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The Halloween Project 2019 Story 9: Sins

"For 47 years Father Krystnik served his parishioners. He ministered to the sick. He offered solace to the dying. He baptized hundreds of infants. He heard confessions, and accomplished much for the parishes in which he worked. But a man is still a man and can sometimes fall from the grace that is entrusted to him. Father Krystnik is just such a man," a pause halted Monsignor Kelly's eulogy. The crowd, enveloped in a pall of silence, seemed to hold its collective breath. He looked down at his notes and actually turned around to face the altar, collecting himself. The Monsignor turned back to the congregation and continued, "I have many, many prepared thoughts here but I'm not sure how to share them. Let me speak freely. We look down upon this simple coffin and attempt to make sense, to find some clarity. But wisdom does not come easily. Truth is sometimes hidden; buried beneath feelings, actions and thoughts. I have known Father Krystnik for most of his priesthood. In this modern world allegations appear to be convictions. We must not, we cannot, judge a party guilty before the fact. And with that in mind, does not the good outweigh the bad? Year after year after year of kindness, charity, and giving? Isn't that more important? Selfless actions for decades must mean more than" "More than what!?" A man's voice, sharp, yet brittle, rang out from the back of the church, interrupting. A constrained wave of shock ran through the gathered. People turned. Some heads bowed. At the pulpit Monsignor Kelly froze, an immobile figure in regalia and shock. "More than what, Monsignor?!" The voice rose higher. A man stood, balding, slightly built, perhaps in his forties. He wore a grey suit with tie askew. He clenched the rail of the pew before him with hands white-knuckled. "More than the truth?!" He was shouting now, "You speak of the truth! The truth is too dark! To horrible to mention! And you knew! You knew! Shame on you, Monsignor! Shame! On! You!" And he raised a hand pointing directly ahead. An usher quickly pushed through the door at the rear of the church and exited. Several others headed toward the man. In seconds two police officers re-entered. The ushers had merged on the man from either side of the pew. One was saying, "Sir. Sir. Please, Sir." "I'm leaving," the fury had left his voice. An usher took his arm but he quickly and violently pulled it free. "I'm leaving!" He announced through hissing teeth. He walked to the back where the officers took over and in a moment he was gone as if a bolt of lightning had struck the church but no apparent damage was done. Monsignor Kelly stood, wordless. He gathered the notes that he had crushed in his hand, stepped from the pulpit and exited through a door into the sacristy. Father Krystnik was buried in St. Joseph's cemetery later that morning. He was laid to an assumed rest in a plot reserved for priests on a knoll in the section farthest from Lakeside Avenue. The gathered throng heard more prayers and the incessant blare of a car horn that did not stop for the entire graveside service. A year later to the day a maintenance gardener at St. Joseph's tooled his Ariens mower up the incline to the "Holy Land" as all the workers called it. When he crested the knoll he slammed the brake and powered down. He jumped from his machine and walked hesitantly toward something that he couldn't quite understand. A huge mound of earth lay piled and splayed on all sides of an opened plot. On the top of one pile rested large mailbox-sized broken pieces of reinforced concrete which had made up the uppermost section of the burial vault. The worker stepped closer and peered over the edge. The wooden top of the coffin beneath had been splintered into numerous lengthy fragments of mahogany shards. Axe strokes appeared everywhere. There was no corpse. The worker studied the headstone. Through the axe marks that had bludgeoned and defaced the letters he could barely read: Father Simon Krystnik b. 1944 - d. 2019 NO Peace #