by Mathew Swora
Rachel: Sir!…Excuse me, Sir!…SIR!!
Peter: Please don’t block my way, Mam. I’m busy, and in a hurry.
Rachel: On the Sabbath? I don’t think so.
Peter: What’s that to you? Get out of my way!
Rachel: Not so fast, Mister. This is important.
Peter: Who are you? And why should I stop for you?
Rachel: Because I could scream “Thief!” right now in the middle of this street and lots of people would try to stop you.
Peter: You wouldn’t! Now move out of my way.
Rachel: You slipped away once before, but not this time.
Peter: What do you mean, “slipped away”? Do I know you?
Rachel: If you’re who I think you are, I’ve asked you that question already, or something like it.
Peter. Ooooh, I get it. You’re the young woman from–
Peter: (sigh)–the high priest’s courtyard, the night before last.
Rachel: I knew I had you pegged right. And you look as much like a scared rabbit now as you did then.
Peter: What do you want?
Rachel: The truth. For a change.
Peter: The truth? About what?
Rachel: One more time, Sir. Weren’t you with the Galilean, Jesus? Aren’t you one of his disciples?
Peter: Why does that even matter to you?
Rachel: Why are you so afraid to say so?
Peter: In case you hadn’t heard, he was put to death yesterday, crucified. And the place is crawling with spies and informants. You think I want to join him on another cross?
Rachel: You’re sure the authorities want to trouble themselves with his disciples too? Don’t you think I’d know if they did? As the high priest’s servant, I hear a lot more than they know.
Peter: So? Are they after his disciples, too?
Rachel: If you’d shown any spine or courage the other night, they probably would be. But they seem pretty content that they have the lot of you cowed and broken, so they’ve already moved on to other matters more important to them.
Peter: You still think I’m one of them?
Rachel: If you weren’t, you’d have raised a ruckus, drawn a crowd, and denounced me for stopping you in the street like this. Its not very lady-like is it?
Peter: You got me there. And no, you didn’t strike me as very lady-like when you kept interrogating me the other night, either. But what do you want? Why are you pestering me like this?
Rachel: I want to know now what I wanted to know then. What is the Nazarene after?
Peter: So you can denounce me, or inform on me.
Rachel: No. So I can join.
Rachel: Do you think that just because I’m the high priest’s servant, I’m also his devoted, fawning slave?
Peter: It would be safest to assume so.
Rachel: You know what they say: “The closer you get to a donkey’s carcass, the worse it smells.”
Peter: I can’t believe what I’m hearing.
Rachel: As his servant, I’m about as close to the high priest and his crew as one can get, and still not be part of them. What I know would make the hair stand on your balding head. They call themselves “priests of God” but they’re Rome’s lap dogs and lackeys, more rotten than last week’s fish.
Peter: So, if I had fessed up the other night and said, “Yes, I was with the Nazarene,” what would you have done?
Rachel: I would have brought you a warm cup of wine and some bread, plus a blanket to keep you warm. Then I would have asked how me and my friends could help.
Peter: What about the others there? They sure scared me.
Rachel: Most of them see what I see going on and they hate it too. Like the night time trial that Jesus got? Even we servants know that that is against the law. The High Priest has never held one of those before. Or the way the Nazarene was beaten during the interrogation. We could hear that even out in the courtyard. You don’t have to be an expert in the law to know that that was wrong, too. But we have no where else to go for work, for bread or a roof over our heads. So we stay, earn our keep, and try to keep our noses clean.
Peter: Really? So I was scared for nothing? And to think that I went all weak-kneed and cowardly before them.
Rachel: If it had been during the day, we all might have made you laugh.
Peter: I panicked and fled the field in the face of my allies. I wonder how often I’ve done that before?
Rachel: I don’t know. But if you’d only told the truth-
Peter: Why was I so afraid? I’ve been wondering that ever since that night. Its kept me awake with remorse, I confess, ever since the cock crowed at day break.
Rachel: So, that was you we heard weeping, wailing and cursing yourself yesterday morning?
Peter: I’m not sure I’m done yet.
Rachel: All because of a simple young servant girl and some hangers-on around the high priest?
Peter: Look, the knife is already in my back. You don’t have to twist it.
Rachel: I’m afraid I’m not done, yet.
Peter: I’m not staying around for any more of this. Get out of my way, now!
Rachel: But you need to hear this. Some of us around that fire were–or are–admirers of the Nazarene. We loved how he loved the little people, like us. We loved how he could always be trusted to tell the truth, whatever the risk to himself. We loved how he didn’t respect rank or status and wouldn’t treat servants or peasants any differently than their masters. And how he touched lepers, and healed them. We loved how–
Peter: Don’t tease me like that. Or if its more information you’re trying to wheedle out of me with trickery–
Rachel: No! As God is my witness. As I said, those of us who witness the corruption and the cruelty of the high priest and his crew are sick to death of it, especially me. From what we saw and heard of Jesus, we were hoping he would succeed, even that he would be the Messiah.
Peter: Me too. But now I don’t know what to think.
Rachel: Look, Sir-
Peter: Peter. Simon Peter.
Rachel: Peter. Look. Who says the story is finished? I’m not trained in the scriptures or the laws the way the high priest is. I can’t even read. But I pick up things. How many years did Joseph spend in slavery and prison before his dreams came true and his brothers bowed down to him?
Peter: Seven. Make that fourteen, when you add prison to slavery. Maybe more.
Rachel: Wasn’t that a kind of death? Or how many years did Moses spend herding sheep before he came back to Egypt to free his people, like he first wanted to do?
Rachel: Wasn’t that a kind of death too? Doesn’t every godly dream undergo some sort of death at first?
Peter: You’re a servant girl and yet you talk like a rabbi.
Rachel: So, what makes you think that the Most High is finished with Jesus and what he started?
Peter: God is finished with me since I denied Jesus, even in the face of friends, I see.
Rachel: Look. Maybe you have to go through a death of sorts, too. Like what our ancestors went through in Babylon.
Peter: I exiled myself. So now I hang my harp on the willows and weep. “How can I sing the Lord’s song in an alien land?”
Rachel: I don’t know, Simon Peter. All I’m saying is that if this Jesus thing is of God, then don’t be surprised when it comes back to life and gets going again. And when it does–
Peter: If it does–
Rachel: Whatever. If it does, or when it does, you’ll find friends in the strangest places. So, don’t run and hide and lie about it again. Other people are counting on you to find your spine so that they can, too.
Peter: Like you’re doing, right now.
Rachel: Right. And why should the High Priest’s servant be more courageous than you, who walked and talked with the Nazarene?
Rachel: So tell me if this thing comes back from the dead and gets going again. I haven’t given up all hope yet. Don’t you, either. And don’t be surprised if you find friends even in the high priests’ household, because we know just how rotten, ripe and ready to fall is everything that hangs on his tree.
Peter: The one who betrayed Jesus has just hanged himself, I’ve just heard. You really think there could be hope for the man who denied him?
Rachel: I hope so. Because the simple little lout who brings the high priest his breakfast, washes his clothes and cooks his dinner–me– needs hope, too. We’re all in the same boat of corruption and collaboration. Next time, Mister Simon Peter, don’t be so stingy with the truth. Take it from me: in the long run, speaking the truth is less scary than hiding it.
Peter: You really think there might be a next time? For me?