Hello all, the following is a story that I’ve spent some time working on, but eventually abandoned. I’ll post a chapter online every couple of days. It is unedited, rough draft form, and incomplete, so read at your own risk. You’ll have to come up with your own ending… sorry!
Today was like any other for Alex Hendrickson as he exited his flight. The chaos of Boston’s Logan airport was an old, but familiar sight. People were running around trying to either get to, or leave their flights, at least ten different languages were being spoken, and heartfelt hellos and farewells were being exchanged.
It was at this point when Alex stepped through the gate that his mother would usually cause as scene. He remembered that she would always come running to him, throw her arms around him and completely embarrass him as mothers do. He remembered always tensing up, hoping somehow that his mother wouldn’t be there to pick him up, that she would be at home making a celebratory meal for him or something.
Alex now regretted feeling that way as he now had his wish. His mother had been in a fatal car accident and did not even make it to the hospital. As he stepped away from the terminal, raggedy suitcase in hand, he was greeted by his uncle Stephen, “How are you boy?”
Alex looked at him with a complete lack of enthusiasm and brushed his brown hair back, “Been better, Uncle Steve.”
Stephen nodded, “I don’t blame you. I know how close you were to your mother.”
“Yeah,” Alex replied, “after Dad died, it was pretty much just me and her… well and also you.”
Stephen laughed, “Yeah when I was around.”
At that moment, he noticed that Alex’s hands were shaking, “You all right boy?”
Alex nodded, “I just really need a smoke. I’ve been stuck on that plane for hours and now I just really need to light up.”
Stephen took Alex’s suitcase and guided him out of Terminal A. As they reached the baggage claim, Stephen pointed to the conveyer belt, “You bring anything else?”
Alex shook his head, “No.”
“Traveling a little light aren’t we?”
“I’m not staying long…”
As they stepped outside a cool blast of autumn air caressed Alex’s face. Stephen shook his head as Alex reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of Marlboro. He was about to light up when his eyes caught sight of an elderly nun collecting donations. His eyes drifted from the nun to the crucifix she had on the table.
With the unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth, he walked over and took a closer look. To his horror, it was not an image of the Son of God that was hanging by its hands and feet, but a woman about his age. Her face bore a look of absolute terror.
He was about to turn away when the small face began to move. Alex stood petrified as he looked down on the statue with his hands shaking. The woman’s cheeks were soaked with both tears and blood as she looked pleadingly at him and spoke softly, “Why?”
Alex gasped and pulled away. A hand appeared on his shoulder, “Boy, you okay?”
Alex was startled by his uncle’s hand and looked up, “What?”
“Are you okay?” He repeated.
Alex looked at him oddly, “You didn’t… didn’t you see that?”
“See what?” Stephen asked.
Alex looked at the crucifix again. It was just like any other. The woman was gone, replaced by the typical image of the lord and savior. Had it been a hallucination? How could it be? Nicotine withdrawals don’t cause hallucinations. He had also been drinking more since he discovered that his mother had died, but he was not an alcoholic. Still, he had not gotten a full night’s sleep in a while, perhaps that was the answer.
The nun looked at Alex with concern, “Are you all right, child? You look ill.”
Alex straightened up, “Yeah, I just haven’t been sleeping well recently.”
He reached into the pocket of his black leather jacket and fished out a crumpled $20 bill. After straightening it out, he handed the money to the nun, “Here, no doubt you’ll make better use of this than I will.”
The nun smiled and nodded, “Bless you child.”
Alex turned away without another word and lit up the cigarette as Stephen guided him away. Alex closed his eyes and took a long drag into his lungs of the cigarette. Smoke shot out of his nose as his shaking subsided.
Stephen’s car was an old Lincoln town car. It was one of the few luxuries that he had ever been able to afford and it took him years to build up enough money. The car was almost twelve years old by this point, but it was well maintained and probably ran better than many cars half its age.
As Alex savored his first cigarette in hours, Stephen rolled down his window and started the car, “Your mother wouldn’t like that, you know?”
“There are a lot of things I’ve done that she wouldn’t like.”
“Like leaving the seminary?”
Stephen shook his head, “Can I ask you something?”
Alex knew what the question was going to be and dreaded it. “Would it matter if I said no?” Alex asked, already fully aware of the answer.
Alex sighed, “What’s on your mind?”
Stephen kept his eyes focused on the road as he pulled out of the parking garage, “What the hell happened to you in Rome two years ago?”
“It’s none of your concern.” Alex replied.
“I think it is, you haven’t been home since.”
“I’ve been busy.”
“Have you, or have you been hiding?”
Alex glared at his uncle, “It’s personal and I don’t want to talk about it. You’re better off not knowing.”
“All right, if you’re sure.” Stephen replied.
Alex knew that he owed his family some explanation. Becoming a man of the cloth was something that he had dreamed about since he was young. More than anything, he wanted to be one of those people who fought for God against Lucifer. An exorcist, yes he thought that was the perfect job for himself.
Alex silently chuckled as he remembered how naive he was. As he pulled more tobacco into his lungs, he remembered the first time he stood before the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum in Rome. He was so proud to be included in this program before even becoming a priest. It was rare, but willing exorcists were becoming sparce. So the Church made an exception.
Stephen looked at him sympathetically, “That bad huh?”
“If I’d known, I never would have been there.”
“But look at all you’ve accomplished since.”
Alex shook his head, “What have I accomplished exactly? I’ve written three fictional stories dealing with the psycology behind excorcisms and what standards are taken into consideration.”
“Best sellers, all three of them.”
“Well, they’ve earned you a comfortable lifestyle.”
“And nothing else.”