Appealing from his native sod
In forma pauperis, to God:
"Lay bare thine arm, stretch forth thy rod."
It's Stonewall Jackson's way!
Thou shalt not kill, saith the Lord.
But John does not think this is a high rule set for all times and all places. His later childhood had been war, and he still believes he was right. It is easy to see the world as it is, more difficult to see what it would have been. In the war, so much loss did not mean lives became cheap. They became expensive, invaluable. Killing was a bargain one made in return for life. Good men died
. Good women - his mother - died
. Death became grief and sacrifice. It became the place of beloved people offering themselves up for their country, not just in battle but in privation for the Confederacy. Killing became sacrifice as well. It became a setting aside of one's honour for a greater cause. It was making oneself less that the world would be better, would be stronger, would know a higher right
than the wrong of one's transgression. Lee had given up his home and all his life for the General he became, not for himself but for Virginia and her people. John listened and learned.Down with the Eagle and up with the Cross.
We'll rally round the Bonnie Flag, we'll rally once again.
Shout, shout the battle cry of freedom.
He has lived with death since he had been a young boy, waiting at the station in Griffin for news of the local men who had died. He had become aware of Death as a being when his mother had become more and more ill. John had taken his hand, unafraid, making a half-step into the country beyond life, resting at night in his arms. Love and promise, even - or especially - at the worst of times. Death became his companion, his beloved, his friend. He had always known it, and then Death had become Gabriel. Together they held themselves proud for honour, and together they had killed. John had always known the voice behind him, the hand on his shoulder. He had known it in his war on the North and on the Klan before he left the South, had known it in Texas when he had hated everyone, had known it on the run - New Mexico, Colorado, Texas again, as he lived ready to die, ready to kill. He had known it even more certainly after he met Wyatt and re-established life, love, purpose, aim. Then he was ready to die not by chance but by will. Then he was ready to kill for his friends, for the West, as he had once been ready to kill for the South. Greater love hath no man than but he should lay down is life for that of a friend.
John proves it not just once, but again and again. He is not afraid. He had never been afraid, even before he realised Gabriel's form, Gabriel's name.
He did not regret, and he did not mourn - neither for those he killed nor for his broken soul. He was prepared internally. He had calculated bargains of loss and gain, pride and shame, and acted willing for consequences. If he died, he died in innocence, having done what he believed was right. It was the responsibility of the other men he killed to know they were innocent as well. If they were not - if they did not believe
in who they were, in what they did, that was their responsibility. His lip twists in scorn at their gibbering and clawing for life, at their fear and uncertainty that makes their aim waver, their guns catch, their eyes focus randomly, their hands jerk.
He knows what he is about, calm and deliberate. He is ready to die. He is ready to kill. And Death will wrap John in his arms, either way.
Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Word Count: 638
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