He stumbled along the street on unsteady feet. He was hungry. He was cold. And he was very, very, tired. His tattered overcoat did little to shield his thin and frail body from the bite of the wind that howled through the city. It seemed to reach down in him and draw the breath out of his hollow chest, leaving his heartbeat to fill the empty space with its weakening thum-thump, thum-thump, thum-thump.
Once a priest, he could only but pray. Cast out. By his Parish, his Order, his Church. Forsaken by all who knew him, in the face of a lie. Unjustly accused, there was no one who would defend him and he slowly sank away to derelict abandon.
A lie. The true sin of it all wasn't his. A lie. The tool of the Devil and it fell on him like a hammer. A lie. And there was no way to disprove it. A lie. Confessed to him in the Sacrament. A lie. To tie his hands as surely as the tightest rope.
He thought perhaps he was being punished, for surely God must know him to be innocent, yet God allowed this to persist. He had prayed and prayed. The prayers rolled from his lips in an unending whisper of repentance and pleas for rescue from the vilification of man. No answer ever came. No one stepped forward to put paid the lie and the accusations stood, unchallenged. And he became a pariah. And yet, he prayed. For understanding, so that he would know why he was being punished. For surcease, for surely this was not just. Because it was his life long habit. He never gave up his faith in the justice of his God. Even as he sat down on the curb of the street, and went to sleep. A sleep from which he would never awake.
The conclusion on Thursday.