THE GLOBAL MARK
© Johny Noer - www.noer.info

Chapter 21

The security in Vienna and Brussels were especially vigilant after the theft of the paintings. It was considered a defeat that this coup had succeeded. A watchful eye was kept on the museums.

The four stolen paintings were returned under police supervision. "The paintings are back again as promised," they said.

"Yes, but they are also in the parliament building in Strasbourg," said the museum caretakers, pointing to the TV. "There it is,’ The Massacre of Innocents’.

"Yes", smiled the officer, "that’s only a copy. The original is here! The copy is of little worth; you have the ‘millions’ her!"

The ‘representatives of police’ and some ‘state officials’ left. Experts were called to verify the pictures. Soon the truth was broadcasted: The paintings had been returned!

Just as Pastor Jones was about to begin on ‘The Rebellion of Fallen Angels’, six uniformed men came up to him. As they were marching up the middle aisle, John Edwards came to the microphone to give an explanation.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began, "before you are paintings worth millions. Jeffrey Jones is the instigator of this theft. His arrest is imminent. If he had kept his part of our agreement, he could be free. But as he dared to support his speech with the stolen pictures, he forfeited the agreement. The police are here to arrest him, and confiscate the pictures…"

The policemen handcuffed Pastor Jones. Outside, a tumult started. Inside, angry voices called for the lecture to continue. As the news went around of the copied paintings inside the hall, and the originals being back in the museums, people began to take sides.

When Mrs. Jones and the children were about to be taken, the police was opposed. John Edwards realized that the arrest was impossible. In surprise, he left the podium to scrutinize the pictures, and then reacted as with ‘ignorance’.

"So all the pictures are back in the museums, and these are only copies?"

"Yes, Mr. Vice President!

"Well then, Mr. Jones was wrongly arrested. We must let him go free. We must keep our promise! Free his family also!"

The audience clapped enthusiastically. "After this little intermezzo," John Edwards said, smiling, "we ask Pastor Jones to continue his explanation."

Jeffrey Jones met the bitter glance of the bishop. He realized that more opposition was on its way.

*

Kaiser Wilhelm passed Jan and Antoinette, standing like statues in the desert. "Love and desert sand," repeated Kaiser, shaking his head.

"Attention – LEFT!" he ordered. The men obeyed. "For once, well done!" he murmured.

At the tent, the convoy stopped. John Williams welcomed them. Kaiser jumped out of the jeep. "At your command, by orders of the president. Jan and Jack returned! Freed from Babylonian prison. The young lady, Ursula Clemens is sent here ‘for other reasons’."

"For other reasons?"

"Yes! For other, unexplained reasons"…

The EU convoy camped next to the desert tent. The mood was light, a happy reunion. Camp fires were lit. Soon the smoke rose into the sky.

John Williams and Kaiser entered the tent. Upon their entrance, Sara, the Bedouin girl, veiled her face. Kaiser gave the pretty young woman a furtive glance. She also secretly lifted her head, while attending to the children. Their eyes met, and Kaiser looked down at his uniform. He polished his iron cross. The girl turned to Virginia, John’s wife, and both giggled quietly…

Then the Lieutenant followed John to a corner, where a breeze was blowing.

"Something I want you to explain," said Kaiser. "You mentioned that my grave would be up there!" Kaiser pointed towards Bozra.

"Did I?" John Williams smiled.

"Yes, you said I wouldn’t survive the next battle up there!" Kaiser Wilhelm stared pensively at the red mountains. "You said I would be buried in Bozra!"

"You survived the last war!"

"A miracle! We fought against some secret Israeli weapon."

"They still have!"

"In that case, nobody survives! Suddenly it came down on us. Like hail, plague and blood. Invisible sharp shooters! It’s a wonder I wasn’t hit! Do you know this weapon?"

"Yes, I do."

Kaiser leaned closer in confidence. I ask for personal reasons. I don’t want it repeated! What’s the secret weapon?"

John Williams searched the young officer’s face. Then he leaned back: "Israel’s secret weapon, Lieutenant, is God!"

"Israel’s God?" Kaiser nodded. "Not impossible. I met this weapon. I saw glowing shapes in the darkness. Invisible, invincible foes. Hail stones were like rockets, splitting iron, steel… everything. Supernatural. That was God, you say?"

"Yes, and soon all will be in flames again. This time up there!" John pointed to Bozra, "and if you are in that battle, you won’t come out alive! The prophet says: ‘your bodies will be strewn over the mountains!"

"What prophet?"

"Isaiah. He describes in detail what will happen a few miles from here…."

The Bedouin girl brought a tray with tea. For a moment, prophecies were not of interest to Kaiser. His interest was in the tea…

"Please, Sergeant!" The voice behind the veil sounded melodic and soft. Almost confidential.

"Lieutenant!" He pointed to his shoulder emblem. "Raised to Lieutenant!"

"Excuse me, I didn’t know, last time you were here …"

"Don’t mention it!" Kaiser sounded embarrassed.

The Bedouin passed a cup of tea. For a few seconds, the lieutenant gazed into the soft, black eyes behind the veil. The teacup almost fell out of his hands.

"Much thanks, …Sara…" he stammered. Her eyes shone.

"You didn’t forget my name," she whispered.

Kaiser wanted to answer but choked on the tea. Sara bent gracefully and gave John Williams a cup.

"What’s so funny?" she said to the smiling John.

"Nothing!"

"Strange!" Sara lifted her neck. "Strange to laugh about ‘nothing’." With the tray under her arm, she slowly went back.

*

In the parliament hall in Strasbourg, Mr. Jones had resumed his lecture. He was answering the bishop’s question: ‘What right have you to call our constitution antichristian and anti-Semitic?’

The picture ‘The Rebellion of Fallen Angels’ was on the screen. "Needs a special explanation," he started. "The painter was inspired by the New Testament declaring that ‘God did not spare the angels who sinned, but threw them into the depth of hell.’

"Important to stick to our theme", the bishop argued. Our constitution is written for people who live on earth. Jones may believe in life after death." He looked sarcastically at the pastor, "but I believe in a life before death. We are fighting for this life, by reaching out to the poor, protecting freedom and trying to avoid wars. No theological statements on ‘angels’, please! That’s for superstitious people, who can’t distinguish between myth, legends and reality!"

A low murmur of applause. "Let the church take care of the afterlife!" The bishop was encouraged. "And let the government rule this world! Let’s speak about angels to people who want to hear it. But here, in this hall, let’s talk common sense! I repeat my question. ‘How dare you call our constitution antichristian and anti-Semitic? It’s time to do away with religious terror. Enough of super spiritual garbage! We need a good, sound, earthly constitution that supports the man on the street and education for his children."

Jones approach to ‘angels’ was like blown away. His paintings, poor copies, seemed less important. Outside, silence seemed to agree that Jones was doomed.

The bishop smiled triumphantly. What else was there to say? What more could be debated? All eyes rested on Jones. He bent his head for a moment, then he began anew…