You know, the devil works quickly; it doesn’t take long.
That thought tumbles around my stoic brain as I stand knee deep in the Black River water. My knife is palmed in my hand and the moon is bathing me in baptismal light. It seems fitting. The beautiful moonlight accompanies the musical sound of my lovers call trundling about my memory. She was beautiful, my girl, even in the last moments I saw her. It was just a little while past the sunset strip; the police found the girl’s body in an open pit. Her mouth was sewn shut but her eyes were still wide. As if she was gazing through the fog to the other side.
They always do it, don’t they? Accuse the boyfriend; especially when he was the last one to see her alive. On this clichéd whim they threw me deep in jail, with no bail, sitting silent on a rusty pail.
That was mere days ago. A lot can change in a few short days. The Black River water can wash away the sin. So you make no mistake I know just what it takes, to pull a man's soul back from heaven's gates. I've been wandering in the dark about as long as sin, but they say it's never too late to start again.
I used to believe that. Especially when a chance at a new start was delivered to me when the Sheriff sauntered at three am. In the darkness of the night he took out his key and set me free. He gave me five dollars, a pistol, a secondhand suit and sent me on my way. I stood out front of the Sheriff’s office, bathing in the baptismal moonlight; with nowhere to go. As if by the grace of some higher power, a flyer selling the delights of the Rio Grande blew by on the desert breeze; and knew it was a sign. I took my chance to start again.
You know the devil works quickly; it doesn’t take long.
When I got off the bus in the Rio Grande, I only had my secondhand suit, pistol and fifty three cents left. The pistol gleamed in the baptismal moonlight. It really was a gift from a higher power. I took it from my pocket and simply held it in my hand. A soothing sensation flowed through me and the musical sound of my lovers call trundled through my memory once more.
The dusty road was long, my thoughts became as frantic as they had been when I had been just past the sunset strip. The pistol became restless in my hand; the higher power was calling to me. This gift was too much to keep to myself. It needed to be shared; so I shot a man down on the edge of town.
The devil works quickly; it doesn’t take long.
It also doesn’t take long for the rattling echo of a gunshot to reach a nearby town. So, to pass the time, I stole a horse and I rode it around until the Sheriff of the town caught up with me. As he threw me deep in the cell and sat me down on a rusty pail he said, “You make no mistake I know just what it takes to pull a man's soul back from heaven's gates. I've been wandering in the dark about as long as sin, but they say it's never too late to start again.”
His words washed over me. I had never heard such beautiful poetry. The words crashed and raced through my mind, drowning out the sound of my lovers call. I needed answers from this oracle in a khaki uniform. So I stood from my pail, went to the bars and asked, “When will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin? When Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?” The Oracle Sheriff just stared back; blankly.
How could he not know the answer?
“Answer me!” I yelled into his static face.
He just backed away from the bars.
Abandoned as I was, I sat back on my rusty pail and counted the marks on the opposite wall.
Eventually, the Sheriff let me go with a knife and a song and I took the first train up to Oregon. Anger coursed through my veins. How could I be abandoned again? A higher power had sent me the pistol; a truly miraculous gift. Then the oracle in a khaki uniform had spoken those wonderful words. But when I needed answers, where was my resolution?
I could not control the ferocious anger that consumed me, as the memories of my lovers strangled call resurfaced in my mind. I could not gain hold of the mania. So I killed the first man that I came upon because the devil works quickly; it doesn’t take long.
It was getting close to dawn; the sun was chasing away the baptismal moonlight. So I went to the river to take a swim; you know that Black River water is as black as sin. I washed myself clean as a newborn babe and then I picked up a rock for to sharpen my blade.
So as I stand here now, knee deep in the Black River water, I am calling out for the answer:
“When will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin?
Oh when will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?
“Will that black river water wash me clean again?”
“When will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin?”
© Copyright 2016 Hester Vane . All rights reserved.
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