The clock in the visitation room blinked 10:32. The fresh pine scent replaced by the choking smell of burnt tobacco. A thick cloud of cigarette smoke hung from the ceiling to the top of the cell door. Gerald sucked hard on another Marlboro, and held the smoke in his lungs. "58 minutes till they take me." He said to no one in particular. "I guess Gerry Junior ain’t coming.” He flicked ashes on the floor, and dragged the life out of the cigarette.
“I tried to talk to him yesterday.” Reverend Rob apologized. “But he wouldn’t take my call.”
“Can’t say as I blame him, after all that’s happened. I ain’t seen him since they stuffed me in the squad car. He must be ’bout 36 by now. I guess it’s best he don’t see me like this.”
"I talked to Jennifer yesterday.” Reverend Rob walked over to Gerald and rested his hand on Gerald's shoulder. “She won’t be coming either."
“Good! I wouldn’t piss on her guts if she was on fire. That cunt.”
“That’s no way to talk about your wife.”
“Wife? What kinda wife wears a wire for the cops an’ tricks her husban’ into confessin’ to somethin’ he didn’t do?” Gerald scratched a match under the table and lit another cigarette. “Lisa was my wife. If she hadn’t kilt herself, I wouldn’t be here. Jennifer was my whore.”
Reverend Rob winced at the tone of Gerald’s voice.
"So," Gerald took another long drag, "why you doin' this?"
"Sittin' with me. What do you care what happens to me?"
"That's easy, Gerry. You are a child of God. He loves you. You need His grace more than most right now." Reverend Rob rubbed his bloodshot eyes.
"That's a Sundee school answer if I ever heard one." Gerald chuckled and propped his feet on the table. He tossed his smokes to the preacher. "Really, why you doin' this?"
Reverned Rob dropped into the seat across the table from Gerald and sighed in resignation. “Gerry, nobody wanted to bother with you. It’s your attitude. You’re mean, nasty, and ungrateful. Worst of all, you want to die, and you want to die in sin.” He tapped a cigarette from the pack. “Whether you like it or not, everybody deserves a chance at redemption. Even somebody as ornery as you. God told me I was the one who had to reach you because of what I had done.” Reverend Rob smiled.
“The paperwork to get this assignment nearly buried me.”
“What makes you think I wanna be redeemed?”
“Because I know what it’s like. I’ve been where you are.”
“You don’t know shit! You ain’t never felt what I felt. You ain’t never been on death row.”
“Death row, no. But what do you think it’s like for a respected man of the cloth to disgrace not only himself, not just his parish, but his entire world-wide church?”
The flame danced on the match head as he lit up. “When those accusations about me came out, I was just like you. Deny, deny, deny. And my lawyers didn't help. They told me to keep quiet. Don't admit anything. For three years, all the way through my trial, I kept my mouth shut. I buried my sin deep inside.”
Tears pooled in the corners of his eyes. “I lost everything, Gerry. Lawyers took all my money. My wife, Jen, took our kid and left me. I lost my parish. My parishioners wanted nothing to do with me." He paused to clear a sob from his throat. "They packed me away in D-Block with all these other men who had nothing left. I lost my faith.
“I was like Jonah inside the belly of the whale, I thought I could hide from God and live the rest of my life alone and miserable. But He found me." Reverend Rob’s red eyes brightened, and a grin broke across his large face. “Actually, he bugged the crap out of me”
Gerald chuckled. He slid his feet off the table and leaned in attentively.
"I found forgiveness in the parable of the Prodigal Son. That son was me. I had squandered the gifts God had given me on pleasures of the flesh. Me, a preacher of His word. It took a lot of soul-searching but when I finally asked God to forgive me, he did. And I could forgive myself. God opened my heart to this ministry. God's grace saw me through my rough spot. Now, I'm trying to do the same for my fellow prisoners."
"That's a nice story Rev., but you ain't nothing like me." Gerald leaned in across the table. His nostrils flared as he spoke. "What you did – touching little boy’s dicks – was sick. Sick, perverted lust. They didn’t want you. She wanted me!"
“Wanted you? Wanted you! Then why did you rip her shorts?”
“We was excited!”
“And why did she scratch your face? Why did you have to hold her down while you pushed her underpants out of the way?”
Gerald smirked. The picture of his hand tearing at her bikini briefs with lacy frills around the waist band and “Daddy’s Girl” written in fancy black script across her tight, little cunt was sweet. He could feel her legs flailing over his back as he pushed his way inside her.
“You raped her, Gerry!” Reverend Rob leaned in nose to nose with him, his voice hoarse with rage. “She kicked and screamed and cried.”
“It was her fault!”
“It was you, Gerald! You forced yourself on her! You wrapped your hands around her neck! You squeezed her neck till she stopped breathing! You killed her, Gerald! You!” Reverend Rob stared, seething, into Gerald’s eyes.
“She wanted me.”
“She was 13 for Christ sake!” Reverend Rob pounded the table with both hands and stared deeper into Gerald’s blank glare. He paused to catch his breath. “I’m sorry, Gerald. The pressure is getting to me. You need to ask for forgiveness. I don’t want you to spend eternity in Hell.”
Gerald turned and headed for his cell.