The boy runs through the night and the cold rain, looking for somewhere, anywhere. He comes upon an old deserted apartment complex, and chooses a spot underneath one of the outside stairs that lead up to some apartments above. Here the rain cannot get through.
Shivering, he has a seat on the hard concrete and fishes his hand into his coat pocket. Even in this desperate state, his hand is able to distinguish between the hypodermic needle and rubber hose. His fingers rest on both.
The tall man pulls his hat around his head for a firmer fit, and continues through the rain, his long coat providing further protection from the cold and wet. The man doesn’t appear to be in a hurry, and yet, his walk is one of confidence, purpose.
The boy’s jacket is on the concrete beside him and one of his long sleeves from his shirt is rolled up to his shoulder. He shakes fiercely as he takes the rubber hose and begins to tie it around the upper portion of his arm. That done, he stretches his arm out with the palm of his hand open, and begins to repeatedly close and open it.
The tall man turns a corner and is upon the old apartment complex. He begins to whistle as he makes his way to the back of the complex where the two-story apartments still stand. The night reeks of abandonment, loneliness, and the man’s whistling seems out of place.
Hardly able to see, but having done this so many times in the past, the boy finds a strong vein. He stares at the syringe, turning in over and over in his hand. Finally, turning it long-ways, with the needle facing down, he taps on it three times. Paradise is just a few seconds away.
“Maybe you don’t want to do that. Not here. Not tonight.”
The boy jumps, and almost stabs himself with the tip of the needle. The man in the hat looks down at him. “What’d ya want from me old man? Can’t you see I’m kind of busy?”
“I see that. Matter of fact, it’s why I’m here.”
“You want some of the action, cool. But ya gotta wait a minute, cause I’m in no condition to help you score.” He looks up at the man, and his face changes. “Hey, you don’t look like someone itchin’ a fix. Whatcha doing here?”
“I’m here for you, Timmy.” The man takes off his hat and sits down next to the boy. He lays his hat in his lap.
Timmy wants to leave. Now. But something keeps him there. Something about this man.
“Will you give me the needle?”
“Why? Why should I give it to you?”
The man shrugs. “Because you’re tired. Because of all the pain it’s caused you and your family. Because of the tear that it’s caused between you and God.” He pauses. “Because it’s not paradise is it, Timmy? It’s hell.”
Timmy nods and the tears come. Quick. Hard. “And you’re someone who can fix all that?”
“I can help.”
“How? How can you help me?”
“I want to enter into a pact with you, Timmy. I call it a ‘New Covenant’. And this covenant, between you and me, starts tonight. Now.”
“I…I can’t make any promises. It’s…too hard.”
“All you have to do is try. And my promise to you is that I’ll be with you every step of the way. Deal?”
Timmy looks again at this stranger, wondering for a moment if this is all a dream. He prays it’s not, and slowly he hands the needle to this stranger of the night.
The man takes the needle, and then holds out his hand. “My name’s Max.” Max helps Timmy to his feet, and then puts his arm around him. “We’ll get through this, you and me.”
24 hours later, Max and Timmy, together, face the beginnings of hell on earth…
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