The Nature of Miracles
1 - Entry
This wasn't his first venture into this type of scenario and he was pretty sure it wouldn't be his last. He carefully reviewed each calculated step, examined every detail in his mind, move, counter move, action, reaction. He had different paths of egress on which he could embark, depending on what unknown he might come upon. As always, he had an exit strategy, as well as a 'Plan B'.
He intently stared across the dingy side street at his objective; tall, stone, majestic double spires, real evergreen wreathes on the wood paneled front doors. A manger and all its' accompanying pieces on the lawn, behind a fence, with a watchman who wasn't there to keep the sheep in but the thieves out; necessary in this neighborhood. There was even a small, cheap, plastic wreath on the rectory's side entrance. Nice touch. Festive. Cheerful, he supposed.
The west wind whipped around the corner beating on him with its' icy talons. Shivering in his thin sweatshirt, he shuffled his feet and rubbed his frozen hands together in a vain attempt to keep warm. It was unusually cold and definitely unpleasant, even for late December in LA. He was going to have to seriously rethink about where to spend the night as his usual haunts weren't going to cut it on a night like this one. He'd freeze to death by morning. Well, OK that was an exaggeration, but if he didn't find a warm place to bunk down out of this weather, he would be cold and miserable all night, a thought he did not relish.
Quietly hopping up and down in his shadowy hiding place, he got his blood pumping through his veins in anticipation of this mission. He wanted to go now, but patience is a virtue, he reminded himself even as his stomach let out a most plaintive grumble. Boy was he hungry but he knew he had to wait for the right moment or his mission would fail.
He let his gaze shift back momentarily from the side door of the massive church to the double front doors which were now open allowing the passage of the patrons. Dressed in their holiday finest, people entered the church to celebrate Christmas Eve mass. Moms in their neatly pressed skirts, Dad's in their overcoats to combat the wind, little girls with pretty bows and ribbons in their hair, and freshly scrubbed boys either in v-neck sweaters or red neckties, passed through the portal to enter the sanctuary. Most parishioners arrived as the perfect family unit, one mother, one father and two children; sometimes even a full set of Grandparents. Familiar bliss.
Shaking his head, he focused back on the side door to the rectory where another class of people was also entering the church. These folks, however, were not dressed in their Sunday finest but rather in whatever they owned to keep warm. They were not here to celebrate the birth of the babe in the manger but rather to acknowledge the passage of another day of survival on the streets. There were mainly singles entering the rectory, or small groups of adults, but virtually no traditional family units. Occasionally, one found a male and female with a child, but whether they were a family or just thrown together by circumstances, it was hard to tell. Parents was also a relative term as often the 'parent' and the 'child' were hard to tell apart in both age and demeanor. Looking at the people entering the front door of the church, it was easy to see the family groups; looking at the rectory door, it just seemed to be a rash of humanity.
His impatience was starting to spill over with the intensity of the growls of his stomach. Lots of people were entering the side door of the rectory, no lack of business tonight, but what he needed had not arrived yet. Finally, he spotted what he required, two adults each with a slew of kids in tow, approaching the door one after the other, exactly to his specs. He'd blend in well enough. Unobtrusively, he moved from his vantage point across the street to close in on them. As the groups entered the rectory door, he managed to insert himself into the pack of children.
He skated through the rectory door, one of many, not spotted, not singled out.
Victory was his!