John the Baptist is just preparing to wade out into the water. A crowd of people have gathered on the bank, awaiting baptism by water. Jesús, who looks suspiciously like Cheech Marin in a robe, pushes past the crowd, and finds his cousin.
“Heeeee-eeey-ey…. Soos! It’s good to see you, brother.”
“Brother? Man, we’re cousins, man.”
John is momentarily stumped. “Hey… uh… brother… from another mother! How’s it going?”
“Oh, man! What chew been eatin’?” Jesús asks, fanning the air with his hand.
“Oh yeah, man! Check these out.” John digs around in his pocket and produces a handful of bugs. “Cockroaches! They’re pretty good with honey. You wanna try one?”
“Naw, man. By our Father I am fed. Jew know dat.”
John is momentarily stumped again. “All he fed me was locusts, man.”
“Dat sounds better den las cucarachas… well, hey, man, guess what? My time is at hand.”
“You should have seen it,” John says, still lost in thought. “There was a whole plague of them.”
“They were descending everywhere… It was like one of those all-you-can-eat buffets.”
Jesús pinches his cheeks. “John! Jew got to snap out of it, man.”
“Yeah, you’re right man. I’m sick of locusts, man. If I never see another locust, it’ll be a day too soon.”
“Hey man, forget about da locusts, okay? Da time has come for me to start baptizin’ wit da Holy Spirit.
John is momentarily stumped again. “Holy Spirit? Is that even legal? Where’d you get Holy Spirit, man?”
“No, no, man, I don’ got any yet. I’m tryin’ to get some. Jew got to get it from dis dove dat descends down from Heaven. As soon as I get some though… everyone’s gonna be able to get it from me! And den I’ll be like da only one dass got it, and den I can charge whatever I want, jew know? Iss gonna be great!”
“You sure it’s a dove? Cuz locusts descend down from Heaven.”
“No, iss a dove.” Jesús gestures to the sky. “Iss a pretty, white dove… just floatin’… down… pretty…”
“Oh yeah, man,” John nods knowingly. “I got that once… from these beetles I ate down by the cave of Machpelah.”
Jesús winces. “Man, jew got to be more careful what chew eatin’!”
“Yeah, I hear you. Cuz one time I ate this unleavened bread, only I don’t think it was bread at all. It tasted like camel shi…”
“Hey, forget about dat, man. Jew got to baptize me, okay?
“Yeah, yeah, jew know, where jew dunk my head under da water?”
“Yeah, man, so I can get da Holy Spirit!”
“I thought it was bath-tize, man. You know, like sanitize only with water.”
“No, iss baptize.”
“Are you sure? Cuz I’ve been telling everyone I’m cleansing their sins. And some of these people could really use a bath.”
“Yeah, no, I’m pretty sure iss baptize.”
“Thanks a lot, man. Now I feel really stupid.”
“No, no, man, dass great an everythin’, but jew don’ gotta do dat no more. Once I start baptizin’ wit da Holy Spirit, everyone’s sins are gonna be like forgiven and stuff.”
John is momentarily stumped again. “Okay, well, um, get in line then.”
“Get in line? Jew got to be kiddin’ me, right? I’ll be here all day! Can’t chew jus’ tell ’em somethin’?”
“Tell ’em something? What do you want me to tell ’em?”
“I don’ know. Make somethin’ up, man.”
John the Baptist wades out into water and turns to address the crowd with his arms outstretched. “Hey everyone, listen up.”
The crowd has been arguing angrily over Jesús taking cuts in line, and they quiet to an annoyed murmur.
“None of you are worthy to, um, unbuckle this guy’s shoes. I think he gets them at Jimmy Choo’s or something.”
“Jimmy Choo’s?” Jesús whispers from the bank. “Can’t chew see I’m barefoot?”
John continues to address the crowd. “This here is uh… the uh… the Lamb of God.”
“Aw, man! Don’t tell ’em dat. Jew tryin’ to get me crucified or somethin’?”
“…but don’t get upset about that or anything. He’s got Holy Spirit, and he takes your sins… or American Express if you don’t have any sins.
The crowd begins to grow restless again. John grows nervous, and pulls Jesús into the water with him. He grabs Jesús by the hair. “This is the guy I’m talking about right here.” He plunges Jesús’ head under the water.
The crowd watches in hushed amazement, as John nearly drowns Jesús, while staring up into the sky. Finally, John pulls Jesús, gasping and sputtering, from the river Jordan. “Holy crap! Did you see that?” he asks.
“Yeah, yeah,” Jesús chokes. “See? I told jew, man. Dass da Holy Spirit. I tol’ jew it was a dove.”
“No, not that, man. I thought that was just a flashback from those beetles I ate. No, the clouds opened up, man, and there were naked kids up in Heaven. Didn’t you see that?”
“No, man. Naked kids? Jew sure? Well, don’ say nothin’ about dat, okay? We don’t want no one to get da wrong idea. It might set one of dose bad precedents, jew know?”
© 2013 Anne Schilde
Author’s Note: I struggled quite a while with this piece for three reasons before electing to publish it. First, it’s obviously, slightly irreverent, and that was not my intent. I actually consulted John 1:15, 1:29-33 and tried not to stray too far from scripture. Never mind the locust argument. Second, it’s a parody of Cheech & Chong who I recently saw on Netflix. I find it impossible to properly spell Cheech Marin’s pronunciations, especially of “ing”, which is more like “een” but shorter. Third, while the parallel in Alban’s painting is obviously the point of my joke, this is not an editorial comment about the sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic church.