Everything - Chapter 15
The man at the door was the same young man who had delivered so many of Cleopas’ former messages to Addi. Recognizing him, Addi simply stated; "I need to speak with Cleopas here at the earliest opportunity." As he had done on each of their prior meetings, he again seemed to take a moment to search for something deeper in Addi’s expression. To Addi’s surprise, and far different from their previous encounters, this time he seemed content and even happy in what he found. He nodded with a smile and ran down the street, staying near the shadows and alleys.
Cleopas arrived less than an hour later. After tossing a few pebbles up onto the veranda to get Addi’s attention, Cleopas motioned toward the back gate. Addi went downstairs, let him in and met in the privacy of his office.
“I was not sure if I would ever hear from you again,” Cleopas said with concern.
“Why would that be?” Addi asked sarcastically and then smiled. “It is a strange journey, but God has put us in each others lives for a reason,” Addi replied, raising his eyebrow. “It just seems a little one-sided in your favor,” he said and patted him on the shoulder, letting him know he was just kidding. Somehow, despite learning of his parents’ killers, he felt more alive and excited than he had ever felt.
Addi shared his thoughts about the ‘sell everything’ response Jesus had given him and waited for Cleopas’ response, who eventually chuckled.
“What’s so funny?” Addi asked, a little concerned if he had missed something important. But what was even more unnerving was he had never seen Cleopas laugh and rarely smile.
“That is just like Jesus. He will tell you everything you need to know in a parable or response, but leaves it up to you to wrestle with it to figure out what it really means and how it applies to you,” he said and then looked up. “It makes sense though,” as he chuckled again and shook his head. Addi sat back in his chair and shrugged his shoulders.
“What am I going to do with you?” Addi asked and Cleopas seemed taken aback by the comment.
“What do you mean?”
“Tears, hugs, honesty, and now laughter. What’s the next big surprise going to be, you forgetting something?” Addi said and Cleopas relaxed and smiled.
“Yeah, I’m scaring myself with all this...emotional stuff. Following Jesus can really change a person.”
“Well, it’s definitely strange; but in truth, it looks good on you.”
Addi reached into a recently unlocked drawer in his desk and pulled out a large pile of open agreements and placed them on top of it. He hesitated a moment and then asked.
“Do you already know what these say, or do I still need to show them to you?” Addi asked. Cleopas seemed at first uncomfortable and even hurt by the suggestion. But then Addi smiled. Cleopas finally understood he was again kidding and glared at him. Addi continued where he left off.
“These agreements represent all of all the business ventures and income that I own. I need you to review and memorize every one of them so we don’t have to carry them with us as we pay a visit to those we work with on the other side of these agreements,” Addi said and Cleopas nodded.
“Why the need for memorization?” Cleopas asked.
“Because if Gavriel is really working for Hadar, he will know they are missing and send a warning. Since he will be arriving in two hours, we don’t have much time, so we will try to get as many memorized as possible before then,” Addi stated and handed Cleopas the first agreement for his review. Addi watched as Cleopas read the agreement and then handed it back to him. As a test, he asked Cleopas to recite the fifth paragraph to him, knowing it also contained many numbers and calculations. Addi was amazed as Cleopas recited every word, number and calculation as accurately as if he were reading it.
“What are you going to do with the money from the sale of these ventures?” Cleopas asked. Addi just shook his head.
“I don’t know yet, but I’ll figure it out before the first sale. Get back to reading,” he answered with a smile and handed him another agreement to read.
To Addi’s further surprise and amazement, Cleopas was able to read through every agreement and even had time to spare, which Addi used to pull together a quick breakfast for the two of them before sending Cleopas out to meet him at their first appointment. Not wanting Gavriel to find anything in his office that would reveal their intentions, Addi handed Cleopas the leather tube that held his father’s research and asked him to keep it safe for him. Before leaving through the back door, Cleopas nodded and said he would have the men in place to ensure they would not be followed. Addi nodded, then wondered how many men really worked for Cleopas.
Knowing now what he knew about Gavriel, it took everything in him to control his emotions once Gavriel arrived for work. They went about their same routine and Gavriel walked into the office as if to retrieve an agreement from the desk. Addi’s heart stopped as he realized he had not re-locked the drawer, which Gavriel noticed also as Addi watched from the doorway. Gavriel then sat back in the chair and glanced at the room and saw the dagger sitting on top of the desk. Two mistakes in a matter of moments, Addi thought, and knew if he was to survive the day or night he would have to be more careful.
“Are you expecting trouble?” Gavriel asked, looking at the dagger on the desk. Addi assumed Gavriel had been versed on what happened in the temple court with Kohath, so thought better than to pretend otherwise.
“Yeah. Again, I did not heed your advice to keep my mouth shut. I had a strange encounter with Kohath in the temple area last night. It almost seemed as if he was threatening me. It really bothered me,” Addi said with complete honesty. He could see Gavriel was a little surprised by the honesty, even his admission to neglecting his advice.
“Well, I am your advisor,” he said and smiled. “So, what did you learn?” Gavriel asked and waited as Addi contemplated what to say next.
“To keep my nose out of other peoples’ business,” Addi replied. Gavriel seemed to be looking for truth in the response and nodded. Gavriel then reached over and picked up the knife and looked at it briefly before opening the top drawer and placing it back where it had always been.
“I see you’ve already been working.” Gavriel said. Was he speaking about the unlocked desk drawer or some other hidden knowledge? Addi knew Gavriel was a stickler for order, so any agreement that was out of place or misfiled would catch his attention.
“With the losses we are going to incur from our agreement with Pilate, I was trying to see where we can make them up through some of our other business channels or market opportunities,” Addi answered.
“Any luck?” Gavriel asked distantly as he began going through the agreements in the drawer, apparently looking to see if any were missing. Addi shook his head as he tried to come up with something.
“The only thing I can think of is something I have been opposed to, but may be our only option,” Addi finally said. Gavriel looked up from the drawer at Addi, waiting to hear what it was.
“Well?” Gavriel asked. Addi shook his head as if in frustration.
“The merchants are making a huge profit on our goods during the feasts and celebrations. If we required them to pay the extra per animal charges you have suggested during these times, this could more than make up for the losses with Pilate until the proposed transportation tax is added in two years.” Addi could see Gavriel was happy with the change in attitude and nodded his head.
“This will also protect us from any losses should they change their mind on that tax,” Gavriel said, his mind turning. He suddenly jerked as he realized something.
“It’s not too late. We could begin it today!” Gavriel blurted out, ready to stand up and run out of the room. The last thing Addi wanted was to throw in an extra charge to their vendors and have it land on the people buying, but he also knew this would keep Gavriel very busy over the next few days.
“Do you think we can make it happen on such short notice?” Addi asked, knowing that if it meant more money, Gavriel would try to move heaven and earth.
“Yes. It will take some effort, but yes,” he replied and waited for the green light. Addi took a deep breath as if to consider it longer, but then nodded.
“Okay, but only if we agree to remove the extra animal charge once the tax begins,” Addi said and Gavriel nodded without even thinking about it.
“You go and let the vendors and merchants know, and I’ll let the herdsman know to add the extra charges you have proposed based on the animals.” Addi knew Gavriel was already calculating the enormous profits this extra charge would bring them.
Addi asked Gavriel to write down on a scroll what the extra charges were to be for the various animals and products involved with his proposal so he could share them with the herdsman. Once in hand, Addi nodded and smiled at Gavriel sitting behind the desk. He wanted to grab the dagger and take it with him for protection, but he knew that would create questions in Gavriel’s mind. As he stopped at the door and glanced back, he realized the last thing he wanted to see happen was to have Gavriel running his family’s business as his own kingdom. He smiled knowing if things went as planned, Gavriel would be king of nothing in a few days.
He first gathered all the coins and money he held secretly at the house and then put on a more casual robe and tunic to wear before heading out the door. Despite their reminder about last night, Addi refused the requests of his guards offering to escort him.
“No worries,” Addi said to Heber. “I’ll be back before dark this time.” It bothered Addi to think that, although he was paying them, his guards probably worked for Hadar. With no guards in sight, he walked out the front door, heading for the stables and pens to notify his herdsmen of Gavriel’s plans.
As he walked past the street vendor area, Addi was disappointed the young woman was not at the booth selling her family's wares. She must be with Jesus and his disciples, he thought. In fact, the booth was closed with a sign stating that they would be in the temple courts area until after the Passover celebration. Deep down, he felt this could be his last living day on earth and had this strong desire and need to say goodbye. Addi made an odd promise to himself that if he somehow survived this mess, he would seek her out. Just the thought of her somehow made his step and heart lighter.
At the end of the street he came to the two-block area of land he owned where he kept his herds and animals in a staging area before selling them. His first stop was to visit Maor who handled his cattle and sheep.
“My lord, it is good to see you!” A voice shouted from across the pens, and Addi looked up to see Maor with a huge smile on his face. “How many of the best shall I set aside for you?”
“It’s good to see you Maor! No need for today. I am just dropping something off. How is your family?” Addi asked and smiled back.
“Very busy! So much is happening with Jesus in town. Fortunately, I get to hear from my family what happens at the end of the day,” he said joyfully. “It allows me to pay the bills and keep food on the table while at the same time learning about Jesus.” Addi could not relate, but was still amazed at the heart and positive attitude Maor always had. He knew enough to know there were plenty of challenges he must face each day raising a family; yet he was the most grateful, effective, and loyal employee he ever had.
Addi smiled remembering it was Maor who told him about John the Baptist and Jesus, and how excited he had been from his meetings with them. Where Addi had walked away without being baptized or believing in Jesus, Maor had embraced it with his whole heart. Addi was surprised he felt almost envious of Maor’s simple life and unburdened decisions.
“So, what are you learning from Jesus?” Addi asked and waited as he watched Maor struggle to answer.
“In my most recent encounter with Jesus, he told two parables that have challenged my very soul and I’m trying to decide how to best respond to it,” Maor said as he patted one of the cattle standing nearby.
“He has a way of doing that. What was yours?” Addi asked.
“I asked him what the kingdom of heaven was like, and he said, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field,’ and then he told another parable similar to that one. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.’’1 Maor ended with a confused frown. “I have very little if anything to sell but will follow Jesus’ and his teachings anyway; so I’m not sure how that applies to me?”
Addi started chuckling and then laughed out loud; Maor seemed hurt by Addi’s laughter at his predicament.
“What is so funny my lord?” Maor asked, and Addi shook his head and regained control of himself.
“I was not laughing at you Maor. I was laughing at myself. I don’t think those parables were necessarily meant for you, but for you to share them with others who did need to hear them,” Addi smiled and then patted him on the shoulder. “Thank you, my friend.”
Addi slowly let the smile fade as he held the paper in his hands Gavriel provided which he brought to share with Maor. Slowly handing it to him he said, “Gavriel wants us to charge an extra fee on our animals during the feasts and celebrations.” Addi watched Maor's expression as he viewed the fees. He expected a rolling of the eyes, or whistle through his teeth, or a shaking of his head, but there was no response. Instead, he nodded and looked at Addi.
“I will make sure these charges are added, my lord, and will ensure the other herdsmen are also aware of them,” was all he said. Addi held his gaze a moment and knew that he did not agree with the fees, but like a great servant who had faith in his employer, he merely obeyed and trusted that Addi knew what he was doing. Addi thought about such trust and knew there was much he needed to learn about how to listen and submit to God’s will in his life.
“Thank you, Maor,” Addi replied. “I don’t like it either, but for now we need to do this,” Addi ended, and Maor nodded.
“It is not for me to question your decisions, my lord,” Maor replied, looking at Addi.
“Maor, I want you to know I highly value your opinion and your insight, so please never fear that you cannot share them with me,” Addi said and held Maor’s gaze to make sure he knew he was serious. Maor nodded and smiled again.
“I will always speak truly in every matter. You can trust me.”
“You always have, and I have benefited greatly from it, so please never stop doing so. I fully trust you,” Addi said as he stepped away from the fencing that separated the two of them. He nodded and then signaled goodbye as he walked away.
Addi turned back to see Maor already securing the gate and heading to inform the other herdsmen of the new fees. He thought a moment and then smiled. Addi made the decision about who would receive the vast majority of his wealth. It felt good to know that someone he trusted and who had worked so hard for him would be rewarded beyond belief.
Addi continued down the street toward the downtown area, surprised that Cleopas had not joined him as planned once he left the estate. But it was only moments later he suddenly heard a voice from behind him.
“Don’t turn around, just keep walking until I tell you otherwise. Gavriel had you followed,” the familiar voice of Cleopas said softly as Addi followed the directions given. “At the next street, turn right and walk to the end and then turn left. I will meet you there,” he said and then ducked into a nearby shop and disappeared. As directed Addi turned right, and then left. At the end of a crowded street he saw Cleopas, dressed far differently than he had been dressed that morning, motioning him into a merchant's store. They walked through the store and out the back. Cleopas looked down the alley, and Addi saw a man signal him. They entered another shop through the back door and out the front, quickly crossing the street, entering another shop, and repeating this process several more times until they were many streets away from where they had started.
“I have a list of businesses that would be happy to purchase your various ventures if the price is right, and most would like nothing more than to inflict a little pain on the Pharisees in return for how they have been treated by them for not being Jewish. You should start with your biggest entities first in case Hadar gets wind of what you are doing. He will more than likely try to stop those efforts, but hopefully you will have already closed the deal by then,” Cleopas stated and listed the contacts he wanted to try to make today. Addi nodded and suggested removing several from the list due to personal issues with them.
"We will first need to establish an intermediary we can trust to orchestrate the transfer of funds and agreements. Someone who is not connected or liked by the Pharisees, but is respected by the Romans," Addi said, and waited to see if Cleopas had the same person in mind that he did.
"Alcaeus," Cleopas said, and Addi nodded. "You will need to meet him on your own, for he will not look kindly if I were to go with you to that meeting. Honestly, most of those on this list would not look kindly on my presence." Cleopas said. Addi knew Cleopas had worked successfully for the Pharisees all these years, which meant Alcaeus and the list of buyers had suffered because of him.
"I'll be on my own then?" Addi asked, and Cleopas shook his head.
"I have three men who will be working to keep you safe, two of which you will never see. Lycus, whom you already know, will communicate with you as you travel, so listen to what he says." Addi nodded as he realized he had never known the man's name who had delivered all those messages to him. Addi smiled when he remembered that 'Lycus' was Greek for 'wolf'.
"He believes that Jesus is the Messiah, doesn't he," Addi asked, and Cleopas nodded. "Do all of your men believe?"
"No. Most don’t even care. They're just doing their job and getting paid for it," Cleopas replied.
"What is your plan for your business?" Addi asked with a smile. Cleopas shrugged and looked away as if taking in the city around him.
"I will give each of them a nice parting gift for their years of service and release them," Cleopas said distantly, then turned back at Addi. "It looks as if we both are giving up everything to follow Jesus."
They stood there silently for a moment, then Cleopas motioned Addi to follow him into a back room where he stopped in front of a folded cloak and matching tunic set out for him.
"We need to change your outer clothing, or it will be too easy to follow you," Cleopas said and looked at Addi's discomfort with the idea. "Addi, you wear the same thing every time you leave the estate. A three-year-old could follow you in a crowd," he said. Addi realized he was right and began changing into them. Putting on the new clothing, he saw that although it was simple in looks, the material and workmanship were very impressive. Addi would not be looking like a commoner when he met with these important people.
"It could take several days to negotiate all of this," Addi stated the obvious, and Cleopas nodded.
"I'll do my best to keep him alive," Cleopas replied as if knowing the point Addi was making about Jesus. "You just worry about keeping yourself alive." Addi was continually amazed at Cleopas' insight and attention to detail. From clothing to the list of buyers, in a matter of hours Cleopas had designed and orchestrated a detailed plan of action that would have taken anyone else days to plan. His only desire or payment for doing so was to protect Addi.
"You're a good friend Cleo," Addi said as he put the cloak on. Cleopas at first smiled, but then shook his head thinking about his horrible role in the death of Addi’s family. Addi reached over, rested his hand on Cleopas' shoulder, and looked him in the eyes. "I mean it. That is in the past. It is not who you are today," Addi stated and saw a slight nod.
“Do you know what you are going to tell them?” Cleopas asked, changing the subject.
“The truth,” Addi replied and then smiled. “Minus a few details.” Cleopas raised an eyebrow and waited for Addi to explain. “That I believe Jesus is the Messiah and that the Pharisees are strongly opposed to that belief. As a result, I fear they will to try to take over our business entities and replace them with a Pharisee supported one. They have the option to buy it first at a discounted rate, knowing they will have a financial battle with the Pharisees if they are to hold the business that they acquire,” Addi shared, and Cleopas nodded. “I’m guessing we will be looking at receiving anywhere from 40-60% of the actual value of each entity,” Addi ended, and again Cleopas nodded.
“And if they negotiate too hard?” Cleopas asked.
“Then we threaten to take it to the next buyer in line,” Addi said sternly, and Cleopas nodded. "I know business opportunities like this will seem too good to be true, but they know the source, and their greed will simply not allow them pass it up," Addi finished, suddenly feeling melancholy as he realized that everything he had worked so hard to build would be gone as would be the memory of him and his family. Cleopas seemed to read what he was feeling.
"You will not only be free of them, you will also have weakened them."
"But will I live through it?" Addi asked, then smiled, and shrugged as if he did not care. But deep down he knew he did.
A moment later, Cleopas looked past Addi and nodded. Addi turned to see Lycus now standing behind him.
"Alcaeus," was all Cleopas said to him and then turned back to Addi. "Lycus is the best, so be sure to listen and follow his lead," Cleopas said and Addi nodded and then turned back to face Cleopas.
"I will see you when I see you," he said.
"Yes, you will," Cleopas replied, turned and was gone.
Addi looked at Lycus for direction.
"Stay twenty paces behind me and keep your hood up as if you are cold. If I stop at a shop or building entrance to look at something, that is your signal to enter it to get off the street. You are well known, so try not to draw too much attention to yourself, but also try not to act as if you are hiding either," Lycus explained and could see he was on the verge of overwhelming Addi.
They arrived at Alcaeus's office within 20 minutes without incident. Addi had Lycus deliver a personal note to Alcaeus, requesting a private meeting. Addi and Lycus waited almost an hour in the back room of a shop before they received word Alcaeus could see him. Lycus escorted Addi to a side door where he was met by Alcaeus and one of his assistants. Lycus chose to wait outside.
"Addi, it is good to see you. My apologies for the delay in getting with you, but I had to reschedule a few necessary appointments."
"Thank you, Alcaeus, I know this is short notice, but it is very important."
"What can I do for you?" he asked Addi, motioning for him to take a nearby seat. Addi did not respond, but instead looked at Alcaeus and then at his assistant. Understanding the message, Alcaeus asked his assistant to bring them some warm tea. Once the assistant left, Addi explained his situation and the role the Pharisees had played in his family's death, his plan, the part he was asking Alcaeus to play, and the substantial financial reward he would receive.
Alcaeus at first sat quietly as he contemplated the offer and his role, but then looked back at Addi.
"Addi, I have known you and your family for many years, so forgive me if this seems harsh, but it sounds more like the wishes of a madman instead of the wise business owner I have worked with in the past," he said as he tried to get a better grasp on Addi's proposal. "Is your belief in this Jesus worth everything you have? If it is just out of fear of the Pharisees that you are doing this, then let us take this to the Romans and ask for their justice and protection," he added. Addi shook his head.
"Alcaeus, I do not want to see the priestly order destroyed. It is their agenda that I want to stop. Hypocrisy and greed killed my family, and I would be a fool to believe the Romans, who are just as greedy and corrupt, would risk going against them. This is the only way. I will not have my family’s name tied to their hypocritical deeds and efforts, no matter how righteous it may sound," Addi hesitated and then answered his original question. "Yes, I do believe this man is worth everything."
The two of them sat in silence as Alcaeus thought about the various roles he would play in this.
"You know they won't let this go without a fight. It will get ugly," Alcaeus said, and Addi nodded.
"That's why your implementation and advisor compensation is higher than normal," Addi replied and smiled. Alcaeus pretended not to acknowledge the statement, but then raised an eyebrow.
"Why did you pick this herdsman to receive everything?" Alcaeus asked and then continued before Addi could respond. "I mean, does he have the skills to handle the money wisely and operate the business entities you are giving to him?" he questioned, and looked at Addi.
"He is one of the few people I trust and respect enough in this world to give it to. As far as the other question, he will learn and I'm sure he will even make mistakes. But with you as his business advisor, and Cleopas watching both of you, I think he will do just fine," Addi replied. He could see Alcaeus did not like the idea of Cleopas watching him.
"You don't sound as if you are planning on being involved?" Alcaeus pointed out.
"I don't know what my fate will be, but I want to make sure this part is in good hands if God no longer has me playing a part in it," Addi replied and Alcaeus finally nodded in agreement.
"Well, this is going to be a very interesting week," Alcaeus said. They spent the rest of the afternoon working through the details and writing up the necessary agreements.
To keep Addi from being seen by the Pharisees and their spies as he went from one business to the next, Alcaeus offered to send out invitations to each of the targeted buyers to have an important and confidential meeting at his office tomorrow to discuss an opportunity with them. He did not mention with whom they would be meeting, or what it entailed, but he made sure the perceived 'opportunity' had high value and would be very lucrative.
Once the messages had been sent out to all those involved, they agreed to meet back at Alcaeus' office at sunrise to begin scheduling and meeting with each potential buyer. With Lycus leading the way, they stopped briefly for Addi to change back into his original clothing, then escorted him back to within a street of his estate.
As Addi walked toward the front gate, he saw Heber nervously pacing back and forth just behind the gate. Addi could see the relief in his expression at the sight of him.
"It is good to see you are safe. Gavriel stopped by several times to see you and is worried sick. He's inside waiting for you. Is everything all right?" Heber asked. Addi smiled and nodded.
"Everything is fine, thanks for asking," Addi replied and could not help but wonder for whom Heber actually worked for, Gavriel or himself.
1 Matthew 13:44-45