By Mark Gutglueck
Muhammad, Jesus and the Gautama were standing together near the street corner closest to the Café of Eternity after having had a sumptuous breakfast, for which Muhammad had paid the tab and the Gautama had left a generous tip. Jesus was feeling a little self-conscious because he had only recently returned from five weeks and five days in the desert, and he had no silver on him. Soon their animated conversation devolved from some good-natured repartee having to do with the exigencies of living into a heated exchange between Muhammad and Jesus over hindrances to happiness during earthly existence. The Gautama interrupted them, saying, “You will excuse me, gentlemen, but I am must go to the apothecary to get my wife some lavender soap.”
The Gautama came into the apothecary, rattling the bell when he opened the door and then shut it behind him. The proprietor came out from the back and asked what it was the Gautama needed.
“Do you perhaps have some violet scented soap made from sheep tallow?” asked the Gautama.
“I am afraid we are out of that product at the moment,” said the pharmacist, “but we do have some castile bars of suet and lilic.”
The Gautama came out from the apothecary carrying a pleasantly scented package and headed in an easterly direction on the sidewalk back toward the Highway of Eternity. As he approached his two friends he could see that they had calmed down somewhat, though Jesus still had something of an agitated cast to his aspect. As he came into earshot, the Guatama could hear what was being said.
“Well, I’m just telling you that I have found very little in the way of anything here that is useful in the narrative I’m trying to construct,” said Jesus.
“Might I suggest then that you just scrape off whatever surface material you find and put those scrapings in an envelope in the file or into a test tube with a stopper so we have them for further examination and analysis later?” said Mohammed.