Moth Equals

I first met Moth Equals while I was sipping an espresso sat with Pope Gregory XV outside a café in the Piazza San Bernardo.  I was a bit annoyed at Alessandro, the given name of Pope Gregory, and I was laying into him, much to the amusement of passers-by. 

It’s nepotism, I said. 

They’re the best men for the job, said Alessandro.  

Your brother and your nephew? On the same day? It’s too much, the people won’t have it, I said, referring to the appointment of his nephew as cardinal and his brother as head of the papal army. 

They’ll like it or lump it, said Alessandro. 

We sat in simmering silence for a few moments. 

He’s your brother, goddamn it, I exploded.  

Look, said Alessandro, pointing at the newly refurbished Chies di Santa Susanna.  You see her? He was pointing to one of the statues of Susanna.  She was the niece of Pope Caius, and we celebrate her to this day.  And, you see over there? He pointed to the Fountain of Moses. Only Araon, the brother of Moses, could be priest for our Lord, and only his direct descendants thereafter.  And there, he pointed to Santa Maria della Vittoria, a grand church dedicated to the mother of Christ. Family, he said, is what the church is built on, the ties that bind us, the blood between us. You call it nepotism, I call it tradition.  

I call it bullshit, I said.  

Alessandro laughed.  Call it what you will, he said, it changes nothing, my family will be well cared for.  

Much as Cain cared for Abel? asked the servant filling our cups.  

How dare you, whispered Alessandro.  Guards!  The closest of the papal guard held fast to the servant. 

Wait, I said, as rude and impetuous as he is, he has a point, let him explain himself.  

If I did not respect you as much as I do, I would have you put in the same gallows as this man will find himself, said Alessandro.  Go then, let him have his say.  

You heard him, I said to the man, explain your point.  

Family blood can spill family blood, said the man, as it says in Mark 13:12, “ “Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.”  And, the apostles, those closest to Christ, were they not strangers to him before he called them to his side?  All I mean to say, your worship, is that trust should be placed where trust will grow, and family is not always the most fertile of soil for such a delicate crop.  

Ha, I said, the boy has you there.  

Alessandro bit his lip.  I could see the fury in his eyes, but he could not refute the word of the Bible, the very tome that gave him power over so many.  Leave the boy, he said to his guards. And you, he said to me, can just fuck off. He stalked off with his guards in tow. 

That was marvellous, I said to the boy, but it does mean I’ll have to leave Rome, it won’t be safe for me here, and you too.  

I am but a servant, said the boy, how can I escape the wrath of such a powerful man?  

Come with me, I said, I will buy you from your master, but it will be hard going, do you have any skills that may be of use on the road?  

I make beats, he said.  

Beats? I asked.  

Yes, he said, like this one, and he produced an iPod from his giornea. 

I placed the buds in my ears and was immediately sent to ecstasy by the song The Heavens Opened and Closed from the album One Tusk(2016).  

I have no words, I said when it was finished.  

I have better, said the boy.  

What will I call you?  I asked.  

They call me Moth Equals, he said.  

That’s the stupidest name I have ever heard, I said, can’t I call you something normal like Lundardo, or Zuandomenego?  

No, he said, and we’ve been friends ever since.