100 COFFINS

Moving amongst the people, comforting their frightened souls, had given his own mind little relief. He felt tense and, though he was reluctant to admit it, afraid. Though it didn’t create these feelings, Cadman’s presence accentuated them. Joseph moved to the front of the dark saloon and out the doors. The rank night air, for once in his life, was a relief.

Paul Goodman -- Paul of the Holy Trinity -- is waiting across the street, he thought to himself. He’s waiting in the sheriff’s office to come amongst us. I should be with the flock until his arrival, Joseph reprimanded himself. But what he should do and what he had to do were irreconcilable. His own mind couldn’t be at rest until he had a final talk with Paul, the flesh of his savior. Paul held the key to his own peace. How could he help the flock otherwise?

Joseph sunk his steps into the muddy street. The rain, it seemed, had passed for the night. The air felt cold and bitter.

The sheriff’s door was unlocked. Joseph entered, finding the meditating form of Paul sitting quietly at the desk. He was a slim, tall man with thin, sharp features. Paul looked up in the darkness. “What is it, my son?” he asked in an aloof, distant voice.

Joseph wrung his hands, nervously. “My lord,” he began with respect, “there is fear in my heart.”

Paul Goodman struck a match and lit a candle atop the desk. He moved his seat closer to the glow. “My son,” he said with a smile that seemed to hold a thousand years of forgiveness, “you would be lying to yourself and to others if you pretended to be without fear. Your lord respects fear and especially those who face it.” Again he smiled.





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