To Kill A God
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By Richard Dani
People had been removing “Two Sticks” throughout the week. “Two Sticks” was what they called crucifixes in public---that or Divine “T.” Regardless of how often it was said, it somehow managed to lift their spirits. There was a lot of sadness back then.
It was Peter Monahan’s night to lead the prayer. Tall, blue-eyed and a firm believer in the faith, Peter was charged to speak and condemn the newest laws. He opened his leather-bound book and their ire was kindled. Everyone fell to their knees, bowed their heads and felt his words.
A few days later, the group had dwindled to ten. They met in the basement professing their faith and labeling the government’s restrictions as blasphemy.
Henry Milken claimed he hadn’t seen a single two-stick all week but he had discovered a small church over on Pear Street. Henry had entered with some reservations, or fear of the police, but he claimed his prayers must have kept them away. He hadn’t approached the altar, but he had seen enough. Henry broke out a wad of paper, which looked like a pamphlet of hymns, each boldly praising the Lord.
The next evening the group headed for the church, hiding their two sticks and prayer books in the basement. They would have to be careful. The cops on Main Street were circling like vultures and when Fred whispered “Amen,” one of the officers nearly overheard him.
The church was smaller then they had expected. Some of them hoped it would be filled followers, but only a handful were in attendance. Not with standing, the hope of a shared faith pulled the group inside. A small candle burned at the altar illuminating the strands of cobwebs that hung from the rotted rafters. In the front, three brown pews were occupied. Henry shuffled cautiously to the first pew and touched it with his shaking hand, which caused dust to waif upward. He leaned forward and whispered. One of congregation turned toward Henry and crossed themselves by touching their forehead, heart and each shoulder. Another person also greeted Henry, and he too made the cross. The group inched closer eager to partake in the shared religion.
“They’re believers,” Peter said and everyone nodded in agreement.
Henry beckoned his friends forward and they hurried to the pews. The followers had large, black Bibles and Peter reached for one. On the altar, a large man appeared and he was completely cloaked in robes. He presence boosted their spirits and they waited for him to speak. The group could barely contain themselves and a few of them broke into prayer.
“This isn’t right,” cried Peter as he dropped the book to the floor. “The pages are all empty.”
As if on cue, a squadron entered the church and Henry stood up. He said, “Scatter!”
But no one heard him. The police whipped out their guns and opened fire. Peter was the first one down. A bullet, which must have had a hollowed point, ruptured his head like an overstuffed trash bag causing his gray matter and blood to splatter. His body crumpled to the floor and spewed its fluids from what looked like a hundred severed hoses.
The police didn’t stop there. One-by-one the rest of them were shot down.
Henry raced for a window ducking and weaving the whole way. He could feel the bullets whizzing by him and he thanked God as each one missed. He dove toward the pane of stained glass and as his head broke through it, a large shard cleaved both his esophagus and jugular. His body continued through the portal and came to rest in the alley. Staring up at the night sky, his prayers amounted to small gurgles spurting from the wounds in his neck.
These days people don’t talk much about religion. Science has relegated it to a position along side fairy tales and folklore. But every once in a while someone will still offer up a prayer. Sometimes it’s before a big meal and others do it when they’re putting their children to bed. But regardless of the occasion, it’s almost always met with a laugh.
If you have no questions or fears about your abilities, then you will learn nothing from your mistakes and know nothing about your limitations.