Holy Hikers

Harry and Radha Krishna were a young, healthy and very good looking couple. They loved the outdoors and often went on long difficult hikes.
θ Read more. Their good friends Eva and Harry Gabor would join them a lot of times. On one such occasion, they were joined by Jesus and Maria Christ, who were friends of the Gabors.

The Gabors’ Toyota Sienna Limited minivan was perfect for the ride. They got to North Elba at dusk and spent the night at a motel just outside town. At dawn they were at the start of their chosen trail getting their assorted gear out of the minivan. Everyone was properly prepped for the adventure sporting good hiking attire and boots, except Jesus who was very fond of his robe and sandals. He did not even carry a rucksack like the others, his only concession to hiking being a very sturdy walking stick. When Radha asked him, he replied that God will provide.
They started at a very brisk pace, slowing down a bit as the day went on. Quite early in their hike, while negotiating a very treacherous looking trail, they ran into Buddha. The trail was just a narrow strip on the side of a mountain with a vertiginous drop on the other side. Buddha was sitting in the middle of the trail meditating. He looked just the way his statue always does and he seemed to be in a very deep trance, so the hikers decided to wait. After about 10 minutes, Eva, who was in the front at the time, went up to him and rubbed his huge belly.
“Is it waking him up?” asked Harry Gabor.
“Not likely, but it’s supposed to bring good luck” said Harry Krishna.
“I’m, getting bored” added Radha.
“I read somewhere that ‘if you meet Buddha on the road, kill him’” offered Maria.
“Come on,” said Jesus “you know I’m a pacifist. Besides, that is just a Zen koan that is supposed to teach you a lesson of sorts.”
“I heard about Zen,” said Harry Krishna “Perhaps the sound of one hand clapping would do the trick. We should try it.”
Both Jesus and Harry Krishna proceeded at once to produce the mythical sound. Harry Gabor went:
“I might one day tell this story to my grandchildren. I just wonder what the proper expression might be. It can’t possibly be ‘two hands clapping’. Maybe ‘two one hand clappings?’ That does not sound right. How about ‘two individuals doing that one hand clapping?’”
Buddha, stirring but still with his eyes closed gave him an answer:
“Human language is sometimes not appropriate for expressing certain things.”
He opened his eyes and seeing the hikers, stood up and bowed.
“Please forgive my inconsideration. This is supposed to be the road not taken, so I did not expect anybody else to be on it.”
“Actually” said Eva “this is the road less travelled. The road not taken was to the left of the fork in the road.”
“In that case, I will have to return to the fork” said Buddha while levitating to a height that allowed them to pass underneath him comfortably “take a good hike.”
They walked on. Radha, at the tail of the procession was the only one curious enough to look up. Later on she remarked that Buddha’s belly was famously his most outstanding feature probably because no one had seen his ass before.

At the end of the trail, there was a zip line that ended at a clearing in the woods below. The Gabors enjoyed the swift rush of endorphins released by the combination of height and speed. Jesus and Harry Krishna just picked up their women and went into a controlled levitational glide that placed them next to the Gabors all the way. A nice clean sweet water lake was taking up part of the clearing so they all filled up their canteens except Jesus who walked out on the water gathering some large lotus leaves. They built a little bonfire and Jesus told everyone that he will prepare lunch. While the preparations were under way, two men walked into the clearing. A woman with her face covered up by a hijab was walking behind them.

“Hey Moses, what’s up?” asked Jesus.
“Just taking a little hike. Do you know Muhammad?” answered the one with the graying beard.
“Yeah, hey how goes it, Muhammad? Would you care to join us for lunch?”
“And why not?” was the answer.
Muhammad asked Moses for his flask and sent his wife Fatimeh to fill them up. Maria started handing Jesus lotus leaves which filled up with food as soon as he held one with both of his hands. He in turn handed them out to the others. Eva had in the meantime covered a large tree stump with a floral tablecloth on which she laid out some cups and flatware. 
“What is this stuff?” asked Radha.
“Manna, of course” replied Jesus.
“Funny, it tastes just like chickpea curry.”
“Mine tastes like a moussaka” said Harry Gabor.
“And mine looks like hummus” said Moses.
“Yeah mine too,” added Muhammad “just, how am I going to eat this without pita?”
“No problem,” said Jesus while reaching into Maria’s knapsack. He pulled out a nice fluffy pita bread wrapped in a cloth. Maria unwrapped it and put it on the tree stump next to the cups. Fatimeh took it and gave it to Muhammad. As soon as she lifted it, another pita appeared on the cloth. She gave that one to Moses, and then took one for herself. The Krishnas and the Gabors apparently didn’t want any bread. Maria got some cups and poured wine out of her canteen handing them out to everyone. Muhammad and Fatimeh declined of course, but Muhammad said:
“This hummus is a bit dry, perhaps a bit of olive oil?”
“I don’t see why not, if I can turn water into wine, I can surely turn it into olive oil as well” said Jesus and touched the flask that Fatimeh held out to him.
“Good wine, what is it?” asked Harry Gabor.
“It’s Italian” said Jesus “Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano.”
They ate in silence for a while ‘til Muhammad broke it up with a loud burp.
“Thank you Jesus that totally hit the spot” he said.
“Glad I could help, but you still look troubled. What’s up?”
As Muhammad was pondering his answer, Moses jumped in.
“It’s difficult to be a prophet with 1.5 billion followers. I only have about 13 million and all they cause is tsures.”
“What is tsures?” asked Eva.
“It’s like agita, anyway I brought down these 10 commandments and everyone swears that they obey them and that includes the Moslems, the Roman Catholics, the Greek Orthodox and all the 3000 varieties of Protestants. But the Jews are the worst. I can almost understand the ones who have ‘come back with a question’ but the ones who have ‘come back with an answer’ and joined the others who never had a question? They just sit around most of the day looking for ways to thwart the commandments and the divine directives. For example where it says “Thou shall not murder!” They managed to convince themselves that ‘murder’ is not at all the same as ‘exterminate,’ ‘decimate,’ ‘eliminate,’ ‘kill.’ or any of the other words that mean just about the same. So, that makes them feel like they can kill as many animals as they please and eat them, or just mount their heads on their wall. They can also eliminate, decimate, or exterminate any number of enemies on a battlefield. I could go on for quite a while, but you probably get the idea.”
Muhammad decided that he would say a few words anyway.
“La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah (There is no god save Allah and Muhammad is His prophet.) True believers utter these words uncountable times during their lifetimes. It is the most important saying in the Islam. Now, Islam is derived from the Arabic root ‘Salema’ that means peace, purity, submission and obedience. One of the most important things that I have tried so hard to teach is that the Koran has all the teachings. Every true believer is charged with the duty of reading the Koran in the original Arabic. I made a mistake in that I did not make a strong point of the fact that they also need to have their own understanding of it. That the divine flow of Allah’s mercy and greatness will come into them through that understanding. What has happened since I have last walked this Earth is that 1000 thousand fake imams, kadis and other charlatans have appointed themselves the interpreters of the Koran. They preach their lies in Allah’s houses and twist the one true religion whichever way they like.”
“Let me tell you,” said Jesus “I have my own issues, some of which may be similar. All I ever wanted to do is teach that love is stronger than hate and look what happened. They have built a religion in my name that says much more about hate than about love. They terrify little children with the specter of Hell, a place that they will go to for their eternal damnation if they do not behave, go to church and accept Jesus. Most of the ones who grow up and manage to not become totally brainwashed by their parents, teachers and preachers will eventually open their eyes and hate me. I don’t blame them, how could they love me, when they realize that the teachings say that there can be no Hell without Jesus. I wish I could tell them that the only Hell is the one they themselves build and that the only damnation is the one they inflict upon themselves. Hate is small, concentrated, like a laser beam but its focal point is located inside you. Hate will not affect the hated one even 1/10th of the affect that it will have on the hater. Love, has no limitations, focus, nor downside.”
Harry Krishna joined the conversation:
“To chime in with a few words, I have to say that my main issue is similar to Muhammad’s. The Hindu scriptures are written in Sanskrit and a lot of the billion plus Hindus in the world are illiterate, or they are literate in languages other than Sanskrit. A lot of them want very much to follow the religion of their ancestors, but are incapable of reading the sacred books. So we have pundits, gurus, and other interpreters who ‘translate’ things whichever way they like. Most of the rituals that they developed are quite complex and the general consensus amongst the practitioners is that if you mess up the sequence of events, or do not follow the prescribed rigmarole, your ‘Puja’ will be totally meaningless and so you need an ‘expert pujaist’ to get it just right. Anyway, we should just clean up and move on.”
At this point Harry Gabor offered a quick prayer:
“Thank you God for making me a humble plumber. We do not have such complex issues.”
“Plumber, is definitely fine by me” added Eve while kissing the back of Harry's hand.

© 2015 Ernest Samuel Llime All Rights Reserved.

Holy Hikers was anthologized in 

StarkLight 4: Speculative Fiction

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