Conversation in a jail cell with God
February 8, 2016
Life is Fiction
HE LOOKED LIKE the one he pretended to be. Then again, he said he wasn’t pretending.
I could tell it when I looked into his eyes.
No one else did.
No one else mattered.
He was dressed in a black suit with white shirt.
Not even a night in the Fort Worth jail had wrinkled his suit or soiled his shirt.
His black hair was slicked back.
It had touch of grease.
It had a touch of gray.
His shoes were spit shined.
Someone had removed his black tie.
He was angry about it.
He was mad enough to kill.
Might as well.
He had killed more than once.
At least that’s what the police said.
And he hadn’t denied it.
The newspaper’s deadline was three hours away when I sat down to talk with him.
I had taken a chance.
Some prisoners want to talk.
Most simply sit and stare at the wall.
Too many questions.
No answers at all.
They think I’ll tell the police if they tell me anything.
But police may read it in the evening edition.
I began with the same question I always do.
“What happened?” I ask.
His smile was cold.
His black eyes were piercing.
I felt them, and he knew it.
“When?” he asked.
“What makes you think something happened last night?’ he asked.
“You’re in a cell now, and you weren’t then,” I said. “Something must have happened.”
He shrugged nonchalantly.
“I removed a man from this earth,” he said.
“Does it matter?”
I moved on.
“Why did you remove him?” I asked.
“It was his time.”
“He had sinned,” the prisoner said.
“All sins are against God.”
“He could have changed his ways.”
“He had his chances.”
“Maybe he needed one more.”
The prisoner grinned.
“We all have our last one,” he said.
He shrugged again.
“He had wasted his last one,” he said.
The cell was dark.
It grew darker.
The cell was cold.
It grew colder.
“What did he do?” I asked.
“He chose the wrong Trinity,” the prisoner said.
“Wine, women, and the lust for money,” he said.
The prisoner grinned again.
He shook his head.
His voice was soft.
The grin had not faded from his face.
“The wages of sin are death,” the prisoner said.
We sat in silence for a moment.
The silence grew louder.
I heard my blood running through my veins.
Maybe it was his blood, his veins.
“Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord,” he said.
“Is he the only one you’ve killed?
“What makes you think he’s the only one?”
“Did God tell you to kill him?”
His voice was still soft.
“He didn’t have to,” he said.
“I am God,” he said.
I waited for the thunder to roll.
If the lightning flashed, it went somewhere else.
I didn’t laugh at him.
The jury did.
Twenty-five to life, the jury said.
He didn’t flinch.
Twenty-five to life, he told me, is nothing but a drop in the bucket for God.