The Heathen's Final Hour

I'm loading up mags
in the back room
when I hear the Secret Knock:
One, two.
One. Two.
It's never been said explicitly
but developed over time--
the hesitant refrain of a friend
who knows better.
I jam the last three rounds in
and make way for the door.

"They're coming for you,"
he tells me through the four-inches
allowed by the chain.
"They caught me in the hallway.
Asked when you're around.
I answered in Spanish to throw them.
Next time they'll bring an interpreter.
They mean business.
They want you.

His news arrives as no surprise.
I knew this day would come.
"Thanks," I tell him
sliding a cheap Chinese food container
through the crack.
The neighbors send me meals sometimes.
My sentence has its perks.
"Tell her it was perfect."

I resume my faithful loading.
Lock the guns up.
Go to sleep.

The sun's been out for hours
when I wake to threatening cadence:
Two-three. Five, Six.
Sev'. Eight.
"Shave and a haircut:
two bits."
It's them.
I'm done.
It's over.

My feet swing down
from the mattress.
They're pounding again
but I'm too drunk with my fate
to notice which chipper tune it is.
The hardware stays locked up.
If they want me, they can have me--
like this, in my boxers, with crud on my face.

I don't bother with the peep hole.

"Hello?" I ask humbly
awaiting my conviction
through that four-inch space
that seems to gape
between me and the suits.

"Mr. Vargas! We've finally
found you!" one of them exclaims.
"Do you know," sings the other
"that the Lord loves you
so much that He knows every hair
on your head?"

I scratch myself through my shorts
behind the safety of the door
hoping God's not granted
X-ray vision to his well-pressed Witnesses.

"Yeah, I've heard that one,"
I remind them with a sigh, rubbing my skull
with my visible hand.
"Do you have any literature on you?"

They beam with delight, ruffle through
their briefcases, and assault me with
some pamphlets that contain pastel cartoons.

"Thanks," I smile piously.
"But I really must be going.
I'm meeting with a man at noon
who wants to buy my soul."

The door cannot close fast enough.
I hear them through the hardwood:
"That poor man is doomed.
Do you think that he was naked?"

I'm still laughing when I flip my eggs.
If there's a God
He's on my side.
We share the same sick humor.

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