A distant 2,500 miles from Pemberton Place steps in charming San Francisco lie insignificant Alice county located about two hours southeast of Atlanta on a two lane highway in red clay hills and a swampy region of Georgia.
Snow flurries had been forecast for the early afternoon.
But a bright white sun managed to peek through an overcast sky calming a fierce wind howling from the north.
In a bucolic Holiness church on a muddy dirt road where a dense forest of pine, hickory and oak trees towered in the sky behind the small short steeple church, Etha Lee Davis grunted from arthritis burning her joints and knelt half-way down at the altar to pray.
She trembled to her merciful God, praying for Clarence’s misguided soul already delivered. She prayed for Travis Weatherford, Clarence’s lover come down from San Francisco to see his lover’s grave. She prayed hard that Travis, too, wouldn’t carry this thing killing off young men like her prettiest chile born..
She prayed even harder for Ty-rone to be delivered of hatred and that Ty-rone, too, would soon find inner strength and courage to love unconditionally with forgiveness in his cold heart. A cold heart, Ty-rone had inherited... just like the black-hearted daddy, Jessie Belin, had been. Cold and mean-spirited. A drunken wife beater and a two timing gigolo. Too many women on the side to keep up with. She forgave him and prayed again for Jessie's soul delivered...
* * *
In back of the church in the cemetary dark and shaded by long limb oaks, Travis shivered in the cold air, staring at his lover’s freshly covered grave that bear no headstone save a weathered wood marker scribbled by hand: Clarence Melvin Belin. He was born. He died. Love Mother and brother Tyrone.
“Ashes to ashes,” he cried, dropping down to the earth and grabbing a fist full of mud. “Dust to dust. For we are dust. And to dust we shall return...”
Suddenly, he froze, feeling uneasy. Little blond hairs rose on back of his neck. The wind perished. Something heavy moved over a pile of dry leaves near the edge of the woods. He looked furiously around, sensing he was being watched.
Then a gusting wind hastened back, tearing through the thick woods and slamming against the back of the old wooden church.
Dear God! It was true. He had been exposed. Had possibly contracted the incurable virus from Clarence and a hundred more men before Clarence when no one ...no one ever thought of playing safe. The thrill was to swallow, and he did so. He swallowed like an insatiable ravenous pig a thousand times.
He could deny it. This tainted alien flowing through the blood of men. Hungry men. Yes, yes...He didn’t have it. Couldn't have it He was a Weatherford. A Texan. No, Weatherford would contract such a thing. But deep inside, he suspected he was deceiving himself about a reality that was about to rip him apart for all those years of being a senseless greedy pig through a promiscuous time when one man was never enough.
Please God! He entreated with all his strength.. Don't let it be true! Don't let the alien be inside of me, too. I’ve done nothing wrong
He covered his face in the palm of his hands and wept...