Adam Ash

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Monday, June 05, 2006



They entered the church. The atmosphere subdued them. The holiness of half-light. Of dusk. The vaulted ceiling, high overhead, like the floor of heaven. The presence of the Lord in the wood-paneling, the sand-colored granite, flickering candles, the paintings of scenes from the Bible.

“We go to Christ,” said Jonathan.

Ahead, under the stained-glass windows, Christ hung from His cross, His suffering face gazing down at the empty pews.

They walked down the center aisle. Their footsteps rang on the stone floor in the vast echo chamber.

David stopped under the crucifix. Jonathan looked up at the face. He had the gun in his right hand.

“Lord,” he said, “I have come to confess something to you. Do you see this man here? Show your face to the Lord, David.”

David looked up at Christ.

“Look upon this man, Christ, because he is your rival in my heart. I have come to confess something to you, and I will punish myself for it in front of you. This man, Lord, is my earthly love. His name is David.”

Jonathan took the gun and held his left hand over the nozzle. The silencer gleamed dully.

“Lord, this is my confession. I love my earthly love, this man David, more than I love you, my heavenly love. I know this is a crime before your eyes, because you are a jealous God, but I will show you how sorry I am.”

He pulled the trigger and his left hand jumped. He had shot a bullet right through the palm. David winced. Then Jonathan put the gun in his wounded hand and placed his right hand over the nozzle and fired again.

He put the gun in his belt and held his two bleeding hands up to Christ.

“See, Lord, I have given myself two stigmata to atone for my sin of loving this man more than I love you. If I were in heaven, Lord, I would love you more, but now I am on earth, with my earthly lover, and here on earth I love him more than I love you.”

Then Jonathan took the gun from his belt and pointed it at David.

“Now you tell the Lord how much you love me. Renounce your treatment before His eyes. Tell Him that your so-called therapy has had no effect on your love for me. Go down on your knees.”

David went down on his knees.

“Say after me: Lord, I renounce my treatment in front of you.”

David looked at Eve, briefly, and spoke very softly.

“Lord, I renounce my treatment in front of your eyes.”

“Good. Now admit it to yourself, and tell Christ, in these words: my treatment has had no effect on my love for Jonathan.”

“My treatment has had no effect on my love for Jonathan.”

“I, too, love Jonathan more than I love you, Lord.”

“I cannot say that.”

“Say it.”

“Jonathan, I cannot tell the Lord that I love you more than Him. I will burn in hell if I do that.”

“The Lord will forgive you. The Lord is a loving God, and He understands love, how strong it is, how mad it can make us. He created us to love each other.”

David looked at Jonathan. “Jonathan, I love you, I still love you, I swear it before the Lord, but I cannot say such a thing.”

“Hold up your hands before the Lord.”

David held up his hands. Jonathan fired twice, quickly, a bullet through each hand.

“Keep your hands up where the Lord can see them. Now we both carry His stigmata. Now you can confess to the Lord that you love me more than you love Him.”

David stood on his knees, blood dripping from his hands on the floor, and began to cry.

“I cannot tell the Lord I love you more than Him.”

“But I love you more than I love Him. Don’t you love me as much as I love you?”

“Maybe not.”

“Don’t say that, David.”

“I can’t love you more than I love the Lord, Jonathan. That would be blasphemy.”

“Well, we have witnesses to hear what you say, and to see what I will do. If you cannot love me more than you love the Lord, as much as I love you, our love does not belong on this earth. We must see each other again in heaven, where we can share our love with the Lord, and the three of us can love each other together.”

He fired once, into the back of David’s head, and David flapped forward, his bottom sticking up in the air, as his head hit the stone floor.

“You see this, don’t you?” said Jonathan, waving the gun at Eve and Ezra. “I consecrate our love, illegal here on earth, but approved in heaven, by the Lord Jesus Christ.” He looked down at his dead lover and stuck the gun in his mouth.

“Don’t do it, Jonathan,” said Eve.

“You evil woman. You evil instrument of society’s will. Godless creature. Now you will see how love dies before the eyes of the Lord, He who condemns you and this whole God-forsaken society. Lord, I join you in my love for David. We die for your love.”

He pulled the trigger and tumbled down on his lover. Pieces of brain matter slithered down the back of his neck.

“He’s right. You’re an evil woman,” said Ezra. His eyes flickered in the light of the candles. “You betrayed me. Godless creature.”

Eve was speechless. Another Ezra had taken possession of the Ezra she knew.

He picked up the gun. “Why did you do it, Eve? Why did you destroy my big chance?”

“Ezra, what’s come over you? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Ezra pulled out his cellphone and pressed a few buttons, awkwardly, because he held the gun in his hand. He shoved the cellphone in her face.

“Look at the little movie you made.”

She looked. She saw the candles, the hotel room, the naked bodies. She saw herself sitting on Ezra, riding him.

“I disabled the surveillance cameras in the hotel room, my privilege as a Blessed, but you had my code overridden. Esther sent these pictures to her sister, who got terribly jealous and angry and withdrew her funding, and my bid for Sunday Fox failed. I’ve been humiliated. I was going to the most powerful man in the media business, and now people are laughing behind my back. Why did you do it? I gave myself to you!”

“I didn’t know anything regarding this, Ezra.”

So that was how Esther used her: “I not only condone it, Eve, I approve of it. You should sleep with him and marry him. It’s the quickest way you have of joining us in the Top Tier of the Bureau. Maybe quicker than joining sides with me against him. Either way you win.”

“You didn’t know?” Ezra’s face contorted itself in rage. “Quite frankly, I’m more than amazed. What a farce. Here we stand, before the eyes of the Lord, and you choose to tell me a stupid lie. You humiliate me, and now you act all innocent.”

He grabbed her by the hand, thrust the gun into her palm, and pulled the trigger. She pulled her other hand away from him, but he bent her whole arm down. They fell to the floor, and he pinned her wrist to the floor and pulled the trigger again. She bled from both hands. He lay on top of her.

“Evil woman,” he said again. He ripped her blouse and bra, exposing her breasts. “Evil. Look at that evil.” He ripped her skirt. She tried to cover herself with her hands. Ezra looked up at Christ. “Look upon her evil, oh Lord, how she tempted me, how she led me out of my garden of Eden to humiliation before the Men of the Gospel. Evil woman, together with her evil snake partner, Esther.”

He stuck the gun between her legs.

“Where is it? The evil hole.”

He knew where it was. He had been there. He pushed the silencer in.

“Evil woman. You must be punished.”

She saw his face change. He unzipped himself. He had an erection. He pulled the gun out of her vagina and thrust himself in. She didn’t know what to do with her bleeding hands. They were helpless to defend her.

He rammed her against the floor, shoving her along with his thrusts.

“Evil woman. She must be punished.”

As he banged her between her legs, he stuck the gun in her mouth.

“Suck on this, evil woman,” he said. “Suck!”

She closed her mouth around the nozzle.

“I loved you,” he said. “I gave myself to you. You could’ve been my queen. We could’ve ruled in the court of the Men of the Gospel. But then you turned around and humiliated me. Die with my bullets inside you, one in your vagina and one in your mouth.” He looked at her. “No, I’ve got a better idea. Another one in your vagina first.”

He pulled the gun out of her mouth and stuck it in her vagina.

“Evil woman.”

He looked at the gun and looked in her eyes. She didn’t know what to say, how to face him, how to look back. She had caused something bad in him, and she felt terribly guilty and stupid for being used in this way by Esther and being so helpless in Ezra’s hands. She was an innocent Beloved caught in the machinations of the Blesseds.

Her face scrunched up as she waited for the sound of the shot. But now Ezra shrank back from her. He put his hands to his face, leaving the gun stuck in her vagina.

He stood up, his hands still covering his face. He looked up at Christ.

“Lord, punish this woman,” he said. “I gave myself to her, but she betrayed me.”

He started backing away from the scene before he finished speaking. Then he turned around and ran down the aisle without looking back. She lay there, hearing his footsteps leave, the gun in her vagina, and the eyes of the suffering Lord staring down at her helplessness.


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