The next day at the Jerusalem Praetorium:
“Procla, Darling, I’m home.”
“Another hard day of ruling, my dear?”
“Yes. Those stupid Jews and their petty cases are driving me crazy.”
“But, you did rule with a firm hand, didn't you, my dear”
“I did my best, my dear. Now I’m half starved.”
“Well, supper's on the table. Let's eat.”
But, just then a knock was heard at the door. The servant girl ran to open it and announced: “It's King Herod and his wife, my Lord.”
“Well, show him in.”
As the king entered, Pilate and Portia walked toward him. “My dear friend, Herod,” offered Pilate. We were just about to eat. Won't you join us?”
“How very nice of you.”
Procla clapped her hands and ordered the servant girl, “Set two more places, Dora.” The servant girl left and reappeared with everything necessary to add two more people to the meal.
As they ate, they talked. “Enjoying your stay here in Jerusalem, Pilate?”
“Hardly. It's terrible, actually. Those stupid Jews and their ridiculous cases. I’ll be glad to get out of here. It won’t be long now. This week of Passover is almost over. Just a few more days and---”
“You mean you’re not staying till Pentecost? You may be ordered back here to help keep the peace at that highly popular feast.”
“If I am, so be it. Rome pays for my travel expenses. But now I need to get back to Caesura. To be back will be a relief in a sense, and yet I dread the backlog of cases waiting for me back there.”
“Oh the perils of rulership. But, you know, I heard something funny, yesterday. Talking about the Jews and their cases—I heard that the disciples of that Jew, Jesus, whom you crucified say he is alive—rose from the dead, they say. Isn't that funny?”
Suddenly Pilate's demeanor changed. His visage grew pale and the light left his eyes. “What if it's true?” he asked.
“Oh, my dear friend, are you serious? How can a dead man arise? He was truly dead, wasn't he?”
“Yes, he was truly dead, no doubt about that.”
“Well then, it has to be just a foolish rumor.”
“But you yourself once said you thought he might be John the Baptist reincarnated."
“I know, but anyway, re-incarnation is different from resurrection."
Pilate sighed. “Well, anyway, I don't like it. I never should have allowed him to be crucified.”
“But what could you have done? The crowd was so strong, and threatening to report you to Caesar.”
Pilate sighed again. “Your suggestion was a good one—to offer them a choice of prisoners to be freed. But I really thought they would go for the innocent Jesus. Why did they choose that murdering insurrectionist and robber, Barabbas?”
Herod shrugged. “There's no figuring people. Anyway, you did all you could do, so don't blame yourself. I’ll wager it's not the first time an innocent man was condemned.”
But his words seemed to fall on deaf ears. Pilate ate the rest of the meal in silent thought, unresponsive to the questions or remarks of his friends.
“Thanks for the meal. It was great,” said Herod.
“And thanks for the stimulating conversation,” said Herodius, sarcastically.
“Oh, don't mind old sourpuss, here,” said Portia, pointing to Pilate. “He'll be alright.”
“Well, so long, Pilate.”
“So long,” he managed.
After they had gone, Procla went over and put her arm around Pilate. “Now, there, Pilate dear, whatever is the matter? You don't believe those rumors do you?”
He sighed a long sigh. “I don't know what to believe. I just know I never should have allowed them to crucify him. The gods tried to warn me with that dream of yours. I should have listened to you.”
“Well, we can't go back now, can we? Let's try to forget about it. Once we get home and you start to take care of the backlog of cases, I’m sure you'll forget all about it.”
“Perhaps you're right—I should forget about it, but I just can't somehow.”
“Well, maybe this will help you to forget.” She placed her lips against his and gave him a big kiss.
The lovemaking helped to ease his mind temporarily, but in the middle of the night, he awoke suddenly, yelling “No, he's innocent! Take him, not Barabbas!”
Procla awoke with a start and slapped him on the face. “For God's sake, Pilate, get over it!”
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