For a while he tried to be clever, had business cards printed with the name Alan Swerus underneath a striding silhouette of a man in a robe, but it never quite sat right. Every time a client cleared his throat and asked, “Mr. Swerus?” he felt like a fraud. It was too normal; people got antsy when they couldn’t trace him back to a birthplace, a hometown, an old occupation. Rumors went around that he was a spook, and the deals got a lot shadier and more annoying. He knew it was time for a change when a French lieutenant tried to hire him to kill a communist leader in some country or other in Indochina. He got a whole new batch of cards printed, ones with his real name on them, and just called himself the damn Wandering Jew. It was the perfect cover. His clients laughed at the joke and let him be mysterious so long as he delivered.

He’s supposed to meet a client somewhere in what he still thinks of as Turkey, although they’re calling it Yugoslavia now, an old man living back in the Randiska Visnjevica near Krasica. It’s not likely to be much of a moneymaker, but he hasn’t been through Bakar Bay in centuries, and what does he really need with money, anyway? He’s forgetting something, the reason he hasn’t been back in so long. It was a good reason, he can remember that much. It nags at him the whole way up the coast.

It all comes back to him when he comes across his face carved into the trunk of a tree. He’d drop dead on the spot out of embarrassment if he could, or at least skedaddle, but he’s been spotted. The whole village comes boiling out to greet him, faces alight and hands raised in praise. “Lord, Lord, Lord,” they babble, and he wishes he’d never even heard of that stupid cult.

Render unto Caesar: the Longinus side