Flames ate through the paper-thin tenement walls like locusts, devouring the meager possessions of its impoverished residents and replacing them with emptiness and light.
It was a hard and scrutinizing light, the kind which renders the thinness of one's life inobscurable.
Sullivan lost his elderly mother(more). Mrs. Bobbins, her cat, Bushbaby. The Innis boy, a picture his best friend Sammy drew before succumbing to the pox.
Then there was the happy, young couple in 421. The lady, singing lullabyes on the fire escape on balmy summer evenings; the fellow, collecting pallets from the alley to fashion a crib for the child they could barely feed. They at least had nothing to mourn, if only because there was no one left to do the mourning.
In life the edifice was a monument to despair. A roughshod catalogue of myriad inadequacies which the fates saw fit to dole out to a handful of otherwise indistinguishable people.
In death, it was somehow less. Even that was deemed too much, and so the fates took it back.
Pastor O'Leary tried to make it a teachable moment, but there was nothing there to learn that wouldn't undermine his life's calling. He went back to counting tithes.
Sully sought to rebuild, but the tune didn't carry. Those that were left swore an unspoken vow in declaraction of the belief that some people just weren't meant to have anything. In the days and weeks that followed, they dispersed in ones and twos and threes, and no semblance of the community ever existed again. (less)
The time is coming soon when The Lord, having again grown tired of the evil of men, will scatter His emissaries among the earth to sweep the lands with swords of fire and judgement. The mighty will fall, and the streets will run like rivers with the blood of the damned. What(more) can you do? The answer is simple: Prepare thyself. When the heathen are falling dead where they stand, you can take comfort in the knowledge that your house has stored up for the tribulation and is spared the wrath of the one true judge.
How to do this? First, is to pray without ceasing. With every breath, pray and importune the most high for His mercy and His favor. Two, is to order as many food buckets as your household can afford from the Jim Bakker Ministries. A year's worth of oats, dried potatoes, and deconstituted macaroni and cheese should consist of, give or take, twenty 15 gallon buckets and be adequate for a family of four. If you order twenty four, though, you get the deal where he throws in a water distillation kit. Get the deal, you will avoid much gnashing of teeth and rending of hair should your own supply become accursed.
Three, watch the satellite broadcast of the Jim and Lori Bakker Show out of Branson. Brother Jim is doing the Lord's work by faithfully leading the sheep to the fields where, spared from the slaughter of the wicked, they may eat of God's bounty at a reasonable price and anticipate from this protected land the end of days. Jim Bakker knows God's mind like no man born of woman and doesn't charge extra for shipping if you order via USPS. What shall ye eat or drink? Sayeth the Lord: Jim Bakker's Buckets!(less)