Soldiers of God (Chapter 6, page 1 of 5)

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Chapter 6

Santo Tomas, Colombia, December, 2077, Sunday…

Padre Quintero stepped into the priest's side of the confessional. The three priests of the village of Santo Tomas took turns there. Only one was needed at any one time - their parish was small and poor.

The first one to come before him that day was a teenager confessing his lusty feelings for his teacher. The second was Senora Rodriguez, a widow, confessing that she had shop-lifted again at the local Wal-Mart. Padre Quintero heard their confessions but found it difficult to give them the attention they deserved since he was thinking of the heated debate that had occurred when he had gone last night to the cantina to have his usual cigar and aguardiente. His peaceful evening had been interrupted by the Pentecostal convert.

Santo Tomas was only thirty kilometers from the border in one of the poorest areas of Colombia known for its lively vallenato music and deadly confrontations. As Padre Quintero often said in his sermons, evil was stalking the land, and he wasn't just referring to the Pentecostal terrorist groups.

"Can I sit with you, Padre?" the man asked.

Quintero looked up at the man standing in front of him. The word that jumped to his mind was intense. In the quiet, oppressive heat of the bar that was filled with the rhythmic strains from the distorted recording of the most recent vallenato, it was a wonder that anyone could look intense. Most were drunk with either the heat or the aguardiente. People staggered in all the time, caked with the cloying mud and dripping from the rain, only to stagger out hours later to fall into the muddy street to sleep it off. It was a fine place to practice religion since the Devil was so close at hand.

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