SANCTUARY, HOLD THE SANCTUARY - JIMMY CALLAWAY
So it’s come to this:
A guy hits the town on a boring Wednesday night, commits himself a little rape, and now he’s locked in a death struggle with some kinda priest.
Some days, man. Some days.
Way Steve saw it, the cable company should stand the blame. Just couldn’t wait to get their money. All of a sudden, six months overdue is four too many. If they’d just been patient and not shut his cable off, he’d have something better to watch than America’s Next Top Model.
Come to think, that dippy college twat was almost as much to blame. Who the hell starts screaming like that after being raped? Beforehand, sure. During, yeah. I mean, a guy’s got his hands full right then. But she don’t say peep until after he’s rolled off her, and then she’s screaming her lungs out. Sheesh.
Only one way to shut ’em up at that point.
And then cops, bang, outta nowhere. Thank Christ that Steve can run like he can. Hauled ass down the street, keeping to the bushes, going deep into the ’burbs, where all you gotta watch out for is dogs and late-night swimmers. Mosquitoes picked at him, struggling to keep up as Steve leapt over fence after fence, knocking over more than one gas grill.
And then up and over one more fence, there it stood. A church. A fuckin’ church. Steve’s internal atlas quickly flipped to this page, told him this old Baptist place had been empty for a few years now. One of those churches that looked like an old folks’ home: white stucco, ornate bars on the windows, a rusted-out swing set. A huge ash tree, branches as thick around as fenceposts, leaves whispering in the breeze overhead as Steve beat feet to the church’s back door. Soft light leaked from behind the barred windows.
Closed down, schmosed down, somebody was at fuckin’ home. Steve whipped the door open. Candles sat sparsely about the huge room, the chapel, and their feeble light was almost completely swallowed by the dark. Up on one wall, Steve could barely make out the ghost of where a cross used to be, a broken outline in old wood glue. He felt the sweat cool on his brow.
There was a shuffle of feet, and Steve saw the monk, or priest, or whatever he was. An old guy in brown robes. He lifted his hood to reveal a massive black beard shot through with gray as well as—Jesus fuckin’ Christ—an eyepatch? Man, this was gonna be easier than Steve thought.
“Hey, old man,” he said, “you gotta help me.”
The old man said nothing.
“C’mon, man, the cops are after me! This is a church, right? So you gotta gimme—y’know, you gotta hide me!”
The old man said nothing.
Steve stepped forward and grabbed him by the shoulders.
That—okay, that was Steve’s fault.
The old man broke his hold, slapping Steve’s arms away, and then he socked Steve right in the breadbasket. He shoved Steve backwards as the younger man doubled over, trying to suck the breath back into him. The old man stood back a bit, knees bent, fists up.
Steve finally stood upright, gasping. “The fuck—?” he managed, and the old man slapped him, open palm, right in the mouth. The smack echoed back to them in the empty building. The old man smiled.
“You—!” Steve blurted as he charged. The old man side-stepped him, and Steve tripped almost elegantly over the old man’s sandaled foot. He went headfirst into the back of a pew, inhaled dust and cobwebs as he pushed himself off the floor.
Steve stood there, hands on his knees, panting. He looked up at the old man, who hadn’t broken a sweat. This old...this old fuck had not even broken a sweat. Standing there with his beard and eyepatch like some kinda goddamned pirate and—
And so it has come to this.
Steve lets out a roar, so deep in its rage and bloodthirst that it surprises even him. He charges again, the fury within quickening his feet, his fingers pulsing in their desire to wrap around the old man’s throat, to wipe that glorying smile off his face.
The old man pulls a butcher knife from within the folds of his robe and plunges it into Steve’s left side. Steve collapses into the old man’s arms, his roar now a shudder on his lips, as he feels his warm insides spread themselves around the blade. Steve’s eyes water.
“You fight like a woman,” the old man whispers into Steve’s ear, “but you will have to do.”
Through the tears, Steve can see out in the yard, underneath the old ash tree, more monks, more men in brown robes. There are seven—no, eight of them. One holds a rope.
“Oh,” Steve says, “Oh, fuck me.”
“I dedicate,” the old man says in a low thunder, “this battle to Odin.”
“Oh, fuck me,” says Steve.
BIO: Jimmy Callaway lives and prays for death in San Diego, CA. Many dear thanks to Cameron Ashley and Josh Converse for their edits, Dan O’Shea for throwing down the gauntlet, and featuring Christopher Grant as “The Beaver.” For more hi-jinks, please visit Attention, Children. Sequential Art.
Orson Welles at 100: THE STRANGER (1946)
17 hours ago