Chapter 6: The Devil
Author's Note: This is a very short chapter. It's only one scene, and it's about 1/4 of what I'd normally put out in terms of word count for a chapter. But, at the suggestion of my editor, I am posting it today, on Halloween. We both think that it fits the theme. :-)
It was Wednesday and the end of the workday for most folks. Pastor Rogers had a sermon to preach tonight at the Baptist Church in town. Only the truly dedicated showed up on Wednesday night services. And he tailored his sermons accordingly.
He knew that Huck would be there. And Pastor Rogers had an obligation to help keep Huck on the path. He needed to ensure the man knew that homosexuality was a sin and that what they did now for his son, Rayne was necessary.
The discussion with Huck last night was hard. It was apparent to Pastor Rogers that the young father struggled with their plan. It almost sounded as if Huck had second thoughts about the inherent damnation wrapped up in the gay lifestyle.
"I don't understand." Huck had said at one point during their talk. "If God made my son, then why would he make him so flawed? If being gay is wrong, why? Why would God do such a cruel thing to my boy?" Huck had shaken his head, in obvious emotional pain. "Why would he do that to such a sweet kid?"
Pastor Rogers knew what he needed to do. He had to reinforce, tonight, during the sermon that homosexuality was a sin. He would repeat it until Huck had no doubts. And then, maybe, the man could help Pastor Rogers bring Rayne back to the light.
The pastor walked out his front door. This time of year, the darkness came earlier and earlier, and though it was only a little after six PM, the clouds overhead meant he had to squint in the low light to find the key to his car.
His wife was still away, seeing family in Pennsylvania. So it was just him going to church tonight. He finally found the key on the ring, and he slipped it into the lock.
David Rogers jerked in surprise. A man stood in shadow on the other side of his driveway. The man leaned back, arms crossed, against the maple tree that grew at the corner of their property.
'How long has he been there? I didn't even notice him.' Pastor Rogers swallowed nervously. "Uh, yes? Do I know you?"
The man took a single step forward. Now the light from the garage illuminated most of his body. But, his face was still in shadow. "No. You don't know me." The fellow's voice dropped, almost to a growl. "But I know you. And I have a message for you."
The hair rose on the back of Preacher Roger's neck. The body language and tone of this man and the situation set him on edge. He surreptitiously unlocked the door to his car. "Oh? And what's that?"
The fellow cocked his head. "If you get into that car before I'm done speaking, you will regret it. I'm trying to do this the easy way. But things will get hard quickly if you test me."
There was a calm, clinical, detached tone in the voice. And that unnerved the pastor more than anything else. He could sense something predatory, dangerous, and yet - for the moment, something restrained in the man. Pastor Rogers released the key that was in the car door, and he nodded. "Okay. Okay. There's no need for threats. What did you want to say, then?"
The man leaned forward, and he put his closed fists on the hood of the car. The light now illuminated his mouth and the stubbled skin of his chin and jaw. "You will stop preaching that homosexuality is a sin, and you will stop counseling the man, Huck concerning his son, Rayne."
Though frightened, this brought an indignance and a fire back to the pastor's eyes. "I can't do such a thing." He straightened, and he squared his shoulders. "It doesn't matter what you do to me, I won't compromise the word of God. And I will continue to deliver His word."
The man slowly smiled, his teeth glimmered in the white light from the mounted LED lights attached to the garage. "How very convenient for you - to pick and choose which sin deserves attention." The fellow took out a sheet of folded paper from his pocket. Then he unfolded it, and he slid it across the hood of the car. The man seemed to have an awareness of where the light ended, and he never exposed his whole face to Pastor Rogers.
Rogers looked down at the paper. And he immediately felt as if an icy spear had been driven into his heart. "Wh …" he swallowed, and he picked up the printed photograph with shaking fingers. It clearly showed a carbon copy of his checkbook - the one he kept completely separate from all other finances. He bit his lip, and he tore his eyes away from the sheet to look at his tormentor. "How did you get this?"
"That doesn't matter. What matters is, I have proof of a $22,000 check you wrote to Atlantis Casino, two weeks ago, in Reno, Nevada." He smiled, pure venom and bile in the expression. "Tell me - how long have you spent church funds on your gambling habit?"
'He knows. Oh, God. God, save me.' Pastor Rogers held up a quaking hand. "Now," he rubbed his face, "now, just listen …"
"No." That same cold, evil voice came from the man. "You listen. You will never, EVER preach on the evils of homosexuality again." The edge crept back into the tone. "Or I will reveal your gambling, and the theft of church funds to your congregration. And then, if that isn't enough, I will drag every skeleton you have in your closet out into the light for the world to see." The man cocked his head. "Do you understand?"
Pastor Rogers only hesitated a moment. Then he nodded. "I understand. Yes."
"Good." The man stepped back until he was almost entirely obscured by the deep shadow near the fenceline. "I'll be watching you, Pastor."
The figure began to move away, and David Rogers called out, "Wait." The man seemed to turn, and he looked at the Pastor. "Who, who are you?"
"Isn't it obvious?" The only thing David saw for certain, was the white of the man's smile as he grinned. Then he took another step, and the darkness completely swallowed him up.
"I'm the devil."
Author's Note: Please let me know your thoughts about the chapter at the following email address link. Wayne Gray
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