Children Under the Stars, страница 1
Children Under the Stars
Copyright 2016 by Matt Kuvakos
Book Cover Photograph by Zach Papuga
For my wife, Julie. Thank you for loving me.
Children Under the Stars
Elliot held a photo of his childhood house between his fingers. He tilted the picture within his grasp as if it would animate itself if he held it just right. He imagined the actual house shaking and moving off its foundation with the way he moved the picture. He traced the outline of the peaking, shingle covered roof with his finger, moving it to the white siding and dark brown brick.
“Never forget home.” Elliot repeated the words that were written by his dad on the back of the photograph. He had given him the picture when Elliot moved away for college. He knew there was no place he wanted to be more than home; he just didn’t have any idea where that was, or what it meant to him anymore. Being alone was the only home he knew. Missoula, Montana gave him a job as a probation officer for two years, but does a job make a place a home?
Elliot folded the picture in his lap and returned it to its place in the visor. He idled the truck’s engine from his usual spot at the back of Wendy’s parking lot. He switched on the radio, reclined his seat, and folded his hands behind his head – the same way he usually spent his lunch break on Mondays.
“Today is the memorial service for the Governor of Montana’s daughter, Avery Greenland. As most know, last week she was tragically killed by…” A reporter’s stiff voice rang out from the truck’s speakers. Elliot reached for the dial and shut it off before shutting his green eyes off from the darkening world for a bit.
He was a man who craved peace, something his job lacked, especially on Monday; Monday was worry day. Although Elliot worried most days, Mondays he worried that his clients had screwed up over the weekend, and what he was about to walk into. Today, though, he was enjoying the silence, because silence was the sound of a successful week with his group.
Only a few miles away, the memorial service for the Governor’s daughter was being held in the town’s massive stone cathedral. The Governor, a man beloved by the state and the people who were mourning with him, declared the ceremony open for anyone to attend. He naturally desired as many people as possible to pay respects to his only daughter.
The cathedral, a shining monument of the city, was filled with influential people, making it standing room only. An organist gently played a somber song as the audience settled for the service. On the left side of the church was a colorful stained glass mural of Jesus lifting his hands into a sky bursting with yellows and oranges as if he were calling to the sunset. Standing just below that mural was a peculiar looking man. He too had become important and known like the rest of the audience, but for odd reasons.
The man’s name was Ricky Freemon, the alleged leader of a cult. A peaceful cult, but a group known for doing what was called “signs and wonders." Ricky had his eyes closed as he began to pray. A small smile formed on his pink lips, and he was nodding his head slightly as if he were agreeing with someone whispering into his ear. His head was covered by long, wild, dark hair with a few stands wrapped in purple beads that dangled in front of his face. He was dressed for the occasion, but in his own way: flow white pants, sandals, and a purple collared shirt. Ricky opened his eyes; one was blue, and the other was brown. People within the crowd had noticed him since he walked in, including the security of the Governor.
The Governor was sitting in the front pew with his wife who began to cry at the sight of the priest walking in front of the closed casket containing their daughter.
“Thank you all for coming, today. May this immense crowd be a testimony to the impact that Avery had on so many lives.” The priest, an older man dressed in the white ceremonial robe with red lining, bowed his head to the Governor and his wife. After some sniffling and coughing in the back rows, the audience became silent.
“Please bow your heads with me in prayer as we begin our remembrance of Avery.” As soon as the priest bowed his head and shut his eyes, along with the audience, Ricky started to walk toward the casket.
“God of faithfulness, in your wisdom you have called your servant Avery…” The priest started, not realizing that Ricky was standing by the casket too. There were a few murmurs from the mourners who noticed and some security guards began to move in from the back, but they were still unsure of what to do. Ricky then shoved open the casket, causing the priest to fall back almost to the ground from the surprise. People jumped out of their seats and security began running, but were slowed by the individuals standing in the aisle trying to get a better view.
Ricky reached in the casket and placed his hand on Avery’s head, and he reached his other, palm first, toward the sky.
“Raise up, in the name of God, the King of the children under the stars.” Ricky screamed, his voice sounding like a raging stampede of bulls.
The Governor was the first to get to Ricky somehow, but Ricky extended his hand holding him off. Both men had tears streaming down their faces. The rushing security seemed to pause briefly at this sight before they tackled them both to the ground.
“She will live. She will live.” Ricky screamed through gritted teeth as more people piled on top of him and the Governor. The audience was now streaming out the doors of the cathedral in a near panic. Police sirens engulfed the city as they came to the aid of the Governor, thinking it was an attack on his life from the reports being given over their radios. One of the police sirens shrieked by Elliot, jolting him awake.