(from ep 'My Blue Heaven')
This was not good. This was definitely not good. As the two officers hustled him out of the patrol car onto the wet street, Smith tried frantically to think of a way out of this increasingly tangled mess. Although, he actually wasn't too worried for himself. Face it, pretty much all that could happen to him had already happened long before. But Julio was another matter. He was just a kid, and he'd been trying to do the right thing. He'd trusted his new friend, 'Father Smith', with his life.
Smith wasn't going to let that trust be betrayed.
He tried to reason with their captors, but they just yelled him down and kept on shoving him along towards the stairs. He wasn't getting through. They'd closed themselves off, determined to carry through with their plan. It wasn't even a very good one, in his admittedly biased opinion. What, did they think no one was going to question how a priest and an informant, last seen in their company, ended up splattered all over the street?
And he didn't think Monsignor Marshall would believe suicide of him, no matter what was in that file of his supposed 'past'.
When one of them mocked him, asking "Is that right, priest? Am I going to hell?'' Smith could only look in his eyes, searching for the remnants of the good man that must have once existed, before answering sadly: "It'd be tough to defend you."
The hardened officer, who had seen and himself done uncountable reprehensible things in his time, found himself flinching back. The priest's eyes were serious, unsettling. Almost pitying. Like he felt that it might indeed soon be up to him to pronounce judgment.
It was as though the guy was looking right into his soul... and finding it wanting.
He shuddered, and shoved the smaller man on. He was starting to have a bad feeling about this idea, and just wanted to get it over with.
Smith began climbing up the steps, not protesting the abuse. He'd only said what he felt to be true. He somehow thought that even Judge Othneil wouldn't be very kindly towards a man who chucked priests off rooftops.
Heh. Maybe he should let it happen, just to see the Judges' face later. It was bound to be priceless.
As they continued up the stairs to the windy rooftop, Julio's panic only grew. And not only for himself. He was worried about the man he thought he'd gotten drawn into this, and desperately tried to reason with the cops. "He's a priest, man, you can't do nothin' to him!" Then the IA guy was there too, joining him in taunting the cops.
Julio just couldn't believe that things had gotten so messed up, so fast. He'd been so scared before. Getting up his nerve to go to the Church for help had been hard, 'cause it wasn't like he'd been a member in good standing, lately. And that older guy, Monsegnor Marshall, always had struck him as being kinda strict. But he kinda hoped that God would come through and send him some help anyway. And He had, with Father Smith. Sitting in that dark confessional booth, screwing up his courage, he'd not expected to hear such a young, friendly voice to come through the grill. Sure as hell hadn't sounded like the Monsignor. And when Father Smith had listened to his story, he'd immediately taken charge, hiding him up in the priest's own apartments and everything. Seemed to know just what to do, got hold of that jerk from IA and all. He was really a cool guy, for a priest. Knew all the street lingo and everything. Julio had started to hope that he was going to get through this in one piece, after all.
Till two of the cops he was turning in showed up.
Now, as the chill breeze spattered drops of rain in his face, he felt lost and terrified. He'd never been what people would call an alter boy, and he didn't want to die. And now, not only was he gonna get killed, he was about to have a major sin tagged to his name.
Did you go to hell for getting a priest killed?
As Pattello and Julio ran their mouths, Smith wondered exactly what they thought taunting the cops was going to accomplish. Oh well, it kept Santiago's attention off him for a few necessary moments. He hoped they didn't wonder how he'd shed the handcuffs. He surreptitiously tossed them behind him, over the edge, and then heard Julio yelp in fear as he was pushed forward. Playtime was over.
Oh God. He'd prayed it wouldn't come down to this.
Center stage, do or die, put up or shut up. Either one had faith, or one didn't.
"Let him go."
About two seconds later, he found himself pushed right to the edge of the roof himself. /Come on, you've gotta do this, you can't let it happen to Julio./ He stepped up onto the ledge and looked down. This was it. Time to prove his faith in a way he'd never have expected to. Thank God, fear of heights was apparently not part of his past baggage. But as he gazed down at the street far below, fear ran through him. He might have already died, true, but that hard asphalt down there still looked like a whole world of pain. Turning, he felt the cold touch of the rain on his face, like icy fingertips on his skin. /Faith/ he reminded himself. /Judge Othneil said I had to have more faith. I've gotta really believe in God's will, and show it in my actions./
Well, what he was about to do ought to qualify.
Tipping his head, he raised his gaze to the sky to search the heavens for a brief moment, before closing his eyes in heartfelt prayer.
Then he relaxed, and let himself fall back into thin air.
For a split second as gravity seized him, he saw the world upside down, heard the roar of the wind as he fell back towards the unforgiving ground.
Then, in a flash, for a split instant that stretched into infinity - he was Elsewhere, surrounded by light and love and warm approval.
His heels hit the hard pebbled surface of the roof.
Breathing deep, he opened his eyes to see the two cops bent over the side of the roof, searching for his body. Quickly, he stuffed his hands into his pant pockets and adopted a casual air. He knew what he had to do, now. Time to delay, time to distract, until the two men hurrying up towards this little party arrived. He gave the cops a short sermon, to keep them occupied those few precious seconds. He based it on faith, of course.
He thought the Judge would like that touch.
When Pattello and his father burst into sight, Smith took advantage of the chaos to slam the cop holding him in the gut, hard. He wrestled the gun away for good measure and pointed it threateningly at his former captor as the father-son team overpowered the other cop. Unfortunately, Julio, knocked back during the scuffle, ended up dangling from the roof edge.
Stepping back, he held the gun loosely and stood watching as the snitch yelled desperately for help. As much as he wanted to run over there and grab the guy, he couldn't. It wasn't his place to interfere. As he'd told Pattello earlier, it had to be done by him. This was his past, not Smith's. His mistakes to correct, his wrongs to right.
As for himself, he was finding out that just standing back and watching could be the hardest thing to do.
It took faith. And patience. Two things that the Judge had pointed out that he was lamentably lacking in. But he managed it.
And the world changed.
He was back on the window ledge, dressed once more in the casual blue coveralls of a construction worker. Slowly, he twisted the top of his thermos back and forth, back and forth, watching as Officer Pattello walked past with his nightstick in hand. When the cop glanced at him curiously, he gave him the ghost of a smile, paying due to their shared past even though only he could remember it's existence, now.
Pattello had done it. Things were different, lives were branching in whole new directions, thanks to the effect of a single man's decision to do the right thing.
And a father was going to make it to his little boy's tenth birthday party.
What more, really, could one ask for?
Later, outside the Pattello's home, he'd found himself holding a one-sided conversation. Or maybe not so one-sided, if he thought about it. And he'd asked 'What is happiness?'. He was worried lately, about how he was feeling. Because he found himself smiling a lot. Being happy. Enjoying these moments. Times with Judge Othneil, times with the people he was helping.
Was he getting so used to this new life, this new role, that he would like to keep on with it? Did this mean that he didn't really care if he went back to his old life? He didn't know. He just didn't know. How could he compare the two, when one was still hidden from him?
Judge Othneil's words came back to him. Patience and faith. From the very beginning of this case, when he had protested helping Pattello and argued with the Judge's decision, the two had been interwoven through his life. He thought he'd learned his lesson, here. Don't rush to judgment, trust in God, and don't talk back to Othneil. As for the future...
He supposed he'd just have to practice what he'd learned. Be patient, and take it on faith that God knew what was best.
For he sure as hell didn't.