7 - Chicago
SEVERAL WEEKS AGO
The man with his old army jacket was still standing there facing me across the back of the church. Again, briefly, I considered running. with his gun at his side like that, there was a chance I could at least make it out the front doorway before he could fire.
No, it wasn’t worth the risk.
“Why do you want the boy?” I asked him again. A part of me knew that my insistence was going to get me in trouble. If I hadn’t seen the boy, why would I keep asking about him?
But another part of me was just curious. It was everyday that someone glanced off of your life in such a dramatic fashion.
Plus, perhaps he knew the boy. Perhaps he knew where he had gone.
The big man stared for a few seconds later before spinning on one heel and stalking up the central aisle of the church. I had little choice but to follow.
He stopped in line with the front pews, staring up at the massive stone Jesus hanging over the alter.
To my surprised, he crossed himself. The motion was stilted and awkward and had the feel of one long out of practice, but it was there.
Honestly, I’m not sure why I was that surprised. Perhaps I didn’t associate someone barging into a church and pointing a gun at the priest with someone particularly religious.
But hey. Maybe that was just me.
I caught up with him, coming to rest at his side. With his bulk, he took a not insignificant portion of the aisle, yet still there was room.
I looked over and saw his mouth moving. A prayer?
I’d never been particularly skilled at reading lips, but even what skill I had was useless here. The movements were off, the cadence was all wrong. Either he was muttering to himself or he was praying in some language other than English.
I turned forward and offered a prayer of my own.
A prayer for the boy, that whatever sins he might have committed that they may be forgiven. Even a mortal sin could be forgiven, had he truly attempted suicide–that had to have been what he meant–but he had left before his confession was complete. Still, I could pray for him.
And a pray for a peaceful solution to whatever it was that the man next to me was planning. He had an air of violence about him and I’d had more than enough violence to last me a life time.
I don’t know how long we stood there. It felt like a long time, but it was the sort of moment that makes time stretch and fold back on itself. It could have been mere moments.
Then finally, the man spoke.
“He was my brother.”