He holds his hands open, palms facing upward, arms stretched wide to either side of him at waist level. The prayers slip from his his thoughts, to his lips, but never reaches his vocal chords. With eyes gazing reverently upward at the stars that did shine, his body begins to tremble lightly starting from the tips of his fingers to the thinning grey hair on his head. A man walks by, athletic and well groomed, stopping abruptly as if just noticing the older man standing there in the middle of the vast nearly empty parking lot. “Hey, got a cigarette I can bum off ya?”, the young man asks with uncertainty lacing his voice. The older man pauses in his silent incantation which has become a daily ritual for him as natural and frequent as eating for him over the years. The only indication of acknowledgment, and annoyance, at the interruption manifested itself as a slight twitch of his right eye. This is the first time since his awakening that anyone had dared approach him while in this state. Most people are too scared to even walk withing spitting distance of him and that fact has never chanced no matter his location. Be it a city or town in the middle of nowhere, the people there have always paid a deference usually reserved for strict authority figures. “As they should,” he mused to himself. A slight quirk of his lips at the corners of his mouth blossomed then in his own personal version of a smile. “Huh?” came the confused response from the young man standing far too close for comfort. The old man had been too engrossed in his thoughts to notice this fact. He also came to realize that he had spoken out loud without intending to. Lowering his head to stare into the young man’s eyes, muttering, “peccavi,” while doing so. Yes, he thought bitterly. Work is prayer after all and my overconfidence has overridden my caution. The Lord is testing me. Very well. The Saints did not journey unscathed.
The young man had spent the past few minutes observing the emotions play across the devotee’s face. The ones that he could discern was making him uneasy. He knew all too well the face of a fanatic and his disquiet grew stronger as the elderly man lowered his head to make eye contact. The young man, a driver just stopping through town, frowned and began to turn away. Some things just aren’t worth it, he thought.
It was at that moment when the devotee’s right hand shot out to grab the driver’s left arm in a firm grip. The driver’s surprise was short lived, but it was long enough for him to be caught by a swift blow to the temple with an industrial sized tire iron. The devotee, in a fit of rage bordering on madness, continued to pummel the driver in the head despite the deadly efficiency of the initial blow. Panting, the elderly man ambled away into the breaking twilight sun, silently questioning the length of time it took him to perform his penance. It was a large parking lot and he had plenty of time to ponder things before the public trickled in. “A Saint, indeed,” he chuckled to himself at length.