Once upon a time there lived in Galilee of Nazareth an elderly couple, called Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, who had a beautiful daughter by the name of Mary.
Mary, a virgin, was engaged to be married to Saint Joseph, a poor Jewish carpenter.
Now it happened that an angel visited the virgin Mary and explained to her that she would conceive a son, and that she would name him Jesus. At first Mary was afraid and troubled by the angel's words. Being a virgin, Mary questioned the angel, "How will this be; seeing as how my betrothed giveth me not the prenuptial sausage?"
But all at once the door opened, and in came a bearded old man, and said, "Good evening, mistress virgin, why are you crying so?"
"Alas," answered Mary, "I have to conceive-ev-eth a manchild, and do not know how this shall be done."
"Leave everything to me," said the old man. He took her into a room which was quite full of straw, gave her a spinning-wheel and a reel, and said, "What will you give me if I do it to you?"
"My necklace," Mary replied.
"Do I look like I wear necklaces," snapped the old man. "No... If I am to give you a jolly good seeing-to I shall want in return the baby."
"Fair enough," said Mary. "I never wanted a kid in the first place."
"Then it's a deal," squealed the old man excitedly, hitching up his robe. "Now, just lie back and think of Israel."
After a few moments sizing things up he promptly set to work and by morning early had both given Mary his seed and spun straw into gold. Thereupon he locked up the room and left Mary in it alone.
So there sat the poor elderly couple's daughter, and for the life of her knew not if she was up the duff or how it was that straw could be spun into gold. And so she grew more and more frightened, until at last she fell asleep.
While still engaged to Saint Joseph, Mary miraculously became pregnant, as foretold to her by the angel. However, when she told him of her pregnancy he felt disgraced by the knowledge that the child was not his own - Mary's apparent unfaithfulness carried a grave social stigma, so not only had he the right to annul his engagement to her but, under Jewish law, could have had her put to death by stoning.
Luckily for Mary, Saint Joseph was a simple soul and agreed to continue with the marriage.
Soon after, and with Saint Joseph wishing to hurry things along before the bump showed, they were wed.
A week before Mary was due to have her baby the happy couple were informed by the Inland Revenue that they must travel to Bethlehem, Saint Joseph's place of birth, to pay a special tax called Heregeld. And so, divest of her robes, Mary rode on a donkey for a few days over the hills of Galilee, by way of protest, because the people of faraway Coventry, to whom she had not once spoken, suffered terribly under the heavy taxes.
When at last Mary and Saint Joseph arrived in Bethlehem they found it crowded with many other people all eager to pay their tax. Mary was tired and needed a place to rest, but at every inn they tried the story was the same. There was no room for them. Eventually, a kindly innkeeper, taking pity on the pregnant virgin Mary, informed them that they were welcome to stay in the stable where he kept his animals – an insult which seems to have gone completely over the heads of both Christian scholars and followers alike.
By daybreak, Mary was ready to give birth. It was at this time that three kings arrived and began showering her with gifts of gold, frankincense, myrrh, and marshmallows dipped in melted chocolate.
A moment later, and without a second thought to her arrangement with the child's father, she brought a beautiful boy into the world. But suddenly, from out a puff of orange smoke, the old man came upon her and said, "Now give me that which you promised."
Mary was horror-struck and offered the old man all of the gifts which lay strewn about the stable coated in the effluence of cows, pigs, sheep, and Saint Joseph.
When the old man saw the gold he was astonished and delighted, but his heart became only more greedy.
'No, something alive is dearer to me than all the treasures in the world," he said. "Give us y' baby."
Mary began to lament and cry, but the old man persisted with his demand.
He jumped high into the air and shouted, "Give us th' baby."
When Mary began to sob all the louder he hopped upon one leg and screeched, ''Give us th' baby!''
However, when Mary began to howl like a banshee the old man covered his ears and screwed up his face. "I will give you three hours,'' he said. ''If within this time you can correctly guess my name then I shall allow you to keep your child."
"What drives your desire to rob me of my firstborn?'' asked Mary, dabbing at her eyes with a lock of her son's long, blond hair.
''I need someone to take over the family business,'' replied the old man. ''I am loath to admit it but I have made somewhat of a pig's ear of things. I need a friendly face to front my empire before the whole thing falls flat on its arse.''
For two and one half of an hour Mary thought of all the names that she had ever heard, so that when the old man returned she began with Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, Jehovah, and said them all, one after another, but to every one the little man said, "That is not my name."
And so Mary thought of the most uncommon and curious names she had heard. ''Perhaps your name is haShem, or El-Shaddai, or Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh?'' she said, but to each suggestion the old man replied. "That is not my name."
''Are you takin' the—''
''Oh God!'' screamed Mary. ''This is ridiculous!''
''Oh, dear Lord, bless me!'' cried the bearded old man. ''You have guessed correctly! Oi vey... That's Christianity buggered! In his anger he plunged his head so deep into the curious orange smoke that he disappeared up his own rectum and thus was neither seen nor heard from again for all of eternity.
Last edited by Messiah
on Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:47 am, edited 3 times in total.
Writing for an audience of one.