when i was just a young boy a preacher came to town

POSTED: Sat May 23, 2020 11:00 am

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Despite himself, Calhoun was whining and trembling when the preacher finally came to.

It was not an immediate process. The dark coyote’s eyes—the rich color of red wine—slowly focused, and the tension left his bone-thin body. A fog of confusion hung in his gaunt features for several seconds, during which the boy tried to pull himself together, wiping at his own face and sniffling loudly. His large ears stood to attention when Resurrection rasped.

“Where am I?”

Another loud sniffle, and Calhoun replied: “We’re in the church, Mister de le Poer. We were practicin’ a sermon, d’you remember?”

“I confess that I don’t. It will come to me.” Res lifted his hand to wipe flecks of foam from his lips and whiskers, then curiously touched the wool shirt bundled up beneath his head. His eyes flicked to the boy.

“I did what you told me before,” Calhoun said quickly, “so you wouldn’t hit your head on nothin’.” He scratched at a bare shoulder, still leaning nervously over the dark coyote.

“You did well, Calhoun.”

The boy straightened a little bit, a watery smile in place.

He stayed by the man’s side until Resurrection felt well enough to sit upright. They talked a little bit about the interrupted sermon (a man reaps what he sows), though were Calhoun cleverer, he might have realized that the preacher was attempting to comfort the boy, rather than the other way around. Cal’s throat hurt, and his hands still trembled a little, even when they clasped the preacher’s smaller ones.

Noticing this, Resurrection smiled. “It was frightening, wasn’t it?”

Calhoun averted his gaze, reluctant to admit that the convulsions had scared him out of his wits. He was meant to be brave, like his parents, or so the ego of an adolescent boy stubbornly insisted. But he nodded mutely, unable to tell a lie to his mentor.

Res squeezed his hands then started to get to his feet. Much taller than the thin coyote, Calhoun offered a bracing arm for support, watching carefully. “How come that happens to you?” he asked. He was sure he’d asked before, or Resurrection had explained it to him; he’d told the boy what to do in case it ever happened, which had paid off. Cal stooped to collect his shirt off the floor, draping it over his shoulder.

“I used to believe it was God attempting to take me back. I was born dead, you know,” he said, red eyes staring up from dark sockets. “Perhaps it’s a demon or spirit that possesses me, and the angels fight to keep me here rather than to take me away. I'm not sure; we cannot know His plan.”

Dumbly, Cal nodded. Resurrection spoke often of his litter’s curse, and the irony in being the only survivor when, newly born, he did not draw breath. He spoke about the angels, too, and how he could feel them—stroking his hair, squeezing his arms, sometimes tender, sometimes painful. Calhoun accepted this along with everything else the de le Poer said.

His brow burrowed as he was subjugated to the difficulty of deep thought. “Can… can a healer fix it? If you’re sick?”

Res smiled and shook his head. “This kind can come forth by nothing but prayer,” he said, in the soft cadence that he used when reciting scripture. In his usual hushed voice, he added, “Briarblack helps soothe the aches and ills that come with it, sometimes. Perhaps if you ask her, she can show you.”

“I’d like that,” Calhoun said, grinning. “I want to help.”

“You do help, son,” Resurrection replied as the boy helped walk him out into the warm sunlight shining on the Parish grounds. “You do help.”
the graveyard's full, we're running out of earth
but we can use the bones to build another church
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stay close, reverend

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