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Priest (standard:drama, 7132 words)
Author: MikeKAdded: Oct 13 2006Views/Reads: 1594/1063Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A young American cleric gets pulled into a Middle East conflict


There were four men in the cell that they threw the priest into.  It was
one room of a long single story brick building, normally uninhabited, 
standing on the border between Israel and Palestine Gaza.  Their 
captors were a group of young Palestinian men wearing camouflage, 
carrying automatic weapons, and wearing black ski masks over their 
faces so that the Israelis could not identify them. They were not 
hard-core militia but more of a loose knit group, with no specific 
affiliation, other than being bandits and thieves who were allowed to 
roam with impunity as long as they harassed the Israelis and 
contributed some of their plunder to the Authority. 

Father Rick lay on the floor where they dropped him and tried to get his
bearings. The room was spinning and smelled like a sewer full of 
cigarette smoke and his head was throbbing like it was going to explode 
right off his shoulders.  He reached up with one hand and wiped the 
blood out of his eyes long enough to see a wall in front of him and he 
crawled over to it and spun himself into a sitting position.  The 
effort caused him to wheeze like a broken machine because of the pain 
in his chest from what he strongly suspected was a cracked or broken 
rib.  For now he made himself concentrate on the piece of hard bread 
that they had given him and was just getting it to his mouth when the 
man next to him ripped it from his hand and began eating it. 

"Bless me father for I have sinned," Greg said, stuffing the bread in
his mouth, "but I haven't eaten all day.  You must be the priest 
they've been talking about.did they get your money?" 

He lifted up the tail of his shirt and wiped more blood from his face
until, with repeated blinking, he could see.  He was in a small cell, 
maybe fifteen feet square, with one window high on the wall to his 
right and two men seated on the floor to his left, a young man standing 
looking out the window and one man--more of a boy--seated on the floor 
under the window with his head on his arms.  He turned to the man who 
had taken his bread and noted that he was small in stature but 
deceptively stout, with a full salt and pepper beard and looked to be 
in his late forties or early fifties.  He reminded him of a painting of 
St. Paul that he had seen somewhere recently.  "Who the hell are you?" 

"Greg."  He crouched down in front of  the priest and lowered his voice
to a whisper, "Was it cash?  American dollars?"  He got closer still: 
"How much?" 

"Aw, leave him alone," The other man to his left said to Greg.  He
looked at Father Rick, "He won't let up where American dollars a pup with a new toy." 

"My driver, Pete," said Greg introducing him to Father Rick, "he's a

Pete was a big man.  Father Rick couldn't tell how big because they were
sitting down but he had to be pretty good size.  He had a boyish face 
except for the eyes which were a light green but small and kind of mean 

Father Rick nodded toward the other two men by the window, "Are they
with you?" 

"No," Greg said, "the boy there on the floor, a Brit named Roy, seems to
have wondered across the border by mistake; and Eli, the one who keeps 
looking out the window, wandered across the border all right but it was 
no mistake.  Seems they caught him trying to sneak  into one of the 
Jewish settlements. 

"Is he a Jew?" Father Rick said, which sounded funny to him after he
said it. 

"There are lots of them around here, Father, but mostly on the other
side of the border." Greg said. 

Father Rick leaned back against the wall and took a deep breath.  He
tried to focus on what he had gotten himself into.the incongruity, the 
shear stupidity of  it overwhelmed him.  He was the pastor of a small 
Catholic parish in Indiana for Christ sake.   He had no business in 

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