Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My name is Onesimus.

My name is Onesimus. A peculiar name but famous nonetheless. The year is 62 A.D. and I feel I must tell this story. It is strange for me to even write, for you see, I was born into the hellish life of slavery.

My master’s name was Philemon and his wife was Apphia. The truth be told, they were not the worst of the slave owners. As long as our duties were performed satisfactorily, we were in no danger of anything more than to be completely ignored. Philemon did at times have a temper and when I chose to rise up against his rule; let’s just say I carry in my body the consequences.

I was burdened with the reality that I had no hope for a different future. Many of my friends had reconciled themselves to this reality and had come to a semblance of peace. But somehow, inside of me, I thought that I was meant for more. Nothing in my world allowed me to think this way and yet I hungered.

A fellow slave came rushing to meet me one day, with the strangest expression on his face. He had just come back from Laodicea, a city 5 miles north of Colosse. I had never ventured from Colosse and was always anxious to hear news of the outside world.

He told me a strange story of a man, who went by the name of Paul. He had been speaking a message about a new kingdom, in the city of Ephesus, which was just 4 days journey west of Colosse. I thought he must be an insane man to proclaim any kingdom, when just the word itself could leave one dead just for the mentioning of it. And then he told me something else; this madman said, that in this kingdom there was neither slave nor free.

He had to rush off for his master and he left me with this unfathomable news. A kingdom where there was neither slave nor free? Those words haunted me. I would lie awake at night trying to imagine such a place. If I had ever dreamed, those words went beyond my wildest expectations. Every command that came from Philemon were now daggers to my very soul. It was now unbearable to live this life of nothingness. I didn’t believe that such a kingdom existed, but oh, how I longed for such a thing.

I had been raised knowing that if it is too good to be true, then for sure it is. I was going mad with hope that could not be had. What could I do? I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. Those few words had changed me forever. I must find this man who had dared to say such words. If they were true, I would join his army that he must have been gathering for his insurrection. If they were not true, I would kill him with my bare hands for giving me such a false hope.

I was willing to die to find out the truth and so I escaped from my master. So one day I just started walking and did not return. I had never been outside the city. I was ecstatic with joy while at the same time found myself cowering in the shadows whenever a person came near.

Getting to Ephesus was no easy feat for a runaway such as me. Upon getting there I asked about a man named Paul. I was directed to some people who knew of this man. They scared me with their openness. I dared not get into much conversation with them for fear that they would know what manner of man I was. They told me the saddest story of the man whom I sought. They heard he had been taken as a prisoner to Rome itself.

My dreams were crushed. He was just a man with some foolish notions. There was no insurrection to join. I could never return to my master. I had tasted something too rich to allow myself to return, never mind the price I would pay for having run off. I was now the walking dead. No future, no past to return to, a present that had nothing but fear. I determined then and there that I would travel to Rome to kill this man who had spread such false hope. I would die knowing that I had at least done something that mattered.

My heart was racing as I neared the most glorious city known to man, Rome. At least in my pseudo-freedom I could say I had experienced what many of my compatriots would never know. It was a glorious time for me, even though I had no money and was literally starving. My sustenance came from my burning desire to snuff out this hollow stalk of a man named Paul.

How I would find him, I did not know. I began asking about Paul and was surprised that he was well known in a city of such grandeur. I heard he was under house arrest. I was a little taken aback by this, as I knew he was an insurrectionist with ideas that Caesar would not tolerate for a half a heart beat. But what an opportunity for my plan to work.

It was simple enough to steal a knife from one of the many open kitchens and now to finish my task. I found Paul’s house in a modest part of Rome. I had a description of him but did not see him come out of his house. I noticed people coming and going from his residence and always with the biggest smiles on their faces. What a deceiver this man was. Did no one realize how cruel he was, giving hope, when there really was no hope?

I made up my mind to rest one more night and in the morning the deed would be done and I would be finished with this cursed man.

As I approached his door I prayed that he would be alone and no one would be there to intervene. I knocked and sure enough it was Paul standing in front of me. He seemed almost harmless with a crooked nose and balding head. He casually asked me if he could help me. My blood was coursing through my veins, my hands were trembling but I would not be denied. I could not speak as I pulled out my knife. I must finish my task. Paul looked at the knife and then he looked into my eyes.

Click here for Part 2.


Jamie A. Grant said...

Wait, a slave from 62 A.D. has a blog? Ah, the suspense is killing me! And what does Onesimus' name mean?

Jamie A. Grant said...

Ooooh, this is reference to a Biblical character. I get it...

David Grant said...

What? You didn't know this guy is in the Bible?

Jamie A. Grant said...

Why would somebody write a fictional short story about a real person? That's so odd, it could almost be a literary genre...oh wait, it is.

Um, no, I didn't recognize the name right off the bat. Silly me, not having a catalogue of all ten thousand minor characters in the Bible.

David Grant said...

minor characters? An entire book in the Bilbe is written just for him.

Jamie A. Grant said...

Oh, the one-page book of Philemon? A couple of paragraphs makes him a major character?

Yes, he's a fascinating guy and I'm glad that you're writing a story related to him. You just don't have to talk down to me about not knowing him. How many other blog readers do not recognize the name? C'mon, now.

David Grant said...

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist. Please forgive me.

Jamie A. Grant said...

I love sarcasm and trash talk, but if it actually bugs me then I'll call you on it. Forgiveness granted, o father o' mine.