Some Other Time
A stagecoach ambled over the muddy ruts of a drenched country road. The horses stepped high in the puddles and twitched the rain from their manes. A small, grey figure led the coach, hunched over, rain pouring from the gutter formed by the rolled up brim of his hat.
Inside, Bart took up one seat and Pietro sat in his lap. Ray sat in the middle opposite him with Abby and Cletus on either side. They jerked in unison to the jostling of the coach.
“I can’t wait to go somewhere it isn’t raining,” Abby said, half her head soaked by the leaking door.
Pietro gave Bart some lazy gestures.
“Not much further,” Bart said as he signed back.
“It isn’t?” Ray perked out his despondent gaze.
Bart shook his head and mouthed, “No idea.”
Ray’s eyes rolled back, as did his head. “I can’t take this coach anymore.”
The rhythm of the rocking coach slowed to halt.
“Doesn’t mean I wanted to stop,” Ray shouted.
Cletus slid open a wooden panel on the top half of the door and stuck his head out. He withdrew, snapped the panel shut and shriveled into his seat.
“Papal guard,” he wheezed.
A knock came at the panel. They all exchanged glances. Bart gestured to Cletus to answer and Cletus responded with a vigorous shake of his head. Bart puffed, pressed his finger against the panel and slid it back, like he expected to reveal the Grim Reaper on the other side.
There stood Cardinal Martell, crimson and black, supporting his dragon-headed hammer on his shoulder.