Judgement (Flash Fiction)

Brian crept along the sidewalk in silence. He avoided the street lights and hid behind trees when the occasional car passed by. He hid from nothing and he knew it. No one was looking for him. No one cared. But still, he avoided the light. His own shame stalked him in the way that no man could. He stood in the dark, across the street from the cathedral, and stared at the looming lights. The sidewalk was clean and exposed. The stained-glass windows were backlit just enough to send a glow of color into the dark night. His eyes fixated on the image of Judas. Brian let another car pass by and crossed the street.

He sat on the bottom step of the St. Bernard Catholic Church and twisted his hands together. When sitting so close, under the bright street lights, he found he could no longer look directly at the building. He looked at his hands and then looked away. He was disgusted with what his hands had done.

“No one can help me,” he said. “It seems not even you have taken interest in my struggle. I’ve prayed. I’ve confessed. I’ve sought treatment, I’ve read the Bible, I’ve done everything I can.” He paused as another car passed. It was a squad car, and Brian held his breath as it rolled on by. A cold sweat ran down his back, and his heart jumped when the brake lights came on. But the police car turned, and he was alone again.

“I know where I’m going,” he said to his hands. He held a gold necklace that carried a small cross. The metal was tarnished and lacked shine. “I deserve it for what I’ve done.” He squeezed the cross and cried. “My heart was in the right place, Lord! It’s my mind, my mind that won’t abide.” Brian threw the gold chain to the cement and wept in his hands. The stone building stood in silence behind him. After a few minutes, he collected himself and wiped the tears from his face.

“I’ll do it no longer,” he said. “I’ll not suffer myself nor the children. I’ll do what you will not. If you will not cure me, if the church will not cure me, if science and medicine will not cure me, then I’ll cure the world of myself.” He gazed into the darkness of the quiet town street. “I’ve run my course anyhow,” he muttered. “They’ll soon find me.”

Brian turned and shouted at the building. “Better to do the deed with my own hands and keep theirs clean, aye Lord!?” He laughed. The maniacal sound echoed off the bricks and laughed back at him. “Anyhow. Blessed are the children, those sweet, sweet children. I loved them too much, you see?” He looked up to the sky. Cloud cover blocked the light. “We’re not so different, you and I. I loved those children just as much as you love me.”

He stood and brushed his pants and hands clean, walked back the way he came, and hung himself in his basement. The next day, his gold chain was found on the church steps by a young boy. The boy kept it.

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