The End of a Good Man
The old man lay in his bed, coughing out his last breaths as the town gathered around him. He had lived out his ninety-three years in this town, and as per his request, he would live out his remaining moments in the town square. He knew many of his neighbors thought him "too eccentric for his own good!", still, they gathered around his bedside, seeing him off. Many of the younger faces he did not recognize, but they wished him well all the same. "Good wished can do you no harm" he mumbled into the blanket that rose to cover his red nose from the morning chill.
His eyes flew open, startled at being able to do so, he peered around him interestedly. The people were out and about on their daily tasks, all but a dozen close friends and neighbors. They seemed to be agitated, which at first warmed his aged heart. 'Ah, they shall miss me'. But as he strove to understand their blather he registered the urgency in their tone "that does not do!", people should not be so quick to have him sail away into oblivion. "Don't fret father, the priest will be here soon. Don't fret..." his eldest told him, stroking his hand absently as she peered at the crowds, hoping to discern a black cape amongst the ordinary folk. 'Oh, well then, that suits me just fine' he smiled happily at being comforted.
He was shaken quite roughly as a large voice bombarded his ears "don't go just yet!", "wait!!", "don't give up…"… he could not match the voices to the faces that wavered above him, there were so many. He tried to peer around them to see the crowds but there were none that he could see, it seemed he was the main attraction once more. "Why", don't they have work to do at such a time as this? "We don't know but we sent people to look for him" a man at his elbow answered. Now he was truly confused, who were they looking for? Wasn't he enough for them? Before he could think of a way to ask what he needed to know his hand was held once more as a woman's voice uttered the reverend's name in dulcet tones, as if wishing to lure him in. Then he remembered. He peered at the wall of people around his bed once more, scrutinizing each face, for he could be hiding amongst the common men, but there was no sign of that grave face. He sighed with relief. "No!!! Hold on just a little longer and all shall be well", "hold on!", "wait" his children urged him; their pleas were echoed by the towns people all around, "…old on", "be well"... He wasn't dying, not just yet, had they all gone soft in the head? This was a sign! He tried to calm his companions "it is a sign", he wished to explain it all to them but they could not hear him for their conscience would not allow them to let alone their quest for his redeemer.
"He was such a good man, he did not deserve this fate", "he really didn't, if only there were a way to redeem him now... But, alas", "His final moments were pleasant ones, console yourself with that".
"If only things were different…, I know he would have been welcome in god's own house if they were", "we can still hope his soul will be pitied by a guardian angle".
"Such a good man".