Gerald bolted upright in his bed.
Reverend Rob was reading again. "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!”
“What time is it?”
“You’re awake. Just in time for the best part.” Reverend Rob had not moved from his spot outside the cell door.
“It’s dark. What time is it?” Beads of sweat ran from Gerald’s forehead into his eyes making it look like he’d been crying.
“Quarter after eight.”
Gerald squinted to see the clock across the visitation room. “Clock over there says 8:13. Don’t cheat a condemn’ man outta two minutes.”
“You look like hell.”
“What the fuck you expec’? They gonna hook me up to the needle and juice me.”
“What were you dreaming about?”
“It was her again.”
“She was scared. I told her I wasn’t gonna hurt her. But she was scared.”
“If you ask me, you’re the one who’s looking scared. You don’t have to be.” Reverend Rob rolled out his reconciliation sermon. “God’s mercy is a wonderful thing. If he can forgive me for molesting boys and help me find peace, he can do the same for you. That’s what the parable I was reading you is all about.”
“Save your breath.”
Reverend Rob went on undeterred. “This son had squandered his inheritance on loose women and was living in squalor. When he came to his senses and asked for forgiveness, his father killed the fatted calf and threw a huge party. It can be the same for you.”
“Only calf they gonna kill is me.” Gerald smirked.
“God wants to forgive you, all you have to do is ask.” Nineteen years of subtlety hadn’t worked; Reverend Rob tried a more direct approach. He turned to the Gospel of Luke and read a passage highlighted in yellow, “See, it says here, ‘I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.’ I can’t do it for you, Gerry.”
Gerald clasped his lips tight around another Marlboro. His lips trembled as he fought the urge to speak. He could see the tall grass dancing on the banks of the Amite River. He was on top of her staring down into those bright blue eyes, her ponytail fanned out in the grass beneath her head. The muscles in her throat quivered. She was so damn sexy. He leaned in and kissed her. She clenched her lips tight. She wanted to fight.
He pinned her wrists to the ground above her head with one hand and wrestled her shorts down with the other. Her eyes were wild, her breaths shallow and hot on his neck. She wiggled and kicked to get away.
He clawed and ripped at her shorts with his free hand. The button gave way. He pushed her shorts to her ankles and off one foot; he released her hands and went for his zipper to release his fury.
“My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” Father Rob read from Job. “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” He stopped to look at Gerald. “Your eyes look troubled, Gerald.”
“No. No trouble,” his voice faded. “I didn’t do anythin’ she didn’t want.”
Father Rob shook his head. He was obviously angry, but he never raised his voice. “Is that what you’re going to tell the Almighty when you meet him in four hours? You can’t rationalize sin away, Gerry. I tried it on D-Block, but it chased me down, just like yours is haunting you tonight.”
“Nothin’ hauntin’ me but you an’ your Bible verses.” Gerald threw himself to his feet and stormed out the open cell door. “Let’s do it! Let’s do it! NOW!” His eyes darted around the visitation room. “Guard! Guard! Damn it, let’s get this over with!” He tore off his shirt and ran for the solid steel door hiding the injection table. “Guard! Guard!” Gerald ricocheted off the door.
Reverend Rob dropped his Bible and ran after him. He wrapped his arms around Gerald in a bear hug. Gerald’s chest and back were slick with sweat. Reverend Rob wrestled him to the ground and wrapped his own legs around Gerald’s flailing limbs.
“There’s a deep trench between blame and forgiveness, Gerald,” Reverend Rob panted. “It’s time for you to step across to the other side.”