another petty request about something to do with land he cared nothing for.

“This is Joseph ben Jacob, the carpenter that you commissioned for the Chair” replied Melcus his steward, sensing his masters mood.

His mood lightened.  Not a request and even something that he was interested in.  “Do you have it?” by now he had reached his governors chair and drank deeply of the wine and water that was waiting for him.  They had even managed to get that cool today.  Perhaps it was going to be a better day than he thought.

“It is here, my lord, for your inspection.”  Joseph, a man in his 40s stood to one side and revealed an object covered by a deep red cloth.  For the first time he noticed another man, younger, perhaps not quite in his 20s standing to one side.  Everyone, the other attendants, Melcus and even Joseph, was looking at the chair, but this man was looking straight at the governor.  Normally this would have been deeply disrespectful but there was…something about this man.

His attention was drawn back to the chair as the cloth revealed it.  He was genuinally impressed and didn’t feel the need to mask it.  He was expecting something much rougher and sturdy, but there was something, well, elegant about the chair.  It occurred to him that elegant was not a word he had used for some time.

“Would my lord care to examine the chair?”  bowed Joseph respectfully.

“Indeed I would.” He said, surprised by his own admission.

The chair had been commissioned as a governors chair.  The formal chair that showed the authority of the representative of the Roman empire to those it ruled.  He had given a sketch of what he would like the chair to look like and had even given the carpenter access to view to his chair, without touching it of course, to give him an idea of what he expected.  Since this carpenter had not made a chair before he did not have high hopes.  This carpenter had come with high recommendations, but he had been working on the main project of some temple for their god.  Indeed he expected the chair would end up as firewood.  He had commissioned it for a young protege who was about to be given a small protectorship and he wanted to send a gift since he could not leave and see the sending ceremony himself.

As he examined the chair he noticed that he was perfectly balanced without a hint of one leg being longer than the other.  It was at the correct height.  But it was the detail that was captivating.  It was intricate and incredibly well crafted.  There were mainly animals on it: eagles, bears, lions, as well as warriors, it was incredibly beautiful.  The thing was that at certain points the shapes seemed to line up in the shape of a….He had obviously been seeing too many executions and, there was the heat, too.

“Well done.  I am very pleased with your work.  Melcus will see to your payment.”  He paused, “Carpenter, I must say your work is very impressive.”

“If it please, my lord, I must confess that I didn’t do the work, it was my son, Jesus who I passed this commission on to.”

He turned to the younger man.

“I am sure you have a great future ahead of you, I look forward to seeing what else you can do with wood”  He said.  Though he thought, that was a strange turn of phrase, must be the heat.

The younger man did not say anything, but simply bowed his head.  A strange look of great sorrow came over his face and again the governor noticed that there was something about the bearing of this man.

Melcus escorted the carpenter and his apprentice out and started to arrange the predetermined payment of 30 pieces of silver for the work.  Other servants came to take the chair away when his wife came in.  She did not often visit the receiving room so it was a nice surprise.

“Is that it?” she asked.

“Yes” he replied, “they did a better job than I expected.”

“Hmmm” she replied as she looked over it and recognised the beauty and elegance of the chair.  She smiled.  “It’s better than yours”

He hadn’t noticed that, but it was true.  But a chair is a chair.

“I am sure Pilate will love it,” she said as the servants took it to prepare it for its trip to Rome.

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