STORY: Christmas Dancer Boy
Jakar tried to hide it so it didn’t show up in his walk. Or maybe he could just finally be his true self in how he walked and moved and talked, now that his dad had finally kicked him out.
Jakar adjusted his hood to deflect the rain. So rarely did it rain here in Jerusalem. But it seemed only appropriate on the night he felt most desperately like crying. But he had to be strong. He had been on the streets for 5 days and was famished, dirty, cold and tired. He had just been kicked out from the alleyway stoop under which he had been squatting for the last two days.
Things had just been so hard in Jerusalem for as long as he could remember. Fighting all the time. There were a few conspiracy theory bloggers who had been speculating about the return to power of Hezekiah’s family line. Two and a half thousand years prior, there had been a family of rulers known for their justice, wisdom, and virtue. They had been full of integrity and they made righteousness a prized virtue which all seemed inspired to pursue. They purified the city of corruption. They say this kingdom of Hezakiah had been peaceful and all were provided for and productive. Jakar wished a Jerusalem like that were really possible.
The weird thing was though, that one of the current Prime Minister’s head aids had retired saying he had strange and ominous intel. He was caught saying in a rather obscure internet video, “The kin of of king Hezakiah is at hand.” Jakar almost couldn’t even let himself hope in that.
Now as he walked through the streets the buildings got smaller and further apart. He felt like he would have to find a place outside of the city in order for no one to bother him.
He looked up at the series of lights along the dirt road that ran over the hill outside the city. He saw the tip of a small structure, a shepherd’s stable, over the top of the hill, a ways from the road. Surely the shepherd would not be there in this weather and maybe there would be some food, at least what was meant to feed the beasts.
As he got further from the lights of the city he let his delicate hips sway a little more naturally as he walked. He should have locked his bedroom door when he heard the music coming through the window, at least before he let himself dance to it. Why did it have to be the absolute worst person who caught him at just that moment.
He climbed the road up the hill, his hood low over his head. He left the road when he was closest to the stable. The leather of his shoes were soaked in cold after only a minute of walking in the grass. He saw something move in the stable, a dim movement of light coming from the doorway. He slowed and stabilized his walk.
It wasn’t like he would let himself fall in love with a man or anything. That was probably what his father thought it meant. He still wanted to try and marry a nice woman and raise a family. Jakar understood it was shameful to be a girly boy. But it was who he was.
He approached the stable very slowly. He stopped at the doorway and called, putting on a masculine air. “Hello. Shalom. Any room for a wet man in there?”
A baby’s cry surprised him. And then a mother’s pleased cooing. A man responded. “Show yourself, please.”
Jakar pulled off his hood and carefully pulled back the curtain which was a blanket draped over a wire, so they could see him. A mother was tending to her child, lying in a sheep trough padded with an old down jacket. The man walked toward Jakar gripping something underneath his cloak. A gun, perhaps, Jakar thought. The man stopped when he saw him clearly, and after a moment’s discernment looked back at the mother. She seemed pleasantly occupied with the baby and the man gestured to Jakar, “Yes, young man. Come in.”
Jakar ducked past the curtains and tucked himself against the wall, wide eyes. The man saw he meant no harm and reached a hand out to welcome him. Jakar gave his best manly handshake and nodded. “Thank you.” They quickly both looked back at the baby. The woman looked up, her kind eyes met Jakar’s and she said, “You made him laugh. He heard your voice. First time in a while he’s laughed.” She saw Jakar was enthralled by the baby so she motioned him to come nearer. And he did.
When he was close enough the baby’s eyes went to him. And did not leave. Jakar knelt beside the trough. The baby was silent, studying him.
Jakar smiled. A moment later the baby smiled back. He must have been only a few months old. Those eyes. So clear and innocent. Jakar kind of wished the baby could see into him. This baby wouldn’t judge.
“We’ve had a pretty hard journey.” The mother said, obviously pleased the baby seemed happy. “It’s been hard on this little one. But look, he’s smiling now.”
Jakar bobbed his head and he smiled at the babe. He opened his eyes and mouth wide. It wasn’t a strong man’s gesture, but the baby laughed and kept watching him intensely. Jakar brought his hands in front of him, with stiff strong fingers, snapping lightly. The baby kept his eyes on Jakar’s eyes. Only when he let his hands loosen and move more gracefully did the baby look at them and release another delighted squeak.
Then they heard several sets of footsteps outside. The man got up and pulled the gun fully out this time. A man’s deep foreign accent said, “Greetings. We come to pay our reverent respects.”
In a few moments they were inside. Seeing who it was the father quickly put his gun down. Three dark-skinned men. Perhaps from Africa. Two of them were the body guards of the third. He was dressed in a very fine suit, a black tie, and a fashionable trench coat. They bowed at the door, a very awkward motion. Jakar didn’t see anyone bow these days, except in prayer. The man slowly looked up and saw the child. He looked to the parents and said, “I flew in as soon as I heard about the arrival. Just this afternoon. We took an old Fiat, or something, and left it a mile back, behind the closed fueling station, just so no one would raise any questions and find you. The father nodded and said, “Yes, okay. Please– please yes enter.” The father said it in a reverent way that made Jakar conclude this was a very important man. “How did you find us, if you don’t mind me asking. I just don’t want others to find us.”
Then the new man rose as he took out his cell phone. He approached cautiously to show it to the father. It was a text from somebody with a google map link attached. The father glanced to the top to see who it was from and immediately nodded. “Okay yes. It’s very much an honor to have you visit us. Sorry for these humble surroundings.”
The well dressed man pointed to his phone indicating who the text was from as he said, “The boy’s father warned me it would be like this. But knowing him, I wouldn’t expect anything less. Any level of luxury seems to be just fine for him.” The man with the gun must not be the boy’s father, Jakar realized. Maybe just the baby’s body guard. To take care of the baby and his mother.
“I told him I wanted to come meet the newborn,” The black man’s deep voice filled the room. “I would not receive no for an answer. I absolutely had to be present to honor the next king of Hezakiah’s line. I have brought this for the young prince.” He turned his attention to the baby as he reached back for his assistant to give him something. It was an intricately adorned box. The man bowed low in front of the baby and then held the box in two hands over him. He opened it and it quietly began to play. It was a beautiful music box. The man reached into the box and retrieved an envelope. “This is the paperwork for a $50 million dollar endowment in the young prince’s name. It is a gift from my kingdom to the destiny of yours. I look forward to the day when my people will live in peace with your great kingdom.”
They all looked down to the baby, whose eyes looked at the guilded box for a moment, then to the well-dressed man. But then the baby looked back to Jakar huddled in the corner. The man handed the box to the woman who received it graciously. She set it beside her and let the music chime slowly and beautifully.
The well-dressed man and his men settled against the wall, as they realized how enthralled the baby was with the thin boy, (or was that a girl? No just a pretty boy) in the corner. “He likes you quite a lot.” He mused kindly. A deep voice. One that probably commanded troops and made decisions for his nation. “Why don’t you come near, young one. Be brave and be loved by this little one, for his kingdom will be love.”
Jakar swallowed and slowly pulled himself out of the shadow, obeying the powerful man. And as he approached the baby smiled wildly again. He wiggled his tiny hands in excitement. Jakar bobbed up and down again, near and far, back and forth. The baby’s eyes tried to track and he broke out in giggles. It bled out into the night but it was such a beautiful sound to all, they deemed it worth the added risk.
A few moments later the sound of many feet, and… was that hooves approaching outside? All the men pulled out guns and aimed them at the door.
“Hello.” Came a man’s soft voice. “I come in peace. I saw you in a dream. May I please approach?” And a moment later they saw a face peek around the curtain. It was a sun-baked and bearded shepherd. His sheep were following him. “Last month I had a dream that said the great family of. . .” he struggled to say it, looking at all the people in the tiny hut, “the family of the king Hezakiah would visit this place tonight.” He glanced down at the baby and his eyes filled with dumfounded awe.
The mother spoke up. “Oh yes, come in. I saw you in your house as we passed through the city and God told me you would visit. “I wondered if I heard correctly. And here you are. Please don’t fret. Come in please, good shepherd. Thank you for letting us stay in your stable. I think it is yours?”
The man nodded but his eyes were watering, still staring at the baby. It was only a whisper that could come out of his mouth, “I have hoped for your kingdom to come for so long. My grandparents starved to death in this stable, discarded by this regime. And today you have forever redeemed my broken family by coming to this place.” He came near and looked at the other men to assure them of what he was about to do. “I brought a gift.” He pointed to his coat before slowly pulling it out. It looked like a slightly larger cel phone. “Members of my family own the companies developing technology for the state of Israel. We have many technologies far more advanced than public tech in this world. What we have developed could almost assuredly hack into and bring down most of the empires in the world today.
This phone is like a key to the whole system, it has all the automated software to do so, and once it’s in cel tower range it will stay always updated. Of course the current regime would never let go of this. But I give it to this little one in good faith as my allegiance to his office and his court.” He showed the screen to the mother and said, we developed this app for when the time is right.” He turned it on, swiped to a screen and touched an app icon. She nodded her understanding. Then he turned it back to the child as beautiful colors moved across the screen. He watched the baby as he said, “But for now the app displays colors that are calculated to entertain and develop the mind of young ones. When the time is right he will be able to unlock all the power inside.”
They all watched the baby glance at the screen for a moment, then glance at the man, and lock back on Jakar.
The mother nodded and received the phone with a reverent “Thank you.” The new man settled in and they all marveled as the baby would not take his eyes off of Jakar, against the wall again. The mother said, “I think he loves you, tender hearted one. Please come, if you would like, and let him see you again.” And then with the intuition of a mother she tenderly added. “I think he would like to see all of you.”
Jakar slowly, cautiously approached again. So scared. He glanced at the other men in the room. Men of such import. And yet this child wanted to look at him. Jakar bobbed his head and his eyebrows up and down and back and forth again. He began to do it in time with the music box. The baby laughed in delight. He loved watching Jakar.
And slowly Jakar started moving the rest of his body. More of it. First in a mechanical, strong and masculine way. But it seemed to only get him so far with the child, who would not stop looking at Jakar’s face. Jakar could feel the dance inside of him wanting to get out. He felt his arms and legs want to break off the fear and shame of what society expected of him like a shell. His hips wanted to loosen and he knew how he would throw his head and shoulder-length hair.
Then the finely dressed man laughed a good-hearted laugh and spoke as Jakar danced. “Young one. What did you bring for this little baby!? What gift do you bring for your king?”
The boy heard it as condemnation. That gruff voice saying he was not enough. But he didn’t care. That man could hurt him later but this moment with this special baby who seemed to see and love him right now was his.
But the man continued, in a strong African accent, although a thread of kindness and joy become more evident. “I brought lots and lots of money, and he brought power.” He gestured to the shepherd. “You may think you have nothing to give. But behold, this baby just wants you. Give him all of you, young one! I can see it in you. Give him the gift you have in you!” And a boisterous laugh came out of the man.
This startled Jakar into a new freedom. It cracked whatever shell was left on him. Jakar let his arms and head and hips and legs flow in rhythm and melody with the beautiful music box.
Spinning and swinging low to the ground. It no longer became masculine or feminine. It was pure objective beauty in shape and movement. Flexibility balanced with strength, arching limbs. Spins and leaps. Even the fingertips hovered before the baby making their own fascinating stories. It was becoming one of his best dances.
All watched in awe. But it was most joyously received by the baby who laughed and swung his arms and legs as if he too wanted to dance with as much of himself as Jakar did.
Jakar had nothing to give as a gift but himself. His true self. So he gave all he had.
And he gave it for the shining eyes of that joyful little heart. That heart that saw and loved all of him more than sparkling riches or consuming power.
Raw Spoon, 12-9-18