The Prequel, Chapter Twenty-Five

The day would proceed in its normal way. Alexander would meet up with the men he had affiliated himself with, and they would plan their next robbery. For awhile, Alexander had worked at the nearby tavern, but the meager income he'd earned hadn't been enough to support his drinking - which was most definitely an addiction - and his gambling - which wasn't quite an addiction yet, but was on its way to becoming one.

As soon as Alexander found the specified rendezvous, he raised his hand in greeting. The others responded with grunts and rolling their eyes. About half still weren't happy with the fact that Alexander, a mere twenty-two-year-old, was working with them.

Indeed, Alexander was rather young to be as wretched as he was, but there was no going back now. Tightening his grip on his satchel, Alexander nodded to their leader, Job McKinley. "We still going to come up with a plan for a bank robbery?" he asked, trying not to appear as amateur as he was.

"That's the thing, Hale," Job McKinley responded. "We aren't so sure you're ready for something like that."

Alexander was surprised. He'd already accompanied them on many thefts; why were they unsure of his abilities? "And why not?"

"A bank robbery is a much bigger deal than you think, Hale. There's alot of risk and skill that must be involved. I'm just not so sure you can handle it yet." McKinley's words were met with nods or grunts of approval from all the others.

Swallowing, Alexander shrugged. "Well, what can I do, then?"

"You can stay back for the time being," McKinley replied.

Struggling to control his anger but knowing that lashing out would only further demote himself, Alexander put up a bit of resistance, but after a rather lengthy exchange with McKinley, he knew there was no arguing. He really wouldn't be going with the other thieves this time.

Shoving his hands in his pockets, Alexander nodded and left the scene. Well, where was he to go? He couldn't return to the room he'd been renting, not until Amara left. 

Aimlessly wandering around town, Alexander's attention was drawn to a small chapel that he'd always been aware of but had never visited. The next day would be church, yet he saw that someone was inside the chapel. 

Something within Alexander was moved to enter the chapel. For a moment, he almost considered doing just that. But then he remembered that he was far too great a sinner to ever enter a house of God again, so he turned to walk in the opposite direction.

But someone came up from behind Alexander and put his or her hand on Alexander's shoulder. Alexander whirled around to see a middle-aged man. "What do you want?" Alexander asked, his voice sounding gruffer than he'd intended.

"I saw you were contemplating coming inside or not," the man said. "I'm the preacher at this church. John Follows."

Alexander shook the man's hand when it was offered to him, but he didn't say his name.

"Do you want to come inside? It's a little chilly out here."

Alexander shook his head. "Thank-you. I appreciate it, but I'm afraid I'm busy."

"I could tell by the way you were poking around town that you were busy," said John Follows with a good-natured smile. "Sure you won't come inside?"

Alexander hesitated. Something about entering the church seemed nice, but then again, he'd always been a terrible judge at whether things were good or not.

John must have noticed Alexander's hesitation. "I haven't seen you around much," he mused. "Are you from around here?"

"Yes, sir." Alexander paused, then nodded his head. "You're right. It is getting cold out here. Maybe we should talk inside."

The End

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