A Stoning at Westerdok
by Aryan Kaganof
Jesus appeared at the Westerdok one rainy afternoon. Some people remembered that it was in winter; others swore that he came in summer. Sir Djeff always thought the debate was nonsensical since there was very little difference between summer and winter in Amsterdam; it was always gray, overcast and raining. That despicable drizzle that the Dutch call “motregen.”
Count Eagle spotted him first, gave chase immediately, accused Jesus of trying to steal his purse. Count Eagle had many purses hidden away all over the Westerdok terrain. He was a miser, a hoarder; one of those classic misanthropes who despised humanity but secretly feared God, hoped that he could buy God off with his vast accumulation of carefully secreted sheckels.
Count Eagle’s screaming brought out most of the other caravan and hut dwellers who eked out their scraggly existence on the Westerdok. Jesus was soon caught. It was Sir Djeff who tackled him, brought him down. A crowd rapidly gathered around the two of them. Count Eagle yelling in his unpleasant high-pitched voice about his purse.
Then Jesus said, “This is my home. I’ve lived here all my life.”
Now of course nobody at the Westerdok had ever seen this man before, and some of them, Mistress Grace for example, had lived here more than twenty years. And yet everybody gathered around Jesus knew that he was telling the truth. Or at least, they knew that he was not lying. There was a quality to the tone of his voice, a profound bright glow coming from his eyes that was the sworn enemy of falsehood. Jesus was one of those rare, accursed people who did not know how to lie, who was incapable of lying. Such men are doomed in our world.
Then Jesus touched Sir Djeff on the shoulder. He said, “This is my brother.”
Sir Djeff shrugged. He had never seen Jesus in his life before and yet he did not dare to contradict the man. There was something in the assured tone of Jesus’ voice that made Sir Djeff doubt himself, doubt the validity of his senses and his memory. Perhaps Jesus was his brother, and not merely in a metaphorical sense. Sir Djeff was compelled to ponder the possibility that his mother back in Dodge City, Kansas, might have borne this other son out of wedlock and have given him up for adoption. It was plausible. It was a more plausible option that considering even for a moment that Jesus was not speaking the truth, the gospel truth.
Somebody from among the outcasts called the police. It took more than an hour but eventually they came. The police were not used to being called from within the Westerdok territory. It was mostly the case that their presence was unwelcome. They usually came to round up illegals or raid the caravans and shacks looking for illicit drugs, or books or other remants of the the analogue period.
Four policemen in black leather outfits and metal helmets quickly sized up the situation and took down Count Eagle’s complaint. Then the four of them manhandled Jesus into the back of their armoured van. They hoisted him in and shut the double doors behind him. They drove the van to the nearest bridge, still clearly visible from the Westerdok. The four of them bundled out of the van, opened the double doors, hauled Jesus down. Then they threw him over the side of the bridge into the freezing water. Drove off back into the fortified city.
The crowd was astonished by this turn of events. They had not expected the police to operate in such cavalier fashion. Surely this was beyond the proscribed limits of police behaviour. Jesus’ brother Sir Djeff felt complicit in this astonishingly inhospitable deed. Even the hard hearted Count Eagle felt a little guilty. Then a gasp went up in the crowd. Jesus was swimming back through the filth and the ice blocks of the canal, back to the Westerdok.
When he reached the area where most of the caravans were parked, Jesus climbed out of the icy canal and made his way directly to Count Eagle’s caravan where he began to dig a hole in the earth with his hands. Both the Count and Sir Djeff tried to talk to him but he would not talk back. Sir Djeff, his brother, went into his little wooden shack and emerged with a blanket which he carefully placed over Jesus’ shoulders. But Jesus merely shrugged the blanket off and continued with his methodical digging. Those in the crowd who stood close by could see that his fingers were bleeding from the exertion of digging into the cold earth.
Eventually he had dug a deep enough hole in the ground next to Count Eagle's caravan for him to fit his entire body into. Then he curled himself up and went to sleep.
The next morning the crowd gathered around the sleeping Jesus. Count Eagle threw the first stone. Jesus’ brother Sir Djeff threw the second. Soon Jesus was being pelted with stones. Everybody took at least one turn at stoning Jesus. When he was dead they covered his body with earth in the shallow grave that he had himself dug using his bare hands.
Some say this all happened many years ago, Only Mistress Grace claims it was more recent, a matter of months. Nobody has a very good memory these days. Sir Djeff has gained a certain amount of prestige in the Westerdok community for being Jesus’ only known blood relative. Count Eagle has become something of a pariah for having called the cops. He maintains to this day that it was not he who called the cops, but nobody else will admit to the deed and therefore it is generally taken that he did so. Certainly there is no doubt in the community that it was he who cast the first stone.
Who was Jesus? Where did he come from? Why was he stoned? Nobody really knows the answers to these questions but it looks as if the mystery might be the start of something big. There is evidence that a cult is growing around the figure of Jesus, who appeared so mysteriously one night at the Westerdok and was put to death the next morning by those very people that he claimed to love.
Copyright © 2005 by Aryan Kaganof