The moon hung high in the sky, casting light through stain glass windows in multi-colored streaks. Fat flakes of falling snow flickered through the moonlight, giving old plaster walls a sinister appearance. Wall sconces around the perimeter of the large room flickered and burned, leaving dingy trails of sut climbing towards the ceiling.
A tall man with white hair leisurely paced up an down an aisle between pews. His face was weathered and weary. His voice was gritty but gentle. “Joseph, you are aware of the seriousness of our impromptu gathering. Do you have anything to say on Ricky’s behalf?
Silence. The quiet, reserved, young man stared at the floor and shook his head slowly. The old oak pew that he was seated on groaned as he shifted his weight.
The old man stopped pacing and turned towards Joseph. A stream of air noisily escaped his nose, forming a puff of smoke in the chill of the air. “Alright then, I’m sorry for keeping you from your family this evening. I have monopolized enough for your time, please be on your way.”
Joseph rose from his seat, the old pew creaking and echoing throughout the room, and made his way towards the door, pulling his wool cap down over his ears as he moved. The wet soles of his shoes squeaked at he approached a pair of wooden double doors. With a groan, the doors swung open and the young man disappeared into the dark hall beyond.
“The world certainly has changed, don’t you think Lionel?” A man standing in a dimly lit corner spoke, his words soft.
“Perhaps it has. I’m a bit surprised Joseph didn’t speak up.” The old man turned on his heels and began moving towards doors opposite the young man’s exit. His boots thumped across hardwood floorboards as he moved.
“As am I. He was looking out for himself. I do not know what he had to gain by remaining silent, but what is done, is done. There was once a time when you would have made him accountable for his actions. Back in the old days you would have made him watch the next coarse of action.” The two men slipped through a door and descended stairs into the basement.
“Back then I felt horribly guilty. I spent twenty years as an officer of the law and I clung to the old ways. When the country collapsed and the new way of doing things were thrust upon us, I wanted people like Joseph to share in my guilt.”
“You no longer feel guilty?”
“Oh no, when I lay my head onto the pillow in the still of the night, guilt floods my mind. I think perhaps I have just grown comfortably numb to the idea of being judge, jury, and executioner.”
“Best get on with it then, midnight service is in a few hours. Not only does Ricky need to receive punishment, he will need to be displayed to the flock in a tasteful manner.”
“Death seems like too harsh a punishment for not placing enough coin in the collection plate”
“That may be but we do not get to make those decisions, we only enforce the laws and follow through with punishment.”
The two men stepped down onto damp earth and disappeared into the darkness.
I’m not pleased with the end result of my story and considered scrapping it. Not having participated in Fiction Friday in so long, I’m terribly rusty. Despite my thoughts on scrapping the piece, I decided to submit it anyway. I feel its best to have somewhere to start in my journey back into regular participation of Flash Fiction writing.
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