by DHS Hubert
Dawn sat on the dirty green carpet of an otherwise empty room. Her back pressed against a worn duffel bag in the corner. She hadn't slept -- couldn't sleep. Every few seconds, a light shone through the room's only window. The rhythmic brilliance froze her haggard face and the particles of dust floating on the stench of an ocean breeze. The sweeter smell of diesel flared her nostrils.
"It is time to answer for your sins."
The calm, detached voice mingled with the far cry of dockworkers.
Dawn reached under the duffel bag for the knife always kept near.
"Looking for this?"
He sat in a black, metal chair between her and the door. He held the knife in his hands, blade open. She couldn't remember the chair being there.
Sweat formed on her upper lip. She gauged the distance to the window.
"I am here to balance the books, Amanda. You'll never make it to the window."
She froze at the mention of her name. No one knew her real name, not out here in nowhere.
"Who are you?" Her voice quavered.
His voice remained the same, businesslike, she thought. All business.
"I am the messenger, the accountant if you will. There is much to reconcile, Amanda."
"You really shouldn't have killed Mr. Gonzales in San Diego. Thirty dollars, hardly seems worth it now does it?"
Amanda's mind slipped. Mr. Gonzales, she knew the name from the driver's license in his wallet. He'd pleaded with her at the end. She'd knifed him in the chest. Blood quickly soaked his shirt and poured to the floor before he fell. His eyes still pleaded.
"God help me," she whispered.
The chair groaned as the man stood up. She jumped.
"Amanda, fear is the kernel of salvation. When you fear death, here in nowhere, you create salvation. I mean really, why repent if there are no consequences?"
She watched him pace; blood dripped from his palm as he pushed the knifepoint into it. She heard the blood patter into the dusty carpet, saw plumes rise like smoke above a jungle of filth. He wore yellow boots, work boots. Mr. Gonzales wore the same kind. They were bloody, like these. She remembered the laces, red ones. If they were the right size, she'd have taken them.
He reached into his pocket; blood slicked the surface of his jeans.
His extended hand opened. A small, round object lay in blood at the center of the palm.
"Caveat Emptor. You purchased the soul in San Diego, the soul prayed, the prayer is now answered."
The silver cross suspended from his hands by an intricate chain, certainly first-rate workmanship, certainly the one she'd taken from Mr. Gonzales after he died. The hands widened and reached to her. For the first time, she realized the cross hung upside down. As he clasped the ends together behind her neck, she stared at the shadow of his wings as they unfurled behind him.
"God can't help you now, Amanda."
David H.S. Hubert was born in Surrey, England, but moved to America with his family in 1973. He has served in the U.S. Army for 17 years, with deployments to Desert Storm, Somalia, and Egypt, among others. His story "Infidelity" won first place (fiction) in the Rolla Area Writing Competition and will be published in Anthology 2002: Selected Works by Missouri Writers. He is also an Assistant Editor of Literary Potpourri. "DHS" is "married w/ children" and currently resides in Missouri.
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"On Darkened Wings" © DHS Hubert. Used by permission
of the author.
Raven Electrick © Karen A. Romanko. Clipart by Corel®.