John Chapter 1: Solace

A man, with features chiseled out of rock, a compliment to some but not to this man. His would have been chiseled by an amateur. He sat alone in an empty room, as empty as his friend’s dripping skull. One could be correct in saying that he wasn’t alone but, to say that he had living company was certainly wrong. However, as far as dead visitors went… they were to be had in spades. He enjoyed the company of the dead; no talking, no moving around and especially no whispering things behind his back. Many would say, and be correct in saying so, that this man was an angry and spiteful man and found great pleasure in what he saw as justice. It wasn’t true, not necessarily at least. He didn’t enjoy killing but, It did. The demon inside, or guardian angel? It lied so often to him it was hard to tell. Many would talk behind his back, at least according to this man, but honestly they might not have been talking about him at all. It doesn’t matter now he had silenced those whispers, he had permanently silenced them.

Whispers left evil notions in this broken man’s head. Whispers from deep down, down inside the cracks that seeped out insanity. Lots of things happened that shattered his psyche. A stranger and his wife, in a bed that he paid for, in the house he paid for. He blacked out, and awoke in blood, sirens blaring.

He did terrible things, unforgivable, he knew this. He killed the man that had s*x with his wife. He then killed his wife but, that part was vague. Everyone else told him that part, never let him forget it either. Screams haunted his mind every night, reminding him of the monster he harbored. That wasn’t the only thing though that haunted him. He had killed so many to get where he was now. He was in prison once but a man, who went by the name of Mirg, helped him and most of the others escape. They burned the prison to the ground, with the staff and guards still inside. Some survived, naturally, but it wasn’t like they were going to hunt him down. They were scared, as well they should be, Schizophrenia can cause mental deterioration. This man had been living with it for a long time, a very long time, and it took its toll. Once he had left Mirg, this being soon after the break out, he wandered back to his hometown. The time he did spend with the man was as his bodyguard, he was his shadow, anywhere and everywhere Mirg went. He owed him his life back, or what he could scavenge from it that is. Mirg started back into his old ways and gained more people, forming a very close circle of followers, ones who were wholly dedicated to him. They would do far more for Mirg than John would, he owed him his life sure, but he didn’t worship him. These men would kill themselves if asked, he couldn’t promise the same. Mirg knew this and dismissed him, saying “You’ve served me well friend, but you have greater things to do away from my side then next to it. He has passed on to you, perhaps he was there for a while now, I’ve felt his absence quite some time ago. I carried on his beliefs and teachings, and now you must go. Go and do these and tell all you come across of the salvation I promise, but remember you may always come back, if need be.”

It wasn’t easy, but he would typically stay in the forests, pretty easy for where he was headed. He would mainly live in abandoned houses for the next two years until one day a pastor found him. The drifter had been staying there for a few nights, careful to leave before the builders arrived. Turns out the house that the church was building, was for a poor elderly couple. He approached the homeless man wearing a hoodie, with the words “Church of St. Paul” written in white block letters in a circle around an image of an unrolled scroll, bright blue jeans and black sneakers. He came up and looked down on the lonely man with a hint of curiosity hiding behind his hazel eyes. The pastor of course knew who he was but, being a man of god, wished to give him one more chance to make his life right. The pastor made a deal with him that, if he would come to services on Sunday and help build the houses, he could stay in the spare bedroom of the church. The tortured soul in the man wished for loneliness but, the human in him wished for a place to call his own and someone to have his back. He accepted with little thought to the deal soon after.

He stood at the doorstep of the church, unsure of becoming a man of god again. He once was long ago, before prison when he believed in redemption for himself. Now he’s unsure of the path that’s been laid out before him. He could always leave and live on the street, but he knew sooner rather than later, he would not be around to live out that choice or any choices fully. No, he had to come here or die alone on the streets. He stood knowing that once he crosses this threshold, a man of god he shall be. Once through these doors, a working man he will be. He will make a life for himself and one of no more violence. He swallowed hard, dropped his head, and opened the doors. Light flooded out from the church’s doors, like a cleansing beam straight from God, it enveloped the drifter and then retreated as he pulled them close. Darkness once again settled in the streets outside, always following, always hungry for where light has been and all that it has touched, and forever it shall be.

The pastor kneeled on a silk red carpet that was about the softest, and oddly, most fragrant thing that the man had ever been near, at least since his wife. He slowly approached the pastor, unsure of how to deal with a man in the middle of his praying. Pew after pew, he slowly approached the pastor, taking his time with each step and doubting each one he took closer and closer to a new way of life. He crept close and stopped, unsure whether or not to approach the altar. He quietly stepped to the right and sat down on the smooth, dark, mahogany pew. He clenched on to the seat of the pew like an antsy child waiting for church to be over and hung his head, unsure if keeping it up would be insulting to the pastor. Minutes ticked by one after another, when finally an entire hour had passed. Silence still hung in the air…the vagabond cleared his throat and the pastor raised his head slightly. The man was not one that was ever that great with social cues, put his head back down, thinking he’d interrupted. The pastor kindly chuckled, knowing how hard he had been trying, and slowly stood up. He turned to the lone man and smiled, a genuine smile, something that had become uncommon to the man. The pastor slowly stepped towards him.

“Stand up son.” The pastor whispered, “You’ve no reason to be afraid, I won’t be mad for any mistakes or trespasses you make here.” He spoke with a sort of old western drawl, that one would expect from a sheriff. That tone of voice that carried with it a sort of self assuredness that held back a tone of sarcasm that always managed to creep in. The accent wasn’t as strong as it could be but, hung to his voice nonetheless.

The man peered up at the pastor and shook his head, before dropping his head back down. This was still quite new to him, people aren’t exactly nice to a killer.

“Hm, well then we’ll sit, that’s fine by me,” the pastor chuckled. The pastor sat down on the steps to the altar, across from the man from the streets, watching and studying his movements. After a few minutes, he sighed and asked. “Now if we’re going to sit here all night I suppose you might as well know who I am. My name’s Bryan Arlen Kingsley, of course most people just call me Pastor Kingsley or then again, just Pastor sometimes. I don’t mind which you one of course, whichever you’re comfortable with. Now what’s your name son?” Pastor Kingsley asked softly

The nameless man looked up at Pastor Kingsley and then back at the ground. “John.” His voice was deep and powerful, one that you would feel in your chest, it had some gravel to it that flowed smoothly nonetheless. It didn’t hit hard against you but, would sort of flow through you.

“Ah ha! We’ve gotten you to talk.” The pastor chuckled, “Now I know that’s not the name they’ve been printing in the newspapers, but figured you’d be resenting that name by now. So why John, if I may ask?”

“It’s plain, simple and new.” John slowly explained to Pastor Kingsley.

“Hm, seems a fair enough answer.” He smiled, “Now let’s discuss the deal I offered you.”

Roughly an hour went by before they were done ironing out the details of the pastor’s deal. The pastor didn’t really have to push much as John was more than willing to help out for a roof over his head and a hot meal each night. The pastor tried in vain to push more details out of John but, got nothing more than what he already knew. This was expected of course, seeing how hard it was to even get a name out of him. He decided against further attempts for now, John did just make a deal with him after all, not much could be expected from a socially inept person. Pastor Kingsley slowly stood and brushed off his robes and offering his hand to John. John looked up with a quizzical look on his face. He wondered if this was a test, a sort of show of force. He was very uncertain of this gesture but, slowly realized that this wasn’t jail anymore, people weren’t out to screw him around every turn. Still having reserves, he cautiously took the pastor’s hand and let him help him on to his feet. The two men stood there, silence hung as they stared at the altar. A few minutes had gone by when Pastor Kingsley cleared his throat and ushered John down a hallway. Several rooms lined the hall, at the end was the pastor’s “office”, it was more of a storage room, but still had a desk that he would sit at in there to write his sermons and such. Across from that was the guest room that John was to be staying in. The other rooms were merely storage or even just empty. Before they walked in, Kingsley turned to John with a smile, “Please take your shoes off John, keeping these carpets clean is hard enough as it is.” John quickly kicked off his tattered shoes and placed them up against the wall. They slowly walked down the silky smooth red carpeted floor. Each step brought them closer to the room where John will stay until god knows when. They reached the room, mere moments had only passed of course, but the path to a new life felt like eons. Pastor Kingsley opened the door to John’s new “room”. It was a loose way of calling it that; paper, spare bibles and several other extra things lay strewn around the room haphazardly.

“Apologies John, could have sworn I had an actual room setup, as you can clearly tell I’ve forgotten.” The pastor chuckled

“It’s fine Pastor, a roof is more than I could have asked for.” John quietly said

“Well don’t worry friend, I will be right back with a mattress… if I can remember where I’ve put it that is…” Kingsley trailed off as he wandered back down the hall mumbling to himself about the whereabouts of said mattress. John stood in the room, tears rising to his eyes. He hadn’t received this much kindness in years, ever since he left prison, people have shunned him even though he was cleared of charges. He sat down next to the dresser and began to cry, it was so much that he had just been given. He would do anything and everything the pastor told him, anything to repay his kindness. For he was happier now. For now, he had found a new friend.

  • Puddin Tane

    A pretty good start.