You know, Joseph. You’re the best carpenter in Bethlehem and your reputation for being fair and honest has spread for miles outside of town.” Jacob ripped a piece of bread from the loaf in front of him, and dipped it into a small dish of olive oil. He owned the only inn in Bethlehem, and the stable where The Family was staying. He was younger than Joseph, a full head taller, with a lighter complexion and was very thin.
“Thank you.” Joseph swallowed the last of his wine and smiled at Jacob. “I owe a lot of my business to you. If you hadn’t given me that first job making chairs for the inn, and if you hadn’t told your friends about my work two years ago, I’m not sure where we’d be.”
Jesus stopped playing with the small wooden horse Joseph had made for Him, and crawled into Joseph’s lap. Joseph held Him on his knee, wrapped his arm around Him and tickled Him with the other hand.
It gave me a chance to look around the room. The inn had five tables with chairs and benches around each one. . The floor was solid rock that had been pounded and chiseled to make it level, and two barrels held a four by six foot long slab of wood that served as a bar. There were two windows on the side walls and two doors, the entrance from the street outside and one that led to the rooms where Jacob lived. A staircase that led to the rooms above that Jacob rented was on the opposite side of the bar.
Lilith, one of Lucifer’s most devoted followers, and another demon were watching us from a dark corner.
I remembered Lilith from before the rebellion. She had been beautiful then – tall and slim, with long, cascading blonde hair, blue eyes, and a smile that brightened the heavens. Now she was hunched over with a hump on her back. What was left of her hair was stringy and unwashed. Her bulging eyes were surrounded by dark circles. Her teeth were rotted stubs, and her complexion was gray, scarred with pock marks all over her face.
The demon I couldn’t quite make out, leaned over and whispered something into a woman’s ear. Lilith grabbed the demon’s arm, and, as the woman ordered another drink, the demons smiled at me and disappeared.
“If I had known you were going back to Nazareth, I wouldn’t have sold you that colt last month. Jacob poured himself and Joseph another cup of wine. “You’re always busy, and you’re making a good living here.” He leaned across the table and peered at Joseph. “Are you sure you want to leave?”
“I need that table you promised me no later than next Tuesday,” said Samuel, one of Joseph’s best customers, as he sat down next to Joseph.
“It’ll be ready for you in another day or two.” Joseph poured a cup of wine for him and laughed.
“I hear you may be leaving us in another month or so…” Samuel slapped Joseph on the back.
“The colt will be strong enough to pull a cart with Mary and Jesus and all our belongings by then,” said Joseph.
“I wish you’d change your mind, but I can understand why you’re leaving. Make sure you say good-bye before you leave – okay?” Samuel threw back his head and drank the rest of his wine. “I have to get back to my shop. I’ll see you later.”