Kneel and Pray

Contributor: Jerry Guarino

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It was one of the most disturbing images Tony had ever seen, if only for a few seconds. Along a highway on the seedier side of the city, a man dressed in plain clothing, an old, wrinkled grey jacket and worn, work boots was kneeling in front of a large industrial building with huge, glass windowpanes. Standing around him were two men with black suits, sunglasses and shining black shoes, looking very much like the men in black. He was driving too fast to hear what the men were saying, but their expressions painted a picture of a sober and terrifying incident about to happen.

Tony was forced to drive past them, on a highway without any place to pull over. As he sped by, he looked for a way to turn around, but the nearest break in the median was a mile away. He couldn’t leave without trying to help the man, so he made a u-turn and drove back to the scene on the opposite side of the highway. Tony honked his horn as he went by, but the men didn’t respond; he only angered the drivers in front of him. “I’m not honking at you,” Tony yelled out his window. A busy intersection ahead gave him an opportunity to make another u-turn, but no place to park.

So Tony drove past the men again, unable to stop, honking his horn and yelling out the passenger side window. “Hey, leave him alone.” But his cries fell on deaf ears. Tony decided to pull into the nearest side street and run back to the group, hoping he would arrive before the man was shot or beat up. “How am I going to stop this? Those men obviously have guns and outweigh me by fifty pounds.” His sense of right and wrong neutralized his fear. Adrenalin rushed through his limbs as he raced towards the men. He didn’t know what he was going to do, but he was going to do something.

One hundred yards away now, he saw the sun glaring off the windowpanes, creating those rays you often see breaking through clouds. But this was not the peaceful image of a church or sunset. It was very likely an eminent crime scene. Tony ran faster and he could feel his heart thumping in his chest. “This is crazy. I could get killed.” Tony could see the man pleading for his life, his hands interlaced and tears running down his face. He also saw something black in the hand of the aggressor, pointing towards the victim. One last time, his principles gave him strength, overriding all common reason and sense of self-preservation.

He turned his ears on high, hoping to hear something he could use to placate the aggressors. His back up plan was to dive headlong into the men, praying for some help from above; it wasn’t a good plan B. Just before he leapt into the air, he could make out the determined words of the man with the black object in his hand, now holding it above the head of the kneeling man.

“Do you now affirm your willingness to turn over your life to Christ Jesus, to follow his path and to spread his gospel to the world?” The man raised his hands towards the sky, lifted his head and face up and responded.

“I do so swear. Jesus, I turn my life over to you.”

The men in the sunglasses turned to face Tony with dispassionate expressions. “Son, have you heard the good news?”

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Jerry Guarino’s short stories have been published by dozens of literary magazines in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain. His first collection of twenty-six critically acclaimed stories, Cafe Stories, was released in October, 2011. It is available as a paperback on and as an e-book on kindle.

Watch for his new story, The Chess Table at the Twenty or Less Press website.

He is currently working on a murder mystery for the stage.

Please visit his website at
twitter: @cafestories
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