The humbled whisper of sorrow,
lives not in the hot flame.
a tear shed in compassion
a vast lake, able
the dry throat
of the repentant.
. . .
A lavender scent filled the air as the rich man slid the new purple fabric over his shoulders. The horizon was slowly swallowing the last beams of light. Dinner would be laid out soon and tonight like every other night was going to be a feast. A servant showed him the guest list. Scanning the names with his eyes he saw that no one on the list was wealthier than him, “Very good,” he whispered under a smirk, “very good.”
The cool night air sent breezes over the dinner party. They all sat in a circle around a large fire controlled by ornate stones. Laughing they gorged themselves past the emptiness of hunger, past the dulled pressure of a full stomach, and into the realm of vomiting onto disheveled plates. “Get me more!” the rich man shouted, “Get me more at once!”
Below the balcony in the darkness was Lazarus. He pressed his rotten body against the cold stone of the palace. He was engulfed in pain. Sores littered his body like wet leaves stuck to his gray flesh. Weakness prevented him from being able to walk or sleep. His last night on Earth would be spent groaning in a pile of trash. All the while he whispered, “Dear God, I am so sorry. I am so sorry…”
The servants emptied the trash from the dinner party onto the trash heap. Warm vomit and chewed bread splattered all over the dying beggar. Far above, the rich man laughed watching his servant take no notice of the beggar in his trash heap. Dogs heard the clanking commotion of the plates and hurried over to eat the scraps. They licked Lazarus’s body as he died.
Lazarus felt his soul slip his out of his body, like a weary traveler shedding a tattered and soiled coat. He pain was instantly forgotten and he fell asleep in his new home of light and peace. He stood upon a balcony of light overlooking a great void. He noticed a ball of purple light falling into a distant lake that glowed red with flame.
Death tore the rich man from of his young body like a scab being removed from a wound. The shock of the moment was over in a flash. He felt his soul become engulfed in flames as if it were his very own skin. Pain overwhelmed his senses. His throat soon became dry from screaming. Seeing Lazarus across the expanse he began to call out. “Please! Get me water! Lazarus dip your finger in water and bring it to me!”
“No one can traverse the expanse that separates us,” an old man answered as he walked up and stood next to Lazarus.
“Then, at least send Lazarus to my family! My brothers, I need to warn them about this awful place!”
“If they haven’t listened to those who were already sent with the message, then they would not listen to someone who has returned from the dead.”
The rich man became angry at the old man and began shouting and cursing. Soon he began puking purple filth, as searing flames licked all over his burning body.
. . .
Copyright © 2019 Zachary W. Gilbert