Yes. The Sins of our Fathers could be the new slogan for TLC. I thought about this as I headed towards St. Augustines. It was Purleys' home base and I was going to make sure he hadn't survived. My mission was clear. If the destruction hadn't rid our scarred earth of that menace then I would.
I passed the little pizza shop called Itza Pizza. So often I had watched the families and lovers through the bronzed window from the concrete benches of the coffee shop across the street. It had been my hang out. Coffee and chit-chat seem to go hand in hand. It made a perfect place for me to expound on my views of the world and the good Reverand. I recruited numerous believers from the place. Jerry Caldwell had jumped right in. In fact he was the one who came up with the acronym TLC. "How could it miss?" he had said. He was the whiz that created our website, too. "And as long as my wife doesn't find out that I'm helping, you know what I mean?" Unfortunatley I had to agree.
The atmosphere in the city had begun to erode. It was strange, the Revs claims of rebirth hadn't spurred the population into song, instead, having resigned themselves to the foretold future, thier lives became a monotany of useless tasks. As if in a dream the people plodded to and from thier daily duties, never stopping to smell the flowers.
And I mean this literally. The flower shop called MY NANS, next to Itza Pizza, had stopped bothering to put out thier sidewalk display. I had watched this decline from my bench with such dismay. So many of the wonderful neighborhood stores, whose owners were almost like family, had floundered to just a fraction of thier once vibrant states. Mr. Dean, who had named the flower shop after his late wife Nan, had almost cried one day after describing his feelings about the state of the neighborhood. "Folks don't seem to care about the little things anymore, Manny. Since they're sure the end is right around the corner, there's no point trying to brighten up thier homes, I guess." As I shook his hand to leave that day I felt a tiny shiver and the scared look in his eye caused me to pull my hand away faster than I intended. He hadn't seemed to notice, though. I was relieved since Mr. Dean was one of the good guys. He never had fell for the Revs claims of rebirth, but couldn't show support for TLC for fears of pushing away the miniscule number of customers he had left. What a shame. I glanced at the coffee shop over my shoulder. I hadn't wanted to walk on that side of the street, those memories were too close, but the memories on this side seemed more important to me now.
I continued my trek along memory road toward the inner part of the city where the church stood. Or once stood. I didn't know yet. I hope he's dead...but if he's dead then I won't be able to wring his neck...but if I wring his neck then I'll be a killer just like him. If I find him alive will I really be able to do it? As I was struggling with these feelings I came across a group of dogs. Thier frightened eyes, I knew, would soon turn into the eyes of a predator. Mans best friend, no more. All the unfriendly sights and the thoughts on memory road almost caused me to give up and as I reached the corner where St. Augustines still stood I came to the crazy understanding that it was the Good Reverand Samuel Purley, killer extraordinaire, who had saved my life. If I hadn't wanted to get to him so badly I might have just laid down and died.
The steps to the church were cracked and I had to weave my way through the mounds of fallen facia of this once exquisitley decorated place of worship. I passed a few solitary survivors on my way towards the pulpit. Our eyes never met, thier shoulders only barely holding up their weary heads. I wanted to cry but wouldn't. The pulpit was just through the opening which used to hold a set of wonderfully carved doors: a scene of angels above touching the outstretched fingers of the believers below. The doors lay broken on the ground, now. Again, I had to belay the desire to cry. Just a few more steps to my goal.
As I stepped into the cathedral, which had awed me from childhood, I failed to notice the figure laying across the floor. I hit the broken tile full front. The pain was more intense than anything I could recall and as I started to push myself up on my right elbow I realized that the Good Reverand was laying face up to my left.