Michael Brown

The Paradise Wars and Clark Ransom Thrillers

Flash: Riff on Murder in the Cathedral

The sky was cold steel, halfway between blue and black, except for one hole through which he could see heaven receding.  Across from his bench in the Jardin the stone spires of the Parroquia rose. His tongue pried gummy communion wafer from his palate as the parishioners filed out from Mass.

IMG_0091Each  was stopped short by the body that the painters working in a side chapel had draped with canvas.  Each paused  and then walked on.

A red blossom bloomed through the drop cloth , and a stream seeped from beneath the cloth’s edge, starting a slow scarlet cascade down the pink cantera steps.

There was a  lilt to the  children playing in the square. Communicants rustled as they passed by.  There was the smell of fresh mango and of gorditas frying.

Then the bells in the spires rang and a new hour thundered across the square. He snapped to. The hole in the sky closed, heaven gone.

The first siren wailed.

Yet beneath the din, he could still hear his lover’s rushed admission from the wood-paneled confessional. Overheard, because at the last minute he too had decided to unburden his soul and had ran up to take the next place in line.  He overheard, left the line, went back to the pew. His chest heaved. And before his lover could return to his seat next to him, he bent forward and reached into the bag and grabbed that morning’s purchase from La Cocina.

The siren howled, closer; the bells still rang, and he stood up, saw the trash receptacle, and threw the mesh bag into it,  the blade clattering against the metal bottom.  He walked away, remembering that in Mexico you could buy anything: the police, innocence, abstinence, or a substitute for heaven and a dredged heart.

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