Here’s what happens: the priest looks back and sees the Levite pass by. Their eyes meet. They are of the same tribe, and their unspoken concurrence in the decision not to stop reinforces itself in that consecrated moment of collusion, comprehension.
They find it hard to credit what happens next. A Samaritan, in traditional garb,* is bending over the man, kneeling at his side, rummaging over his body. Excited, they call the police, who arrive at speed and in force, on the understanding that they are witnessing a murder – what else would you expect from a Samaritan?
We know what might happen next. But for a moment, let’s decide to be hopeful. Nobody dies.
The Samaritan is wrestled to the ground, searched, shaken, sent on his way with an obscure warning, never returns to the Jericho Road.
It’s a debacle, and someone has to pay for it. The man attacked by bandits, still bleeding, is arrested for selling his wares on the sidewalk without a permit; also for false reporting and inciting panic. He is hauled away to the hospital in handcuffs. Later, he is released quietly through the back door. He has no choice but to return to the Jericho Road to ply his trade, to pay off the hospital bills, including transport.
The priest and the Levite continue to pass by on the other side, refusing to meet his eye, for fear that their guilt will show; guilt which over time, unassuaged, hardens into anger at the emotional turmoil he has put them through.
- A word about words: I have heard the word “garb” more times in the past week than in my whole life before it. I regularly appear in robes in public, and even so have never heard my clothing described as garb.