By Joseph Logsdon
Father Charles stared at the river, his faith slowly slipping away. He was trapped between life and death, between sanity and insanity. His morality, in every possible manner, no longer held any significant meaning. To the outside world, he appeared to be like the average person: frustrated, sinful, angry at society. All the things Charles despised, he had suddenly become. He was just like the rest of humanity, cruel and hateful.
All hours of the day, the rain continued to pour. No water, however uncomfortable, could prevent Charles from thinking about his many sins. He had lied, cheated, stolen things that didn't belong to him. Every action he committed, either directly or indirectly, caused damage and destruction. No one he knew, not even Jesus Christ himself, could end his pain.
Charles stood on the shore of the river. He listened to the sound of the water, hopeful that with just a little more rain, he could finally escape from his mortal prison. His mortality, such as it was, prevented him from truly living an honest life. For Charles, believing in Christ wasn't enough; not nearly enough. The desire to support justice, his conviction to lead a righteous life, grew steadily weaker.
Charles suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. Nurse Julie, his assistant in just about everything, stood behind him. She kissed him on the cheek, all too aware of the dangers of committing such an act. Father Charles, already in a state of pure misery, didn't even bother to stop her advances.
"Darling, where have you been? Do you remember our date tonight, the one that we've had planned for months? You said, I recall, that we were going to escape from things; you said that when the time came, all would be right with the world. Was that just talk, or were you actually being serious?"
"You talk too much," Charles chuckled, turning around.
"Why, I'll be damned; that's the first time I've ever heard you insult me. Is anything wrong?"
"What isn't wrong? Julie, do you remember when we met, the day I first came to the hospital?"
"Certainly," she replied.
"All those months ago, I was a different man. I tried to honor God the best way I knew how, by helping the sick and poor. It was my way of repenting for everything that I've done in the past. All things, good things in particular, must come to an end. I fell in love with you, and in doing so, I betrayed my God," he declared.
"You're not betraying anyone. What we did, we did because we loved each other. Hell, the way you're talking, it's like we committed adultery or something. We could leave here, start anew, in a place where no one knows us. Let's do it, the sooner the better," she demanded.
Charles sighed, hesitation in his eyes. He gazed at the river, in what could only be called an act of avoidance. The water, previously violent, appeared to be calm and tranquil.
"I've been to San Francisco, California; Paris, France; and Tokyo, Japan. Around that time, I thought to myself, 'How is it possible that I could visit all these places, see all these things, and still be miserable?' All nations, at their very core, are exactly the same. There's misery everywhere you go, is the point I'm trying to make," Father Charles explained.
"Where there's love, misery can't enter," Julie exclaimed, kissing Charles on the lips.
"Later tonight, I want you to wait for me here," Charles announced.
"Just recently, I bought a boat. It's nothing fancy, of course, but it will get the job done," Charles stated.
"You mean, we're going to leave in the boat? I don't know, it sounds risky," she moaned.
"Which would you prefer, the boat or nothing?"
"Well, I guess if that's what it takes, I'll just have to manage, won't I?"
Later that night, Father Charles anxiously waited for Nurse Julie to get off work. He sat in the boat, enthralled by the sound of the engine. Both as a priest and as a man, Charles remained incredibly frustrated. He kicked the rear of the boat, tormented by the sound of the water, which not only represented their escape, but also something far more sinister.
Just over the horizon, Julie slowly made her way to the boat, or, to put it another way, she slowly made her way to an unknown end. As she boarded the vessel, things already didn't seem right. Whether it was her mind or the boat itself, she didn't exactly know. The boat sailed off into the night, waiting for nothing and no one.
Julie immediately started to feel sick. Hardly a doctor, Father Charles simply stared at her, irritated by the cold air. Julie glanced into the water, somewhat regretful of her decision to leave everything behind. Desperate for warmth, Charles wrapped his arms around her, clearly aroused by her perfume.
"You know, I'm glad we're doing this. We've been through hell, these last few days, and that's not even counting all the sleepless nights. I'm hoping that after tonight, we won't have to worry about sleeping ever again," he whispered.
"What do you mean?"
"The fact that we're still alive, is nothing short of astonishing. What I'm doing tonight, I should have done months ago. When they find us, or more realistically, if they find us, we will be together," he assured.
Julie suddenly felt water on her leg. There was a hole, approximately twelve inches wide, in the center of the boat. Father Charles grabbed Julie and pinned her against the side of the vessel. Her screams, justly or unjustly, were met with deaf ears. The boat rocked back and forth, its sinking inevitable.
"Save for a few good moments, we never really did get along," Charles muttered.
"The man I know, that I love more than anything else in the world, could never do something like this. I'm curious, of all the times to do it, why now? Why here?"
"I'm ridding the world of my sin. You're part of it, have been from the very beginning. Now, things are as they should be: completely hopeless," he grunted.