The Best Ever Good Friday
Copyright 2023 by Ezra Azra
Photo by Matheus Berte;;o at at Pexels
13 October 1967. I had just spent some time alone in an empty Church.
I had long lost faith in Church people, but, quite inexplicable to
me, I still found peace in sitting inside an empty Church, alone with
my unresolvable thoughts.
was on my way home. I was still on Church grounds, taking shelter
under trees from a particularly violent electric rain-and-thunder
storm. At about one o'clock in the morning.
car sirens erupted on a nearby street, and faded into the distance.
Those noises did not mean a thing to me, shivering from wet cold in
complete darkness under strange trees deliberately flinging their
soaked branches and leaves all about, and against me.
knows under a tree is the worst place to be during a
lightning-thunder storm. After my initial ignorance washed off, I was
preparing myself to step out and walk through the storm, rather than
stay under the trees and risk angering the gods by ignoring wisdom
came down to us over thousands of years.
then, just as I was gathering enough courage to step out from under
the trees into the rain and wind, a tiny black human form, heavily
clothed, appeared out of the dark, and threw a bag on the ground
against the tree trunk; and then slithered away into the darkness. It
was a perfect throw.
bag landed upright against my lower legs, pinning them against the
trunk of the tree. I half-prayed one of the many lightning strikes
would happen in order to show me how to free my feet from that heavy
happened. Lightning struck. It shook the tree; rocked the ground, and
dislodged the bag from my feet. In the process, the bag's metal
zipper must have caught some of the lightning, because a section of
it ripped open.
saw bundles and bundles of bank notes inside the bag. I suffered an
attack of dizziness.
first impulse was to flee the stolen money. I squelched the impulse
and hastily, clumsily, mechanically picked up the bag. I had to
squeeze it tightly against my chest because of the broken zipper. The
bag was wet and cold. I shuddered so convulsively I lost my balance
and fell against the tree.
had the presence of mind to take a roundabout way home, despite the
rain and wind and thunder and lightning. I was tempted over and over
again to sneak a guilty look back to see if I was being followed. I
violently squelched the temptation; and the guilt. I was not guilty;
the bag, clearly, was a gift from the gods. In that moment, the
violently discomforting weather distracted me from asking, which
of the ugly weather, I encountered no pedestrians on the sidewalks.
Not surprising; this was an evil neighbourhood of the City. I met
nobody inside the building on my way to my apartment.
next fact that is clear to me, was that I was in my kitchen on the
third floor of the Apartment high-rise building. I had emptied the
bag onto the kitchen table.
and bundles of bank notes in tight bundles bank-wrapped with some
numbers stamped all over.
so desperately wanted to start counting how much was there. But my
wet clothes were bringing on severe itchings and were threatening to
bring on pneumonia. I hurriedly dumped the bank notes in a red-tag
black plastic garbage bag, and dashed off to towel himself and to put
on dry clothes.
went to bed to try to sleep, quite forgetting the next day would be
Saturday, a non-work day. Expectedly, I was too excited to fall
asleep; I fell unconscious. I awoke in midmorning, fully and
instantly. I jumped up and went to see if I had had a nightmare about
a bag of illegal money.
found the garbage bag where I had stashed it. Under the kitchen sink.
I made myself a simple breakfast, mechanically, as I tried to sort
this money a gift from Jesus? From as far back as I can remember I
attended the Christian three-hour church service from 9 pm to
midnight on Good Fridays.
was not Good Friday, but, anyway, I had spent those three hours in
the Church a few city blocks from my home.
was depressed because about a year earlier that Church had been
struck by lightning. The parish could not afford the repairs. The
seriously damaged building was now waiting to be demolished.
cannot explain why I went there on Friday 13th October 1967. Somehow,
the date triggered an urge in me to mourn the death of that Church.
After ignoring the "Do not enter" yellow tapes, I had first
spent three hours inside the Church, and then a few extra minutes
sitting in the dark against a wall I considered safe, in silent
grieving thought. A section of the damaged roof jutted out so far, it
provided enough coverage, barely, against the whirling rain.
had moved into the neighbourhood four years earlier. I had been drawn
to that Church especially because it was claimed the founder and
original builder was a missionary, over three centuries ago. He was
buried in a sarcophagus in the stone foundation of the Church
was one of those Churches that still kept its doors unlocked all day
for persons to spend some alone-time with their thoughts and
life was going through a rough patch. I spent many of my lunch hours
sitting outside with my back against a Church wall, here and there in
counted the money. It took me the rest of that Saturday, and well
into the evening. Twenty-million dollars!
radio and television and newspaper news told the same story. The
bank, a few blocks away from where I lived, had been broken into and
robbed. The amount stolen was not yet known. Explosives had been
used. Much of the bank building was in rubble ruins.
bank was where my few hundred dollars were kept. The news emphasized
that no client's money was at risk, and that everyone was free to
close their account.
was torn by doubt. On the one hand, clearly, the bag of money was not
mine, on two counts. It was the proceeds of a crime. That person who
threw the bag under the tree would not have done so had they known I
the other hand, there were too many facts that came together to give
me the money for my deeply religious mind to doubt the money had been
especially given to me by Jesus, my former god: it was night; there
was a storm; there were trees; I was there by a once-in-a-lifetime
deliberate coinciding by me of a lifetime religious family
grief-tradition with a temporary Church building grief situation.
Clearly, the connivance of Jesus, my former Messiah, attempting a
Second Coming into a second Doubting Thomas.
13 October 1967 not been a Friday, I would not have been at that
Church for three hours that night, in mourning.
searched for opportunities to donate the money, anonymously. It was
dangerous. The bundles of banknotes were bank-wrapped, which meant
all the serial numbers were on record.
there was that elephant-in-the-room wherever I went; the bank
robbers. Would they ever stop trying to find their loot?
was ever so thankful I lived alone.
bought a backpack, and stuffed all the money in it. Nobody would
think me suspicious, wearing a backpack.
I would go for recreation walks, wearing the backpack stuffed with
twenty-million, just for mischievous fun.
best joy was when I would sit on a park bench in a park, crowded with
people, take off the backpack and put it on the seat next to me, next
to a stranger seated next to me on the bench; take out a bottle of
water from a backpack pocket, and sit and sip while enjoying the
happy noises all around; especially enjoying the ignorance of the
stranger sitting on the bench within reach of millions.
years later I eventually came up with a plan of how to separate my
life permanently and safely from those sinful twenty-million. By then
that forlorn Church building had long been demolished.
meaningfully connect all the dots in the end, I waited for a Friday
13, to execute my plan. That was some forty years-or-so ago. Thank
you, Jesus; et cetera, et cetera.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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