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by Sarah M. Chen

I have repented for my mistakes and errant ways. I’m not religious, no siree, but I know the Man has forgiven me because I’ve asked and isn’t that what he does? Can he turn me down? I think not. At least so I’m told.

I also hear that I must believe first in order to receive redemption. So yes, I believe in the Man, hallelujah!

Now he bestows forgiveness upon me and when my ticket is punched, I go bye-bye up to the high clouds in the sky. No matter what horrid deeds I do here in this toxic dump we all claim to cherish, I will be forgiven. It’s such a freeing sensation, yes?

It must feel good to be the Man. To be so loved and worshipped. People whispering their innermost secrets and baring their ugly souls.

But let’s be honest, do you even know if he’s listening? You claim that he is, but I’m realizing you’re a fucking idiot.

Oh, I apologize for that outburst. That was rude, and I can see you didn’t like that. You feel I’m mocking you, don’t you? Like the Man does to us.

But I’m getting off track. You’re probably wondering why I’m here. That’s a good question. I know I’m not supposed to be here. The restraining order took care of that. But I’m a changed Man. I’ve been forgiven and made whole again.

I am a new Man.

So in turn, you must forgive me. That’s how it works. But what’s that you say? You don’t forgive me? Tsk, tsk. The Man finds that truly disappointing. Now it’s you who needs to be forgiven for her errant ways.

I’m sorry, but I can’t hear you. Maybe it’s the gasoline-soaked rag stuffed in your mouth. Oh you’re saying, the Man isn’t here? If he was, then we wouldn’t be in this awkward predicament? Well, let me enlighten you, my little one. The Man is here. Because I am now the Man. Does it really matter who bestows forgiveness upon you?

So now, let me hear you. Let me hear you say I am the Man.

I still can’t hear you. And that’s too bad because you’re running out of time. The Man is losing patience. And the gasoline fumes are making the Man queasy.

Well, look at that, time is up. I will now absolve you of your sins because you know what? I am a benevolent Man. I forgive you despite your refusal to acknowledge my existence. Something I’m used to as sad as that may be.

With this lit match, I absolve you of all your wrongdoings. Watch it fly!

Now we shall see each other in the high clouds up in the sky, little one.

But only when my time comes. Because I still have plenty to do here in this toxic wasteland, oh yes siree.

Sarah M. Chen’s crime fiction short stories have been accepted for publication online and in various anthologies, including All Due Respect, Akashic, Plan B, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter, Betty Fedora, Vol. 2, and the SinC/LA anthology Ladies Night. Her noir novella, Cleaning Up Finn, is coming out May 2016 with All Due Respect Books, proving she can write something over 6,000 words. www.sarahmchen.com