THE PASSION OF ST. JOE • by Jones Hogsed

That was what they called him, anyway; those few neighbors who lived a mile away from his hermitage. The hermitage was one of those corrugated iron bomb shelters, semicircular and stifling. He had sat on top of it for five years once, baking in the Floridian sun, eating old military rations, a true stylite.

His asceticism did not confine him to his sanctum, however. Every Sunday he would undergo the five mile pilgrimage to town, gritty soles wearing his flip-flops down to the thinness of Communion wafers, stars-and-stripes tank top and ragged khaki shorts clinging to his thin frame with sweat. The parish received the evangelist with not a little trepidation. While the organ droned on the Eucharist, he shouted the dies irae.

His contemplation consisted in tuning his ham radio to unknown frequencies: maybe he would catch the foreboding utterances of the green men colluding with the Principalities and Powers. His transcriptions lay bound within a beat-up IBM, minute green strings of consciousness, the gospel of the one good man for whom Sodom might be saved.

But knowing that the time was nigh for confession, he was more often abroad than not. The eclipse must not bring the pestilence upon the lost sheep. He had seen them at night, sometimes: great winged denizens from Hell come to reap the souls of the ungodly.

Frankie’s Food Mart was the likeliest place for them to congregate the day of the eclipse: he could swear the guy frying chicken on weeknights was a warlock. The ignorant must be saved from a just retribution.
Of course, the pavement was as hot as the infernal flames themselves. Of course, the cars barrelling by blared their horns. The prophet Ezekiel experienced nothing less.

The moon swallowed the sun’s dying rays, which lit for one brief moment on his enraptured face as he picked up some broken bits of asphalt, methodically casting them at the glass surfaces of Frankie’s Food Mart.

As the truckers and mothers of shrieking toddlers rolled down their windows to gaze upon the prophet through the heady incense of car exhaust, he opened his mouth to utter dark sayings of old. He barely comprehended the words flowing from his parched lips, his eyes beholding only blackness, his ears filled with the sound of wailings. He couldn’t see the livid manager barge out of the smashed glass door to begin a tirade of his own. It was all lost in the lights of red, and blue, and blinding white. He must hold to that light, and from it cast his stones, his broken tablets of holy laws. It was the last bit of hope in his noisy world of demons.

The sun pierced through the darkness, and the demons did indeed come; clad in black, they dragged him out of the parking lot, whispering unspeakable curses of silence, courts, and attorneys.

Jones Hogsed is a budding writer residing in rural Florida. He enjoys medieval and antiquarian literature, as well as sci-fi. When he is not performing Bach on the pipe organ, he enjoys drafting absurdist poetry while sipping chai and listening to Infected Mushroom.

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