It is Easter. Thus the anniversary of John's own Christening, Exorcism, Forgiveness in Colorado, after Albuquerque. After Mattie had become Sister Melanie.
He goes to church now, when he can, in this new time. In the other century, he had not been welcome - dissolute sporting man as he had been. Now there are no questions. He does not speak to the others. They do not believe as he does, but it pleases him to stand, to kneel. And he prays wholeheartedly, even with different thoughts and reasons.
"...I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do..." He says it in Latin. Confíteor Deo omnipoténti et vobis, fratres, quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo, ópere, et omissióne: mea culpa...
Small things, day to day, a wrong word, a wrong intention, error that causes him to fail, trying too hard, not hard enough. There are few grand actions now, but it is sin, to fail.
"Lord have mercy." He says it in Greek. "Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison.
" This is for himself. Please, "though I am not worthy to receive thee, only say the word and I shall be healed." Tired, empty. But, please. Bless me nonetheless. Approve of me. Touch my head, let me be known as doing my best, as trying still. Let it be in principle, if not a word from a knowing fellow human.
"Our Father, who art in Heaven... Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." That one he says in English, though now they seem to say sin
for 'trespass,' save
for 'deliver,' and times of trial
for 'temptation.' He could say it in Latin, the Pater Noster
, but it is more familiar to him in English. This prayer, above all, lays his mind quiet, ordered. He prays this slowly, thinking each word, each idea he has to lay against it. And before the amen
he prays for his friends, for their blessing as he had prayed for his own. He prays it through the prayers of the priest and his sermon - political, small, worldly. He does not care. The priest is just a man. He will learn, or not. It is not important.
There are no adults in white robes that will soak around them, washing their guilt from them as they keel in the basin of holy water. He still remembers the priest's thumb on his forehead, rough even thick with chrism oil, a cross sealing him sinless, exorcised. John is always careful with exact memories - the ones that mean something. It might have been yesterday. And yes, there had only been the single killing after that, and only a few shootings. But he had saved lives too, even at the cost of his own. Truly. And he does not regret any of it. He thinks of Stonewall Jackson and his old brigade song: "Appealing from his native sod, in forma pauperis
to God. Lay bare thine arm, stretch forth thy rod..." He feels small, tired. Yet he is always ready, to use his deadly skills. Dealing death, preventing death, and always dying, dead. What he is, what he does, small before the Platonic Form of Goodness, of Love. For John does love. If he may not love people
, he may love the light he sometimes sees. Sometimes. He sighs, almost desperately lonely, but still brave.
When it is time, he offers the sign of peace, shaking hands with the old formality. He is very conscious of his perpetual cough. And the grasps to his hand are light and scarcely aware. The eyes almost look through him, as he is unknown, though he looks into theirs almost curiously. Is there anything there?
In case there is. He doesn't know. He doesn't see anything.
It is Easter. The resurrection - powerful example, not even symbol but example. After the sacrifice, after courage, after giving everything, after loss comes the promise that it will begin again, cycle of delicate hope and shy wonder as he recognises worth or ideal or cause, then giving, then loss, and despite it all: right. But he is tired. If he was misplaced before, what is he now?
It is Easter. He tries to summon hope one more time.
"Christ has died.
Christ has risen.
Christ will come again."Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Word Count: 812
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Nulli Virtute Secundus