SERVANT OF THE SCORPION – Chapter 19
The Sermon in the Basement
In the evening all of us workers and several of the apprentice pastors were gathered together into the cloister of the orphanage. I stayed close to Esmeralda. So did Lucas. We were led by Rita who was the senior apprentice pastor into a hallway and then down into a very large circular stone basement. It was illuminated by the light of many lanterns. I counted twelve corridors leading away from the large basement room. We were in the back of the crowd. There were swirls of gentle breezes, but the air smelled of moist earth.
Esmeralda told me, “This is where Arturo’s statue of Jesus was kept before it was given to that first church, over 400 years ago.”
Rita clapped and spoke up, “Attention, everyone. Please. Attention. Pastor Maximón will join us in a moment for his sermon on this eve of Palm Sunday. You will be interested to know that this ‘basement’ is actually the catacombs of the old estate.”
There arose an uneasy murmur.
Rita said quickly, “It is really a fascinating historical site which we can tour later if we so desire.”
The girls said “Eww”, the guys said “Awright”.
I don’t know what made me say aloud, “What about an earthquake?”
In the ensuing silence I could hear the rustle of all the heads turning toward me. Esmeralda looked at me with a pained expression. I heard Lucas swear “Jesus.”
Rita was ready for this, “People, people. This catacomb was built to last a thousand years. Look around you. There has been no damage even after the most recent terrible earthquake. In fact, this may be the safest place to be for a hundred miles around.”
In the ensuing murmur many eyes flashed at me in the lantern light and they reminded me of the fireflies I was seeing after Garra punched my head.
I was “saved” when the camera crew backed out of one of the tunnels while filming Pastor Maximón riding in on his motorized wheelchair. For some reason I thought of a bullring with Pastor Maximón as the matador. “I guess that makes you the bull,” came a thought into my head. I looked around. I saw the back of one head turning away from me.
Pastor Maximón stopped upon a carpet of palm leaves and olive branches. The camera crew stopped filming for a moment. The director pointed the assistant forward. The assistant placed a light behind the wheelchair for an effect of radiance. The intricate colors and shadows of the old stone walls made an attractive back-drop. Upon the wall directly behind Pastor Maximón was a cross made of twisted palm branches. The director gave a thumbs-up sign and they started filming again.
“Beloved ones,” began Pastor Maximón, “we are filming this sermon for broadcast tomorrow, Palm Sunday. Rita will lead us in a prayer before I begin.”
Rita bowed her head and others did the same. Not me. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of our Lord. Speak to us through our Pastor Maximón this evening. Guide his words.” Then Rita opened one eye and caught me watching unhumbled, “Guide our hearing. Let your message be received by all who await in faith and let it be imposed upon all who need chastising. Amen.”
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