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The Last Time

By Wilson Marr


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    Jude felt the last drop of his coffee slide down his throat in the fresh, cold November air.  He stood in the driveway beside his truck in the snow shoveled driveway.  It had been warming up for 5 minutes now.  It felt good breathing in that fresh cold fall air.  There was always something special about it and the time of fall/winter.  He took a look around him in his working class neighborhood; there was snow and ice on the ground and in the trees.  It looked like he was in his own magical kingdom, the very same one he wanted and thought perfect as a child.  Jude took a look at his watch, it read 8:00 A. M.  It was time to leave and face his fate and past.
    He drove down the snow covered Main St. very slow.  There was still snow and sheets of ice on the street.  The city had not bothered to clear the city roads that morning.  Jude was not surprised, there was no point in clearing the roads for the few hours they all had to themselves.  He was now in the commercial district of the street and couldn't help but to notice the looted and empty stores.  He turned on the radio to find out what was going on elsewhere, to find out how other people where spending their last hours.
    "It's only thirty minutes until nine o'clock.  The President of the United States has already expressed his wishes for a few hours of world peace this morning.  Right now we would like to focus on how other groups of people are spending their November 21st.  We go to Judith O'Connor in London.  Judith".
    "In London today most people are spending what time they have left with their families.  But some people are trying to go on with some sense of normalcy.  They are taking a stroll through Hyde Park or shopping in whatever stores that may be open.  But in some parts of London all is not quiet.  In downtown a bomb went off inside a gay bar that was open for business, killing three and leaving eight wounded.  The police believe it to be the work of a fringe neo-Nazi ground making one last attack on a minority.  One witness had this to say about the attacks".
    "It's a shame, it really is a bleedin' shame.  Some people just can't put aside their differences for just one day".
    Jude turned off the radio.  He had always believed homosexuality was a sin and against the will of God.  But what he had just heard made him sick; the attack was petty and worst of all it was the actions of cowardice.  Some people were never going to change in the face of any event.  He approached a church on the street.  The same church he had been attending every Sunday for the past forty years.  The parking lot was jammed pack.  Jude knew that's where he should be, rejoicing God and all his good works.  But he had more important matters to tend to today.
    The truck arrived at the end of Main St. and stopped in front of the a stop sign half covered in snow.  Jude turned into Cullberry Rd. to his right.  He drove slow and careful down the road until he found his address, 234 Cullberry.  He could see that there were a number of cars parked in front of it along the curb.  Relatives, that's nice thought Jude.  He parked across the street, got out and started to make his way to the house.  When he got to the curb he could see a snow man with a yellow, blue and red scarf around it's neck and a snow angel in the yard.  Ah, thought Jude, children, one of God's most precious gifts to the world.  He walked up the snow covered pavement to the door.  He rang the bell.  At the same time the town clock rang, it was 8:50 A. M.  A woman in her 60's came to the door.
    "Yes?  May I help you"?
    "Rose...  It's me Jude Mitchell".  He took off his John Deer cap before her.  He saw the shock and anxiety come to her face.
    "You"!  A tear rolled down her left cheek.
    Jude dropped to his knees.  "I've come to ask for forgiveness Rose".
    He could see that she was trying to keep it together but it wasn't working.  She broke down.
    "I know I'm asking a lot.  I know I deserve to go to Hell.  There hasn't been a day I haven't thought about it.  I'm sorry".
    "That would have been useful forty years ago...  First it was the slaps, then it was fists.  You had that other girl...  And that night, my God that night!  You were drunk and you threw me on the bed...  And you...  Your breath smelled while you did me like that"!  She lowered her head into her hands.
    Jude lowered his head in shame and felt sorry for her.  He felt a tear roll down his face.
    "O. K. Rose I won't make you suffer any more".  He got up and walked away from the house.
    "I forgave you a long time ago", whispered Rose.  She looked at him for the last time and closed the door. 

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