Typically, Joshua's stories get put here
on the Author's Cut simply because I know not every TBAA
viewer and quite possibly not every JABB newsletter
recipient is Christian. However, due to some of the
plot elements of "The Keeper's Story," I had to make that
a newsletter. Well, at least I felt I had to.
And the fact that I had nothing else to send probably
contributed... So I didn't do everything I wanted to
with that story. Thus, this story kinda delves more into
Joshua's side of things: his motivations, his emotions,
his hopes, etc. It also solves the problem of Joshua
dropping a pretty big surprise on Andrew in
"Keeper." It just made sense to me that Joshua would
return, knowing Andrew would have questions and concerns
after having some time to think things over.
Originally, I wasn't going to put this anywhere and
instead just use it as a brainstorming piece. But
then I was afraid I'd lose it. Or just nitpick at
it. So the writing is not as crisp as I'd
like. It was more about getting ideas and feelings
down. Oh and I had some stuff leftover from "Abide
With Me" concerning Andrew and Joshua that I feel was
better addressed with some space of time having
passed. For example, I think Joshua would never have
brought up the Crucifixion while Andrew was in the
hospital trying to recover. That just seems
thoughtless. Yet, I felt Andrew really needed to
know how that informed Joshua's actions. So now he
Andrew had grown used to returning to Serendipity to find
the place neither empty nor quiet. It wasn't unusual
to come across Lady Beth stashing food in his refrigerator,
Yva leaving chocolate, Rose and Max setting up lighthearted
pranks, C.J. and the horses galloping around as they waited,
or JenniAnn keeping house. However, none of the girls'
efforts on his behalf usually involved the racket the angel
of death heard upon entering his house the Tuesday after
Easter. Someone was in his kitchen and they definitely
were not cooking or cleaning.
Curious, Andrew hurried to the room. He froze in the
entryway and smiled at the scene before him.
Joshua was bent over the kitchen table, taking an electric
sander to the bottom of a detached cabinet door.
The angel moved to stand beside the carpenter and waited
patiently as he continued his work.
After a few more runs, Joshua turned the sander off then
clapped Andrew on the back. "Hi."
"Hi. Uh, thanks for planing that. I always meant
"Boss keeps you busy. I get it." Joshua grinned
before moving to reattach the door. "It was fun.
It's a good thing power tools didn't exist 2,000 years
ago. I might never have left the carpentry gig behind.
The real last temptation of Christ: a 15 amp 7 and a fourth
inch circular saw."
Andrew smirked. "I'm thinking not even a power tool
would have kept you in Nazareth."
"No, not even a power tool," Joshua agreed. "Hey, you
want to hold this in place while I screw the hinges back
"Sure." Andrew crouched down and watched, studying the
man's hands as he worked. All that they'd done, all
that they'd created and those hands were at work repairing
his kitchen cabinet. Joshua would never cease to be a
Once he'd set down the screwdriver, Joshua swung the door a
few times. "No more sticking! It's as good as
new. Well, except for this. But this
stays." He brushed his fingers over crooked lines of
green ink intermingled with a blue scribble on the surface
of the wood.
Andrew smiled tenderly. "Shelby's contribution.
She was only three when she stole a couple of JenniAnn's
markers and did that."
"It's supposed to be you."
The angel squinted. "Really?"
"See, these are your arms. Your legs. You'd been
reading to her earlier. So this is the book. And
this part in the wood where the grain's lighter? She
thought that looked like your smile," Joshua explained.
Andrew looked with new appreciation at the child's
drawing. "Thanks for telling me." He smiled at
the image then looked quizzically at his guest.
"Joshua, I'm really glad you're here. I always
"Why?" Joshua chuckled as he began to sweep up the
"Let me..." Andrew reached for the broom.
The man snatched it away. "No. My mother and
father taught me to pick up my own messes." He grinned
at the angel. "So there."
The angel laughed and held up his hands in surrender.
"All right, all right. How about some tea? And
Lady Beth brought over a red velvet silk pie..." he
Joshua's eyes lit up. "Now that I won't turn
down. And to answer your question: that's why I'm
here. To answer your questions."
Andrew turned back from the stove. "You did answer my
questions, Joshua. Sunday morning."
"Only some. I know there were more." Joshua got
to his feet and set his hand on the angel's arm.
"Andrew, questioning isn't a sign of a lack of trust or
faith. Questioning is good. Talking is very
"I... I know." Andrew smiled sheepishly. "Well,
"You are." A proud smile spread across Joshua's
Once the tea was ready and the pie sliced, Andrew and Joshua
moved to the sun room. For a few minutes they sat in
companionable silence punctuated by compliments to Lady
Beth's culinary prowess. Then Andrew spoke.
"I... well, Joshua, I've been wondering lately... I mean you
know that I love your visits. I do. But I can't
help wondering... years would go by between your visits to
me, like this, while I was on assignments or here in
Dyeland. And that... that was fine. I always saw
you when I was Home. Now, since November, this is the
fourth time you've been around. I guess I'm
wondering..." Andrew sipped his tea then set it
down. "Does that mean something?"
Joshua nodded. He reached over to set his hand on
Andrew's, stilling the restless fingers that had been
fidgeting with a stray thread on his chair. "It does
but it's not anything to worry about. Andrew, when you
decided to stay in Afghanistan with Max, in human form,
because you wanted to be there with him every painful,
lonely minute... I was so proud. Dad was so
proud. I had assignments of yours from centuries ago
telling me how proud they were. But when you made that
decision to experience it all as Max did..." Joshua's
eyes welled. "Andrew, that was the longest we've gone
without talking like this in nearly 2,000 years. I
missed those talks. But now we can talk and so... here
Andrew looked to Joshua with a trembling
smile. "I thought about you and the Father
both so often and I... I missed those talks, too. But
in my better moments, I did sense you. I even
thought... the dreams. With Laja. I know you
made them happen. But I don't know how much of that
"A promise was made to you and to JenniAnn and that promise
needed to be kept. She prayed to help you in any way
she could, you prayed that your friends would not grieve
your absence too deeply. The dreams were also how
those prayers were answered," Joshua confirmed.
Andrew took in a deep, calming breath before
proceeding. "Thank you for that. I did also
wonder... Joshua, when I saw Laja in those dreams... I
saw her exactly as she was at the time. Well, clothed
instead of in pajamas. But everything else down to the
fact that Rose had curled her hair and that she'd gotten
that tattoo... I saw that. But when she saw me... she
said sometimes I seemed agitated and tired but never bruised
or increasingly thin. I figured you wanted to protect
her, to keep her from knowing..."
"I wanted to protect you both."
The angel was struck by the quiet response offered in a
voice thick with emotion.
"No one deserves to see someone they love tortured," Joshua
murmured. "No one. And to watch your loved ones
cope with that..."
Andrew stared at the bowed head of his Master. No
further explanation was necessary. The angel of death
knew. He stood and began to pace as he thought.
On one terrible day, those Joshua loved had seen him
tortured, taunted, broken, and struggling to breath with
lungs that were being crushed by the weight of his own dying
body. And Joshua had seen the grief on their
faces. Immobile and unable to comfort them, he had
felt his own pain compounded by witnessing theirs. It
was a pain beyond any Andrew had ever felt, beyond anything
he could imagine. Joshua had spared him and JenniAnn
from a similar fate.
Joshua continued. "On Earth, in all the mortal realms,
there must always be free will. And the destruction
that free will sometimes brings about... I can't hide
it. I can't always protect people from it if humanity
is to remain free. But in my countries... on my island
of kudzu and stars... I could protect my children
there. So I did." The carpenter at last raised
his head and smiled at the angel then stood to embrace him.
Overwhelmed both by the ancient memories and the new
revelation, Andrew rested his head on Joshua's
shoulder. When finally he was able to speak, he
rewarded the man with a teary smile. "Thank you for
that. I-I couldn't have borne Laja seeing that.
I can't wait for her to meet you, even though she won't know
it's you. I can't wait for any of them to.
"But?" Joshua prompted gently when Andrew's smile faltered
"You said I would be directing a production of Jesus
Christ Superstar and you... you're going to take the
lead. You're going to play yourself, Joshua!
You're going to relive that last week... those... the last
hours. I don't... Joshua, I don't like thinking
about seeing you up on that cross. Not again. I
know it won't be real this time. I know that.
But... you're obviously going to be in earthly form and it
won't be comfortable and..." The angel of death shook
his head vigorously, trying to dismiss the thoughts that
Joshua gently lifted Andrew's chin. "I'll be fine,
Andrew. I promise. And you'll be fine,
too. During the show, JenniAnn will be sitting to your
right and Max to your left. Your friends will be all
around you. You'll be surrounded by love."
The angel looked into Joshua's eyes, comforted by the
resolve and peace there.
"JenniAnn doesn't know that you saw me die but she
suspects," Joshua continued. "She'll fret about it to
the others. So if you get upset, they'll
all understand and they'll be there for you."
Andrew mustered a smile both bemused and
sad. "You're the one that's going to be... that was...
on the cross and you're only talking about me. What
about... about you?"
"Andrew, I'll feel the love of every person in that theatre
and the love of everyone who has ever loved me. And
I'll be with our Father. It won't be like
before. I won't feel forsaken. And I will know
that a party and lots of hugs and kisses await me when that
curtain comes down." Joshua beamed. "I know it
will be trying and difficult. But I know it'll be
worth it. There will be someone in that audience who
needs to see it."
The angel of death looked up in surprise. "Someone
"No. Someone you'll meet then. I would have died
for any one of you. You know that. And if
pretending to die again is what this one needs... it's what
I'll do. And remember, Andrew, that scene is only a
small part of the time we'll have together. All of
us. For thirteen years I have watched over every
Christmas and Halloween and Valentine's and Passover and
birthday and anniversary and 'just because' party and every
quiet evening spent together and every energetic morning
coffee break. It's brought me such joy to watch the
relationships here grow. Does it really surprise you
that I might just like to share in one or two of those
parties, maybe a few quiet evenings and morning coffees?"
Andrew sighed happily. "No. It doesn't surprise
me at all. I only wish it wasn't a year away."
"It'll be here before you know it," Joshua assured.
His gaze grew more intense though no less tender as he again
took the angel's hand in his. "The coming year will
bring its challenges but also many, many blessings and
opportunities to grow closer to those you hold dear.
Andrew, I have an assignment planned for you. It will
be a difficult one but you won't face it alone. Your
friends will be with you just as they have so often before."
Completely trusting Joshua even as his words caused some
concern, Andrew nodded.
"You'll be close by them. Your friends. This
won't be like Afghanistan. There will be no
separation... unless you choose it," Joshua vowed.
"Your compassion and your love and your bravery are needed
by someone... someone you don't know but who thinks they
"I will do everything I can for them," the angel promised.
"I know you will." Joshua glanced over to a box that
had appeared on the table. "Andrew, I won't be with
you like this... face to face.. when that assignment
starts. But I want you to have this with you for it
and in the meantime." He pushed the box nearer to the
Curious, Andrew took the box and opened it. He ran his
fingers over the contents. "These aren't mine.
"My kippah and tallit. I want you to have them with
you for when the time comes that you'll need them."
Awed, the angel of death stared up at the man.
"Joshua, I... I'm honored. Thank you."
"You're welcome." Smiling, Joshua affectionately
squeezed the angel's hand before rising to his feet.
"I know you have plans with Max and Rose so I'm going to
leave you to those. Just one more thing..."
Andrew rose to walk Joshua to the door... or wherever he
intended to leave from. "What's that?"
"They're going to give you jelly beans. Avoid the
brown ones. They aren't chocolate flavored.
Think dirt." His eyes sparkling with amusement, Joshua
After staring for a few moments at the empty space and
basking in the love and warmth that still enveloped him,
Andrew returned to his kitchen. Reverently, he put on
the yamulke and prayer shawl and prayed to his Creator,
praising Him and asking Him for the strength to face what
was to come.
to the Author's Cut