Thursday, October 25, 2012


The voyage down the Red Sea and around Arabia Felix, as The Yemen was known in those days was uneventful. I fed before we left. Twins, they were. Two sleek assassins, in service to a certain lesser member of the Persian royal house. The empire was exceedingly large in those days, stretching form the ramparts of Seljuk holdings in Anatolia (Turkey) to the River Oxus in present day Pakistan, I believe. Their agents were everywhere, slitting throats, or pouring copious streams of unbelievably searing molten lead into the ear canals of unknowing sleepers. Some were also skilled in the garrote. My two were 'free agents' you might say. More like twentieth century American 'hit men,' very cruel and mercenary in every way. The first laughed when I killed his cousin. He said - How fortuitous! Now the gold is all mine!........ Yet he changed his tune when he became dessert, offering me all manner of princely recompense. But I drained him just the same. And the treasure became mine anyway. 

So I boarded the dhow (sailing craft, like sleek caravels) with perhaps fourteen or fifteen co-religionists and settled in below deck. A young man from The Sinai, himself a refugee from Trinitarian blood lust, agreed to guard me during the passage. And when he was indisposed, his loyal retainer promised to do likewise. 

But I am confused. There were two ships...two, I am sure of it. For we disembarked at a Yemeni port, the captain preferring a hold full of kat (mild, Middle Eastern stimulant) to a bunch of Sephardim (Spanish & Mediterranean Jews). Though he proved to be partially honorable and in return for a hefty assortment of wedding rings and what-nots, arranged for us to continue our trip on board the second ship. In that way we rounded the Arabian 'toe' and continued up toward what political expediency called 'The Persian Gulf.' And I entered a world filled with poets and artists of every type. 

Sarah stirred on her lounge chair, for they spoke in the small, rear garden, as always. She stretched, looked up at the misty sky and said - I've read a lot about that place..... miniature paintings... fine, Chinese porcelains... blue tiled mosques... and courtly love, Omar Kaiyam and all that ' jug of wine, loaf of bread and thou' stuff. Must have been beautiful. 

It was- Tomas, also known as Jonathon said. Especially the heartland, up north beyond the deserts, where the major cities were. Tabriz became my home, a cool, well watered place, a storybook, jewel-box, a manicured cultured city, home to a continuous Jewish presence since Darius held the throne. Imagine, after fifteen hundred years one still heard Aramaic in the plazas.... the language of  Ezra and Nehemiah and the early Talmudical, Essene scholar, Joshua, known to Trinitarians as Jesus. It was there and it was miraculous, even to a life-eater such as I. 

So I settled into a small, but comfortable house, close by the Blue Mosque and there I passed my evenings. 

Did  you have company? - asked Sarah. Was there a concubine, or a wife, or a paramour of some sort?..... She feigned indifference, yet desperately wanted to know.

I was coming to that - said Jonathon......And so he told her of Judith.......


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