Cover Photo: THE PIT by Rohan  Jones

THE PIT

He walked away from the gates of heaven and stood at the pit of hell.

Shirt wrinkled, shoes worn, his face reflected that of a wary traveler. Gabriel moved with purpose and conviction. His entire life experiences as has become the sum total of this moment. His mind was bogged down with burden, stranded in a dirt hole he labored his entire life to escape from. His thoughts reached back and clings to the carefree moments of his life. Memories of making hot dogs and baked beans on the grease infected stove and placing the mixture on a slice of wonder bread. He could feel the welcoming breeze of spring and remembered days as a child lying on the grass looking up at the painted blue sky. He steered down at the puddle left over from the rain that had just past and his shadowy reflection transported him back to memories tied to April showers in the spring. For a moment, he felt as if he time traveled. Liken to a visit from the ghost of Christmas past, able to see but unable to adjust.

Sweat dripped down from his brow from the heat of the pit. He realized where he stood yet he was unable to move. His feet stood frozen, throat dry from thrust. After so long a journey he had arrived at the end of his road. A sense of calm had come over him. Strange Gabriel thought, once a man accepts his faith how still the world becomes. He could feel his soul elevating from his body and he turned like two lovers exiting from a long embrace. His spirit, his first companion that has been with him his entire life. He was the conscience that lead him to towards the path of Sunday school. He said goodbye to his longtime companion and turned again to face his faith. The guilt has been far removed and replaced by desperation and anger. He was no longer the baby face child with the chubby cheeks. He rubbed his hands together in anticipation for the moment. So many were scared of hell but Gabriel embraced it. A life time of needs that could not be met. Years of wants but was unable to achieve. Many beginnings that had no endings. He encountered many promises that were not kept. Gabriel was numbed to the world, emotionless to the cries of man. After all, he too had cried to no avail. Suffering was a familiar friend that met him as night turned to day and was there to witness the rumbling stomach as the process reversed.

His face was bloodless like an aged vampire. Flashes of memories that seem to ride on lighting revealed the path that led him to this moment. He loved thy neighbor and turned the other cheek many times. Going down the list mentally, he nodded to himself as his inner voice checked them off one by one. He had kept his faith and prayed almost every day. What more could a man do? Gabriel thought. I was a good husband and loved my mother. I never stole nor had I ever cheated. So why am I on the edge he asked himself. He leaned over a glared into the endless depth and backed up slowly as his heart begun to beat faster. If I had done all this good and still suffered then what more suffering will I endure from the Pit.

His eyes glared from the fiery lights. He could hear voices from below urging him to join. They chanted his name and promised a pleasure full world where there would be no more suffering. He could see that they shared his pain that they too were once standing at the edge of this abyss. Gabriel stood hypnotize and sadly comforted by the thought. He had been drinking for hours working his way up to the moment. It was the only way that he could muster up the strength. He was sure about the decision but he needed a push. The pint of Hennessey in the back of his Levis provided just the nudge he needed. Gabriel glances back at Heaven’s gate where he knew his family was awaiting his entrance. The night was busy and his mind raced along with the commotion. For a brief moment, he thought about turning back. But to what life he imagined? His wife confined to bed screaming in pain of which he stood helpless, his mother’s burial where he could not afford the coffin so they settled on cremation. It was the look of desperation that overcame his friends he included, with the realization and differentiation between the dream and reality. That was the moment that led him to this.It was a place where the pressures of live greeted him at the entrance. Heaven was sweet in theory he thought, but could not live up to the imagination. It was a bedtime story told by the likes of Aesop for little kids to sleep peacefully. It was the jolly old man that flew on a sled.

The sense of hopelessness overcame him once more and Gabriel turned to face the pit yet again. He removed the bottle and took another swig of liquid courage. They were awaiting his decision and the reaper had come to collect his due. The thought process has been completed and the actions were in motion. The sneakers that were once white, now adopting the color of cream, pressed down on the sandy service. Gabriel could feel the heat extending to his entire body. He approached the end of a journey and the beginning to a new life after death. He would be reborn to fire. The gates would forever be closed to him. He wondered what his mother would say. He didn’t give much thought to his father who was never there to begin with. Maybe I would see him there he thought. Maybe the imprint he left on me as a child led me to this moment.Could he be one of the voices in the background calling for me to join them. Are they chanting with encouragement or the mind state of having someone else to share the burden?

His hands begun to sweat. He rubbed them together again in a pointless attempt to calm himself. The voices got louder and louder as he approached the edge. He was committed with no regrets. Gabriel would be a fallen angel, shunned by God and those who followed him. He accepted that he would be the outcast maybe even from his own family. Many will ask how he could choose the Pit over Heaven he imagined. The answer was not for the faint of heart. The position was an impossible one unless you are placed at this cross road. The choice is easy when you been next to those who have fallen in. My faith was corrupted by mankind and my visions blurred by a lifetime of rejections and closed doors. My patience has been rubbed thin by the greed to have it all and share none. Human being’s selfishness has brought me to the Pit, it has forced me to turn away from the gates. I have nothing else to give but my soul. Nothing material to think of. Basic needs and wants are a luxury. Living in a borrowed home existing on borrowed time. I have sold everything to survive the only thing left of any value is my soul. And with that he jumped!