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ATTENTION: Coarse language

PART TWENTY-NINE

       Like the bike rack, the line of cars at Interlachen Elementary had fallen from overflow to occasional. Caleb watched Hot Mama steam and sweat in her tiny, tight minidress, her indignation and agitation megaphoned for the world’s pleasure, the JAP writhing in apparent distress, as she waited at the bike rack beneath the hot, end of May Florida sun. “Sure do hate to see you suffer, Hot Mama,” Caleb said derisively. “Maybe soon I’ll free you from your misery.”

       Hot Mama’s head jolted back as though she’d heard Caleb’s declaration. Caleb zoomed his binoculars out and watched as Hot Mama’s spawn, the other little girl from the playground and a prim and proper gal with a swinging ponytail dressed in a burgundy skirt, walked toward his prey.

         Caleb again found himself in a state of deep confusion. The second little girl was hauntingly familiar. Haunting to the point where Caleb found himself experiencing an unreconcilable mixture of highest joy and deepest sorrow. There was no reason that Caleb should have so visceral a reaction to the skinny, poorly dressed waif. He did not know her, there was no one in the tiny suburb of Trinity that he knew, but, regardless of logic, his soul insisted that this, this urchin, was someone near and dear to him

         Suddenly, like a tall wave of frigid ocean water knocking him to his knees and rolling him over and over, Caleb knew why the little girl affected him so. “Good God a’mighty,” he said in wonder, letting his field glasses fall to his lap, “she walks just like little Skylar did; may she rest in peace.”

          A tsunami of memories washed over Caleb and he found himself entangled with the wonder that had been his daughter. Caleb’s mind jumped from seminal moment to seminal moment, from the shock he’d felt when Karla had told him she was pregnant to the anger he’d felt when she refused to abort. The trapped and sullen cloud that engulfed Caleb from his wedding day until Skylar’s birth again permeated his soul and he once more felt the incredible joy he’d known as Skylar, the heaven-sent fruit of his loins, had emerged, smeared with blood and fecal matter, from between his undeserving wife’s legs.

          Caleb had loved Skylar as he had never loved anything nor anyone, and his wife, the weak, vapid vessel that had never understood what a catch he was nor embraced fully the urgency of his Elohim’s Army agenda, had taken the only thing in his life that was good and brought it to extinction.

          Karla had caused Caleb, a man whose life had been one searing moment of anger followed by another, to feel rage more overwhelming than any he’d experienced prior or since. Allowing his child to die was a capital offense, but to slink away without facing him, to leave him with nothing except Karla’s semi-literate, barely legible, scrawled message, a message she’d sent to him in prison informing him that Skylar was gone and that she was leaving him, elevated her death sentence from simple execution to slow and vicious termination.

         Karla Morse had allowed their little love-child to die, and in her death,  God had given Caleb a mission, a calling, a purpose. God had spoken to Caleb and God had sent him on a holy knightly quest of finding his wife, extracting answers from her concerning the death of Skylar and then delivering His righteous revenge.

        Karla had failed as a mother, failed as a wife. She had fled into the wide-world, attempting to escape her due punishment, an escape that Caleb, a righteous man willing to perform an avenging God’s Earthly work, had vowed would be unsuccessful.

        Death was what He wished for Karla. A slow death, a death by a thousand cuts, an enduring agony that was but a quaint appetizer of the never-ending banquet of suffering that would be his wife’s eternal reward for having allowed their little miracle to die.

        Caleb had been hunting for Karla since his release from prison and he was certain that he had nearly snared his scared rabbit half-a-dozen times over his two years of freedom. Caleb acknowledged that his need to punish Karla had pushed him into hunting other flawed vessels, pushed him into using them as a temporary stop-gap, a thin gruel substitute, for the revenge he’d sworn to God he would wreak on his wife.

         “Karla,” Caleb said forcefully. “Karla is the reason I am here. Karla is God’s target and I am God’s arrow. Forgive me, Lord. Allow me this one last cleansing before I dedicate myself wholly and whole heartedly to the hunt and slaughter of my errant wife. Forgive me, give me guidance and give me strength.”

         Shaking his head and exhaling, Caleb’s mind returned to the present as his eyes refocused and he watched the proper little pony-tailed schoolmarm turn abruptly and head back toward Interlachen Elementary.

         Casting his eyes upward, Caleb concluded with a declaration of, “Elohim, I am thy servant. Through me, thy will be done.”