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Saturday, October 31, 2015

A HALLOWMAS tale_GHOST OF GOD


{Courtesy Steve Z Photography}

(Hallowmas begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October and 
ends at the close of 1 November. 

It is the day that commemorates all those 
who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven.

Beatific Vision 
is the ultimate direct communication of God
to the individual.)

So many different kinds of death hunted us this Christmas Eve all through the French Quarter, I would’ve gotten a headache trying to count them all –

If I already hadn’t had one – to go along with the broken ribs, fingers, and nose.

I looked over at Alice, my ghoul friend. The very sight of her made me smile sadly. The night was somehow better. 


Oh, the fear was still there.

We were going to die.

But seeing her love for me in her eerie eyes said the impossible was possible.

Her ability to turn to mist had been ripped from her by DayStar – but not her love for me or mine for her.

There were some things Darkness could not steal from you -- you had to throw them away yourself.


And I was holding onto her love with both bruised hands.


She sobbed softly, "Our first Christmas together is our last."

I had taken as many blows for her as I could. Wasn’t that what Love did? Sacrifice for the one loved?


My heart ached at the thought of all Alice meant to me, and I knew that love did more, was more.

Love was a magic garment, spun of a fabric so thin that it couldn't be seen, 


yet so strong that even my mother, Death, could not tear it,

A cloak that could not be frayed by use, that brought warmth into what is often an unbearably cold world - 

but at times love could also be as heavy as chain mail.

Bearing the mantle of love on those occasions, when it was a sacred weight, 


made it more precious. While in better times, it caught the wind in its sleeves like wings and lifted you.

Murmuring a prayer for forgiveness, Alice had buried the statue of the Madonna and taken its shawl. 


I had done the same with the statue of Joseph, taking its robe and hood.

We kneeled beside the wooden manger in the St. Louis Cathedral’s courtyard Nativity Scene.

Right in plain sight of the slowly sniffing and scouting horrors prowling for us.

I didn’t even know some of the monsters hunting us. I knew enough to know Alice and I were goners.

Winged Gahe. Starved Amal. Scaled Soyoko. 


And the ghosts, given flesh, fangs, and claws by DayStar, of all the people Alice had eaten and I had killed in self-defense over the years.

I stiffened at the tolling in the distance. I heard the bells, ringing their familiar, mocking refrain:


PEACE ON EARTH. GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN.


In despair, I bowed my head.

There is no peace on earth! God is only a ghost wind tonight. Hate is god now, and the strong worship at its feet. The innocent die. The helpless cry out. Does anybody hear them?’

The night winds became soft words:  

You kneel on holy ground and dare to ask that? And you, of all living, should know the reality of ghosts.'

I felt my hair ruffled by icy fingers.   

'Besides, you heard the cries.  You helped. Have you ever considered what Power brought you where Need existed?'

I looked up. A stern priest, a book of prayers or some such in his hands. Alice went as pale as I had ever seen her.

"Pere Antoine!"

He spoke in razored whispers. 


"For my sins in the Inquisition I am bound to this plane. So Friar Antonio de Sedella is now who I am."

I saw the self-hate in his eyes. I saw the same look in Alice's.

The world is filled with broken people.

The tragedy wasn't that people were broken. 


The world breaks most of us. 

The tragedy was that so few were mended. But if we are loved, we become stronger at the broken places.

I looked to the horrors so near. Though Pere Antoine and Alice had spoken low, the creatures had stiffened. To speak again would be to bring them to us.

None of us can ever save himself. 


We are the means of one another's salvation, and only by the hope that we give to others can we lift ourselves out of the darkness into the light.

Why not die, letting Pere Antoine know that I believed in him even when he no longer could?

I shook my head and whispered back. "No, before Katrina, you helped me. You’ve helped others before and since."

The winged Gahe spun at my words, and I blurted out, 


"With my last words, I say you don’t deserve to be bound here. You are Pere Antoine!"


So many horrors rushed us that I got sick to my stomach. I edged in front of Alice to take the brunt of the charge. This was going to hurt so bad.

Pere Antoine’s ghost eyes grew wet, and he cocked his head as if listening to words only he could hear, and he gestured, speaking loud:

"This is Holy Ground!"


The Shadowlanders must’ve forgotten that in their lust for our deaths. It bought them their own.

Pere Antoine, the prayer book tumbling to the grass, slapped both hands on the shoulders of Alice and me.

A warm tingle cascaded through me. Reality smeared in spirals of fiery, golden stardust as if God were wiping clean a chalkboard.

Sand not grass was suddenly beneath our knees. Cutting through me was a cold wind that can only be birthed in the desert.

The manger scene was now real.

A young man and a younger woman were looking sheer love at the cooing baby. 

Outside the stable, high in the night sky, rippled sounds that only angels could sing.

My bones were transformed into trilling tuning forks.

Pere Antoine kneeled beside me.

"God is not dead, nor does He sleep. No matter how dark, He always sees you. You are a part of His Heart and thus never alone. Because of their very natures, the wrong shall fail, and those who trust prevail."

The baby locked eyes with mine. 

Eyes clear and echoing with strange wisdom and delight, murmuring that while most of my life I had felt loved by no one, there had been One who always had.

Pere Antoine whispered.

"He wanted you and Alice to have a ‘down home’ Christmas."

The baby laughed a chiming sound of icicles dancing.

Alice reached over and squeezed my hand. "I was wrong, Victor. Our first Christmas together is THE first Christmas."

And impossible thought it was, the French Quarter bells rang all around us:


PEACE ON EARTH. GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN.
***
If you enjoyed this Hallowmas tale, you can buy the audiobook of BRING ME THE HEAD OF McCORD:
http://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Bring-Me-the-Head-of-McCord-Audiobook/B00NHUX5KM/

You can listen to it plus 6 other tales of mine, including a chapter from 
HIBBS, THE CUB WITH NO CLUE!

 

4 comments:

  1. “And even in our sleep,pain which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, Until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” (Aeschylus)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have Hibbs, the bear with 2 Shadows, quote those very words to the High Queen of Faerie. :-)

      I will pray that the pain eases a bit so that sleep does over-take you tonight, old friend.

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