Chapter 6 Simon the Zealot

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Simon looked down at his lifeless body, feeling more grief than he ever had. He knew what it meant. He, Simon James Withers, was dead. Dead. Simple as that. And he hadn't woken atop a ground made of fluffy clouds at the pearly gates of heaven. There was no St. Peter waiting to take his name. Sure, a vampire named Peter took his life, but that wasn't quite the same. He merely floated above his own body.

He wondered, were the Catholics right? Was this some sort of purgatory? He floated there watching himself in misery, wishing he could kill himself, if it weren't for the fact that he’d already died. A few minutes later everything around him began to glow. After a moment or so, he could see a brilliant white glow. Then came a flash of red and everything changed. He felt solid again. Looking down, his body was much smaller than he expected.  It sat on what looked to be the front seat of a car. He recognized his best Sunday suit from when he was eight years old. He fingered the buttons and put his hands in the jacket pockets. He could feel the fabric. Then he put his hands up and felt his own eight year old face, just as he remembered it. He ran his hands through his hair. It was all so wonderful until...

"Now, listen honey, don't you go messin’ up that beautiful little hair of yours, ya hear? Mama spent too damn long gettin’ it just right for Sunday school," a female voice said.

Simon swallowed. Then very slowly he turned and looked. Beside his eight-year-old body, gripping the wheel, smoking a cigarette, and dressed in a red dress that could give any preacher a cardiac arrest, sat Simon's mother. She smiled at him with her bright red lipstick-covered lips, her curly brown hair lightly bouncing in the wind, and Simon fought back the urge to vomit. Of all the places Simon had never expected to end up when he died, this was by far the last. It might as well be hell, to end up eight years old in a car with his whore of a mother and on the way to church, no less.

A few minutes later, they pulled into the gravel lot of a small white church surrounded by wheat fields. She pulled him through the door and once again he went through the humiliation and torture of seeing all the good people of the church look at her. The women (and some of the men) looked at her with contempt. The rest of the men looked at her with lust in their hearts. His mama was causing all these poor men to sin and she didn't even care. She enjoyed it. He felt his face go scarlet as she pulled him along the aisle between the pews. He couldn't help but think of his father. It took everything he had to keep from weeping. No wonder he had left her. If only he’d taken Simon with him.

Simon sat down quietly next to his mother, where she had patted the seat in expectation. When it was time for church to start, the Reverend Joseph Bells spoke a powerful sermon on the dangers of the flesh. Simon wished his mother would have actually learned something from it. But this wasn't his first time going through this day. He knew what would happen and if it wouldn't change her ways, what would?

After the sermon, Brother Thompson, the Sunday school teacher, stood up and Simon took his cue to escape from his mother's dirty presence and run to be with his friends in line to go to class. He did his best to enjoy every sweet moment of playing with the other kids. He relished the teacher's lesson about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He especially enjoyed the part where Lot's wife looked back even though the angel had told her not to and she turned into a pillar of salt. He pictured his mother when the teacher told the story. He wished that God would turn her into a pillar of salt. He felt a great surge of guilt then fought it back, reminding himself she deserved what was coming to her. He knew from experience that God punishes the weak and unfaithful.

When they arrived back home, he went to his room and slammed the door as he did many times in those days. He took off his suit and changed into a T-shirt and shorts, telling himself he would just stay in his room while it happened. He found his favorite toys and sat down to play with them. The minutes went by like hours and after what seemed like forever the sunlight finally started to dim outside. Then, while waiting, lying on the floor in his room, he fell asleep, just like he did that very day. He dreamed about hell and demons just like he had that day. He tossed and turned in his sleep and in his dream he held up the cross and the demons kept on coming. He cried out to God to come and save him from them, but God didn't come. They chased him up mountains and through deserts and no matter how fast he would run, they were always right behind him. Then, he tripped over a large rock in the desert and fell on his face. The biggest demon looked down at him with its blood-red face and its black goatee and smiled as it reached out to grab him. He woke up in a cold sweat and made a mild whining sound, the same as he had that day. And just like that day, that was when he heard her screaming.

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