The Cup Bearer

by DJ

Chapter 67

First a note from the author.

As you read this chapter you will come across words in brackets {{{ }}} The account which happened to Gypsy actually happened to me when I was unconscious while being delivered of first child by Caesarean section in 1969.

Now read on.

Juan lifted a callused hand to follow the scar on Gypsy's left cheek. "Someone did not like your face, eh?" Gypsy said nothing and let his eyes show his defiance. Juan jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "She's waiting for you in the wagon. Go to her while I talk to your father."

Gypsy hesitated, not wanting to do this on his own. His father gave him a reassuring pat on the back, which changed to a gentle push. "Go ahead, Gypsy, I'll join you in a moment."

Gypsy looked towards the wagon and the crowd in front of it; how could he just walk through that lot? He started towards them and slowly they parted to let him through. Then he was up the steps and walking into the dimness of the wagon interior lit only by a single oil lamp. At first he could hardly see anything; then, as his eyes got used to the dark he made out a bed on which the old lady of his dream lay. Moving to the bed he looked down at her and saw her watery, worn out eyes flicker open. The wizened face broke into a smile and the blue lips moved against toothless gums, but the words she spoke were clear and low. "Welcome, Ganymede." Shocked at her use of that hated name, Gypsy was in two minds whether to run from the wagon, but she said, "That name does mean something to you! It is the only name I know you by. I knew you before you were born and witnessed your birth. I told your grandfather about you; that I would see your face before I died. Perhaps people will not dismiss the cackling of an old woman from now on. What is your name?"

"It's Gypsy."

The old lady sighed and closed her eyes, satisfied about something. "I do not think that was the name you were given at your birth, but it is a good name. That is what you are, and I feel that it is to be a great name in the future. Is Manuel with you?"

"Yes. He's talking with his father."

Aida smiled and held out a gnarled hand. He took it and she pulled him closer till he had to sit on the edge of the bed and lean over her. In a harsh whisper, she asked, "Do you believe?"

"I don't know," Gypsy he saw her eyes become troubled; then he remembered Elijah's words and realised, yes he did. "I think so."

"Then you will understand that what I tell you was not given to me from any other but God himself. I was given a warning for you, and I have waited all this time to give it to you. Listen carefully, Gypsy. We Gitanos believe that when someone in the family dies another will be conceived to take their place. When were you born?"

"The twelfth of November, nineteen seventy-nine." Gypsy said in wonder.

"You were conceived in the February, the day your grandmother died. The circle of the Scorpion is never broken."

"I don't believe in astrology." Gypsy prayed he wouldn't upset the old woman.

"Neither do I now," Aida said with a tired smile. "I just knew that when my daughter in law died another would be born with a sting in his tail. Child, you have your grandmother's eyes and I see you have her gifts and the power to see what others do not. This is not Satan's work but a gift from God. Your grandmother was the one who first spoke of Jesus. It was from her own lips that I first knew about our Friend and Saviour. You are a chosen one, Gypsy, and you have a divine gift. You must use it to discern what is from God and what is not. In the words of Joel, 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy; your young men will see visions; your old men will dream dreams. I will pour out My Spirit in those days and they will prophesy.' You will not have received the Holy Spirit yet, but watch for it. It will come. The praying in tongues is often the first outward sign, child, but you will know, deep within you, and it will happen soon. Have you repented and been baptised?"

"No, not yet."

"One day soon you will, and God's grace will always be with you. I can't talk any more, I am feeling tired now."

"I'm sorry; I didn't mean to exhaust you."

Aida shook her head. "You have made an old woman very happy today. Look in the drawer; there, by the bed. There's a trinket box in it. Take it; it belongs to you now. I have done what I promised my Lord I would do."

"But, what about the message;" Gypsy prompted her. "What was it?"

Aida shook her head again and her words were almost too faint to hear. "It is written…."

Disappointed and almost in tears, Gypsy opened the drawer and saw a box no more than three inches square. He took it out and opened the lid. In it lay a medallion and a folded piece of paper. Before he could examine them, Aida whispered, "Manuel." Her face had turned grey and her hand was cold as it touched Gypsy's, and he realised she only had a few moments to live. Diving to the wagon door he stood on the top steps and looked among the crowd for his father. Manuel was there, at the bottom of the steps with his own father. Gypsy only had to look at them to convey the news. They came up the steps and moved past Gypsy, into the wagon. The crowd stared up at Gypsy and he realised he was still clutching the trinket box. A few of the people went down on their knees and bowed their heads. Others followed their example and Gypsy felt he should do the same but his father came out and taking hold of his arm led him into the back of the darkened wagon which was full of flickering light. Seating him on the bed beside Manuel, his grandfather took their hands and placed them in Aida's.

The old gypsy opened her eyes just a fraction to gaze up at them, and a look of peace filled her face. She moved her hands and they released them, and she raised them to place them against their cheeks and mouthed something Gypsy could not hear, but Gypsy knew she was blessing them and praying for them. A minute later, her hands dropped to the bed and Old Aida breathed her last. At the moment of death, Gypsy clutched her hands in his own and he felt a strange force surging through him. Something had entered him and was chasing round his body like an electric current. He was on fire from head to toe, {{{and he was transported to another place where there was blackness all around him. He was being held in the palm of a huge hand. He looked down and saw a blue planet rolling slowly below him. "Look at my creation," a deep voice said. It was in his ear but it seemed the sound was all around him, in the blackness. "Is it not beautiful? I created it and all that is in it."

With a start, Gypsy realised he was looking at the earth far below, and the voice spoke at length to him, telling him of all that had happened, all that was happening and all that was to happen.

"Wow!" Gypsy he gazed on awe at his home planet. "But why tell me? I mean, I'm only a baby yet. I'm not even a Christian."

"I know, my child, but I want you to go back down there and tell as many people as possible before it is too late. Will you do that for me?"

"Okay, "Gypsy replied. "But who do I start with?"}}}

"You already know, and you will know them when you speak to them. Heed the message in the box. You have a task to perform in My Name, but the time is not yet for this to happen. Prepare yourself, and prepare your road, and I will cause you to talk with many including those who hurt you. I love them as much as I love you, they are My Children and if the worst sinner believes in My Son, and bows the knee to Him, I will in no way refuse him."

"But, I can't do this, not on my own, I'm just a kid."

"So are all my people if they but knew it, but fear not, My Child. If you rise on the wings of the dawn, if you settle on the far side of the sea, even there My Hand will guide you. My right hand will hold you fast and I will be with you always. I will never leave you on your own. You have within you the power of the Holy Spirit, and the gift of discernment. You have already used this gift to recognise evil, although you may not have known it for what it was. Also, in the past, you had the ability to predict future events. From now on you will see visions that only I allow you to see."

{{{"Okay," Gypsy said, as he calmed down. "I'll do it." and he remembered nothing more.}}} When he opened his eyes again, he was lying down and looking up at his father who held him in his arms. He was no longer in the wagon but in a dark place full of flickering light and shadows, and the smell of damp earth; other faces were above him, talking in whispers.

Deep in his father's cave, Manuel watched Gypsy's eyes flicker open and he breathed a prayer of thanks. Gypsy had been unconscious for more than half an hour and Manuel was justifiably worried, even though his son's face showed he was at peace. Towards the end he had watched a soft smile appear on Gypsy's face.

"He's coming round," Juan said to those gathered around them. He turned back to Manuel. "Think back to your young days, Manuel, when your mother and your grandmother used to fall down like this. They called it 'going down under the power of the Spirit'. They came to no harm. My grandson will do the same." Those simple words meant a lot to Manuel as it indicated that he and Gypsy had been accepted. Juan Diaz Lupino was the chief of this camp, now Aida was dead. If he accepted them, so would the rest of his people for which Manuel was truly grateful. Sixteen years was a long time to be away from one's family whatever the circumstances.

Gypsy took a deep breath and tried to sit up. Manuel helped him and still held him close. When he was satisfied Gypsy was fully awake, he and Juan helped him to his feet, but his legs refused to work. His eyes were wide and unseeing, and he seemed not to know where he was. They helped him out of the cave, followed by the rest of Juan's large family. Stopping at the sight of Aida's wagon, he stared at it. "Is she still there?"

"No," Manuel said. "We are about to burn it."

"Burn it? Why?"

"It is the old way of the Gitanos," Juan explained. "No one lives in a wagon where someone as old and revered as our queen has died, so we bury our queen and we burn her wagon."

"May I see her just one more time?" His grandfather nodded and put an arm round his waist to help him walk the short distance to a lonely copse of trees near the caves. Aida's body lay on a pallet beside a hastily dug grave. She looked so tranquil, her white hair brushed and a single flower in her hands, the rest of her body already covered in her funeral shroud. Thinking back to his own mother's funeral, Gypsy knelt beside the body, kissed the cold forehead and, closing his eyes he did what he was unable to do at his mother's grave. He said, "Dear Lord, thank you for letting me know her, if only for a few minutes. I know that, through Aida your servant, I have received such an awesome burden. Dear Jesus, I know Aida is in your Loving Arms now. Please make me worthy of You; and worthy of Aida and my mother, so that I may be with them when it is my time to die, through the Grace of God our Father. I pray this in your Holy Name. Amen."

It wasn't till he stood again that he realised that Juan and Manuel, and all the other relatives, had heard his prayer. He expected Juan to offer his own prayer but the old man nodded to some of the men. They laid Aida in her grave and buried her. Gypsy couldn't gaze upon the sight any longer and turned to his father for comfort, but it was his grandfather who stepped forward to embrace him and held him tight. Then it was Manuel's turn to offer comfort to both Gypsy and Juan, and all three stood with their arms round each other while the decorating of the grave was completed in Romany fashion with brightly painted shells and stones. Gypsy still couldn't get out of his mind the awesome experience he had just gone through. Would anyone believe he had actually talked to God? Or had he dreamed it?

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