Short Stories, Tale Africa

How to kill a Holy Man

By Sir Amos Mwine, Uganda:

By now, the death of the great man had spread far and wide, and the sorrow that came with it filled the hearts of friends and family just as those very people were now slowly and gradually filling the massive auditorium of the New Canaan Cornerstone church.  This morning service housed the rich and elite, perhaps – for who knew – taking pride in honoring and serving first the very people upon whom God had poured wealth which wealth they themselves gave open-handedly to build this fortress of the church. Indeed, the New Canaan Cornerstone church was a fortress because it seemed that everything here, right from the towering glass door at both entry and exit to the large sitting space and the high and wide overflow had been specifically calculated to humble the entering parishioner.

Today, those parishioners were humbled. Not by the palatial church but by the untimely demise of a man many had known by name and stature yet few chanced to know intimately. Yet now, they all looked like they had lost someone they truly cared about. And, if you looked at it objectively or better yet financially, they all did care about him. Hadn't he made the most hefty contribution to the church orphanage that anyone could dare to, nay have the ability to? Hadn't he single-handedly offered to buy the church a new bus to replace the aging one; the one on which he himself had paid the largest installment? Maybe, just maybe if you looked at it that way, you would understand why whoever entered made their way to the front; all teary-eyed, all shaking their heads slightly as they passed by the large coffin that housed the lifeless body of the equally large and hulking Gavin Mwaka.

Slowly, everyone took their seats and the service commenced with the squat and bald Fr. Jenkins Junior leading his three-man procession of holy men to the stage. As they moved, the thoroughly imposing tune of I will sing struck up and the whole church followed suit.

The song came to an end; everyone sat down and tilted their heads upwards towards Fr. Jenkins that had now assumed his position at the pulpit. In the minutes that followed, he opened his bible clumsily and then failed as tears began to flow down his cheeks. This happened three times until the two other holy men came to stand at his either side, both of them the very picture of sorrow.

“Brethren,' he began, 'today, unlike other days, is a day of anguish and moaning'. Here, he failed again and the other holy men could be seen trying to console him but he stopped them and promptly ordered them away, 'for that matter, we shall now read from the book of revelations, chapter twenty one, and verse four.'

Fr. Jenkins was visibly trying to gain composure, which was why he now took no pains to wave to everyone while mentioning their different names off head as he always did. He was that kind of man. A man of the people, a man known to everyone as the true embodiment of clerical duty and holiness; he was known to live to the law of the cassock: utter celibacy, utter sobriety and total commitment to God himself.

In light of this, no one could have guessed the calamities that would befall this church today. And if Fr. Jenkins had looked closely at the flock of parishioners as he always did, he would have perhaps noticed that there was one young man that looked particularly unsettled. Seated in the very last row, he kept on looking about, his eyes constantly running from the entrance and to his watch. Was he expecting someone?

Lucas couldn't wait. Within two minutes, he had checked his watch for the umpteenth time and even as he did, he did so eerily for his hands trembled and the rapid tapping of his shoes was beginning to call the attention of a middle aged fat woman who had worn too much make up to look good but looked even uglier.

'Young man, is everything okay?' she was the kind to fake an accent and Lucas didn't even bother to honour her with a reply. He simply smiled slightly and gave a quick nod.

He didn't have time to talk to anyone, much less make friends, not today. Today was a day of truth, a day when God would finally remember his true people and banish all those pretenders to whatever hell they belonged to. But there was one problem.

Where the hell is this bastard? He thought, time is running out, this is the perfect moment.

Five minutes later, just as he was about to satisfy his hunger to storm out and collect 'the bastard', 'the bastard' himself came bundling into the church. He came in so quickly, so clumsily that he knocked over a potted plant and called everyone's attention to himself. But the lanky and rugged man didn't seem to care. He picked up the compact disc he had dropped while tumbling over, steadied himself, and with the flourish of an alpha male made a show of walking towards the pulpit where Fr. Jenkins was.

To be continued …

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