Bethlehem a small middle eastern town, which prior to this night was known only for its export of the popular toy, the Camel Pie Frisbee, was on the thresh hold of becoming the center of the world's great religions. It also happened to be the collection center of Caesar's Internal Revenue Service and all across the land there was a pilgrimage of people to the town to pay their taxes.
Among those converging on the small town were Joseph and his expectant virgin wife Mary to fulfill a greater destiny. Another couple, thinking they faced the same destiny because of a clerical error, Marty and Josephine were also en route. The events leading up that storied night were chronicled in the previous installment, What In the Hell is Myrrh?
"Marty, did you remember to put the cat out? Did you leave a note for the milkman? Did you remember to bring in the laundry?"
"Yes, dear. Yep. Uh-huh, of course I did!" Marty shook his head trying to stave off an inevitable migraine headache. She'd been nagging incessantly like that for the last forty miles. There was one thing he had forgotten though - a roll of duct tape! He sighed in exasperation, only a four-inch strip of the stuff would be all he'd need to keep her lips sealed.
Far to east a camel bearing a man and his wife were nearing the city of Baghdad. They came to a rise in a dune. "Golda," the man said to his wife. "Look, down there. It's a caravan and they are heading in the same direction."
He kicked the camel into a higher gear and they trotted off down the slope of the dune toward what appeared to be nine other couples on camel back. The couple on the lead camel saw them coming and waved for those behind to stop. Minutes later the camel bearing Golda and her husband Abe pulled up beside the couple on the lead camel.
Golda said, "Abe look. It's the Rabinowitzes." She turned and looked at the faces of those behind the leader. "And look, the Feinbergs are here too ... And the Schultzes ... And the Gooldbergs ..."
Abe nodded to their former neighbors. He said, "It looks like we're all heading to the same place - Baghdad? Mind if we join you?"
Saul Rabinowitz nodded in affirmation. He pointed to the rear of the caravan and said, "Sure thing. Just slip in the backdoor, good buddy. It looks like we've got ourselves a convoy!"
Marty and Josephine were among the first to enter the streets of Bethlehem. There was an air of excitement in the small town. They passed under a banner stretched across the street bearing the message: Welcome Messiah.
After parking the camel they entered the main lobby of the inn and approached the desk. Marty said to the clerk behind the counter, "Hello. We're the party you've been expecting. I'm Marty and this is Josephine and she is with child."
The clerk leaned over the counter and looked down to the left and to the right. He stood up and said, "Where? I don't see any child."
Marty frowned and pointed to Josephine's protruding stomach, "In here. You know, like a 'bun in the oven' child?"
Fifteen minutes later they walked into their room at the recently renovated Comfort Inn. Marty proudly shook the hand of the concierge who had extended it to him palms up, "Thank you, sir." He then closed the door in the chagrined man's face.
Josephine was lying on her back on the plush bed. She said to Marty, "You know, this immaculate conception stuff is pretty neat. Just look at this fancy room and this magnificent bed! We sure are lucky!"
"I'll say," Marty replied. "Think about it. I got the last camel at used 'beast' lot. Then we got the last parking space in town. This room - it was the last vacancy in the whole town!" He walked over to the balcony and looked upon the street below. "I'm sure glad you noticed the spelling error on the reservation down at the desk."
She sat up and said, "Yeah. That was kind of weird, wasn't it? They had the names Mary and Joseph. I wonder who screwed that one up?" There was a sudden boom of thunder.
Behind him Josephine was fumbling with an old TV set. "What? No HBO? Bummer."
Marty watched in silence as a couple appeared on the street below. A woman, obviously about to have a baby was sitting side saddle on a donkey which was being pulled by a man. He felt sorry for them as they were turned away because there were was no room at the inn. The woman, in spite of her delicate condition seemed unfazed by the rejection and looked up to the balcony where he stood. She smiled as they moved on and out of his line of sight. There was something about them ...
Josephine awoke to loud noises coming from outside. She shook Marty but he wouldn't budge. He had a curious grin on his face and she noticed that his hands were busy beneath the blanket. She sighed and thought that it would be nice if he paid as much attention to her. She rolled out of bed and walked over to the balcony.
There was a strange star in the sky, the light from it shining upon a small stable down the street. People were cheering and celebrating something. There was a throng of people pushing and shoving near the stable. There was music playing somewhere, no everywhere. She snapped her finger and said, "Damn. A concert." No had told them there was going to be a show. "I wonder who's playing?" she muttered.
She looked up into the sky and there was a flock of angels hovering above the scene. Their band was playing brass horns and golden harps. She could make the sound of an instrument that sounded like a kazoo. She scanned the sky and found the individual wielding it. She gasped in disbelief as he turned his head in her direction. He waved to her and winked. It was Archie! He really was an angel. She tried to ignore him but could not. She raised her arm and flipped him the bird.
She lowered her head in both disappointment and praise. She realized what the fuss was all bout - the Messiah had been born in that stable. Someone had beat her to it. She looked down at her raised stomach and felt the movement of life within her. Suddenly she was wracked with unbearable pain. "Great. Just great. My baby is coming - NOW!"
Two days later she finally felt like traveling. It was time for them to go home; her Marty and their new son Leroy. She really would have liked to have stayed another day, but Marty kept telling they had to leave as soon as possible. He would give her no reason as to why the hectic rush.
Finally after they passed the outskirts of town on the way home he told her that their child was in danger. She trembled when he told her of Herod's edict that all males born two nights ago on the 25th were to be put to death. It seemed that Herod was trying to kill the Messiah child by killing all the male births.
On the road away from town they found a shepherd weeping by the side of the road. He told them that Herod had killed the males born that night to the shepherds in all the pastures around. So it was that several hundred male lambs were put to death. Marty and Josephine decided not to lay too much pity on the sheep herders.
A week later, fully recovered, Josephine bathed herself and then rubbed her body with scented oils. She had tried to find a rose bush to collect the petals to spread onto their bed, but she found none. She opted to pull apart an artichoke and then dipped those petals in red paint to spread on the bed. They weren't too comfortable but she relented. Not bothering to dress, she lie down on the bed in the most provocative of positions she could imagine and called out to Marty.
He walked into the room and stood by the door gazing at her naked body. "Yes? What is it, Josie?"
"Oh...M-aaarty," she cooed. "... Tonight's the night. You can do anything you want."
"T-t-tonight?" he stammered.
"Yes ..." she purred. "Toniiiight."
"Anything? Anything I want?"
"Yes. Anything your wildest imagination can think of..."
"You won't try to stop me? You won't interfere?" He stripped naked. That one part of him was proud and was bouncing in rabid anticipation.
She stared in awe at him. She began to writhe and to moan. She wanted him so badly she felt she would soon explode if his weapon wasn't brought to bear ... and soon. "NO. I won't stop you. Please do it! DO IT NOW!"
He quickly took a cold shoulder. He emerged and dried himself. She looked in shock at the no longer erect manhood by then reduced to a hanging dangling pendulum. Then he began getting dressed.
"Marty? What are you doing?"
He reached under the bed and produced a large heavy bag. He put on a green tam topped with a red pom-pom. "You don't know how long I've been waiting for this!" he exclaimed.
"I .. I .. don't understand."
"I'm off to play a couple of rounds of golf with the boys. And when I get back ..."
Her disappointment was eased a bit. She realized that he would "take care" of her needs later. "Yes. Yes! I'll be ready!"
"Good. I'll be wanting a big slab of beef for supper. See ya later honey."
Marty and Josephine would always remember being there when the Messiah was born. What they didn't know was just how important a role they played in the drama. It is with pride that I've had the singular honor of finally letting the world know the true story ... the story behind the story.
This was the 5th and concluding installment that began with Marty & Josephine.