This story is by Rita Boateng and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It was midsummer of 1983 at about 1 AM in the morning in Hamburg, Germany. Inside the small room at the basement of the Anglican Cathedral called the “Michaelis Kirche”, Father Brannon hid inside one of the many boxes preserved for the safekeeping of Biblical Encyclopedias and Parchments.
In his left hand was the Communion Parchment that Father Lawrence has sent through the DHL for him to keep, because he had received a hint from a reliable source that some highly armed gang known as the “The hitters” has been contracted to steal the Parchment.
He has therefore asked Father Brannon to keep it in the secured vaults of the church, until the Bishop of London comes to collect it.
But only three days after he received the parchment, the hitters have come knocking on his door.
As he sat in the box totally afraid for his dear life, he remembered how he got himself in the predicament he was now in.
It was around 12:30 in the night when he heard someone pressing on the church doorbell. He was not surprised because he was used to opening the doors of the church to the homeless people even at night, when they come seeking for shelter or food.
So, he went downstairs and saw three men who looked exhausted and hungry, “come on in” he told the three men after they had told him that they were going to Lut Kolau, a little town nearby but are lost and don’t know how to find the way.
“You can stay here this night, and in the morning, I will show you the way” Father Brannon suggested to the strangers.
“Thank you very much sir”, one of the three men said.
“give glory to God” the Father said as usual.
He was a man in his early sixties, tall, skinny and had a beautiful shiny gray hair which has almost started going bald. He was also a very friendly and compassionate man who advocates for the needy and vulnerable people.
Father Brannon’s eyes were filled with tears as he remembered, and regretted why he had believed they were good people? He sighed and began praying with his rosary which he never went anywhere without.
A thought stroked him and he smiled to himself and nodded his head, he must act fast, he thought.
He brought out his phone which he has accidentally brought with him and dialed 110, calling the police to come to his rescue. “Please I am in desperate need of help, Father Brannon told the dispatcher at the end of the phone. “Calm down please and tell me your name and your address sir. Father Brannon just continued and said, “Three men knocked on the door of the Cathedral; I invited them into the church because they told me they were traveling to Lut Kolau but have lost the way. They asked for some water, and as I turned to go and fetch the water, I heard one of them asking the other in the Portuguese language if he should shoot me immediately. One of the two other men answered and said that he should wait until I bring the water. Then the other one said they first have to get the parchment before they can kill me”.
“They do not know I understood all that they were saying, but during my seminary, I studied many languages including Portuguese. Please my life is in danger, come and rescue me”, Father Brannon almost whispered to the woman on the other end of the phone. He was sorely afraid, and panicking, almost at the verge of collapsing. “The Cathedral is Michaelis Kirche”, he told the dispatcher.
“Is it the Cathedral in Roobesc Street, number 177? The Policewoman asked. “Exactly! Father Brannon exclaimed in a low toned-down voice.
“We will be there as soon as possible” the woman told him and hanged up.
Father Brannon was a bit relieved; he hoped the police would arrive before the assassins finds him.
He hated the smell of old books, and for that reason, he seldom comes to the basement. Unless of course to get some books. The place where he hates to linger has become his place of refuge. He was almost drifting into slumber when he heard the footsteps and the banging on the boxes in the small corridor of basement.
The men were shouting in the Portuguese language, “Onde você está? Sai, velho careca”, meaning; “Where are you? Come out, you old bald man”.
“Father Brannon started to panic; he began to pray again. The men were few steps away from the door of the room where he was hidden. The time has come for him to die, he thought.
The only thing he thought to do was to finally confess his sins and surrender to the assassins. As he kept on deliberating on this thought, he heard the sound of the horns of police cars hooting quite close to the cathedral, suddenly he felt a bit relieved.
The assassins who were shouting and banging on the boxes became quiet for few seconds, and then realizing their fate, started to argue among themselves, and blaming each other for their unsuccessful operation. “Let’s escape now! The one who seemed to be the leader of the gang commanded; they were too late.
“We are fifty policemen armed with weapons and we command you to put down your weapons and surrender right now” The armed policemen who had come to rescue the Father announced their presence through a speaker.
Twenty police officers stormed into the cathedral to arrested the three men who looked shaken and stricken with fear. “Where are you? Come out! The police officers shouted. “In the basement”, father Brannon shouted, his voice terribly shaking. They run to the basement and saw the three men, “hands up”, they commanded them.
The three assassins put their hands on their head. “Where are you Father? One of the officers asked. “I’m here, Father Brannon answered and jumped out of the box and went and opened the door.
“Are you alright Father? A young police officer asked Father Brannon.
“Yes, I’m ok, though quite shaken. I guess I will be alright” Father Brannon answered.
“We are taking these three men to jail, would you like to come to the hospital?
“No, thank you officer”, Father Brannon responded.
“Would you like to make a statement? The Police officer asked him.
“Oh yes, I would like to make a statement to these men”, he replied.
Turning to the three men, Father Brannon looked at them with pity, wondering how such strong men could waste their lives on nothingness.
The thought was so frightening to him. He touched them one after the other, looked intently at each of their faces and said, “Gentlemen, a life without God is a life full of pain, I pray you repent.
The three men looked at him with emotionless faces, as if they were robots.
The police officers handcuffed and led the three young men out of the Cathedral and into one of the waiting Police vans.