The Minstrel

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The minstrel was hungry and tired. Once more, his head wound ached. He decided rest was more important than food for the moment. Soon, when he was rested, he would get himself something to drink. Some water would do well.

He passed a barricaded travel agency, closed for the evening. There was an advertisement for Puerto Rico. A memory came to him from somewhere about a sandy beaches, beautiful water, tropical air. He had been walking along the beach with Lupe, Raulita had not yet been born. There had been an orange sun on the horizon, that rippled into pink waves on the Caribbean. They had come to a beautiful forest of palm and coconut trees, and the soft night breeze warmed them rather than chilled them. It felt as though they were the only two people in the whole world. They talked, laughed, naughtily mad passionate love to each other like two teenagers. Raulita was born eight and half months later. They both affectionately bragged to each other that it had been that tempestuous night that Raulita had been conceived. It was a thought that made him smile.

The minstrel had no other memory of his mother land, no idea if he’d ever gone back, if there were trips before. Only that one memory prevailed. It stayed with him as he stood by the agency, the sun setting in a manner not as glorious as the memory but kept it alive for another moment in its silhouette. He walked away from the agency, dazed by his diversion, finding an abandoned alley, and as he lay his head down to sleep on his knapsack with and abandoned carpet rug as his blanket. He dreamed of warm sun and Lupe in his arms. It was a comfort which stayed with him throughout the night.

There was a bright light in a long narrow tunnel. Emmanuel felt afraid, but there was Abdullah, and a young boy who looked just like her standing by her. Emmanuel stared into the child’s eyes for a few moments before he realized it was his unborn son. He was a handsome boy.

Abdullah smiled at him but made no move to touch him. She beckoned him to follow her with a silent wave of her hand and turned and made her way down the light path. Mesmerized by her beauty, Emmanuel followed. She looked so radiant, so lavish. His mind focused on nothing but his awe of her.

She disappeared down a sudden turn in the hallway. Emmanuel looked down the darkened enclave where she had gone, but found no trace of her. He stood, bewildered, looking for his son, anyone else he could recognize, but no one was there.

Suddenly a figure appeared, that of a young girl holding a lit candle. She was small, fragile, her dark eyes and dark hair savagely fierce against the paleness of her skin, though to look in her eyes for any length of time, Emmanuel saw the innocence, the sadness in her eyes. He knew her, from where , he could not place. Then he remembered. He remembered where he knew her from.

He screamed at her to leave, only to be confronted with her unmoving, unspeaking figure, damning him with her silence. Even the flame of her candle barely wavered. He screamed and backed away, down the corridor to the source of light before him, only to be stopped by a transparent figure holding his hand up. Whoever it was, it wasn’t Jesus. Emmanuel felt himself awash in terror. He was being sent to hell. God had not forgiven him his past; it had not been cast into the sea of forgetfulness. He had been lied to; had always thought that his slate had been wiped clean with just a simple prayer. It had given him comfort, but obviously it had been false comfort. Either that, or he had not believed that right way. His heart had not been what a child of God’s should be. HE had lived his entire life wrong from start to finish; a waste of God’s creation. His existence was that of Satan’s, and now he got to spend the rest of eternity with him. His whole life had been a failure. He was too devastated to even want to cry.

Suddenly there was a rush of wind, not directed in any direction but swirling round and round. It reached him, and with sudden force, whirled around him, encircling him in a trap, and catapulting him with an intensity that he never experienced in his earthly life, carrying him away from the transparent figure, the bright light back through the tunnel until he could see the figure no more. Then everything went blank. Then there was peace.

His soul was quiet. The Reverend Jackson Emmanuel had survived his nearest brush with death. God still wanted him alive, something inside him realized; God still had more work in store for him, he wasn’t finished on Earth yet. God had not yet finished pruning the tree that had produced bad fruit.

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