Please be aware that this story contains harsh language.
David walked into the coffee shop, cautiously, as if he’d never been there before. Bags circled his eyes, and his quiet disposition laid a calm blanket over his expressions and movements. His quiet steps carried him into the seating area.
“I’m surprised you showed up.”
David sat down across from a wearied and weathered man, dressed in old jeans and a tight black long sleeve shirt. Tattoos plastered his forearms, and scrapes and scars danced on his fingers. The man presented a harsh contrast to David’s khakis and tucked in polo shirt.
David nodded, looking around, uncomfortably.
“Do you want to get anything?”
David looked up, stunned at the man’s nonchalant nature.
“Um, no. No, I’m fine.”
The man took a deep breath.
“What do you want, then?”
David brought his eyes to meet the man’s for the first time.
“Finally getting some eye contact in, are you? They teach you that at seminary?” The man taunted.
“Why did you come to me? Why me?”
The man started to crack a smile.
“You were recommended. Family friend, actually.”
“I still don’t understand. After doing… what you’ve done. Why would you tell me about it?”
The man averted his eyes, for the first time.
“If you’ve ever done something bad, you know it’s hard to keep to yourself, right? You’ve probably never done anything bad though, have you? What’s the worst a Southern Baptist pastor could’ve done, huh? Probably stole a piece of candy or something, right?”
“I’ve done many wrongs in my life, I-“
“I know you have, I’m shitting you.”
David looked down at the table and rearranged his hands, awkwardly. Finally:
“That still doesn’t explain anything to me.”
“What do you want to know?”
David looked around, cautiously, as if being recorded.
“Did you really… did you really, you know-“
“Well…” David nodded.
“I wouldn’t have put you through this if I didn’t.”
“Why would you tell me then? Why would you go through the risk of getting caught? Why would you-“
“Because I knew you wouldn’t turn me in.”
David shifted his weight in his chair. The man leaned forward, his voice diving low, like a menacing scrape.
“After I killed her, I met you at your stupid church, and I knew you were the one. I knew it. I thought to myself ‘This guy is a stupid, fucking idiot.’ That’s what I thought to myself. And I’m gonna pin this entire thing on him.”
David felt a sinking warmth start to grip him, and his heart started to fall.
“And so that’s what I did. This past year, the whole fucking thing got pinned on you. And you never once stopped to think that maybe you should turn me in, did you?”
The man pulled out his wallet and slapped a five-dollar bill on the table.
“Buy yourself some coffee, Pastor Dave. Buy yourself some fucking coffee.”
He stood to leave. David watched, frozen in time, as the man left the building. David slowly rose from his chair, waiting… waiting… waiting…
He walked outside.
Police officers pushed the man up against a car, strapping cuffs to his wrist. They forced him inside one of the cars, muffling the man’s curses.
One of the officers approached David. David’s eyes held both a sincere, unwavering confidence, and a vile strain of uncertainty.
“You alright?” The officer asked.
“I… I don’t think so.” He answered. “I don’t think anyone is.”