It Wasn’t Me
(from WIP Not for Sunday School)
Boys will be boys. There was a nice house with a kind of veranda fronting the second floor, but with one spot where the overhanging roof notched in, so if you stood on the railing it was no great feat to haul yourself up onto the roof itself. And the tiles were reasonably new; none would crack or give way. It was long way down but it was safe, as safe as any two story roof may be.
But one day someone brought along a rag doll, and a game of toss, across the apex of the roof, developed. Jesus was on one side with two others. Opposite them, over the crest of the roof, were two more, so neither side could quite see what the other side was doing—like passing the doll among them before one of them tossed it over, so you couldn’t be sure where to expect it to appear. It would just pop up, and you had to scramble a little to catch it. It was funny. It got harder to catch because the boys were inventive, like throwing a shoe, which thoroughly distracted from the rag doll popping up over on the opposite hand.
It was probably the shoe that did it. Its catcher ducked when he realized it wasn’t the rag doll, but then extended his foot after it to keep it from sliding off. Wouldn’t want a shoe landing on someone on the busy street below, which his slope of roof overlooked.
He over extended and began to slide himself. He must have clawed the tiles to bloody finger nubs, but he was a big lad and his momentum carried him to the edge and in a last desperate effort to grab hold of something, anything, he propelled himself over the edge. He fell—the full two stories, awkwardly, so he broke his neck and was dead instantly.
The boys gathered up above, looking down at him as a crowd gathered. Quickly three of them shinnied down at the niche and slipped through the open window. They ran, downstairs and out a back door. Jesus stayed, peering down over the edge of the roof—one wonders why, why not run with the others?
Naturally, passers-by below began to look up, and spotted this boy’s head sticking out beyond the roof, something like a later gargoyle. People began to point, a word began to rise: That boy up there, he pushed him! The mother of the boy appeared in the crowd and began to scream, ‘He threw him down, I saw him, he threw my Zenon off the roof!’
Oh, boy. Young Jesus had a temper. He glared at that woman, he swung his legs so they dangled over the edge of the roof and sat there gripping the tiles, leaning a little forward and glaring down like a terrible bird of prey. Everyone now looking up at him and accusing him. The mother, particularly, pissed him off, and then the father, standing over his boy’s body, picked up a stone.
Jesus shouted down at them: “I did not throw him down!”
But still they accused him, it only got louder, more extreme: ‘pushed him from behind,’ etc.
So he leaped down off the roof and stood by the body of the child and cried out in a great voice: “Zenon! Rise up and tell me, did I throw you down?”
It was as if Zenon had been faking: he rose up instantly and said: “No, Lord, you did not throw me down, but you have raised me.”
Everyone was astonished. The mother and father glorified God for this sign, and prostrated themselves to worship Jesus.
Satisfied, Jesus made a slight hand gesture, and as Zenon fell dead again, Jesus walked away.
Rendered from The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, one of the earliest infancy gospels (from around 150 A.D.). It was very popular in the first Christian centuries. “For modern apologists, the work is an ethical embarrassment, for the little Jesus is not only a child prodigy but a child terror, performing nasty miracles.”
About the writer:
Kent Dixon is a prize-winning writer with three Pushcart nominations and three Ohio Arts Council awards to his credit. His fiction and poetry have appeared in TriQuarterly, The Iowa Review, Shenandoah, Antioch Review, Gettysburg Review, Georgia Review and others. His nonfiction has appeared in The American Prospect, Florida Review, Kansas Quarterly, Energy Review, and others. He is recently retired from teaching Literature and Creative Writing at Wittenberg University. His graphic novel The Epic of Gilgamesh, co-authored with his son Kevin Dixon, is available now from Seven Stories Press. He lives with his wife Mimi in Springfield, Ohio.
Image: Untitled photo by Cyril Larvor, Paris.