Stories, poems and other musings from the mind of a writer who suffers from World Builder's Disease
I wrote this in 2017 but have just posted here.
This is the first draft and obviously is in need of editing.
Abbadon lurched awake, disoriented. His side smarted fiercely where Priscilla had elbowed him.
“Damn, woman,” he whispered in complaint, more out of instinct than intent.
“Don’t you be swearing in the house of Kings, Abbadon Brewmackie,” his wife chided, her voice low and vicious as a weed viper. “And watch you don’t fall ‘sleep again… Disrespectin’ Parson Deth like that, mmnh mnnh.” This she emphasized with a pinch to the tender flesh under his arm, like nobody’d notice her hand slide between her big ol’ tittie under her arm, sly like.
Abbadon nearly howled. He wanted to give her the elbow, but it wasn’t kingly to smack one’s wife. Lordy how wrong the world was, where a woman can ill-treat her husband so, knowing there wasn’t no return deserts. Some men were the maltreating kind, but not him, no siree. His mama, praise King Jesus, brought him up rightly.
This little exchange drew more than a few stares from the parishioners. Some raised righteous lips and righteouser brows. Others snorted. Old Man Crutchfield folded his spindly arms and crinkled up his ancient brown face, disgusted, like he done stepped in cow plop.
Well jus’ cause he’s the planter man what shits in a inside room in the big house doesn’t mean it don’t stink like the rest of ev’rybody’s. Probably worse, cause’n he’s so old.
Parson Deth stood tall behind the pulpit, smiling and waiting for the congregation to run through the paces of their disquiet. Long dark hair hung loose from beneath his flat, wide-brimmed black hat. The shadowed face beneath was calm and smiling, patient-like. He had the small face-bones and thin lips of a cauckie lord, but his skin was darker, no doubt sun-browned from his trails ‘round the parish. He looked near as colored as many of the folks hereabout. Only the castle-lords were tall like that, so maybe he had some of their blood in him. But if so, he’d lost all his pale to the sun. And then there was the fact he didn’t act high and mighty like them. Didn’t dress rich like ‘em neither. But then again, he was a man of the Three Kings, and had his meekness to think about.
“Go thoroughly to work in all you’ve heard today.” Lordy, at last… Parson Deth was near finished. Abbadon had given the sermon little note, and thanks to Prissa’s jabs and pinches he hadn’t been able to nap.
“Go now!” Deth continued, “Do not put it off—that will only make matters worse. Confess to the Divine Kings those sins that have been committed against the Kings, and to man those sins that have been committed against man. Do not think about side-stepping your stumbling blocks. Instead carry them up.”
Parson Deth abandoned his lectern and approached the center aisle between the rows. “In breaking up your fallow ground,” he said, hands outstretched like he wanted the parishoners to see the debris before him, “you must remove every obstacle. Things may be left that you may think are small trifles, and you may wonder why you don’t have your peace with heaven.”
The parson stopped before the pew where Abbadon sat beside his wife. He turned, smiling. The tall man reached down with a sun-weathered hand and touched Abbadon’s cheek, like a mother might caress her child. The touch, like the look on his face, was tender as King Jesus’. As the preacher’s eyes met his, they took on a golden smolder, full of the high-and-mighty. The Kings’ man said to him, like they were the only ones in the church, “The reason is your proud and carnal mind has covered up something which the Holy Trinity has required you to confess and remove.”
The jeebies ran through Abbadon’s insides like he’d swallowed a million muckcrawlers and they were eating their way out. Don’t you be looking at me… I ain’t got nothin’ to fess, but I sure’s hell want to remove my own damn self from this pew, this heat, and this nonsense.
Parson Deth turned away then, abruptly as a slammed door, and addressed the rest of the assembled fold. Abbadon’s jitters, however, didn’t ease off.
“Unless you take up your sins in this way, and consider them in detail, one by one, you can form no idea of the amount or weight of them. You should go over the list,” he concluded, “as thoroughly and as carefully and as solemnly as if you were preparing yourself for the Judgment!”
“You listen to him, now,” Priscilla chided as the assembly began a-singin’ the closing hymnal. “I told you he could help you. You take a good long look at your sins, Abs. You pick them up like he said. They heavy, ain’t they? You gotta move ‘em out of the way… and then account for ‘em. An’ you can start by making right for your sins against me!”
She smiled bitterly, showing him her long and crooked teeth, teeth that made him think of the gates of hell and all the world’s evils that festered behind and beneath.