Addi felt nervous his entire walk home thinking through what Kohath had said and the apparent willingness to have him, a key member of the Pesachya group, stoned for listening to Jesus. More importantly, for overhearing that Hadar had already put things in motion to have Jesus killed. Joseph already pointed out in their last Pesachya meeting Hadar's willingness to do so, with Caiaphas' direction; but he had refused to believe it until tonight.
Should he warn Jesus? He thought back on all that Jesus had spoken to the crowds about the Pharisees. His parables and direct responses were clearly meant to tell them he knew of their plans to kill him; so why stay? Surely he knew he had not changed their minds today. If anything, he made them more determined than before. What good could come from his death?
Typically, he walked in confidence, not just because he usually had his bodyguards with him, but because he had no reason for fear. Now each alley he passed, each stranger he saw walking toward him or behind him, hinted at a new type of helpless fear growing inside him that Kohath had started. It was a fear he had not felt since childhood as he stood and watched his parents on that fateful night.
As he wrestled with his fear, he thought of the same pain and sadness the young woman disciple would feel if Jesus were killed. She would be alone as Addi was left alone when his parents were killed. His heart felt heavy at the thought of such sadness for someone else, then for the thought of losing the Messiah. He was a little surprised he had embraced the idea of Jesus as the Messiah, but did he truly believe it?
He glanced up seeing the front doors of his estate and his guards watching him approach.
"We were getting a little worried, Addi. In fact, Heber is inside organizing a detail to go find you," Hezron said and smiled.
"Yeah, I think next time I will keep you close by," Addi said and smiled. "Has my guest arrived yet?" Hezron shook his head as Addi passed by and started up the stairs to change his clothing. Try as he might, he could not clear his mind of the events that had transpired earlier. It was only when Heber came in to announce his guest had arrived that he finally manage to shake the dark thoughts.
"I'll meet him in the office," Addi said. Heber raised an eyebrow questioning the directive. But Add continued, "And Heber, that will be all for the night. Please tell the others," Addi said, not wanting to be disturbed during their discussion. Heber nodded as Addi moved to the far side of his desk and glanced around long enough to make sure everything was where it belonged and then waited for Cleopas to arrive.
When Cleopas walked into the office, he carried a large leather tube. Addi assumed it contain the report for him. Hesitantly, he glanced around the room before finally resting his gaze on Addi.
"Hello, Addi. Thank you for meeting with me," Cleopas said humbly and somewhat awkwardly.
"As always, it is good to see you my friend," Addi replied, but felt if he was reading his reactions correctly, Cleopas seemed almost nervous. This was something he had never seen him display before. He motioned for Cleopas to take a seat across the desk from him and settled in to hear Cleopas' report. He was looking forward to asking his own questions when he was finished. As Cleopas sat down, he placed the leather tube on his lap, cleared his throat and took a deep breath.
"I wanted to inform you I have come to the end of our agreement concerning Jesus," he said, looking down at the tube in his lap. Addi nodded in response.
"What have you determined about him? Is he the Messiah or not?" Addi asked, still curious about why Cleopas was so nervous. Perhaps Hadar had learned he was working for Addi and had threatened him? Cleopas reluctantly gave his answer.
"He is the Messiah!" He seemed to want to say more, but for some reason was not willing to continue. Addi's heart raced when he heard Cleopas' statement, but still could not understand what might be bothering him. Addi thought about what they had agreed to.
"I'm glad to hear you have found him. I guess the agreement was only if you found the Messiah would I be required to pay for your services. So let me know what the amount is and I will have the money for you tomorrow," Addi replied, but Cleopas shook his head.
"I am not here for payment," Cleopas said sheepishly. This was a very strange and unlikely answer that really bothered Addi, who no longer had the patience to play this guessing game.
"What is it then Cleopas? What has you so uncomfortable?" He asked, and Cleopas looked up at him and sighed. He reached over and sat the large leather tube on the desk in front of Addi.
"These are copies of important documents that belonged to your father, but there is so much more you need to know before you read them," Cleopas stated. Addi's heart raced at the thought of finding something that belonged to his father.
"What? Where did you find them?" Addi asked incredulously, looking up at Cleopas, who sat motionless as he tried to formulate an answer. "It's okay, Cleopas. We are friends and you can tell me," Addi said trying to reassure him. But instead of building his confidence, tears suddenly began to flow down Cleopas' face, a response he would have never guessed the man was capable of. It was Addi's turn to sit silently as he tried to understand what inner battle his friend was going through.
"I found them here," Cleopas said with a quivering voice and pointed to the shelf behind Addi, the very shelf he had mentioned the last time he was here. Addi stared at the shelf and then back at Cleopas trying to understand what he was talking about. Cleopas stood and walked across the room and with a simple 'press and pull' movement, the shelf swung open revealing a hidden compartment Addi had never seen before. Addi stood up and looked into the empty cavity and then back at Cleopas.
"You broke into my home after our last meeting and stole them?" Addi asked, stunned by the idea his friend would do such a thing. Cleopas shook his head and shuddered again.
“I took it 16 years ago,” Cleopas mumbled. Addi’s mind raced back in time to that dreadful night.
"No! There was just the assassin and the older man," Addi said stumbling through the words. But Cleopas shook his head again.
"It was me Addi," he said.
"No, no he was much older, and his voice was different," Addi stammered, shaking his head back in forth in disbelief.
"Not the boy…Those were the orders, so if you want to get paid and live, you had better keep them.” Cleopas repeated the words the man had spoken, but in a far deeper and sinister voice. His body shuddered again in tears and silent crying. "I am so sorry," he interjected and lowered his head. A chill shot through Addi. Although strained with emotion, he had heard the same voice over fifteen years ago, standing in the very spot Cleopas stood now.
All the fears and feelings came rushing through his mind as he looked up at who he thought was his friend. How could it be? He had sought out Cleopas to find his killer, and all along the very man he had hired was him. No wonder he was never brought to justice. The hatred and bitterness that had been building for all these years was screaming in his head for justice. He thought about calling the guards to have Cleopas taken captive and brought to justice, but instead he turned and opened a drawer in the desk and withdrew the dagger he knew would be laying there. Standing up, he raised the dagger above his head, aiming for Cleopas' chest in front of him and preparing to bring the dagger down in the powerful thrust he had been taught. He wanted to watch him die as his father and mother had died, with his lifeblood slowing flowing out of him. He grunted in anger and withheld his thrust, looking Cleopas in the eyes. There was no fear or pleading in them, only a welcome relief from a man in torture and guilt who knows what his actions deserve and welcomes the release from it. Cleopas was not trying to block Addi's attack, or to dodge it; but instead was leaning toward it as he sorrowfully stared Addi in the eyes. Addi tried again to bring himself to thrust the blade downward, but there was a deeper inner desire to know why they had been killed and no one knew that answer better than this man.
Addi glared at his former friend as he grabbed him by the front of his tunic and pushed him around the desk towards the chair and shoved him into it. Addi again moved as if he were going to stab him, but instead stepped away and crossed the room shutting the door and locking them both inside.
"Why?" Addi asked and then shook his head in anger, "Why! You were my friend!" He shouted, and Cleopas shook his head.
"Addi, I was not your friend then. In fact, I refused at first to work for you, but I had no choice except to take the position," he said and tried to compose himself in order to continue. "I became your friend many years later after knowing you and watching the young man you became despite the pain I had caused," he said sniffing back the fluid coming out his nose and smiling sadly as he shook his head. "In fact, I worked harder for you than any other client, as if I could somehow earn your forgiveness. But it burned within me every time we were together. Despite my social awkwardness and character strangeness, you always treated me with kindness and fairness. You never mocked me or spoke disparagingly of me to anyone," he chuckled nervously, "I know, because I looked long and hard for a reason to dislike you; but you were a true friend and it only made it worse knowing it," he said and looked down at his shaking hands.
Despite the hatred of having the killer of his family sitting in front of him, Addi somehow began to feel sorry for the man.
"Why? What did they do to deserve death?" Addi asked.
"It was just a job that I was hired to do," he said. "They wanted your parents and all the family killed, except for you, and to secure all the documents, writings and research your father had accumulated about the Messiah," he replied. Addi thought about the 'they' Cleopas had used.
"The Romans wanted them dead because of his research on the Messiah?" Addi asked and Cleopas seemed shocked by the question and then shook his head.
"No Addi, it was the Pharisees that wanted them dead," Cleopas said and Addi felt a wave of nausea flow through him at the thought of another betrayal of what he thought were close friends. "They wanted you alive to keep the business entities your father had built in place and operational until they could train you to take them over," he said. Addi thought about standing up and walking to the window, but felt his legs would not carry him. He sat back in the chair and again tried to put all the pieces together.
"But why kill my parents?" Addi asked.
"At first, your father agreed with what the Pesachya group was looking for in the Messiah. But as time passed, his research began to uncover key items that did not agree with them and began to propose them during the meetings, which did not sit well with the new leader," Cleopas said. Addi immediately knew it was Hadar whom he spoke about.
"Like what?" Addi asked and Cleopas tapped the leather tube on the desk.
"It is a strange curse, but I remember everything I read and hear. Everything. So, as I read through the research and documents your father had hidden, or left on the desk, I put it to memory and have carried it around in my mind for the past 15 years," he said. Addi knew this to be true. Cleopas was capable of the very thing he had stated.
"So why share it now?"
"I knew the kind of Messiah the Pharisees were looking for, but I also carried in my head the details of the Messiah your father was looking for. They obviously did not agree with each other, nor had any possible Messiah come along that even came close to what your father believed in. That is, not until John the Baptist and Jesus came along," Cleopas said and waited, as if making sure Addi had grasped the meaning. "That's why I know Jesus is the true Messiah, for no one could have predicted the coming of this man except through the prophecies of the word of God. Your father's research has been accurate every step of the way," Cleopas said.
"Like what?" Addi asked and Cleopas quietly looked at the leather tube on the desk.
"It's all in there Addi. I have spent the last five months writing it all down word for word, even the little side notes on the edges of the paper. It is the least I could do for someone I care deeply for, and whose parents' lives I took," he said somberly.
Addi started to walk through each step and decision of his life after his parents had been murdered. Every step of the way the Pharisees had been there to provide guidance and training for him. They had strongly recommended Gavriel be hired to help him run the business entities. Cleopas was right. It was also the Pharisees that strongly advised Addi to hire Cleopas to find his parents’ killers, 'the very best money can buy' they had said. How much did Gavriel know? Addi wondered and realized that Gavriel had even been the one who preselected and interviewed the guards he had hired to protect him. How deep did this deception go? He wondered and felt sick at the idea of how stupid and trusting he had been.
"I'm just a tool they are using," Addi mumbled and Cleopas nodded slightly. Addi looked over at Cleopas as if looking for something missing.
"Why are you telling me this? If what you say is true, then you are a dead man for betraying them," Addi said and Cleopas shrugged.
"Once they find out I have told you, they may risk crossing me, but I've made it clear there are triggers in place that would be shared should my people discover who was behind such an attempt, If it turns out to be them, then there would be a great deal of light shed on what they are up too," he said and smiled. "I'm more worried about you Addi, for you are following in your father’s footsteps in resisting them and you are close to having the same horrible ending as your parents," Cleopas stated.
"How do you know for sure that is true?" Addi asked even though he knew that Cleopas was well connected.