A modern Easter
A humorous retelling of the Bible story of the Last Supper
Guest article by Gabrielle Annunziato
Preface by Occult Mysteries
Readers who enjoyed Gabrielle Annunziato's previous satirical stories about Christmas will welcome this amusing retelling of the Biblical account of the Last Supper. For those who wish to refresh their memory of the event as recounted in the NT gospels, it can be found in Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-39; and John 13:1-30.
Those readers who may be offended by the author's light-hearted treatment of her subject are reminded that nothing is quite as unattractive as a humourless Christian. We're sure many of you will have encountered the breed. Sanctimonious, judgemental, unsmiling, puritanical bigots who view frivolity as sacrilege and regard any exhibition of humour in religious matters as heresy. Yet those who study the gospels judiciously will find no shortage of irony and humour within them. A True Teacher such as Jesus was is filled with humour of the right sort for the weaknesses and follies of men. And how could it be otherwise? The rivalry and dissent that prevailed among the disciples, who bickered among themselves, and who all abandoned him in the end is well attested, as you can read in John Temple's excellent afterword.
You may argue that this is an occasion for tears, not laughter, but we would disagree, for the teacher who cannot see beyond appearances and recognise the potential in even the most unpromising material is not a teacher but a blind guide leading the blind. Thus, Gabrielle's amusing pastiche serves a deeper purpose than appears on the surface. Moreover, the Last Supper was never historical. Nor was it an exclusively Christian rite, as John Temple has explained in his analyses of the Nativity and Easter story.
Trouble at Pizza Hut
Peter and Paul kicked aside the drying palm leaves that littered the streets as they walked through the late afternoon sun.
"Are you sure Jesus said Pizza Hut and not Pizza Express?" asked Peter.
"Positive," Paul answered, "He said we're going to Pizza Hut for pizza and a walk in the park afterwards. Anyway, it's usually Pizza Hut because Judas likes their salad."
Turning a corner they entered the Herodias Memorial Shopping Arcade. The familiar smell of olives, dates, spices, kebabs and cheap scent enveloped them. Slowly they picked their way past tables groaning under the weight of cream eggs, gaily decorated donkeys bearing squealing children on their backs and enormous chocolate bunnies. Finally they reached the central square, and pushed open the familiar plate glass doors of Pizza Hut. They were greeted by a sour-faced waitress whose greasy complexion and bare skin hanging over her mini tunic bespoke of a diet of pizza and oven chips. She had a small badge that read: 'Hi, I'm Leah.' The red and blue paper hat perched on top of her scrubbed back, blond hair sported three stars showing she could apply toppings, clean the toilets and operate the cash register. A fourth star would have indicated she could wash her hands as well. "Table for two?" she asked in a clipped, nasal whine.
"Er...thirteen actually. We've booked," said Peter.
"James?" asked the waitress, shuffling through a pile of parchments. "Got nuffink for any James 'ere."
"James son of Zebedee maybe?" suggested Paul.
"Or possibly Alphaeus?" offered Peter.
"James or Alphaeus?" queried Leah. "Make ya minds up."
"No," said Peter, beginning to see a never-ending sea of confused Sunday school faces stretching out before him. "There are two James'—one is the son of Zebedee and one is the son of Alphaeus."
"Never 'eard of either of 'em."
"Not many people have," said Paul. "But one of them may have booked the table."
The waitress made another half-hearted attempt to find the booking. "Nah, nuffink 'ere. D'you wanna wait until something comes free or wot?"
"How long will that take?" asked Paul.
Leah picked absently at the diamond stud in her nose. "Dunno."
"Well, could you find out?" asked Peter patiently.
"Dunno...(shouting) Mr Jacob! Party 'ere wants a table for thir'een!"
"Tell them the big table already has an Irish party just starting," bawled a disembodied voice from behind the deep-fat fryer.
"The big table already 'as an Irish party——" repeated Leah unnecessarily.
"——Yes, we heard, thank you," interrupted Peter, rubbing his ear. "Would it include Jesus O'Nazareth by any chance?"
"Jesus O'Nazareth—the popular Irish story teller and faith healer?"
"Mr Jacob! Party 'ere wants to know if Jesus O'Nazareth is 'ere!"
"Who wants to know?" shouted back Mr Jacob.
"Some bloke called James—or Al—Alf—Alfa..."
"Alphaeus," said Paul helpfully.
"Alphaeus," repeated the waitress.
"Romans?" yelled back Mr Jacob.
"I'll ask. Are y' Romans?"
"Do we look like Romans?" said Peter.
"Nah...but ya could be disguised. Can't be too careful wiv the Sanhedrin stirring up trouble about Jesus practising wivout a license. 'ad a couple centurions in 'ere earlier lookin' for 'im."
"I assure you we are Irish," said Peter stiffly.
"Nah!" shouted Leah.
"No what?" shouted back Mr Jacob.
"They ain't Romans."
"Well he is then," replied Mr Jacob.
"Well 'e is then," repeated Leah.
"Right then, that's them!" said Peter and Paul together.
"You should 'ave said as you was Irish," complained the waitress as she showed them through to a back room. "Would 'ave saved me a lotta time. Waddya want to drink wiv ya pizza?"
"Two pints of water," said Paul, winking at Peter.
"WA'ER?!?" asked the waitress sharply, putting her hands on her hips. "Y' tryin' to be funny? Ditn't ya see the sign; NO MIRACLES. You want wine you pays for it."
"Might we pay 10% corkage?" suggested Peter, always keen to drive a hard bargain.
"No ya bloody well can't. I'll bring you a jug of the 'ouse red an' a couple o' pint pots an' we'll 'ave no more funny business or you're barred, innit."
Peter and Paul walked into the room and greeted their fellow disciples.
The waitress returned with the wine and started to hand out menus. "The specials is on the board in the bar. We're nearly out of anchovies an' the lavs is blocked again."
Her surly manner evaporated as she leant over Jesus to fill his glass and added sweetly: "Course, Mr O'Nazareth can use the staff toilet."
"Thank you, Leah," said Jesus, smiling up at her.
Leah blushed. "Ya know I'd do anything for you," she whispered. "You only 'ave to ask."
Peter glared at her disapprovingly and was on the point of voicing his displeasure when a look from Jesus quelled him.
There was a lull in the conversation as they studied the menu. After a while Thomas asked: "Is anyone having a starter?"
"Oh, got to have a starter!" said Phillip. "What about garlic breadsticks?"
Matthew asked: "How are we for cash?"
"It's my turn to pay," said Jesus. "But I'm a bit short to be honest. Didn't I hear the jingle of coins when you sat down Judas?"
Thirty pieces of silver
Judas looked a trifle uneasy." Yes Lord, I have...um...had a bit of luck..."
"How much luck exactly?" asked Matthew, always a stickler for exactitude in financial matters.
"Thirty silver denarii, if you must know," said Judas defensively.
"Thirty denarii!" exclaimed Paul. "What did you do, sell your grandmother to the Romans?"
Judas' sallow face turned a sickly shade of green. Paul's guess was rather too close to home.
"Out with it," demanded John, Bartholomew and both James' together. "Don't keep us in suspense."
"Er...um...well...it does involve family as it happens. We're expecting a death...um...shortly," Judas muttered. "The money is a...um...sort of advance on the...um...legacy we're expecting from a distant...er...relative."
"Anyone we know?" asked Peter.
"Er...not as such," replied Judas in a strangled voice.
"Well Judas," said Jesus. "Lend me three denarii 'till the end of the month, there's a good chap."
Judas looked like a man who had sucked a lemon dry as he handed over the coins.
"Starters it is then!" exclaimed Phillip, rubbing his hands together. "What about the garlic breadsticks?"
"Breadsticks is off," said the waitress. "Ditn't ya read the board in the bar?"
"Well, couldn't you make some more?" asked Phillip.
"I bet you would if Jesus asked," muttered Peter.
"Oi!" said the waitress, rounding on him. "Less of ya cheek or ya barred."
Phillip stared glumly at the menu. "What about garlic bread then?" he suggested. "Or is that 'off' too?"
"Nah, that's on. Garlic dip is too. You could order bread an' the dip."
"Isn't that the same as garlic breadsticks?" asked James.
The waitress gave him a pitying look. "Nah. Ya gotta dip it. Garlic breadsticks 'as garlic in 'em, innit."
"So does garlic bread," objected Phillip.
"On it, not in it, innit," corrected Leah with a derisory toss of her head.
"How about some salad?" said Judas.
"Just put the bread and salad in the middle so we can all share it," said Jesus. Turning to the waitress, he added: "Let's have four garlic breads, two deep fried mushrooms and four salads as starters."
"That's only ten," said Leah.
"We're sharing it", explained Paul.
Leah scowled at him. "Ya tryin' to be funny? If ya 'ave the salad wiv the main course you can 'ave the 'as much as you like' meal deal and go back for more as often as ya like. But if ya 'ave the garlic bread ya can't 'ave seconds. Unless ya order the 'Easter special."
"What's the Easter special?" asked Phillip.
"Egg salad instead of plain salad. Do ya want that instead of the salad starter?"
"Let's do that," said Jesus.
"Only I can't let ya share that round, obviously, or you'd only buy one!" giggled Leah.
"Right," laughed Jesus and then called out, "Judas, are you going to want salad with your mains? Because you can have the 'eat as much as you want deal' with eggs—is that right, Leah?"
Leah almost swooned with pleasure. "Unless ya 'ave the Roman Salad Special," she replied breathlessly.
"Roman Salad Special?" repeated Jesus.
"Number twen'y-eight," said Leah, tapping the menu scroll with her gold and silver nail extensions.
"But that's an extra two shekels," said Judas.
"Yeah, but the eggs are stuffed wiv anchovies."
"Do you want that, Judas?" asked Peter.
"No, I don't think so."
"Well, make your mind up because the Lord doesn't want to buy you a salad now and then buy you another one in five minutes," said Peter through gritted teeth.
"Can't we share the 'eat as much as you like' one?" asked Judas.
"No, Leah says we can't," replied Jesus.
"Oh, very well, I'll just have the salad starter then," said Judas.
"Pizzas?" asked the waitress, scribbling down their order.
"Pepperoni with olives," bawled Thomas.
"Mushrooms, garlic and anchovies!" shouted Paul and the two James'.
"Yes, for us too," said Peter, Matthew and Phillip.
"Pineapple and gifilte fish," said Andrew.
"Gefilte fish?" exclaimed Bartholomew and Simon in unison.
"I always have gefilte fish," said Andrew. "You know that."
"We don't do gifilte fish," said Leah sullenly.
"Don't do gifilte fish?" said Andrew. "Pizza Express do."
"Well bleedin' eat there, then!"
"Oh, all right, tuna then," said Andrew. "But make sure it's Dolphin-friendly."
Leah glared at him and turning to the other disciples, rapidly took down the remainder of their orders. "Right," she announced curtly. "That's one Pepperoni with olives, two mushrooms, garlic and anchovies—'alf price cos they're on special durin' Passover——"
"——Just a minute," interrupted Andrew. "Why are theirs half price and mine isn't?"
"Cos the special only applies to matchin' product cat'gries, innit."
"Mushrooms is veg. Pineapple ain't."
"But tuna and anchovies are both fish," persisted Andrew.
"So if they're in the same product categories they should be on special offer too."
"Well they ain't," snapped Leah.
"Well, they should be..." muttered Andrew. "Pizza Express——"
"——Will ya bleedin' give over about Pizza Express!" shouted Leah.
"Look, we'll be here all day if you're going to argue about the ingredients," said Paul. "Judas is flush, he'll pay for yours, won't you Judas?"
Judas turned an even sicklier shade of pale green and reluctantly nodded his acquiescence.
"Right then!" bawled Leah. "That's one Pepperoni with olives, two mushrooms, garlic and anchovies—'alf price cos they're on special durin' Passover—three Chicken Margheritas, one Vegetable Supreme, three pepperoni an' spicy beef——"
"——Er, may I ask..." interrupted Simon in a sheepish voice. "Is the Chicken free-range?"
"Y'wot?" asked Leah.
"Um...free range..." repeated Simon.
"ow the bleedin' 'ell should I know?"
"Well, could you ask?"
"Wot—the chickens? Bleedin' 'ell, mate, are ya for real?"
"Well...I was only asking..."
"Ya quite finished, 'ave ya?" said Leah, flinging down her pad. "Cos if I 'ave any more of your nonsense ya all barred!"
Jesus laid his hand on her arm and she instantly relaxed. "Take no notice. They'll have what we've ordered, won't you my friends?"
Heads nodded obediently and Peter dug Simon in the ribs to stifle the objection that was on his lips.
"Thank the Lord for that!" exclaimed Leah.
"Don't mention it, " said Jesus, patting her hand soothingly.
Peter Paul Rubens — The Last Supper — oil on canvas, 1630-31
Publicans and sinners
"I wish you wouldn't flirt with that waitress, Lord," said Peter, as Leah minced out of the room with a longing, backward glance at Jesus. "People are beginning to talk."
"About what?" asked Jesus.
"Well...the droves of young women running after you. Especially that Mary Magdalene and her little sister, Martha. Always hanging around, pawing you and washing your feet. It's not seemly."
"You're not jealous, are you?" asked Jesus with a merry laugh.
"Certainly not!" replied Peter avoiding his master's piercing gaze. "I—I've given up that sort of thing."
"Pity," said Jesus. "Without woman man is nothing."
"But Mary Magdalene is a cheap slut, Lord!" Peter exploded.
"I wouldn't say cheap...exactly," interjected Jude slyly, who went by several different names, including Thaddeus and Lebbeus, for reasons best known to himself.
"Cheap or not," added Paul, who had no love for the ladies, "she gives us all a bad name among the multitudes."
"Exactly," snapped Matthew. "She's a common whore who sells herself for money."
"Which you collect, or would like to," replied Jesus softly. "Now tell me honestly, my friends—who would you rather be screwed by?"
Peter and Paul hung their heads and relapsed into silence.
Ten minutes later the waitress returned with their starters and accidentally on purpose brushed against Jesus' knee.
"See what I mean?" muttered Peter. "They can't keep their filthy paws off you."
"Oh do give over," said Judas, who was nothing if not pragmatic. "She's less likely to spit on your pizza if you're nice to her."
Jesus looked up suddenly. "One of you will betray me to the Romans before this night is done."
One by one the disciples asked him: "Will it be me, Lord?"
Jesus smiled and remained silent.
"But who among us could possibly betray you?" asked Peter again.
"He who receives his starter from the waitress first will be my betrayer," said Jesus.
"Er...just off to the toilet," said the two James', Thomas, Bartholomew and Andrew as they rose abruptly from the table.
"Me too," said Judas. "This wine has gone straight to my bladder..."
"The toilets are out of order if you remember," said Jesus.
The disciples dropped sheepishly back into their chairs and shuffled uncomfortably under their master's penetrating gaze as the waitress returned with their starters.
"Ere ya are," said Leah. "I'll just bung 'em 'ere in the middle of the table shall I?" In an instant she was gone leaving behind four soup of the day, eight prawn cocktails and a distinct smell of drains.
"Oi!" shouted Paul after her retreating back. "We didn't order this!"
"Too late," said Phillip.
"Prawns give me the runs," complained Andrew.
"The soup's not so bad..." said Thomas, swallowing with a grimace. "Really. I've had worse..."
"Woe unto the man who betrays me this night," said Jesus as the disciples turned reluctantly to their starters. "It would be better if he'd never been born..."
"Well, James clearly hasn't or he'd never have booked us into their grotty place," said Simon, fishing a large bluebottle out of his soup.
Slowly, every eye turned to Judas; every fork and spoon was laid down and a deathly hush descended on the table, broken only by the sound of a free-range chicken being strangled in the kitchen. Suddenly Judas looked up from his prawn cocktail and said: "Why are you all looking at me like that? It's not me! Just because I've come into a bit of money you all assume I must be the one. Well, I'm not, I tell you, I'm not! Tell them Lord!"
His shifty, black eyes turned pleadingly towards Jesus.
"Is it me? Is it?"
"You said it," replied Jesus quietly.
"I say, what's that awful smell?" said Matthias, wrinkling his nose.
"Er...excuse me," said Judas, rising hurriedly from his chair. "I'll be right back." With that, he scurried from the room, pressing his robe tightly between his legs with both hands.
"I'm glad I didn't have the prawns!" exclaimed Andrew.
Ten minutes later, the waitress returned with their orders and dumped them unceremoniously in the middle of the table, except for a Pepperoni Margherita, which she placed deferentially in front of Jesus with a shy smile.
"I asked chef to put extra olives on it," she said.
"All right, Judas?" asked Bartholomew as the thirteenth disciple slunk back to the table.
"Yeah...I'll be OK. Just needed a bit of air."
"Not the prawns then?" asked Bartholomew.
"They were off you know. And I ordered spicy beef, not ham. If this is ham..." he added, warily poking his topping with his fork.
Leah spun on her heels and minced over to them. "Y'wot?" she demanded with a sulky pout of her freshly painted lips.
"This isn't what I ordered," he said. "I wanted spicy beef."
"Did ya?" snapped Leah. "Right!" She reached across the table, snatched Matthias' pizza from him, and dumped it front of Bartholomew. "appy now?"
"Now Matthias has the wrong pizza."
"Well, tell 'im to swop wiv Andrew then. 'e's got spicy beef too."
"What will Andrew eat?"
"e hasn't touched 'is prawns, 'as 'e?"
Andrew groaned as she flounced back to Jesus' side.
"All right, is it? I asked chef to put freshly grated Parmesan an' black pepper on it for ya."
"Delicious," said Jesus.
Leah's face was rapt with admiration, not unmixed with awe, lust and a puppy-like devotion that was pitiful to behold. "Not wiv Mary tonight then?" she asked casually.
"She's a working girl," replied Jesus smilingly.
She flicked back a strand of blond hair and blushed deeply.
"Still seeing Miriam? She's 'avin' a littlun Rebecca says."
"Not mine," laughed Jesus.
"Not at the moment, no."
Leah bent down until her face was level with Jesus' ear. "I get off at ten. If ya not doing nuffink...maybe we could..."
"Perhaps another night," said Jesus, patting her hand affectionately.
Leah shivered at his touch and sighed deeply as her eyes lingered on his shining, auburn hair, magnificent beard and manly shoulders.
"Tomorrow?" she whispered breathlessly. "I do a really relaxin' foot massage..."
"I may not be here tomorrow..."
Leah's face clouded with disappointment. "Oh..."
"But I'll be back."
"Cross my heart and hope to die."
Leah giggled. "Oh, ya such a joker, Mr O'Nazareth. Gotta run. Party o' eight just arrived."
The disciples continued to chat amongst themselves until the last few olives had disappeared and all the wine was gone.
"Right!" said Peter, laying down his napkin, "I'm ready for our walk. Where's that bloody slut of a waitress?"
"Oppsss..." muttered Paul as Leah brought the flat of her hand smartly down across the top of Peter's balding head.
"Ow!" exclaimed the apostle, "What did you do that for?"
"I'll do a lot more than that if ya don't stop slaggin' me off, ya uppity little fisherman!" retorted Leah. "I 'eard ya earlier goin' on about us. Ya know wot the girls call ya, dontcha?"
"I'm not in the least bit interested," said Peter, sliding his chair out of her reach.
"Kipper?" repeated Peter.
"On account of ya bein' two-faced and spineless," retorted Leah.
"I am the rock upon which the Lord shall erect his mighty Church!" shouted Peter.
"Rock? Leave it aht. I've seen 'arder jellyfish than you, ya limp-wristed plonker. The only thing you'll be erectin' is the bleedin' gallows the Romans will crucify you on."
"Well, at least I shall keep women out of the Church!"
"Much bleedin' good that'll do, ya pious, bald old git!"
"Now then, Leah," said Jesus, holding up his hands. "That's enough."
"Well...'e asked for it, Lord," she replied defensively. "If anyone's gonna betray you to the Romans it'll be 'im. E's as slippery as an eel wot's swimmin' in olive oil."
"Nonsense!" shouted Peter, puffing out his chest. "I'd sooner deny my Lord thrice than betray him to the Romans!"
Jesus regarded him pityingly.
"The evening draws on, Lord," said Judas, looking at the sun setting through the window, "Let us pay the wench and be gone or it'll be too dark to see the Rom—er—see the trees, in the park."
"Yes, let's settle up," said Paul. "Before Peter gets us thrown out on our ears."
"May we have the bill?" asked Jesus, looking at Leah. She fished a piece of grubby parchment from the folds of her tunic and handed it to the nearest disciple, Matthew, who promptly passed it to Jesus.
He paid Leah and they all left the restaurant together.
The morning after
Later the following morning a bleary-eyed Leah is talking to a sheepish looking fisherman in the filthy kitchen of Pizza Hut.
"You look a bit down in the dumps this morning, love," said the fisherman.
"Yeah...well, sniff...I've ad some bad news, innit."
"Nothing that a good night out with your boyfriend won't cure, eh?"
Leah burst into tears. "Ain't got one...sniff."
"Lovely looking lass like you? I don't believe it!"
"Yeah...well...I ad one...sort of..."
"Well, cheer up, got to look on the bright side of life, eh?"
"S'pose," said Leah, wiping her eyes on a filthy tea towel. "Wotcha got for me then?"
"Couple of lovely fat, juicy kippers—straight from the smoke house."
"Er...two kippers, love."
"Kippers!" Leah burst into tears again. "Kipper—I mean Peter—was the one wot denied 'im. Not once, but three bleedin' times, the spineless, selfish sod!"
"Never mind," said Leah, "ow am I gonna feed the customers who've ordered the all day full Jewish breakfast wiv two smoked fish, eh? You tell me that!"
"Fish cakes?" suggested the Fisherman warily.
"Fish cakes! Ya gotta be joking innit. Wiv five loaves? It'd take a bleedin' miracle to make that lot feed the three 'undred customers who've ordered breakfast!"
"Three hundred!" asked the startled fisherman.
"An' anuvver two 'undred expected for lunch," said Leah. "We've never been so busy."
"Perhaps Jesus O'Nazareth could..?" began the fisherman tentatively.
Leah burst into floods of tears again. "You stupid sod! Why do y' think we've got so many customers? They're...sniff...crucifying 'im...sniff...up on the 'ill this mornin'!"
"Oh dear...I'm very sorry to hear it," said the fisherman. "He was a good customer...always paid on the nail, if you'll pardon the expression. "So...I don't suppose you want these two kippers then?"
"No I bloody don't. Go on, bugger off aht of it before I stuff them down ya bleedin' throat!" snapped Leah.
NOTE: If you enjoyed this story you may like the others the author has written for us.
A modern Nativity—A tonic for the tired and emotional at Christmas.
The perils of Paganism—a wry look at the modern celebration of Christmas.
Sheep, goats, ravens and toads—a wry look at the follies and foibles of mankind.
Do they know it's Christmas?—a tall tale about Santa and pandemics.
© Copyright Gabrielle Annunziato, John Temple & occult-mysteries.org. All rights reserved.
Published 12 April 2019.