The Deaths of Gestas and Dysmas
The Centurion Longinus, after determining that the King of the Jews was already dead, ordered his men Romulus and Remus to break the legs of the remaining two in their care, in order to hasten their death, so that the soldiers might return to the city.
Stepping up closer to the miscreants, Romulus swung the club at the lower leg of Dysmas. The thud of club on flesh and the crack of bone breaking melded into one sickening sound. Breaking his other leg took less force because of the greater pressure now borne by the sound leg. Dysmas could no longer use his legs to push upwards to relieve the strain on his diaphragm. His breathing now came in short, insufficient gasps and his heart began to beat wildly.
With his final reserves of strength, Dysmas looked to his left, to the cross where the King of the Jews had so recently died and been removed by some of his followers. The sign in three languages still hung crookedly. Even though the King’s body was dead and they had taken him away, Dysmas, with his final breaths prayed, “Abba Father, take me home.”
Here’s where it gets interesting. Dysmas felt a calm envelope him like a blanket. The light in his eyes had been extinguished, but somehow he could now see with his heart. And he saw the man that had been called the King of the Jews, the man who had been mocked, the man whom he himself had nearly killed. This King began to call him out of himself and heeding this call, Dysmas left his body, which astonished him how easily that was accomplished, as if brushing past the sheerest of curtains. His spirit seemed to float upwards and then he rushed headlong to what appeared to be a bright and golden city, at the midst of which… but this isn’t the story we’re following, for some other time, maybe. Suffice it to say that Dysmas discovered that his thin hopes were materializing.
Remus now took the club from Romulus and broke the legs of Gestas. (True comrades don’t shirk the worst work; they don’t leave their friends to bear the whole burden of ‘distasteful’ duties by themselves.)
“Damn!” cursed Gestas through clenched teeth. That was to be his last intelligible word before he lost all life and light.