Sunday, September 9, 2012

The First Forgiveness Service Was Nice. What Happened Next Wasn't

They sat in the back, in the very last pew. It was easy to slide in. No velvet cushions this month, what with everybody repenting and all. The Old Pine Street Synagogue, dating from Federalist times had a clean, spare, austere look. Google any early American house of worship. You'll see. The wood floors shine with a rich, deep darkness. Everything else is painted white, except for the varnished oak trim running along the pews and up around the rostrum. The doors to The Ark, behind the rostrum were made of intricately engraved silver, dulled by the years, but still quite lovely. Guide book says they came from Portugal via Holland. Large, brass chandeliers with 'authentic, flame-like bulbs' bathed the faithful in a soft warm glow. 

Tomas and Sarah sat next to an old woman. She smiled at them and they smiled back. He put on his prayer cap, opened the 'book of service' (he and Sarah shared) and joined in, letting the hymns from the white robed choir wash over him. 

And maybe it was Divine Truth, or perhaps just vampiric memory, but he saw the year pass before his eyes....both the triumphs and the failures.... the sins of the flesh and the sins of the spirit....... He quietly repeated - Have mercy, Lord. For my body and soul are Thine.......And God responds - Prepare thyself. Turn away from sin and set thy feet upon My path.... Tomas and the rest of those assembled said that they would. And none so much as suspected the presence of a vampire in their midst.

When they broke for fellowship, he had a taste of wine. The grapes make that a difficult proposition for vampires, but he persevered. Sarah had some too. A lady from the sisterhood offered homemade spongecake, which they 'reluctantly' demurred. Diabetic, you know. Then they made pleasant small talk with a couple from Queens Village (the neighborhood to the south) and left. The streets were dark and quiet. Most of the small, sidewalk trees were still green, though a few dried leaves hid here and there. They held hands. His heart beat slow and calm.

Yet in the blackest shadows of a narrow alley, something watched and it growled as they passed. A four legged creature, with coarse, charcoal fur recorded every move, silently loping out onto the sidewalk and following from a distance. I could tell you its eyes burned orange in the night. A detail like that is usually what comes next. But as it crossed a pool of light cast down from  a black, iron street lamp (the real deal) anyone could see that it had no eyes. The lids hung limp over empty sockets. Still it 'saw' with a sharp keen sight.

The thing accompanied them all the way home. When they went inside and locked the door, it stood vigil , still as stone, in shadows 'neath an old gnarled tree, before vanishing into the mist with the first light of a cool, false dawn...

The 'Dream Time' image draws near...


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