Hmm – no…
She sat on the bench looking down at the masses of people in front of her. The upper level of the food court gave her a perfect view of the people eating below. The gray sky and beating rain from overhead mixed in with the music selection into a cacophony of sound. Outlet malls were often the best place for her tastes. Some preferred airports or the weekend convention centers, but she liked the malls. The air was always a mixture of various states of being. Envy, Lust, Greed, Gluttony and Pride saturated the air. The occasional musk of Sloth drifted by with each security guard, yet one was missing. It was her favorite – Wrath. To her – Wrath was a seasonal delight. You could taste the occasional spice of Wrath in consumer anger but that was usually directed at the many teens running around with no supervision. True “Seasonal Wrath” normally began the day before Black Friday. There was always a promise of blood in the air and she craved it. She often thought of calling herself a junkie – but even then that seemed like an understatement.
Wrath – true Wrath was more than a euphoric delight. It spoke volumes of complex thought and emotion in a simplistic fiery package. From November to December, she relished in the cinnamon delight of pure consumer Wrath. Tensions and tempers flared like Roman Candles and with enough push – a well-mannered consumer became just that – a Consumer. A Consumer whose eyes were green with Envy and Greed and that fueled their Wrath. In many ways it was her Christmas.
Here in the outlet malls – she could have given a situation just a slight push to amplify a person’s action to its boiling point. Events like a couple having sex in a changing room, a bride throwing a scene at her bridesmaids or a family fighting in the food court – all of it could be done with a simple push. However, this was against the rules. “Free Will” had to be maintained at all times. If a person chooses to fall to their sins verses a sense of integrity – then they were free game.
Much like the teenagers in the food court – she contemplated her day’s pleasure when the proverbial hairs stood up on her neck. He had just walked in through the automatic doors. His very state of being chilled her breath.
He was Fury, Wrath and Rage.
His aura was mixture of blinding white and bloody red. Such overwhelming emotions sent into an almost orgasmic state of being. If she had genitals – she would have been squirming herself into a drenched state of being. He had a rough sense about his face. His graying temples accented the thick black hair on his head. He scanned the area of the food court like a blue eyed lighthouse looking across the horizon of bodies. His eyes froze on one of those quick Chinese Food stands. He sat down across the way and watched the people working there. She leaned forward on the railing trying to see the activity that was his aura.
Then it happened.
A younger man came out from the back to take his place at the register. It was as if a nuclear reactor went on total melt down. The reddish hue of the aura went from pink to white within a blink of an eye. She could spy the ethereal tendrils that flew out towards the young man at the register. How could one man invoke so much rage? Did the younger man sleep with the other man’s wife? No – there would something else there. It was just too pure and breathe taking. Like a cat – she made her way down the escalator while keeping him into view. By the time she had made her way down – he had broken off his view and instead busied himself in a newspaper. She laughed to herself. He was the only person there who was doing such. In an effort to remain inconspicuous – he stood out like a sore thumb. In the digital age – it was all tablets and phones that gave the latest news and updates. She almost wanted to tell him stop because he was doing the whole stalking thing wrong. She made her way to the seat next to him. She gingerly reached out and touched the aura of wrath that surrounded him. It was a burning coolness that caused her eyes to flutter and roll into the back of her head. It was a sensation she had no felt in a long time.
The man looked behind him stared right at her. His piercing blue eyes looked right through her. He raised an eye brow and shook his head. Human beings could not see the Divine unless they willed themselves to be seen. However, he had felt her touch. This meant only one thing – he possessed a powerful faith. His prayers had power and meaning behind them. He was a rarity in a skeptical age. She wondered if perhaps that was why his Wrath was so profound. She circled around him – trying to see if there was anything that could give away why he bore so much rage against the younger man. Yet there was really nothing she could discern. He was a white hot conundrum that made her feel vibrant to the point of almost buzzing. After a few hours he looked up at his watch and mumbled something to himself. Folding up the newspaper, he got up and started to walk toward one of the exits.
She stared at him with a raised eyebrow. Was that it? Just stare with daggers and do nothing afterwards? She got up and followed him outside. The rain was coming down at a steady pace and she watched as we walked down the sidewalk. She raced ahead of him with a single thought and watched him. His expression had gone almost dark. She had seen that sort of expression on the faces of men going into war.
He was going to kill someone – but who and why?
He made his way toward the loading dock on the backside of the mall. He stopped just before the corner and he stared up at the mirror above that truck drivers used when they backed in. She looked in the reflection and saw his purpose.
The young man from the register was there.
He stood there having a cigarette under the awning to keep dry. Surging forward to look at him, she noticed the security camera that kept watch over the area. The man around the corner either didn’t know the camera was there or didn’t care. It would be such a waste of wrath if he was caught. As was trademark for her existence – her need overrode her common sense. With a single word, power surged into the camera circuits and scrambled the signal. If someone was going to interrupt what was going to happen – it was meant to be and not because a security guard decided to look at the monitors.
The man peered around the corner and watched. The younger man had his back to him. Seizing the moment, he moved quickly with the sound of the rain masking his footfalls. When he was a step away, his right hand slipped underneath the back of jacket and he pulled out a knife. With the left hand, he reached under his left arm and used his gloved hand to cover the young man’s mouth.
Then the world exploded with Wrath and knocked her off her feet. She withered in ecstasy on ground as she looked over at the two men. With the right hand, the aggressor repeatedly stabbed the younger man in the groin. Squeal of pain just barely escaped his mouth, but were drowned out by the falling rain and the Beatle’s song “Getting Better” that played over the parking lot PA system. After several moments – the younger man stopped moving and just slumped over. Dropping his body to the ground, the older man stared at him and began to whisper over his body.
Unable to help herself – she threw herself into him. She needed to see his soul.
Peering in – she found all the answers. His name was Nathan Long – Father Nathan Long. The dead man on the ground was George Blake. Blake had been a parishioner of St. Paul’s church where Father Long had presided. He had been going for several years. A year ago, Blake had gone to confession for having impure thoughts about a girl he knew at work. This was common and he told Blake that if he truly cared for the girl – that he needed to express such to her. If she was right for him – then God would look upon the union with love. Afterwards, Father Long gave him the usual penance and absolution.
Two weeks later – Blake returned. He was in tears. He told Father Long that he tried and he thought it was going well. Then he said that he had accidentally hurt Jessica and now he wouldn’t see her again. He was hurt and angry at her. Father Long told him that only Jessica can forgive could truly forgive him for accident. He could only offer him the Lord’s love and forgiveness if his intentions were truly pure. Replying that they were – Father Long absolved him.
The memories shifted to a newspaper article – Jessica Corey’s body was found in a dumpster by sanitation workers. She was only nine years old and papers leaked that she had been beaten and sexually assaulted. Though it was partially news sensationalism – it was apparently that beating had been brutal. She had gone missing from “Kids Time”. It was an after school day care center ran out of partially closed elementary school. Something about the whole situation didn’t sit right with Long. After a few days of letting it linger in his mind, he sought out the church’s treasurer. All tithing records were collected and stored for annual tax write offs. Pulling up Blake’s record – the treasure had handed him print out and his blood ran cold – “Kid’s Time” ran down the sheet with all the bi-weekly deposits. Handing back the sheet – he grabbed his jacket and went for a walk.
There had to be another explanation. Jessica was a common enough name. It could be coincidence. He needed to assuage his own fears because it all seemed so insane in his head. Stopping at the curb, he flagged down a taxi. He told himself that he had to know.
When he arrived, he saw a van parked with a couple of men doing some work on the security fence. It looked like they were installing camera outside. People – more specifically parents – were scared out of their mind. Added security measures were probably just the beginning. Making his way inside – he could feel the grim and depressing atmosphere wrap around him. The woman at the front counter looked up at him. Her eyes were tired and slightly puffy. The death of a child – especially on their watch had taken its toll. Opening up his jacket, he spoke to her as a concerned citizen and clergyman. He left her with a few cards in case there were those who needed the solace of the church at a trying time like this. She nodded gratefully and took the cards. Looking past her he saw the small memorial they had set up in Jessica’s honor. It was adorned with pictures and a few toys – presumably her favorites. Then his blood ran cold. There was George holding her hand and hugging her in several of the pictures. His hand shook and clenched his jaw to the point of pain. He said nothing else and turned around and walked out.
She fell out of his mind and lounged on the wet asphalt. Long was sobbing and yet in the sobs he was asking forgiveness from on high. The rain created a red river that ran from George to the gutter. He would be forgiven of course. Those were the rules of creation – even if it meant taking a life. Such was the way of the church’s dogma. Since he was a true believe – this meant doubly so. Yet – the one person who had to forgive him was himself. She could already see the seeds of guilt propagating in his mind. His own pious nature would either lead him astray and wasting his gift or he would kill himself. He was going to find sad secret of all good men. All good men become what they hate or commit the one sin from which there is no forgiveness. Such wrath…such power would be a wasted and no one would ever know. The path before her was clear now.
She stood up in front of him and stroked his hair.
The hairs on the back of his neck rose and he looked up.
There was a blonde woman in a white coat. Her long fell over her shoulders and bore a tinge of crimson. The sleeves of the white coat were drenched red in blood as was the bottom of the coat. She placed a single finger on the cleft under his nose and spoke softly, “Shhhh….We need you to live.”