Triadic Tales - The Failed Cleric - Short Story (Part One)
Adam met the failed cleric because he got up the nerve to nod. It was not his habit to do so. He lived in the middle of the city next to a narrow park and streets cleared of cars. It afforded him a daily walk. He was not in a social phase. These walks were intensely personal. But when he saw Jim on the park bench, looking like Samuel Beckett, he nodded.
Jim said hello as if he knew him.
Adam hesitated, then sat down.
Within ten minutes, he discovered Jim to be a tourist, a resident of Des Moines and the operator of a shelter for battered women on a hill in the middle of that city. What brought Adam up short was Jim's final statement.
"I am," Jim said, "a failed cleric."
"We might be doubles," Adam said. "If there were such a thing. I too am a failed cleric." He laughed softly. Jim was expressionless.
There followed an hour of biographical talk. In both cases,the men had stumbled on the Creed. Jim said: "I could no longer embrace a faith so exclusive with such a record of inflicted harm."
Adam said: "I am not Ivan, but I am a universalist."
It was agreed that they would meet again and so it was that Adam found himself on a plane to Iowa the following Sunday morning.
In the center of Des Moines, there is indeed a hill and in the stone building at the top there was then a shelter for battered women.
"How did you get the money to fly out here?" Jim asked.
"Thievery," Adam said. "Dylan calls it luck. But money from a family is nothing I earned. I know where it came from. My dad was skilled in assisting people with much more money than he had avoid taxes. I believe in taxes. Unless they create harm."
"You have collapsed six conundrums into a few sentences," Jim said. "I had nothing. I still have nothing."
Adam looked at the listless women and thought of a Sargent painting and then about sexual abuse and cringed inwardly, remembering his own brush with same.
"So we are failed clerics. And at least one of us is also a sinner."