I'm pretty happy with my duo of Flash Friday entries.
This week, our task was to capture Alan Paton’s "profoundly moving exploration of pre-apartheid Johannesburg," Cry, the Beloved Country. The story elements were:
* Conflict: man v man (not gender specific)
* Character (choose at least one): old priest fighting to hold on to tradition, father searching for his son, young man accused of murder, a civil rights activist, a pregnant girl
* Theme (choose one): reconciliation, racism, injustice, repentance
* Setting (choose one): a decaying village, a wealthy city in moral decline
As an aside, Cry, the Beloved Country was one of two books that I was assigned to read in high school, and simply could not finish. The other was I Heard The Owl Call My Name. Please don't tell Mrs. Brunswick, my tenth-grade English teacher.
We also could work with this picture. I didn't.
In the shower, I wrote about 75% of "Judgment."
I think he saw it in my face. Real pain and real fear are hard to fake.
"Who did this to you, Charlotte?"
I cradled my belly, good practice, I figured, and wiped my eye. "It was my Daddy."
"That son of a bitch," he said, angry as a lawman and angry as a parent. "Tell me what happened. Without going into the... ugly details."
"Since Momma died, he's pretty much always drunk. And he's a mean drunk. It started with yelling. Then the back of his hand. Then fists. And then..."
"Looks like I've got some work to do. You got anywhere else to go?
"Then stay here."
"Sheriff, he sleeps with his shotgun next him. Right in the bed. I thought you'd best know that."
"Thanks, Charlotte. Andy, you'd better come with me. And wear your vest."
I'd have to stop at the church later, and 'fess up to telling a lie. It wasn't all a lie. Just the part about who got me pregnant. But things happen for a reason. My Daddy is a real bastard. So now the Sheriff has an excuse. And me and Andy, and our baby, will have a place to live.
Then at lunch, "The Shepherd."
"Repent, evil sinners! Repent or face the wrath of the Almighty!" Froth flew as the Reverend delivered his vitriol. Shades ranging from crimson to magenta washed across his flushed face.
"I know you are full of sin. I know you are carrying lust in your heathen hearts. I know you fornicate!"
The assembled eyes averted, as his icy stare bore holes through their alibis. The Reverend could tell he was reaching them. Perhaps this would be the sermon that turns the tide. They really are sheep, he thought. Modern distractions – their Internet, their cell phones, their social media – have drawn them to the far and fearful corners of the meadow. And it is my mission to lead them back to the safety of the flock.
"You have strayed. You have sinned. But God loves you. And I love you as well."
"Shut up, you psycho!" someone yelled, as he disconnected his call to 911.
Taken aback, the Reverend knelt down on the cold steel of a manhole cover. And the "congregation" went about their business, paying no attention whatsoever as the police escorted the Reverend away from his street corner pulpit.
Say it with me. "Win #5! Win #5!"