(The seventh script in a series leading up to Easter. To start at the beginning, go here.)
Act Three, Scene One
(JOSEPHINE and NICHOLAS are seated facing the audience. NICHOLAS has his head in his hands. JOSEPHINE is staring blankly. A table with books is nearby.)
NICHOLAS: We have broken the Law. We, the Pharisees, have betrayed what we loved most.
JOSEPHINE (Wearily): What else could we do? They were all watching.
NICHOLAS: An illegal trial, late at night. False witnesses. Destroying the temple…refusing to pay taxes to Caesar…revolt and rebellion…he never said any of those things!
JOSEPHINE: But why, Nicholas? Why didn’t he defend himself? I would have said something, would have spoken up—if he had. But he never did.
NICHOLAS: We have broken the Law. No, no, it’s worse than that.
JOSEPHINE: I never knew there was something worse for Pharisee than breaking the Law.
NICHOLAS: We have broken him. I…have betrayed what I loved most. He was my teacher, Josephine. He was my friend. (They sit in silence, until ANNA and JEREMIAH enter.)
JEREMIAH: Well, he’s dead.
JOSEPHINE: So soon?
ANNA: Yes. He was weak, when it came right down to it. He could save others…but he couldn’t save himself.
JEREMIAH: The Lazarus thing must have been a trick. And to think I almost fell for—I mean, I knew it all along. The whole time.
JOSEPHINE: Yes. I’m sure.
ANNA: Look at you two, so solemn, staring at your books. You’d almost think you were mourning for him.
NICHOLAS: Look at the sky, Anna. The darkness, the thunder. The whole world is mourning for him.
ANNA: Well, I for one, will be happy to wake up to a Sabbath that won’t be ruined by that teacher and his heresy. (ANNA and JEREMIAH exit.)
NICHOLAS: What have we done, Josephine?
JOSEPHINE: We didn’t do anything.
NICHOLAS: Exactly! We stood there, let an innocent man die.
JOSEPHINE: What did you want us to do? Go to the execution with the others, mocking him? Or maybe risk our lives to cry with his followers?
NICHOLAS: I wanted us to do…something. Anything. We weren’t there for him when he needed us.
JOSEPHINE: We can be there now.
NICHOLAS: Weren’t you listening? It’s too late.
JOSEPHINE: We can give him a decent burial, at least. I have a private vault on my estate. He’ll be buried like a king.
NICHOLAS: He didn’t die like one.
JOSEPHINE: That’s his own fault, now isn’t it? He could have rushed into battle, charged into Jerusalem in a tank. Crushed his enemies. I don’t know why he didn’t. Dear God in heaven, why didn’t he?
NICHOLAS: We may never know. It’s a mystery.
JOSEPHINE: You Pharisees and your mysteries. (Stands.) Come on, Nicholas.
NICHOLAS: Where…where are we going?
JOSEPHINE: We need permission to take his body.
NICHOLAS: From…the Romans?
JOSEPHINE: No, from the Zealot Society for Tax Protests. Of course, from the Romans. From Pilate himself.
NICHOLAS: I…I can’t. No. I hate public speaking. Especially in front of…evil murderous dictators.
JOSEPHINE: It won’t be so bad. We’ll be like Moses and Aaron. I’ll do the talking, you’ll carry the big stick and give Pharaoh stern looks from behind your beard.
NICHOLAS: This is not a time to joke, Josephine.
JOSEPHINE: I know. I can’t help it, Nicholas. I always laugh when…
NICHOLAS: When what?
JOSEPHINE: When I want to cry instead. (Turns to go.) Are you coming?
NICHOLAS: Yes. Yes, I am. It’s the least we can do. But wait—I have spices. Aloes, myrrh…we can use it for him. All of it.
JOSEPHINE: Shouldn’t you save some for your own death, old man?
NICHOLAS: I feel a little dead already.
JOSEPHINE: I think I know what you mean.
NICHOLAS: Talking to Pilate won’t be the worst of it, you know. It’ll be hard, looking at those eyes…closed, forever.
JOSEPHINE: Yes. It will be. This is our chance to be brave, Nicholas. We’ll claim him as our friend. Finally.