Gerald’s head jerked as the guard swung the injection table upright. Leather wrist and arm straps dug into his flesh. Chest restraints tightened around his bare chest keeping him from sliding to the floor in a heap. He had no strength to fight it.
The white floor and walls magnified the bright fluorescent lights till everything in the tiny room glowed. The air was cold and sterile. A rubber tube hung from a needle in the vein inside his left elbow, another from his right foot. In the corner, next to the EKG machine, Reverend Rob recited Psalm 23.
“Won’t be long now Rev.”
Reverned Rob stopped praying just long enough to answer. “There’s still time to reconcile yourself with God, Gerry.”
Warden Johnson leaned over to whisper in Gerald’s ear. “I’m going to open that curtain. You’ll be able to see the witnesses on the other side. This is your chance to get right.”
Warden Johnson drew back the curtain. Gerald searched the small room beyond the glass for familiar faces. The district attorney sat on the front row. Gerald recognized two attractive, blonde television reporters and the frumpy newspaper man who covered his trial and appeals. He squinted to see into the last row. She was still hot after all these years.
A black fishnet veil hid Jennifer’s big blue eyes. Gerald smiled at the cleavage she flashed from her low-cut black dress. Daddy's little whore.
Warden Johnson moved a microphone in front of Gerald’s face. Gerald cleared his throat. “I guess,” the words hung hollow in the small room. “I guess I should say how sorry I am for what I done to Chastity. She was a special little girl. I loved that girl like she was my own. I ain’t never meant to hurt her.” Gerald stopped to glance at the back row.
“The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want…” He heard Reverend Rob begin Psalm 23 again.
“I ain’t never meant to hurt her.” Gerald’s voice was almost a whisper. He breathed deep, so deep it tugged at his chest straps. All those years of torture and pain ripped at his heart. “But it wasn’t my fault! She wanted it! She begged for it!”
Father Rob clenched his fists. His face flushed bright red. He prayed louder. “Yeah, as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.” His voice quivered, but he continued. “For Thou are with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.”
“That little whore. Best I ever had!” Gerald felt ice in his veins. He checked the clock above the window, twelve seconds past midnight. His thoughts sloshed in a flood of anesthetic. It had begun. His eyes were already feeling heavy.
“Yes, Gerry.” Reverend Rob rushed to his side.
“Is it too late?”
“It’s never too late, Gerry.”
“I shouldn’t have done that to you and Jennifer.” His speech was slurred. “I hope ya’ll can fin’ peace in my death. After what I done to your daughter.”
“Are you asking for forgiveness? There is no peace without forgiveness. Please Gerry, ask the Lord for forgiveness.”
“Rev,” his voice was barely a whisper. “She liked it.”
More than a trench, there’s a chasm between blame and forgiveness. Gerald Blount skirted the rim of that pit for 25 years. He could never forgive himself for the way he tricked Jennifer into marrying him just to get close to Chastity. Or for convincing himself that Chastity wanted and deserved what he had done to her. He could only blame the person who took his son Gerry Junior’s future and caused his wife Lisa to commit suicide, the same person who forced Gerald to rape and kill a 13-year-old girl.
Gerald leapt into that chasm with a smile on his face, his unrepentant soul left to weigh heavy on the heart of the priest who molested 11-year-old Gerry Junior, Reverend James Robichaux of The Resurrection Episcopal Church.