Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TRIAL (05/10/18)
- TITLE: Truth Under Fire
By Jack Taylor
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I wedged into the space between the wall of humanity but an elbow in my mid-section bent me over as the girl stepped past me and back into the gap. “Find your own fire” her protector growled. Two dozen eyes bore into me as if I was on trial for something I didn’t even know yet.
That black-hood just moved to the top of my hit list. If it wasn’t for the girl his face would be in the dirt. No one gets away with treating me like that.
“Shameless dog,” I muttered.
Black-hood turned toward my voice but I shifted the other way and slipped into the shadows of an awning near a wall. The crowd was growing. Anticipating what was coming. Shadows floated purposefully toward the far side of the courtyard.
It could have been a perfect night if everything had gone right. The sky was crystal clear. Stars far greater than I could number reminded me of God’s promise to Abraham. Promises I wasn’t sure what to do with anymore. My armpits provided bare warmth for my hands as I prowled around the huddle looking for another opportunity to stake my claim in closer.
Two broad-shouldered men adjusted the smaller logs and tried not to singe their beards as they eyed the glowing coals they blew on. “Stupid time to hold a gathering,” the grey-beard said.
“Surprised anyone is even showing up at this time of night,” the black-beard replied. “You’d think we had a mass murderer on the loose.”
“Who did they catch?” the little girl asked.
“The teacher,” grey-beard announced.
“Never know what those teachers are up to,” black-beard declared. “Messing with people’s minds. Filling everyone’s heads with dreams of what could be. Hang them all is what I say.”
Trials did seem a waste of time for this lot. If the rest of my group hadn’t of run off and abandoned me we could show this mob a thing or two. Probably hadn’t spent a minute with a teacher worth listening to.
The shadows sheltered me, but when the little girl moved away from her spot toward a priest who beckoned her, I nudged in and pushed my hands toward the fire. A thousand tiny slivers seemed to burrow their way into the nerves on my icy fingers as I hovered near the flames.
“You again!” Black-hood bellowed. “Fish-stinking goat. Get out of here.” This time his elbow caught the side of my head.
“Cursed fool,” I barked. I turned around and found myself face to face with the priest’s girl.
“I knew it,” the little girl announced for all to hear. “You were with the teacher in the garden. I saw you there.”
The night closed in around me like a net around the fish I always caught. Trapped. The eyes were boring into me again. Judging. Examining. Ready for judgment. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” I declared firmly. “What are you doing up so late?”
I left her the space and stepped into an entryway where the judging eyes couldn’t see my face in the dark. The pesky tramp kept watching me then glided over to the priest and pointed in my direction. Before I could find another hiding place she walked up to me and loudly announced, “this fellow is one of them. He was with the Teacher. I saw the Teacher watching him.”
“Ignorant tramp,” I hissed. “I am not with any Teacher.”
The group shrugged and turned their attention to the gathering across the courtyard. I huddled back in by the fire as several left to hear better. The speech pattern of the Teacher was distinct as he responded to the accusations.
The moon slid across the sky and as light tinged the horizon a rooster crowed.
Black-hood grabbed my arm. “You are one of his,” he said. “You talk just like him. I’m taking you over there.”
I wrenched my arm away. The fisherman’s curses ripping off my tongue backed everyone away. “I don’t even know this man,” I yelled.
When Jesus looked at me across the courtyard, the judge and jury didn’t have to say another word. A rooster declared my reality.
Like every man, every day, it was my heart which had been on trial.”
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