Walk of Shame

February 16, 2010    

The following story was originally submitted to The First Line Literary Journal. They accept submissions for each of their issues that start with the same first sentence. In this case, the line was “Working for God is never easy.” I had a feeling that a lot of the submitted stories would be from the same perspective: the plight of a missionary as they give selflessly. My ideas were some sort of medieval paladin or first person story from a demon. I wrote the latter and here it is.

Working for God is never easy. You see, when you do, there’s always some asshole like me gunning for you. They don’t teach you about people like me in seminary. Father Patrick found out the hard way.

It was early afternoon Wednesday, about as far from a Sunday as you can get, when I caught up with him. Like most relatively new men of the clothe, he was in his office diligently preparing a sermon. He hadn’t been in the game long enough to improvise and he certainly didn’t want the old ladies of the church gossiping about how bad his services were. They had run off the last pastor with their gibbering and the young Hispanic man already had a strike against him in their book.

You’d think that, being so close to the Almighty, priests wouldn’t be surprised when someone like me busted down their door. But it’s always leads to the same two questions. “What are you?” and “what do you want from me?” And, for dramatic effect, I always answer the same way; a toothy, primal roar. I’ve been told my breathe wreaks of sulfur. I floss, promise.

That’s where things get interesting. Sure, the good book is full of tales about things like me and Hollywood has had more than its fair share of demonic special effects. But neither of those really prepares you to come face to face with something like me. Hell, in this day and age, most men of the clothe have never even witnessed an exorcism.

Unlike most people I’ve offed this year, Father Patrick didn’t faint. He didn’t even soil himself. No, he did what the movies taught him to do. He grabbed his cross and thrust it towards me, all the while chanting the Lord’s Prayer. He did it very rhythmically, as if reciting an ancient spell that would fill the room with a protective aura or summon down Michael himself. It doesn’t work that way.

Now, you might be asking yourself what I get out of this. Why stalk the priests? The nuns? I’m just like a frat boy really. I hang out with my buds and compare notches in my belt. Bagging a hot virgin gives you a lot more street cred than the geeky kid who’s kicking it to the porky librarian. Offing holy folk gives you bragging rights. Finding creative new ways to do it makes for good story telling. My friends and I? Well, we’re the type who kiss and tell.

Some of my friends, especially the young ones, stick to the old tricks. It gives them a thrill to make a cross wearer beg for mercy or even sin in their final moments. Corrupting souls and proving humans weak is child’s play. Even muscle-ridden meat heads realize they can’t bench press their way out of a fight with sword wielding winged creature. Humans are fragile. They know it.

Personally, I like making a mess. You’ve seen those television shows where the investigators have to go over the crime scene with a fine-toothed comb, right? It really confuses them when weird things happen. “Well, Gil, I found his left ear stuck to the window and the other in a cookie jar. What do you suppose could have done this?” Why touch just one life, when you can touch many?

To toy with him a bit, I decided to let Father Patrick think his chanting was working. I recoiled in terror and used a few quick magic spells to draw a circle of glowing crosses in the air around me. They pressed in. I struggled. From his perspective, the man had caught himself a demon.

It took all my effort not to snicker when I saw realization hit his face. He didn’t know what came next. At most, I’d have expected him to call a mentor. An old, gruff priest who might know what to do. But Father Patrick took the path of least resistance; he ran. Or at least, he planned to.

Around the outside of his office, he inched his way towards the door. He kept his cross between us until he was out of the room and then took off. Sweet Jezebel, my sword, hummed through the air after I launched her at the fleeing man. He crumpled. It was messy and right in the sanctuary. Excellent.

The man was still alive when I walked over to pick up my sword. Actually, I glided a little as I leaped between pews. More dramatic, more terrifying. Gripping her in one hand, I pulled Jez from the floor boards and then hefted her above my head. I got in to my best golfer stance and was preparing to slice when my watch chirped. Really? One o’clock already?

As I walked away from Father Patrick, his spurting blood covered my charcoal-black skin. I hadn’t made quite the mess I was hoping for, but it would have to do. In the vestibule, a quick burst of fire consumed those blood-stained clothes and replaced them with a tidy business suit. Red eyes gave way to much more average blue ones and I looked, well, human. Much more appropriate for lunch at the local coffee joint.

Working for God is never easy. One day, some jerk might swoop in, take advantage of you and then rush off to tell his friends. It’s like the walk of shame. On the up side, you don’t have to search frantically for your underwear in a stranger’s dorm room. The down side is that you’re, well, dead.