I stepped into the light of day, brilliant when compared to the muted light inside the church. It was the sort of light that laid all bare before it, exposing truths that were better left hidden. I enjoyed the warmth, but I was not quite ready to face that sort of judgment.
Father Gabriel gave me forty dollars from his own pocket before I left. He said he couldn’t send me off with nothing but his prayers, even when I insisted it was unnecessary. I reached into my pocket and felt the worn, old bills resting there. He didn’t have to do it, but I was certainly glad he had.
I walk down the street, heading in the direction of downtown, my pace casual and unassuming. I want to run, to get as far away from the church and Julia as fast as I can. I’d love to stay, safe in the arms of the holy place, but mortal man does not always recognize sacred boundaries, so I needed to leave.
A cab drives by and I flag him down, thankful for the good fortune and the forty dollars. I direct the cabby to downtown, the Hitaratsu headquarters, and settle back into the cracked vinyl seat while he navigates the early morning traffic.