[Jack Grisham is an author, hypnotherapist, T.S.O.L. front man and all-around troublemaker. This column, True Story, may or may not be factual, with characters who may or may not be real.]
It was his usual 'Holy-Night' pitch and he delivered it with the proper mixture of warmth, warning, and want. A Christmas tale complete with angels and wise men, a virgin birth and a miracle child. As he stood at the pulpit--his hair perfect, his teeth sparkling white, he was his congregation's vision of a leader--a man in his mid 40's, faithfully married to a loving wife; a strong man, father to two beautiful boys--he was generous, loving and kind--beyond reproach, and when he finished speaking and shaking hands--graciously accepting their praise, he walked to his car alone.
"It's strange how things happen;" he thought, "how God works wonders in the world."
He unlocked the door to his mid-sized sedan--climbed in, put on his seat belt, and then reached for the .38 caliber revolver that he had in his glove-box. The gun was one of God's miracles, a weapon taken from the jealous hand of a parishioner. It was to be an instrument of rage and revenge, but now, thanks to his intercession, it would be used as something entirely different.
He watched the headlights of his flock fade as they pulled from the parking lot and drift toward their homes. His own wife had left directly after the sermon, taking their children and his world with her--he'd soon be alone. He checked to make sure the gun was loaded and then he began to sing.
"Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light. From now on, our troubles will be out of sight."
"Hey, Tony, are you okay?" He looked up and at the door stood the caretaker of the church--Albert, the one he'd been waiting for.
"Yes," The pastor replied "I was just sitting and thinking."
"Buddy, you've got a gun there, are you sure?"
"Yeah," the pastor covered the revolver with his hand. "it's just that...this time of year, a time of love and family, of hope and promise--but if you don't have those things, or they're being taken from you, then this time of year is a time that magnifies loss, it's a season of pain and betrayal, a season of failure, of a job not well done..."
The pastor picked up the gun and held it against his head.
"Hey come on, Tony, put it down, huh. You don't have to do this." Albert opened the door and put his hand on the pastor's shoulder. "I just heard you in there, it was beautiful..."
"Was my son beautiful when you touched him? Did you tell yourself that you didn't have to do this?"
"What? Come on man, what the fuck are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about you molesting my boy."
"Hey, what the fuck, don't shoot me man. I got kids, please."
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"I'm not going to shoot you--I can't. I'm the one that's failed."
Tony--no longer the pastor, put the gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger.