“Do you think you can handle it, Sherri?”
“Yes, I can.”
He let the silence drift on and on, daring me to break it.
And no, I didn’t dare. Everyone knew what happened to people he didn’t like.
“The pastor, your target, will come out of the church at approximately 1:45 PM this Sunday. I’m tired of him hanging around. Somehow, he’s been talking to my men and more and more of them are leaving the gang. I’ve got to stop it. You had better get this guy. So far, I like you and would hate for anything to ‘happen’ to you.”
I nodded. “Got it.”
“Good. I have other business to attend to.”
He turned and left, leaving me there alone to my thoughts, going along the line of ‘How many other snipers failed him?’ and ‘Where were they found? Downstream or in an alley?’
I tugged my hood farther down on my face, double-checking in my car’s mirror that it completely hid my face…from cameras and people. I glanced around as I pulled out my rifle case and made my way up to the lonely apartment. The owner’s were out of town for a while on a cruise.
Thank you, Michel.
I quickly slipped the spare key they thought they ‘lost’ in the wife’s purse out of my pocket and slid in the the brightly colored, overdecorated room. I glanced down at my watch and slid the window and screen facing the church open.
Flipping open the case, I lifted out my M110 SASS out of the case, checking that it was loaded and smiled.
I set it up at the window and waited for that door to open…a man in long flowing robes and too-big an ego to walk out…line the crosshairs up perfectly with his head…I pictured the scenes in my head, ready myself.
The door opened at 1:57. Out stepped one of the gang members and the pastor…in a sweater and jeans. What kind of pastor is this??
I lined up the crosshairs as he and the member stood by the door and talked. I took one deep breath, double-checked my aim and…
“It’s not his time yet.”
I snapped around, looking for the owner of the voice.
No one was there.
The pastor still stood by the door, so I lined up again. I started to squeeze the trigger and…
I mentally screamed at myself to move, pull the trigger, anything.
But nothing happened.
“It’s not his time yet.”
“When will it be?” I managed to squeak.
“That’s not for you, or him, to know.”
The pastor shook hands with the member and walked down the alley, past my car, and out of sight, while I kneeled there, unable to move.
As soon as he was out of sight, my trigger finger squeezed, sending a bullet smashing into the door.
I collapsed against the wall, sucking in deep breaths of air.
That was definitely unlike anything else that I have ever heard of…much less experienced.
I rapidly threw my rifle in the case and ran down the steps, leaving the door open. Right now, I didn’t think about the consequences.
I tossed the case in the back seat and charged for the driver’s seat. Then I drove after the preacher.
I found him walking down the sidewalk.
“Preacher, I gotta talk to you.” I said as I slammed the car door and trotted up his steps.
“Certainly.” He smiled brightly. “Do you mind talking while we walk?”
“No.” I shook my head and fell into step beside him.
There was a silence, which he broke. “What did you want to talk about?”
“Do you know that you were almost dead ten minutes ago?”
“No, I wasn’t aware of that fact.” I had the feeling he was teasing.
“I had your head lined up in the crosshairs of my M110 SASS.”
“Then why aren’t I dead?”
“I was hoping that you could tell me.” I paused. “Who is your God?”
“The Creator, Jesus, my personal Savior.” He answered, looking at me. “Do you want the whole story?”
“Yeah, I think I do.”
“In the beginning, God created the world.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a little book, then handed it to me. “The two first humans, Adam and Eve, sinned, bringing pain, suffering,”—he glanced over at me with a wry smile—“guns, and death into the world.”
I snorted. “What? Pandora’s box?”
“Good way to describe it.” He nodded. “In order to be with God, we must be perfect. God cannot be with sin, since he is a perfect God. Now that sin entered the world, we were not perfect. So God sent his only Son to die for us, to pay the death penalty.”
“So now that the penalty has been paid, we’re all perfect? Or at least, considered perfect?”
“Not quite. We have to accept the gift. ‘Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Believing, then, if you continue to believe to the day you die, you will dwell with God for eternity.”
“How?” I whispered. “How do I accept the gift?”
“Pray.” The pastor stopped and turned to me. “You pray.”
Standing on the sidewalk, ignoring everyone around us, we prayed. Him first, showing me how, then me, pouring out my heart to the one who spoke.
I looked up with tears to see the pastor’s face also wet.
I turned to see Bartolini hand a detective his pistol and walked up the steps. The pastor must have seen the look that crossed my face. “What?” He asked. “Is something wrong?”
I smiled. “Nope. Not anymore.”
I guess I don’t have to worry about the river anymore.
Or the alley.
(Sorry Whitney, Charles, I just couldn’t resist. 😉 )