So Mary Magdalene, Priscilla, and Joanna Walk Into a Bar…

Luke 8:3 Jesus’ Ministry and the Help of Women

8:1 Some timeafterwardhe went on through townsand villages, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.Thetwelve were with him, 8:2 and also some womenwho had been healed of evil spirits and disabilities:Mary (called Magdalene), from whom seven demons had gone out, 8:3 and Joanna the wife of Cuza(Herod’s household manager), Susanna, and many others who provided for themout of their own resources.

– – –

Priscilla was usually the last to show up to happy hour group on Wednesdays, but today she was early. She fidgeted, biting her lip as she waited for the others to arrive. She’d have to tell them. She had to before the meeting tomorrow.

She pulled out her red reading glasses to work on this week’s puzzle, clicking the pen against the table. Her husband, Aquilla, always laughed at that tick of hers. Aquila wasn’t much for crosswords. In fact, he wasn’t much for any words at all, except when he spoke at the meetings.

The two owned and practiced at a successful law firm called Hebrews Law Firm. Priscilla did all the writing, all the documents, all the paperwork, all the jargon, but Arab culture dictated she let Aquilla take all the credit. She was the brains. He was the looks. He had a dark, musky, sexy voice that made everyone swoon and sign when he made a case in court. She couldn’t say anything. Tradition made her obey her husband’s business model. She wrote and he took credit.

Political unrest in the Middle East had moved Priscilla and her husband to America. A new Hispanic-American client offered the couple the chance to be in-house lawyers for his quickly growing pharmaceutical company. Jesús Christos’ latest and greatest invention was some drug that solved all addictions. One injection and all your problems disappeared. Obviously the tobacco, porn, and actual drug industries of North America weren’t too happy about the new development. Christos also insisted on giving away his miracle drug for free. His million-dollar company ran entirely on charitable giving. The whole scheme was just begging for a lawsuit, so he hired Priscilla and Aquilla to manage the legal side.

– – –

Priscilla met Joanna and Maggie at a shareholders meeting. Christos insisted on a male-only board of trustees, who sat around and decided what to do with the money provided by the two major shareholders, Joanna and Maggie. The women were required to attend meetings, but not allowed to speak, an especially hard task for both Joanna and Maggie, who always had a lot to say. The three bonded over drinks one night, releasing all those forbidden words they would’ve said if they could. They’d been meeting for drinks ever since.

– – –

“Oh lawdy, Priscilla! You won’t be-lieve this!” Joanna said in an exhausted tone as she approached her friend.  Priscilla didn’t lift an eye from her cross word.

“Well,” Joanna said, pursing her lips and laying a pair of jeweled hands on her crossed knees. “So another one of them Herod’s girls just come rollin’ outta his office this mornin when I was gettin my first cup o joe. Poor thing ain’t got no trace of innocence on er if ya know what I mean. Plus she’s not the brightest, bless her soul. He’s up to funny business I tell you,” she said, pointing decidedly at Priscilla, who calmly looked up. “But when I told Chuza he just said I’m seein things. Lookin too much into it,”  Joanna said as she sat back and crossed her arms. “Fool just stands there countin my hard earned hundreds, shakin his head at me. An’ I’m gettin flashbacks, thinkin maybe them drugs ain’t so bad, maybe crazy’s better.” She looked off in the distance. “Maybe I’s can ask Christos for em back,” she wondered aloud.

– – –

No one could blame Joanna for the drugs. She hailed from deep Louisiana where words end in apostrophes and money sinks like the swamp. She had a taste for the high class, they all did. But men were her demons. They were all the women’s demons. Joanna’s first husband knocked her up. A shotgun wedding followed. Thankfully she chose her tryst well—the man happened to own the largest oil refinery in the south. But he overdosed on heroine and died. Joanna miscarried and found her late husband’s stash just days later. Desperate, she followed her husband’s lead and shot up a good number of times. Her helplessness attracted a few savior-suitors, claiming they could cure her if she’d just marry them and sign the fortune over into their care. She played along, then sued for embezzlement.  Eventually life caught up and drove her mad. She said she met Christos while in rehab. He offered her a business deal: a major stock in his company if she’d be the first to try his new drug. It worked. She wrote the check and she’s been clean for a few months now, but she still stuffs mattresses with cash, just in case.

– – –

“Sorry I’m late,” came a soultry voice from above, cutting off Joanna’s nostalgia. Maggie pushed back a thick lock of dark black hair. Priscilla caught a whiff of American Spirits when Maggie’s candy apple red lips parted.

– – –

Maggie is one of those women with curves like an hour glass. Her signature style is red lips and stillettos as sharp as her tongue. She led a society of high-end escorts. They were called The Black Widows, sirens hired to seduce influential men into revealing international secrets. The fame and fortune turned her into a sexaholic. A few too many secrets and loose lips and Maggie found herself detained for high treason, and we’ll say “lacking in love.” That’s when Christos walked in and offered her a deal: his drug for her dirty money. He said he’d put it toward a good cause. She was so desperate she took it.

– – –

“Have you been smoking again?” Priscilla asked, in articulated English.

“Only one, Gahwd.” She rolled her eyes.

“Maggie, the penitent,” Priscilla sighed.

“Give it a rest.”

“You are cured of one addiction and move on to another! You may own half of the company and—how you say—“schmooze” on Christos,  but  you should not start another addiction  knowing you may have free shots when you like. This company is founded on a change in life patterns.”

“I don’t schmooze!” Maggie said, nestling into her chair. She looked down and fumbled with the little diamond cross pendant resting on round breasts about to burst from the climax of a deep v-neck tee.

“Sorry,” Priscilla said, resting her forehead in her palm, elbows propped on the table. “Look, I just… Today has been stressful. I… I need to tell you both something.” She pulled out the paperwork and pointed to the income statement. Negatives, followed by a lot of zeros.

“What the hell kinda company you runnin’, Pris?” Joanna said.

“I looked it over and over,” Priscilla said. “I combed through receipts, even, and I found these: a $400 shoe-wax bill, a thousand dollar Merlot, a million at the Grand Constantinople Inn. And then another million unaccounted for.”

“Who spends a million at a hotel that sounds like a bad horror film?” Maggie scoffed.

“Someone’s been takin the money! They been takin MY money!” Joanna said, pointing a waving finger at the ceiling.

“Your money! How about MY money! My hard earned cash!” said Maggie.

“Your dirty cash,” mumbled Joanna.

“It’s not dirty and you know it! My life isn’t like that anymore. And just because he likes me better than you doesn’t mean you and your crazy mind can blame me!” Maggie said. “Ever think it may be that snake of a husband of yours. Or maybe it’s you! Marry all those embezzlers, what’s the chance you haven’t become one?!”

“How dare—”

“Ladies, ladies,” Priscilla said, trying not to make a scene. She leaned in closer. “If I thought it was you, you would already have a law suit on your desk.”

“We need a list of potentials before we bring this to the meeting,” Maggie said.

“You can’t bring that to no meetin!” Joanna said.

“Why not?”

“How you gonna tell the men we think they been stealin’ our money when we can’t talk. We’re just there for pretty looks and stock photos, honey.”

“If we call someone out on it, maybe they will listen,” said Priscilla.

“My money’s on Paul,” said Maggie. “Literally.”

“It is not him!” Priscilla said.

“I mean the guy was what, like a high end government official before he became CEO? I’ve favored to government officials, darlin. They spend good cash. Why do you think he’s not married? He doesn’t need to be, he’s probably got lotsa ladies at his disposal. Or he’s got debts. I heard the mafia’s out to get him. How much you wanna bet all those “trips abroad” to “foreign investors” aren’t just him paying off some warlord he used to work for? Or bailin’ himself outta jail for that mouth of his,” Maggie said.

“Paul would never do that!”

“Look, Pris. Just because you and Aquilla took the guy under your perfect, humble, do-gooder little wings, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some past issues he’s gotta take care of. I still got men knockin’ at my door, even after rehab!”

“It is not him,” Priscilla said, shaking her head.

“I’ve got a bad vibe about that Judas guy,” Joanna nodded. “Think about it. He’s the Chief Accountant. How hard do you think it’d be to switch around some numbers? Easy. My ‘usbands ‘ave done it and they’re all idiots. Can’t be too hard.”

“She has a point,” Priscilla said.

“Plus, he’s bald.” Joanna added.

“What does bald have to do with anything?” said Priscilla.

“All the bad guys in the movies are always bald!”

“So now what do we do?” Maggie said, sinking back in her chair. “We can’t speak at the shareholders meetings. We own the company and we don’t even say where the money goes! Where our money goes.”

They were silent. Joanna folded her napkin. Priscilla took a sip of her beer. Maggie pushed around the olive in her martini. There were millions on the line. Millions that had disappeared. But for the first time since signing those checks they each realized that there was nothing they could say. Nothing they could do. If they brought the issue to the board they would be dismissed. If they questioned the authority of the men, they would be ousted, with no money at all. And who would they go to? They had rubies and influence and the business skills to run the company themselves, even a lawyer to sue if they needed. They had all the resources at their disposal. But what good would it do?

Money couldn’t buy them a word. No one would believe a foreigner, a druggie, and a whore. That just sounds like a bad joke.

 

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