Once upon a midnight clear
| Night of Old
It would come upon a midnight clear. Stars would twinkle silently through patched-work holes on a quilted sky of black. One luminous fireball of gases will travel through the sky until it reaches its destination. The shiniest of stars will hover above the extraordinary event casting the brilliance of light on the stage. Mankind will forever be transformed by the happenings set to occur. The scene is reminiscent of a long ago happening, a remnant of writings and stories passed through the ages. Once it was a testimony of faith and a covenant among people to build a world of peace. Today the trumpets will sound and role will be called. Evil will dwell in the houses that allowed it to flourish.
Morrisey sat on the front porch contemplating his windfall. He rested wads of cash on his potbelly as he counted. The stubble of his beard from three days of not shaving poked sharply in to his rolls of neck fat. His jowls seemed to glisten in the evening sun from the sweat of actual labor. His moon-shaped pattern of baldness with no buffer of hair allowed the sweat to roll freely down his face. His lips and teeth were permanently stained to the shade of coffee grounds from his constant intake of chewing tobacco. The hint of a devious grin hung on his mouth.
"Nice tidy sum we got here, Chico!" Told you those suckers would fall for it."
"What's my cut?" Chico said, giddy in his manner and voice. The man was almost drooling, like a dog waiting for its treats. He looked much younger in age than truth told because of his animated features. One would swear, he was a cartoon character come to life, with his dark swarthy skin and finely etched nose. His thick chiseled jaw resembled Dudley Do Right, while furry arched brows brought the image of Maleficent into view. His eyes, a vibrant green, held little intelligence behind their gleam.
"Don't get greedy, my man. There's more work to be done," Morrisey said, as he glared at him in an effort to remind the man of who was in charge.
"Awe man, what now?"
"Idiot, gotta move the stuff out here so the police don't catch us. Next, stop Reno. We can keep pulling this scam all over the country. Plan on being part of the elite someday!"
"Shouldn't we lay low? People aren't going to keep believing there's a second coming. People in Reno aren't easy to fool!"
"That's the point Chico, people have lost hope. If we lead them to believe that helping others will secure their place in the heavens, we can rake in the dough. The more skeptical they are the more they want to believe. Simple flare in the sky had those yokels throwing cash at me. Paying those farmhands twenty bucks to pretend I was fixing their maladies was a stroke of genius. They're just happy to be feeding the family for the day. My levitation freaked them all out. Make sure you pack those ropes for Reno!"
"What if the illegals start talking? They could nail us big"
"I only used travelers. We'll be long gone by the time any of them talk or even figure it out. You worry too much, Chico."
"Can I have an advance? Have to buy Selma medicine. She's pretty sick."
"Always asking for something, aren't you Chico? You need to ditch that girl. She's dragging you down."
"Selma ain't got nobody but me since her mamma left. She goes where I go! Morrisey, I ain't ditching my daughter," Chico said, now angry at his boss for even suggesting the idea.
"Calm down, I've always helped you and the kid. Maybe we can use her in the act soon. Kids with cancer make hearts open even wider.'
"That's sick! We ain't using Selma. She's just got the pneumonia. Just needs to rest and then she'll be better. She's only seven! Kids get sick."
"That kid is always sickly, something wrong with her. We could use it to our advantage. You think about it and let me know. There's no hurry. Here's a hundred for her meds. Come back around two."
Chico tossed his head downward, averting his eyes to the dirt. He knew in his heart that he would never involve the girl in their schemes, but the boss was always pushing for it. Selma was the only good thing left in his life. Chico wasn't about to mess that up. Morrisey was right about the girl being sick all the time but Chico hoped to score it big so he could give her a proper home.
"Why don't you bring the kid back with you and let me talk to her. I'll wise her up. Shit, by the time I get done, she'll be begging to help her daddy.'
"I done told you, she's sick. I won't be bringing her." Chico said as he started to climb in his truck.
The sky darkened overhead with the starlight blotted out by thousands of birds flying in a circular pattern above the house. Chico retreated from his truck to watch the strange phenomena and Morrisey rose from his chair. The birds landed silently, one by one, in the nearby trees. Both men were watching the sky, as hoards of hissing serpents blanketed the ground. A luminous fireball of gases hovered where the birds had flown. Both men failed to notice the asps, as they were blinded by the light.
"Damn, hell of a storm must be coming! You best get back in here." Morrisey called to Chico.
"I gotta get Selma. Make sure she's safe."
"You ain't gonna make back to town. She'll be fine. Get on in here." Morrisey said, suddenly not wanting to be alone.
Chico was torn. He feared what was upon them, but Selma needed him. His cell phone rang as he turned back toward the house ready to give in to his fear. He reached into his pocket catching sight of the snakes on the ground. He screamed at the coiling beasts at his feet, jumping the full five feet into the truck bed. His phone continued to ring.
Morrisey was mesmerized by Chico tossing the serpents that still clung to his legs from the truck bed. Slowly, he climbed on top of the chair he had evacuated moments earlier. Sweat poured from his brow, as he trembled in terror. The snakes had weaved their way in through the wooden slats and one single raven sat perched on the arm. He jumped from the chair to run in the house, ready to abandon his friend in the truck. Morrisey pulled at the door but it was sealed by the snakes that crawled around the frame. He fell backward off of the porch onto the ground. A wicked cry of horror sprang from his gut as he fought the snakes engulfing him. In his fright, he swore he heard the raven speak.
"Rebirth to the night of old," the raven squawked. He could hear a phone ringing in the distance.
Chico was unsure of what to do. He couldn't help Morrisey and his own doom looked imminent. The old yellow Ford was painted black with the snakes that covered it. Like a baby he bawled, not for himself, but for Selma and the thought of her being alone. He reached for his phone that still continued to ring. Chico wanted to at least tell her that he loved her.
"Hello," he whispered into the phone.
"Daddy, it's Selma."
"Yes, baby, I know," Chico said, filled with relief that she was alive.
"You have to get out of there now!" the little girl hollered.
"What? Are you okay?"
"Yes, daddy. I'm not sick anymore. God fixed me. He shined a light for all good people to follow him. It is joyous here but evil sits on the place of darkness, where the raven perches and the serpent slithers."
Confused, Chico didn't understand how Selma knew about the snakes and the birds.
"Honey, I love you. Daddy loves you." he cried a father's tears into the phone.
"I know but daddy you have to get out of there. It is the second coming. Trumpets are blowing to call the good and snakes are hissing to summon the evil. The night of old has been reborn."
"Too late for me, baby. It truly did come upon the midnight clear! Be good, sweetheart,"
he said as he hung up the phone. Chico stared up into the sky watching the beautiful stillness in the distance. Calmly, he laid himself down in the bed of the truck to allow the serpents to do their work. They covered him quickly, as the nest of biting and probing creatures buried his squirming body. A raven pecked freely at his vibrant green eyes. In the distance, he could hear the angels singing but nearby he could hear the serpents hissing.
Word Count 1499