By Mark W. Meier
Prophet of Death
Twenty minutes later the two of you charged through your apartment’s parking lot and into the public park across the street. Traffic was nearly nonexistent because of the heavy snow, and even hardy Midwesterners knew to stay off the roads with so much blowing and drifting.
For a few minutes you traded off throwing snowballs at each other, then that devolved into simply scooping unpacked snow and flinging it. The scattering flakes limited visibility even more than the snowfall. Eventually the two of you collapsed, laughing.
An old pickup with an attached plow lumbered past. I made the engine backfire. POW! The two of you jumped as the percussive sound washed through the winter wretched-land. At least it stopped your loathsome tittering.
Amy turned on her side and propped herself up on an elbow. “You know, snow sure is beautiful.”
“I suppose.” You looked longingly toward the sky. “I can’t see the stars, though.”
Amy chuckled again. “With all the city lights you can’t see them anyway.”
The snowfall slackened a little.
“They seem further away when it’s cloudy, though.” You turned on your side to face Amy. “It gets kind of depressing.”
“They’re still there,” Amy reminded you. “God put them there to be our guides. With the internet and computers, even if you can’t see them you can still use them to find your way.”
You snorted in derision. “This has nothing to do with astrology. I have computer programs to show me what the sky looks like.”
More like you’d “had” computer programs. They were impounded when Woods took your computer.
The old pickup rounded a corner and its engine noise faded. I made it backfire once more just for fun.
“The Wise Men knew where things were, even on cloudy nights.” Amy wiped melting snow from her face. Her mittens left a smear of water drawing lines down her forehead and cheeks. “Maybe they knew years ahead of time about the birth of Jesus.”
Your laugh was more akin to a bark. “Why do you say that?”
“They were the best astronomers in the world at that point. They knew what the planets and stars were going to do, probably as accurately as you and your computer models.”
“I’m cold.” You realized you hadn’t eaten anything since your carrots at lunchtime, and the lack of fuel for your body was really what made you cold. Your thoughts were muddled, too, for the same reason.
But then no human really has clear thoughts. Fools, each and every one.
“Let’s go inside.” Amy jumped to her feet and offered you a hand up.
You took it, and didn’t let go as you ambled toward your apartment building.
You walked her to her second floor apartment right at the top of that flight of stairs. She stopped, and you wondered if she wanted a kiss.
“Have you eaten anything today?” she asked.
You hesitated before answering. Boredom had dominated your Saturday, but you realized hunger had crept up and pounced when you weren’t looking.
“You haven’t.” Amy nodded. “Wait here.”
She vanished into her apartment and closed the door.
I could feel the offensive influence of Him oozing through the cracks, so I backed away from the door. The quiet sounds of rummaging ended and the door opened again.
A smiling Amy presented you with a plastic grocery bag filled with food. “Nothing much, but you need to eat.”
“Uh . . . thanks.” You took the bag’s handles and stood there like the fool you were.
“I’ll see you in the morning?”
“Okay. Did you want to call me tonight?” You were so like a three-year-old, in a way, but children usually exhibited more common sense.
“Sure. We can talk about the Wise Men.”
You smiled. “All three?” Even you knew there weren’t necessarily three. “Will we have that much time?”
“Ha.” She followed the mock laugh with a light punch to the shoulder. “Have something to eat tonight, there’s instant oatmeal for breakfast, and I’ll see you at 8:30 tomorrow morning.”
Your mournful look was a thing of beauty. “Call me in a half hour?” It’s not like you really wanted to talk about the Wise Men, but you were willing to talk about pretty much anything if the conversation was with Amy.
She nodded and closed the door.
You almost flew up the stairs, eager to eat, doubly eager to talk to Amy.
Revolting. But you were mine. I wasn’t about to let you go.
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