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A Sinner's Tale

By: Roy Hare

The Reverend Rosemary Wilson hummed a favourite hymn as she walked slowly along the aisle of her church. Glancing from side to side, casting her eyes over the empty pews.

Huddled in the pew shadowed by one of the stone pillars she saw a shadowy figure.

"Hello, do you need help?"

The figure half stood, snatched a quick look left and right, ready to scramble away at the first sign of danger.

"I am not going to hurt you."

Rosemary used the soft coaxing voice that had persuaded many a reluctant parishioner, to help her fund raising efforts.

The figure relaxed slightly, stared at Rosemary for a few seconds then whispered.

"I --- I could --- do with a drink."

"I haven't any in church, come to the house and see what we can find."

Glancing behind as she walked away, Rosemary noted he was cautiously following.

"Come in, I'll put the kettle on. Are you hungry?"

A nod brought unkempt hair straggling down an unwashed bearded face, dark eyes darted from side to side noting the lay out of the kitchen. He swallowed the tea and sandwich hungrily.

As he relaxed further she asked, "Would you care for a bath, shave a general clean up? I have a lot of men's clothes left over from a jumble, you're welcome to sort through and find something clean to wear."

Rosemary had expected a transformation but this was almost a miracle.

He stood before her attired in second hand clothes that on him looked immaculate. The hair was still long but clean and shiny, forming a golden frame round a clean shaven, handsome face his dark eyes twinkled as he smiled.

"Well am I a suitable person to be seen in your company?"

"You --- look positively angelic --- Beautiful.

"Thank you, I also feel ready to face the world again."

"That gladdens my heart, is there any more help you would like?"

"At the moment I have no place to sleep, newspapers and park benches make very hard beds."

"I thought it was all cardboard boxes these days."

"It is for some."

After some thought Rosemary spoke.

"We do have a spare room, would you like to stay for a while?"

"Could I? That would be very nice, thank you ever so much. I could get a job."

"I am sure you will be able to find some work, I know at least two firms that need staff. If you are staying here I had better know your name, so I can introduce you to my husband when he returns from a business trip abroad."

He gave a laugh, his face beamed with a smile.

"You might not believe this, it may sound ridiculous but it's --- Jesus, Jesus Mathews. It gave some problems at school."

"I can quite believe it. I hope you turned the other cheek."

"Not always."

Rosemary smiled. "I'll show you the room and perhaps you might help me make the bed, oh and you may call me Rosemary."

Jesus settled in very well, found a position in the office of a small factory.

Rosemary was delighted when he offered help in the church, house and garden.

The ladies who helped Rosemary with the church functions at various times in the year, all thought he was a wonderful young man, with a lovely name.

Rosemary's husband also thought that as he was away such a lot, Jesus made an ideal companion for his wife.

Settling in very well, Jesus never put a foot wrong. Rosemary was beginning to wonder how she had managed without his help before.

Whenever she felt shattered after a hectic day, he would arrive home from work tell her to put her feet up. After pouring her a drink, he would either cook a meal or take her out to a restaurant.

Rosemary started to have feelings that she had not felt for quite a few years.

Deep down she knew she still loved her husband, in the comfortable way that comes after years of marriage. The feelings she had for Jesus, reminded her of teenage years.

When he was close or accidentally touched her, little shivers ran through her body. Fighting these feelings made her miserable, praying did not bring the answer, the thought of the scandal if she should have an affair, frightened her. The twentieth anniversary of her wedding day brought things to a head. Her husband was away on a business trip, one that he could not wriggle out of. Jesus arrived home with a large bouquet and presented them to Rosemary, she burst into tears.

"Whatever is the matter?" he softly asked "I have never seen you like this before."

"This is the first time my husband and I have been apart on our wedding anniversary, I had a special night planned and he cannot be here."

"Can I do anything to cheer you up?"

"I --- I don't know, the flowers have helped, they are lovely."

"How about if I take your husband's place? I could escort you as I have done before, but be extra bright and attentive like a husband."

Rosemary smiled then burst out laughing.

Jesus looked bewildered.

"That's better but I didn't think I was being funny."

"How could you, only a wife would know the comedy of that remark."

Still laughing, Rosemary left the room to prepare herself for an amusing night out.

The night entered its second half in the early hours, as Jesus and Rosemary stumbled up the steps to the front door.

"I --- I shall carry you over the threshold. That's what husbands do isn't it?"

Rosemary giggled. "You haven't got the strength."

"Haven't I."

Jesus bent and crooked one arm behind Rosemary's knees, the effect of the wine went rushing to his head. Staggering forward he tumbled both of them to the soft carpet. For a few seconds the shock of the fall ceased their laughter. They lay faces touching, gazing into each others eyes, twinkling with laughter.

Jesus tenderly kissed her cheek, brushed her lips lightly with his own.

Passions that had been locked in Rosemary's heart, burst the barriers of restraint in a long deep burning kiss.

The next hour of their lives was spent on a soft cloud of love and tenderness, floating in a wonderland of excitement and sheer bliss.

Dawn cast its yellowish, grey light over the two naked slumbering figures.

Rosemary stirred, fluttered her eyelids; moved the arm that embraced her body, her brain clicked into gear.

"Oh ---- oh dear, goodness me ---- whatever have I done?"

Looking down on the slumbering Jesus, the first feelings of guilt entered her brain.

"Jesus ---- Jesus wake up ---- wake up."

"Go away, it's too early to ------"

"Jesus please, come on we have to get tidied up. We have to think about what we have done."

Rousing was not one of his good points but the urgency in Rosemary's voice, brought him round a bit quicker this morning.

"What have we done? We had a really good time. I thought you were enjoying yourself."

"I did, I was but now perhaps I shouldn't have. Oh dear I feel all mixed up. Whatever am I to do."

As she spoke Rosemary darted here and there gathering her clothes.

"I'm off for a bath and say at least one prayer, asking for forgiveness."

Two days passed before Rosemary felt she could broach the subject of her infidelity with Jesus. At breakfast she looked at his angelic face, her heart started to flutter. She knew that she loved him but she also knew that she loved her husband.

"What are we going to do Jesus?"

"Do --- about what?"

"About my love for you, my husband and how can I carry on spreading God's word, living in a world of sin."

"Quite simple really, give me a few thousand quid and I'll be on my way."

Rosemary looked at him; she could not believe what he had just said.

"What --- are you saying?"

The cold hard look Jesus gave her was emphasized by his dark piercing flashing eyes.

"I said a few thousand should do to start me on my way, then a small sum monthly, ought to suffice for a while."

"But why ---- why what is this all about?"

"Ask that husband of yours --- ask him about the woman he left destitute with a baby. He didn't care that she finished her life as a prostitute. A lifetime of walking the streets in all weathers, to earn enough to feed her child, killed her."

"Whatever are you saying, I ---- I just cannot believe it."

"I can; I lived it, so start thinking how you might get a few quid together. I'm going for a walk by the river."

The sound of a car door slamming brought Rosemary out of her trance. She had prayed for forgiveness, and the only solution that entered her mind was, confess all to her husband.

She opened the front door as her husband stood poised with the key in his hand.

"Graham." She cried. "Oh Graham I have done something terrible, really awful. I --- I ---- "

"Steady on Rosie, let's get in side."

Seated on a large comfortable sofa, Graham placed an arm round Rosemary's shoulders, kissed her lightly on her cheek.

"Now what is this terrible thing you have done?"

"I have been unfaithful to you and all my beliefs."

Rosemary stumbled over the first few words, as she related all that had happened between her and Jesus.

At first Graham felt anger at Jesus for taking advantage of his wife, but after some thought he realised he had encouraged Jesus too stay in his home. The biggest shock to his system was the fact that he was being accused of fathering a child.

"Has Jesus any proof that I am his father? How old is he twenty three, we have been married twenty years.

Met you about two years before that. No it cannot be me, at that time I was trying to get established in my firm and much too busy for messing about with wine women or song. He must be telling lies."

"What ever shall we do?"

Graham thought for a while turning over the problem in his mind.

"At the moment there is little we can do except wait. Give him some money and try to think of a way out of the situation."

Jesus was pleased with the lump sum that he paid into the bank; he felt even better when Graham offered to buy him a car and a course of driving lessons. Passing his test at first try, Jesus felt on top of the world and expressed his feelings by pushing the car as fast as it would go. Late one night, Rosemary and Graham were sitting watching the news on the television, when they heard a car draw up.

"He's in early tonight," said Rosemary, she jumped as a loud knocking came on the door.

"I'll go, it might be a parishioner."

Opening the door Rosemary saw two police officers.

"Good evening. Are you the reverend Rosemary Wilson?"

"Yes, what is the matter?"

"May we come in?"

Rosemary showed them into the lounge.

"Graham we have two police officers to see us."

"Good evening sir."

Graham nodded.

"I believe you have a young gentleman staying in your house, name of Jesus Mathews."

"Yes --- what has happened?

"I'm afraid it's bad news, he was mugged tonight and has died in hospital from a blow to the head."

Rosemary sank to her knees, her prayers had been answered.

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