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  • Richard A Hackett Jr

Everything - Chapter 16

Addi was nervous at the thought of seeing Gavriel. Despite Cleopas' efforts, he was concerned that somehow he had managed to follow him to Alcaeus' and now knew about his plan. Could Alcaeus have betrayed him? He wondered. If so, there would be more than just Gavriel waiting inside. Addi realized if they were indeed working for Gavriel, all Gavriel had to do was to ask Heber and the other guards to take him captive or kill him. The thought of coming so close to thwarting their plans, only to fail the evening before it happened made him sick to his stomach. He took a deep breath, opened the door and did his best to hide his fear and act normal.


Gavriel stepped out into the open from another room and looked at Addi as a father might look at a son or daughter who came home late.


"Where have you been?" he asked and shook his head. "I have been worried sick and sent men out to look for you," he ended and waited for Addi to reply. Addi walked over to a nearby table, sat a piece of parchment face down on it and noted exactly where he had put it, and then went to the pantry for some food.


"You knew where I was going, and I told Heber I would be back before dark, so why all the concern?" Addi asked hoping to put Gavriel on the defense. He walked into the pantry, taking his time searching for some cheese and dates, and then as an afterthought, he brought a bottle of wine with him. As he came back into the room, he sat the items on the table next to the letter and saw that it had been moved. He knew Gavriel would look at it when he was in the pantry; in fact, he planned on it. It confirmed he was looking for anything that would reveal his plans. Unfortunately for Gavriel, the only thing on the paper were the list of the names of their herdsmen, the ones he had asked Maor to contact about the new fees, and a few personal notes written beside each name.


"I just didn’t think it would take you all day to meet with each herdsman," Gavriel responded and Addi knew he was being tested.


"It didn’t. After meeting with the herdsmen, I went into the city," Addi said, and he could see Gavriel's face wrinkled in concern. "How did it go with the vendors and merchants when you told them of the new fees?" Addi asked and it was his Gavriel's turn to shrug.


"I really don’t care what they think. They are making a huge profit during these feasts, so I'm sure they will be fine with it," he said coldly. "You went to see Jesus again didn’t you?" he asked, Addi didn’t respond, but then poured himself a glass of wine.


"That was the idea, but I changed my mind," Addi said and offered a glass to Gavriel, who declined.


"Why is that?"


"Because I learned last night that Hadar had already decided to have him killed, so it seemed like a waste of time," Addi said, looking at Gavriel as he took a drink of wine.

The two men stood quietly in the kitchen area as Addi finished his meal. Addi could see Gavriel wanted to talk about something, but apparently was unsure how to go on, so Addi thought he would force the issue.


"So why are you really here Gavriel?" he asked. "Are you worried that I will give up all this for one man who does not even care that the Romans occupy our city? The same Romans that we both know killed my family. Do you really think I'm that stupid?" Addi asked, seeing disappointment on Gavriel's face at his last words. It was at that moment Addi realized Gavriel actually wanted him to give up everything, so he could take it. He wanted Addi to fight back against Hadar's plans, to catch him in some rebellious act so he could notify Hadar, who would remove the threat and put him in charge.


"Of course not," Gavriel replied. "You just have been acting strange lately, and I'm concerned about you. After all, I must admit Jesus presents a pretty good case for being the Messiah." Addi could tell Gavriel was baiting him, so he shook his head.


"I guess we'll never know if Hadar has him killed," He said and then took a deep breath.

"I'm done playing politics. I just want to focus on one thing at a time…And right now that one thing is sleep. So, if you will excuse me, I'm going to bed early this evening."


Sleeping was exactly what he intended on doing. After staying up all last night reading his father's research and then devising a plan to sell everything, he was exhausted. He walked Gavriel to the door and said good night. As he closed the door behind him, he wondered what Gavriel would report to Hadar tonight. Would he suggest that Hadar should end his life so he could take over everything? He knew the report would not be good.


He swung by the desk in his father's office and after carefully remembering where it was sitting, he removed the dagger from the top drawer and took it with him to his bedroom. Shutting and locking the door, he placed a chair in front of it and made sure the windows were secure. He sat the dagger on the table beside his bed, and despite the concerns and worries ahead, he was so exhausted he fell fast asleep.


***


As his eyes opened, he was happy he was still alive, but a little embarrassed by the fact that had someone wanted him dead that night, he would have never heard them coming. Once his eyes had closed, he remembered nothing until the first slivers of the morning light changed the skyline and entered his room. Everything was right where he had left it, including his head on his bed. He still felt tired, but as his mind reengaged with what needed to happen today, his heart started pumping and his faculties returned.


After grabbing a basic breakfast meal and tea, he stood on the balcony of the veranda and looked out into the city and the nearby streets looking for Lycus. As he watched the sun fighting to climb above the mountains and pushing its light ahead of itself, he wondered about Jesus and how his Wednesday had gone. On his way home, the only discussions he overhead were about how Jesus and his disciples still teaching in the temple courts. Addi was happy there were no reports that Hadar had succeeded in his plans, meaning Cleopas had so far been successful.


As he continued to glance down the streets in search of Lycus, the reality of the moment suddenly struck him and he smiled and shook his head. Lycus' job was to remain hidden, so to expect to see him or have him step out to wave was not going to happen. Instead, Addi gave the signal they had agreed upon. He stretched and reached toward the sky as if shaking off the morning stiffness, then after waiting ten minutes to allow Lycus and his men to prepare, he turned and headed downstairs to the back door of his estate.


He stood looking at the reinforced door and thought about the day ahead of him. If there were a time of betrayal, it would be today. Would he open the door to find Hadar's thugs waiting to kill or capture him? Would Roman soldiers be waiting because Hadar planted a seed of doubt with Pilate? Would he arrive at Alcaeus' office to find Hadar waiting for him? It would only take a slip of the tongue from one of the contacts for it to get back to Hadar, and his life and dreams for the day would be forfeited. He wondered what Jesus' day would look like and if he would take Cleopas' advice and withdraw from the city until after the Passover? Although it was what he wished he would do, based on what he had seen of Jesus, he did not think that would happen. Cleopas was right; it was almost as if he came to Jerusalem to die, but why?


The thought of his death brought with it a concern for the young woman who was traveling with him, the one he had seen so frequently in her father's store on the road to the livestock area. Would Hadar strive to kill all of Jesus' disciples, or just him? Somehow the thought of her put an urgency to get the day rolling so he could be there with Jesus. He reached out, pulled back the massive iron lever and slowly opened the door.


No one was waiting for him. Addi exhaled the breath he had been holding and stepped out onto the street, closing the door behind him. He turned and walked down the road to the same street he had followed Cleopas down yesterday, but he did not see Lycus ahead of him. As he got to the shop where he had turned into before, there was only the shop owner standing out front with his son nearby, kneeling and counting baskets.


"Good morning, we have the best wares and prices in all of Jerusalem," the shop owner said with a smile and motioned for Addi to come into the store.


"Keep moving, you are being followed," the kneeling son whispered without looking up. Addi fought the urge to turn around to look behind him. Instead, he glanced at the various wares hanging or sitting around and smiled at the shop owner and shook his head.


"Thank you, but not today," and he began to slowly walk down the street, fighting the urge to turn around or run.


As the sun rose, so did the activity in the streets. Shop owners were putting out their wares and calling to everyone walking by to stop long enough to view their merchandise. While the street near his estate was quiet, here it was getting more noisy and busy with each passing minute. Nearing one such shop, a man passed by on his right.


"Cross the street and enter the shop with the red sign out front," the man said, as he went by him and turned left down the street. Addi was determined not to look across the street. Instead he stopped and looked up and down both directions of the street and then crossed over just after a wagon passed by. He entered the shop and immediately saw Lycus standing there.


"Stay close and move fast," Lycus said and led the way to the back of the shop. Staying close together, they weaved their way through the goods until the reached the backside of the shop and into the alley where Lycus turned left and began to run. Addi stayed close behind as the two of them turned into another shop several hundred feet down the alley. Once inside, Lycus handed Addi a bag he had been carrying.


"Put these on. Quickly!" Lycus said and looked through an opening in the side of the shop toward the street.


Addi opened the bag and pulled out the same change of clothing he had worn yesterday. He changed as quickly as he could, but it seemed the faster he tried to change, the more difficulty he was having.


"Gavriel has two men following you today," Lycus whispered and smiled as if they were playing a game. He then crossed to the other side of the shop and briefly looked out another opening before glancing back at Addi. "Put your hood over your head and hunch over," Lycus said as he moved to the back of the shop again and took his own cloak off and put it over his shoulder while putting a small hat on his head.


"Take my arm, old man," Lycus said and Addi grasped his extended left elbow and hunched over. "We'll take it slow, just keep your hands hidden from sight and your head down," he instructed as they slowly walked down the road.


Only once did Lycus direct Addi to cross to the other side of the alley. Moments later Addi watched from behind the darkness of his hood as a man passed them on the opposite side, glancing over briefly in their direction before moving quickly down the street.


"What if he recognized me?" Addi whispering the question. Lycus seemed to wrestle with his response for a moment before finally answering.


"Before knowing the Messiah, I would have killed him and dropped his body in the valley. But now, I guess he would wake up with a severe headache," he said and then shook his head. "Honestly, I'm still not clear about how best to use my skills and profession without…well, without breaking too many rules," he said and chuckled. "I guess I'll need to find a new profession when this is all over."


Addi wondered if everyone who met Jesus, and believed he was the Messiah, had to undergo such dramatic changes in their lives. Jesus had changed Lycus from a street thug and assassin, into a caring young man. Cleopas was giving up his lucrative spy network to follow and protect Jesus. By the end of the day, Addi knew that he will have gone from one of the wealthiest and powerful men in the city to a man who had nothing. Assuming he could stay alive until the end of the day. The whole craziness of the thought made him chuckle.


"What's so funny?" Lycus asked.


"After today, you don't want to be asking me for a job," Addi replied and Lycus smiled.


"Or loan you any money," he said and both men laughed briefly.


Thirty minutes later, after many zigs and zags down streets, they finally arrived at Alcaeus' office. A man was waiting outside to let them in the back entrance. Addi turned to look at Lycus.


Thank you," Addi said as he shook Lycus' hand. He wanted to say more, but was unsure how to say it.


"The day is not over, my friend," was all he said in reply as he turned and headed down the street.


Alcaeus was sitting in his huge office with chairs on both sides of a large table in front of him. After shaking hands, Alcaeus motioned for Addi to sit in the chair next to him on his right.

"Addi, the first buyer is waiting outside with no idea what this is about. It's not too late to change your mind about this crazy notion," Alcaeus said and Addi just shook his head. Addi realized at that moment he had picked the right person to handle this. Despite the potential to lose a fortune from handling the transactions, Alcaeus was willing to try one more time to talk him out of his decision.


"As you wish. Here we go," Alcaeus finally replied and nodded toward the assistant standing by the door to the outer waiting room. Moments later the leader of the family whose business he had intended to buy with Pilate's approval, walked into the room and was clearly surprised to see Addi setting across the table from him.


In fact, the majority of those they were meeting with today were once Addi's bitter rivals, each of whom had suffered great losses at the hands of Addi. With the help of the Pharisees, he had negotiated and won the most valuable contracts and agreements. Now they were sitting across from him and were being handed those same contracts and agreements on a silver platter for a fraction of the cost.


When a deal is too good to be true, it is very hard to merely accept it and rejoice. Each buyer required Addi to go through the same explanation and his reasoning for his decision. If it were not for their strong dislike and resentment toward the Pharisees for past negotiations, and for Alcaeus handling the transactions and guarantees, Addi was sure many would not have taken the deal, regardless how low the price went. As each new buyer accepted the offer, the willingness of the next buyer increased and, in fact, Addi was able to negotiate a better deal out of fear of missing the feeding frenzy being provided.


Despite the negotiations becoming easier, it still took all day and into the evening before the final agreement was finished. With the room now empty and only the light from the lamps flickering on the desk, Alcaeus slid two identical sheets of parchment over for Addi's signature, right next to where Alcaeus had written his signature. Addi read over them one more time and smiled as he saw the massive of amount of wealth listed and the breakdown of the items within the documents. Addi wondered what Maor would say next week once the final paperwork and money exchanges were completed and he was given this document. The document was actually rather simple compared to the ones he had negotiated with all the buyers. This one simply stated that Addi was giving Maor all his herds, flocks and livestock, and the business agreements associated with them. In addition, he was giving him the proceeds from of the sale of his contracts and agreements that would remain under the care of Alcaeus. Finally, he was giving him his family's estate.


With the stroke of his signature, he would be giving away everything he and his father had worked so hard to build, all because Jesus the Messiah had told him to sell everything and follow him. He had to admit it did sound crazy, but there would be nothing left of his business empire for Hadar or the Pesachya group to try to take from him.


He tried to visualize how Hadar and Gavriel would respond when they received the news of Addi’s actions. Despite his family's death on their hands, Addi did not enjoy the idea of the fit of rage he knew Hadar would demonstrate, or the crushing disappointment Gavriel would feel knowing he was now the king of nothing. The truth was, he wished everything had gone far differently than it had. Mainly that fifteen years ago Hadar would not have given that order to Cleopas so his family would still be alive today.


He was confident it would only be a matter of days before Hadar's assassins found him sleeping near a fire in Galilee one late evening with Jesus and his disciples nearby. Maybe it would be one day when he went into town for supplies or wandered too far away from the rest of the group. No matter when it came, he felt at peace that he had done what his father would have wanted and that he had that simply obeyed the Messiah. He had vowed to God on his very life and all he had that he would see the Messiah sitting on his throne and now he had kept his vow.


He took a deep breath, dipped the quill into the ink, and signed his name to each document sliding one of the papers back to Alcaeus and placing the other in his tunic.


"Addi, although I regret to inform you that you are no longer my client, I want you to know that if you ever need anything, please remember you can come to me," he said in all sincerity. Addi nodded and smiled.


"Take good care of Maor and give him good advice," Addi said and handed Alcaeus a different scroll. "Give this to Maor when you deliver the rest of the paperwork. You already know Cleopas is aware of everything and has been compensated in advance to ensure all parties honor their agreements," Addi said and waited for a response. Addi could see Alcaeus was still not happy about having Cleopas involved.


"Please know I respect your honor and friendship Alcaeus, but where there are no consequences, often poor decisions can be made with handling other people's money," Addi said and Alcaeus finally nodded and smiled.


"I understand. Cleopas was a smart choice," he said in reply and motioned toward the back entrance of his office, but Addi shook his head.


"I think I'll leave out the front door if you don't mind," Addi said, shook Alcaeus' hand and stepped out into the dark night air.


He took a deep breath and realized he had never felt freer of burdens in his entire life. There was nothing to worry about except where he would sleep and what he would eat. He suddenly realized how hungry and tired he was. He saw most of the shops along the street were closing, but there were a few still open. As he walked toward them, he realized he did not have a single coin on him, but he entered the first shop anyways and looked around. He tried to figure out what he had to sell or barter, but the only thing was his cloak and tunic. Go sell everything, give it to the poor, and then come follow me, Jesus had said and Addi laughed. He approached the shopkeeper and asked how much he would give him for his tunic. They both bartered and negotiated the value of the garment before finally agreeing. Addi stepped into the back room and removed the tunic which left him without a stitch of clothing on under his cloak. Pulling it closer around him and tightening his belt, he handed the tunic to the man, who in turn handed Addi the agreed number of coins in return. Addi looked at the coins and smiled at the thought that this was all he had. The first item of business in the morning would be to find a tunic to add to his meager outfit.


He dropped a few coins with a food vendor who had only some dry bread and warm goat's milk left from the day's market. Addi could not remember the last time he had dried bread and goat's milk, but he was so hungry it tasted wonderful. With food in his stomach and just a cloak to wear, he thought he had better find Jesus if he was going to complete his mission of obedience.


He barely got a few steps down the street when he saw Lycus walking toward him.


"I was waiting for you around back. What are you doing here?" he asked and Addi just smiled.


"I know its fun and all, but I'm tired of sneaking about," he said and Lycus nodded as they continued to walk down the street together.


"So how does it feel to go from one of the wealthiest men in Jerusalem to perhaps the poorest?" Lycus asked and smiled.


"It's all brand new to me. I've never been poor, nor do I have a clue about how to survive it," Addi said and shook his head and then looked at Lycus. "Care to teach me, minus the stealing and killing part that is," he said and Lycus shook his head.


"You can't afford to hire me," he replied with a grin, reminding Addi of his financial condition and they both laughed. "Yeah, I'll teach you the tricks of the trade," Lycus said as they turned down a street.


The two men kept walking, talking and weaving through the various people returning from the temple courts. It was as if they were wading against the current of a river of people, but it was so late there were few ripples left in the river.


"Addi?" a voice called out from across the street. Addi turned to see one of the Pesachya members, the merchant Hadar had appointed to the group to replace Addi.


"Hello Shaan," Addi replied as the man crossed the street to where he stood. Addi turned to introduce Lycus to him, but Lycus was no longer by his side. Shaan looked at Addi's cloak and then around the area as if he expected to see someone else with him.


"Hadar said you were doing some research work from the inside of Jesus' group, but I had no idea how serious you were about it," he said and seemed impressed.


"When did you last see Hadar?" Addi asked and adjusted his cloak.


"Less than an hour ago at the meeting," he replied and looked around as if to make sure no one was listening in. "Judas held up his part of the bargain and came to us earlier this evening saying he would lead us to where Jesus and his followers would be staying tonight. I wish we would have known earlier that it would only have taken thirty pieces of silver to have him killed," he said and laughed and patted Addi on the shoulder. "We will finally be rid of that cursed man.” Addi's heart dropped at the man's statement.


"What's Hadar's plan?" Addi asked, interrupting his laughter, but trying not to seem urgent.


"Hadar pulled together some armed soldiers, some of the Pharisees and a crowd of disgruntled citizens to follow Judas to the Mount of Olives where they are staying. You can't miss it. Just follow the sea of torches and lanterns," he said and smiled proudly.1


Addi did not even respond, he just stepped around him and started running toward the city gate leading to the Kidron Valley where the Mount of Olives was located. He knew Lycus had been listening and would eventually catch up with him.


1 John 18:1-3

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©2018 by Richard A Hackett Jr.