Friday, July 11, 2008

Goodbye, Father Lelland

No, you know what, Kain? I ain't gonna say shit for him. All that spiritual bullshit is what got him killed in the first place, and it damn near got me killed too. I was doin that whole meditation jig the old hag showed me, and almost meditated myself a new hole in my head. Fuck it, it's for suckers. Ain't no spirit, ain't no "divine principle" or any kind of shit like that. There's just you, and me, and this here gun. That's it. The father's believin got him nothin but buried, and I ain't goin down like that, I ain't.

I'll be out shootin if you need me.


"I never had much use for preachers," Bill Pearce smiled at everyone assembled. The next morning after the destruction of Malachi Flats, the caravan stopped on a cliff overlooking the remains of an ancient Macallen tunnel collapse, "but we sure could use one now," he smiled sadly, "because I don't know the first thing about Sorrento Revisionist rites, and I expected Father Lelland to bury me," he looked sadly at the grave dug in the rough, rocky clifftop. The body of Father Lelland was lying next to it, draped in a rough canvas shroud, "I expected Father Lelland to bury us all."

"I am not a religious man, where I am from I suppose that is to be expected," Doc Chambers smiled. If I had any latent prejudice against the Padre, he quickly dispelled it with his honest and friendly disposition. I’ll miss the passion of his convictions, his devotion to Revisionism as a religion and to moral righteousness as a code. When I arrived in Baja, he was the only one that didn’t view me with suspicion. When I rejoined you all in Massada, once again, he was the friendly face in the crowd. I’m proud to say he was one of my mentors. Some may consider it ironic to learn sniping from a religious man, but his background helped me overcome the moral dichotomy of doing harm for good. I owe him a debt of gratitude for his wisdom which I will sadly no longer be able to repay," Doctor Chambers said gently.

"Nathani Lelland was not a pacifist," Kelly Lebeaux sniffled, "no. Every Regulator remembers that comfort of knowing that Father Lelland was watching over us, and every Regulator has known the relief of the report of his rifle. I hope that he'll keep watching over us." There were numb nods of agreement.

Gade frowned, "I didn't really know the father. We barely spoke. But I know this: he was a great warrior and he cared for everyone. The world is better for having had him in it."

"He told me once that his sister in Sorrento...Katherine, I think...that she wrote to him all the time, imploring him to come back home. They lived together alone," Josephina Dragushan shuffled her feet, her hands clasped together in front of her, "but he told me that there was too much righteous work to be done here in the Badlands. He had been at Baja like the rest of us...he couldn't go home, not until it was set right."

"He told me to apply again," Thomas Knox said softly, putting the dead preacher's prayer beads on the canvas shroud in a pile, "to the Republican Academy of Music. He told me that my work was worthwhile and that I should apply again. I have a letter...for him...for when I got in...thanking him..." the young medic choked back tears, "he was a great comfort to us all."

Peter Smit wordlessly put the heavy bore rifle Father Lelland preferred next to the shroud. He stood, his face lined with sorrow and pain.

"Remember when we were in Massada, how his face came alive?" Ari Mendelbaum asked, and nearly sobbed, "he showed us around the churches like it was old hat, and not like they were important. They were, but he never made us feel like his faith was intimidating. He made us feel comfortable...that's the kind of faith I want."

Karin Hassan nodded quietly, tears streaming down her cheeks. Ellen pulled her close and kept herself from crying into the younger girl's hair.

"It ain't fair!" Tessa Lin sobbed finally, "they took me! They gagged me!" she shrieked, falling into Gade, nearly collapsing, "they had the gun...trained on me...and then...he just said 'No. Don't. She's just a girl. Take me instead.' Those fucking townies!"

Avatanya put a motherly arm around the distraught girl, "the funny thing is," she sighed, slowly turning her head to look at the shroud-covered body, "the funny thing is, this Preacher here gave them one last shred of decency. They could have killed a kid, but instead they took the old man when he offered himself. I don't know whether or not to love him or hate him for that. It was more than they deserved."

After everyone had said their piece, Kain stepped forward. "I'd never met a man like Father Lelland before coming to New Baja. I'd seen preachers before, prim, ascetic men, insulated from the rigours of life by their cassock. I'd never seen one club a man with a rifle butt. I'm glad I did," he smiled.

"Father Lelland was a good man. That's not something I would say lightly, and it's possible I'll never say it about anyone else, but it's true. He was a good man. And it's not insignificant that he chose this life, chose to live in the Badlands, and ultimately, chose to come with us, with you and me. He chose us. Maybe because we needed some ministering, maybe 'cause we were worth ministering to. Whatever the case, this good man chose our company, and that says something." Kain stopped; his voice had wavered just a bit on those last words, and the pause lengthened. Shifting his gaze to meet the eyes of the clustered mourners, Kain continued.

"Father Lelland's death was an expression of his faith, just as his life was. Though I only met Father Lelland a short while ago, not once in that time did he waver in his committment to his ideals, his desire to make this world just a little bit better, through hard work and wisdom where he could, through righteous anger and the scope of a rifle where he couldn't. Father Lelland's life of worship is founded on the notion of sacrifice, and that is what has brought us here, now. His is not the first, nor the last, that will be required as we continue on our path, but I know his example will guide me when the day comes that I have to make a choice like his. I think it will guide you too."

He turned to Kelly. "Sergeant Lebeaux."

She nodded to her seven selections. "Detail, present arms! Ready, aim! Fire! Fire! Fire!"


Charlie Bottoms said...

Wow, I don't remember posting this at ALL. Have I been sleep-writing again?

Heavy Josh said...

You posted your bit...and then I added everything else onto it.

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