He knelt down to pray for the second time today, the words contained in his prayers, which were familiar from an entire lifetime of repetition, increased in intensity as he continued. His hands, still smelling of gunpowder and gasoline, were intertwined save for his thumbs, the knuckles of which providing a resting place for his forehead as he chanted to himself under his breath.
Night had fallen. He had been driving for five hours straight since the shooting, with the imprint of the steering wheel on his reddened hands. He had a tape of Christian music in the tape player that flipped itself over and replayed five times. He had stopped only once for gas, making sure to look down at the ground as he went about pumping gas, as to not appear clearly on any security cameras that may have been filming his every action. He forced himself not to think about the food that tempted him from inside the mini-mart at the gas station. His mission today was too important in his eyes to forfeit it all for physical sustenance.
As he closed in on his destination for the evening, he passed a one-car accident. An ambulance was being loaded, the car they were driving overturned. He drove through the scene slowly, taking it all in. When the scene had disappeared into his rearview mirror, he said a prayer to himself for the person involved in the accident.
He came upon a small roadside motel in the middle of nowhere that he had passed on his many travels as a door-to-door proselytizer. This was the type of place that was unaccustomed to seeing anything other than couples registering under a phony name. The desk clerk eyed him carefully, figuring he would soon be joined by a woman in waiting. When you're off the beaten path and renting out rooms for the night, adultery and prostitution come as part of the decor, like the aging wallpaper and the cheap paintings on the wall of seascapes.
And so he found himself praying, kneeling on the floor, elbows resting on the bed, the aging lamps extinguished. Every prayer in his head taking on urgency. He prayed for guidance in a troubled world. He prayed for every member of his family both living and dead, paying special attention to his sister, who was expecting her fourth child within the next 6 weeks. He also prayed for the man he had murdered earlier in the day.
With the exception of the clock reading 4:05 AM, his day had started like most others in his life of late. He started his day by kneeling down beside the bed and thanking God for seeing another day, promising that this day would bring glory to him. He showered, shaved, dressed and ate a bowl of cereal after thanking God for his meal. He lived alone now, his wife and children having now relocated to another state. He had no visitation rights, with restraining orders in two states making the very thought nothing more than a pipe dream. He always made it a point to pray for his children's souls, as well as for the soul of his ex-wife, telling himself all the while that that was what God wanted him to do.
This morning had a special purpose to it however. He was sure to make some extra time to make sure his hunting rifle was cleaned until it shined, all its parts in perfect working order. He repeated a prayer to himself as he cleaned the outside of the barrel, moving up and down until there were no fingerprints on it. After placing the rifle into a soft shoulder bag, he took out two unspent shotgun shells and wiped those down as well. He silently prayed that they would strike their target and take his life, so others could be saved. He placed the shells in a small zip-up pouch in the shoulder bag. He grabbed a suitcase he had packed the night before in his right hand and threw the rifle over his left shoulder, and walked deliberately passed his kitchen table, which had a stack of letters from the local Domestic Relations office on them. He paused before he went through the garage door and took one last silent look around the inside of the house. He asked God to protect his home and all who would later enter through its doors, knowing that he would not be included in that group.
He loaded the rifle bag and suitcase into the back seat of his car. This was to be the last trip he took in this car. He was driving to a rental car agency to rent a car for his journey. Because of his limited budget, he was going to rent the smallest car the agency had available, making sure everything would fit. He couldn't make his rifle public knowledge, however. He parked his own car a few blocks away in an inconspicuous location and grabbed only his suitcase for the short walk to the rental car agency. He would double back for the rifle after the other car was rented. Despite the fact that it was now 5:30, he knew someone would be behind the counter. He would have to be quick, as he needed to be at his destination by 6:15.
"Welcome, how can I help you today?", the rental agent said
"I believe I have a reservation. The name's Smith; Jonah Smith", he replied, trying not to look like he was in a hurry.
The agent confirmed the reservation, went over the rental agreement, to which he nodded his head in understanding, despite the fact that he was barely listening to the rental agent. He gave her his last remaining credit card that still had enough of a balance to rent the car, which was approved by a whisker, signed off on the rental contract and grabbed the keys to a Ford Focus. Such a fitting name for a car today, he thought to himself, for he felt that, at this small point in time, he had never been more single-minded on his reasons for walking the Earth. He loaded his suitcase into the trunk and began his journey.
He drove to his own car and looked around carefully as he loaded the rifle into the back seat. He then began his final journey to the other side of town. Only 10 minutes away, he thought to himself. He could be there by 6 AM, leaving fifteen minutes to set up shop.
He arrived in proximity to his destination, a women's health clinic just outside the city limits from where he lived. For the last two years of his life, this place had been his home away from home. He had been arrested several times in the past outside its doors, one of a dozen or so rotating faces who carried graphic signs and bellowed Bible verses to all who entered their doors. Of all the protesters, he had proven himself to be the worst of the bunch. He was jailed for ten days for throwing fake blood made of flour, red food coloring and water on one of the nurses who worked inside the clinic. That was 14 days ago. He had decided while he was sitting in that jail cell that if the courts and society wouldn't take the action to stop abortion, then he would have to do it. He would be protected by God for all that happened to him afterwards. He was right and the world was wrong, and it was certainly not up for discussion anymore.
His wife had left him shortly after he had begun to protest at the clinic. He refused to find a job, saying that God had given him this most high of callings to protect the lives of the unborn. They had argued. His ex-wife accused him of shirking his duties as a father to his children, calling him a headcase. He responded by slapping her across the face as the children watched. She and the children were gone the next day. The first restraining order arrived at his door two days after that.
He parked around the block from the clinic and set up shop behind a row of hedges behind the clinic. It was still dark at this time of the day in early December, which provided adequate cover for him to carry his gun from the car to the hedges. He found his line of sight to the clinic's back parking lot and began to assemble his rifle. From watching the movements of the clinic for such a long period of time, he knew the comings and goings of the doctor who worked at the clinic. While the doctor had varied his start times for the better part of a year becuase of the death threats he had received to the best of his ability, The clinic started seeing patients at 7 AM, and he would be there for the first patient of the day.
The rifle was now assembled. He loaded in the two shells, then checked the view through the infrared sight on the top of his gun. It was perfect. He was ready.
At 6:23, the doctor pulled up in an old beat-up Toyota Corolla. The doctor had abandoned his luxury car after the death threats began to come. He was told to simplify his appearance as to not stand out from the rest of the staff. The threats first came in the mail and on the phone at the clinic. One package that arrived required the intervention of the local bomb squad, which ended up being nothing more that copper wire and tiissue paper, wadded into a box to appear as if to be a bomb. He began to receive similar mail and similar phone calls at his home, to the point where he now only had a cell phone, the number of which was known only by the staff and his immediate family. He later found out that his home phone number had been posted on a domestic terrorist website devoted to abortion doctors. He sued the website and won, making him more of a target than ever before.
He readied his rifle in his hands as the doctor stepped out of his car. The doctor was locking his car with his briefcase in his hand when he fired the first shot, a direct hit to the wrist. The second shot ripped through the back of the doctor's head, his lifeless body crumpling to the ground. His assassin began to run to his car, his rifle case over his left shoulder, his rifle in his right hand as he ran. As he jumped into his car, he noticed a few people had come out of their house, not fully dressed for the morning and attempted to get his license number. He turned on his headlights only when he was far enough away that they wouldn't be able to make out any number or letters on his plate. They now knew the model of his rental car however, and this would more than likely be a problem, but he didn't care. God's will had been served. He was sure to enter the gates of Heaven now as God's avenging angel.
He continued to say his prayers now, on his knees, in the motel room many miles away from the sight of what he saw as his greatest deed. He smiled as he prayed, his belief in his own deliverance now absolute. Morality has finally won out, he thought. A thought was not saved for the doctor, his friends, his family, his patients. The doctor was merely an instrument of salvation, a key to the kingdom. He knew that lives would be saved, justifying any ends he himself had gone to to save them. He was prepared to martyr himself to the legions of devils around him who would think of him as a murderer. It was not their opinion or what he saw as their shallow ideals that he followed.
He brought himself up from the floor at the conclusion of his prayers. He reached for the lamp and turned it on. He now had a chance to get his rifle back into the case. When he left this hotel tomorrow, he would throw the rifle into a nearby lake, hoping it would never be found, but not really caring one way or the other, for he was now protected by God. He would return the rental car to an agency in the next big town along the interstate. After that, he had not had a plan. He would try to be invisible to earthly law for as long as possible until he was either caught or met some other and unpredicted end. He considered it his forty days in the desert, just as Jesus had done, fighting temptation and the evils of the world until he would someday sacrifice himself. His mother had always told him as a child, as she took him to church, that God would reveal great things to him. As he finished packing up his rifle and laying out his clothes for the morning from his briefcase, he turned off the light and put himself to bed, knowing in his heart and mind that his mother had been right, his mission on earth accomplished.