[38] Saturday Afternoon Sermon, Susan DeFelice

The old man descended the stairs on his matchstick legs to the outside section of the bar and hobbled out to the rusty fire pit where the glaring sun rendered Cherise invisible. As he approached, her body diffused as though he was nearing a pointillist painting.

He arched back, shielding his eyes from the sun, “I can barely see you, Lady! What you doing back here all by yourself?”

Before Cherise could answer he hollered, “Well, I’m Manny and you wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through!” his legs bent stiffly, like they were held together by stick pins. He wore holy jeans and an Iron Maiden t-shirt with an aged black leather vest. His face was sunken and his quivering smile revealed few teeth.

Manny said to Cherise, “What do you think about this plan: I’m starting a Saturday sermon out back here at three o’clock. Because church is closed and people are suffering! Hell, I’ve lost a few friends, not from illness but from loneliness! What do you think of that idea, Lady? We won’t out and out offer alcohol but it will be available.”

Cherise replied, “I think it’s a nice idea, Manny. I’d go, but I don’t go to church. I know what you mean about the loneliness though.”

Manny looked at Cherise with his watery eyes and cried, “That’s what I’m talking about! Loneliness is such a god-damned ignored thing these days!” he slapped his leg and Cherise imagined a big bruise already forming on it. He focused on the driftwood benches surrounding the firepit as though imagining them filled with a congregation, then waved and shuffled back inside the bar. Cherise closed her eyes and tilted her head toward the sun, its rays scattering her apart particle by particle.

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