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“Comrade Captain, the suspect on the claim of blasphemy by the clergy was successfully detained by our task force in the Church of Christ the Saviour and half an hour ago was taken to the department for identification and interrogation purposes. Do you want me to send him in?”

A young red-haired junior police sergeant, always squinting like a semi-blind march cat, promptly made his brief report as soon as he opened the door to his boss’s office. Such a sly fellow, wanting a promotion. Well, we’ll see, we’ll see.

“Get him inside, Kalistratov,” police captain Christenko waved his hand authoritatively, putting the papers aside. “We will conduct a preliminary interrogation here so that we don’t have to waste too much time on him.”

“Oh, how did these priests torture us with their demands for protection of the feelings of believers!” a thought flashed inside the captain’s mind. “They constantly unload all such cases to our departments if possible. You, they say, conduct all necessary investigations, determine the degree of guilt of these disbelievers, while we will continue providing our services, helping your sinful souls in need. But don’t ever dare to let the culprits go free just like that! And where else do we have to put them? Every second man out there is a de-facto atheist, and every third of so-called believers is a hypocrite of epic proportions.”

“Drag him inside!” Kalistratov shouted, looking out into the corridor, and the two guards obediently led the handcuffed man into the room and placed him on a chair in front of the captain, keeping standing on both sides nearby.

Tenacious, accustomed to evaluating people with one cursory glance, captain Khristenko’s gaze reluctantly slid over the suspect, stopping at his eyes. Slavic appearance, thirty-five – forty years old, leatherette outerwear, jeans, calluses on the hands, blond hair. There is absolutely nothing unusual in his appearance, a classic ordinary hard worker, most likely a migrant, of which there are hundreds of thousands in Moscow, especially after the opening of the borders with Ukraine. But the eyes… they were too lively, abnormally kind.

“Did they explain to you the reason for your detention and the procedure for conducting the interrogation?” captain Christenko narrowed his eyes, aiming his gaze like a beam at the suspect’s face in an attempt to read his thoughts from facial expressions.

“Yes, in general," the detainee replied kindly and calmly. “I’m ready to talk to you.”

“This is a mild interrogation, not a conversation. You’d better thank us for not keeping you in an interrogation room behind armored glass, like a particularly dangerous person. The conditions out there are not so rosy, believe me!”

The prisoner only smiled and just nodded in response.

“I thank you for your kindness.”

“So…” The captain rummaged through the pile of papers lying on his table for a moment, searching for a folder, a pen, and a dictaphone. “By the protocol…”

“What would you like to know? I have caused no harm to any of you or to those who have addressed my heavenly father in the temple.”

“Good and evil have all become very relative terms, especially in our time. Yet the clause for blasphemy that may come into reality is a very concrete and tangible thing, believe my experience. So…” the captain glanced at the lines of text in the newly opened case. “Witnesses from among the parishioners claim that you behaved completely inappropriately in the church, never according to canons and traditions, reading very loudly and sonorously the “Lord’s Prayer” as well as asked others, I quote, “to show yourself by true deeds that are pleasing to my heavenly father, and not by words and chants imposed on you.” Where did you even find such words? What, is there is a new trend arising in social networks?”

“I only said what I had to, words coming from my heart. I reminded people of heartfelt prayer and…”

“And engaged in blasphemy, you wanted to say?”

“I said no words of lies.”

“The Son of Man, my heavenly father, has traveled the way on the earth to the heaven, in order to prepare and execute his judgment on all of its inhabitants in the appointed time, and to divide the human race into grain and ryegrass…” These are extremist statements, almost a call to terrorism! Where is your father living now? We can get him into this department if need be before you can speak another nonsense!”

“High in the heavens” the prisoner replied confidently.

“Motherfucker!”

This man was getting on the captain’s nerves. It seems that he will not see a quick confession today and the prompt closure of this case as well as his major’s shoulder straps.

“Please don’t blaspheme my mother. Those who do that will suffer hardly.”

“Are you threatening me, whelp?” the captain stood up abruptly and came close to the prisoner, measuring him with his eyes. Something in the prisoner’s eyes, however, overcame the police officer’s anger.

“You mean, he is dead?”

“He went into the best of worlds.”

Having calmed down, captain Christenko slowly returned to his desk. “You like to speak allegorically, then. Well, no matter, we have seen lots of your ilk.”

“Can I drink some water?” the prisoner addressed sergeant Kalistratov, who was standing a little distance away.

“What, do you want to transform it into wine, self-manifested Christ?!” the sergeant chuckled. “We are not supposed to drink while on duty!”

“And I didn’t offer it to you. The last time I only wanted to make a family of beggars feel joy a little.”

“And what’s wrong with us? For we also, you know, have experienced great salary cuts after all these reforms, and are precisely like beggars. Can you, say, use your great powers and save our lost souls and salaries?” the junior sergeant, who was mocking the prisoner, seemed to even infect his superior with a smile, for the latter chuckled softly into his mustache.

“Well, you are an artist indeed!” the captain chuckled. “What’s your profession, artist? A clown in a circus, I suppose?”

“I am a rescuer.”

“Fucking… division. And whom exactly? Saving our souls, I take it? Did you save a few of us with your own faked death the last time, one must believe?”

“My father didn’t send me here to die. My assassins wanted to justify themselves in future generations.”

“What is your job, I ask you?!”

“I am a rescuer. IN EMERCOM.”

The captain whistled involuntarily.

“For how long?”

“Recently. After moving.”

“Why do you then run around the temples, if you are a rescuer? Take people out of the fire alive and make waters clear the way before you!”

This time it was sergeant Kalistratov who involuntarily chuckled into his fist after these words of his superior.

“For long will unbelievers not see miracles. And even when they see it, they still won’t believe.”

“Don’t you bluff with me like that!” the captain’s face was stern again. “Why did you disturb the parishioners in the temple with your prayers? Why didn’t you take an example from them?”

“Not the prayers they were speaking, but demands. My father cannot give what many ask for those who do not deserve it.”

“And who does, oh kind one? We are all sinners around here, do you know that? With our work, it’s a sin not to get dirty.”

“Children and pure ones.”

“Hmmm…” the answers of this detainee, despite all their strangeness, in some aspects started to seem more and more meaningful to captain Christenko, not so crazy as they looked at first. But the statements, the testimony of the parishioners…

“Why did you try to rob one of the parishioners, put your hand to her stomach in the crowd? I mean the pregnant woman. We have an accusation statement from her here, too.”

“The child would have been born ill at birth and her mother would have abandoned him. I saved both of them by healing him.”

“Gha!” the captain choked on his morning tea and roll. “What a turn! Would you suggest that we simply believe it?”

“Talk to her in ten days – she will understand and change her testimony.”

“That means you’ll stay here in solitary confinement for at least ten days.”

“As will my heavenly father desires it.”

“Why didn’t you give alms to the poor at the exit? Isn’t that what that very same Jesus taught us, whom you’re completely falsely trying to imitate just right now?” the captain narrowed his eyes again, being inwardly glad of the clever question.

“That’s not a wise question to ask,” the handcuffed young man said softly, raising his bright eyes to face the police captain. “They are not beggars, but deceivers. My father gave them hands and heads, yet the work became a burden to them. They keep spending alms on their bad habits without hesitation. I can’t help those of them who don’t want to help themselves.”

“Are you reading my mind, an impostor?” the captain mentally said to himself, fixing his eyes on this hell-knows-who.

“Those who keep selling my father’s name have become impostors of your present,” the prisoner said firmly and aloud as if answering some secret question.

The captain started moving his pen slowly in the air, not knowing what to write down on a paper. “That’s how it is, as it turns out… That’s all about it…”

“I brought no harm to any living soul. You inflict it on each other yourself, and the divine law of my father punishes your destinies and bodies for such deeds.”

“Well… And why do you preach in temples alone then? Where are your chosen ones, all that so-called apostles?” junior sergeant Kalistratov decided to interfere into a dialogue that no longer looked like an interrogation, but the prisoner silently raised his sad eyes to him – and like other-worldly shadow covered his bright sight for a moment – and then he slowly looked away, sighed, giving no answer.

“What… what shall we do with him, comrade captain?” asked the sergeant, shifting from one foot to the other, clearly feeling himself out of place and watching the captain who was still slowly, as if by inertia, waving a ballpoint pen in the air, as if his thoughts were traveling at this moment somewhere far away and he was trying to finally resolve a question of extreme importance.

“Remove his handcuffs,” Christenko finally ordered. “I’ll escort him to his cell personally.”

“But, comrade captain…”

“Just do it!”

“Aye-aye, sir!” Kalistratov, frightened by the harsh tone of the captain, waved his hand to the two guards standing nearby who had removed the handcuffs from the prisoner and then promptly went out from the cabinet together with them into the corridor, continuing to mutter something to himself.

A minute later, the sound of their footsteps faded inside the maze of corridors. The man who had been arrested for blasphemy was still sitting in his chair, making no attempts to escape.

“Thank you,” he said softly. “You wanted to tell me something…”

“I have a daughter… a small one,” the captain looked at the prisoner with a hopeful, pleading look. “She’s ill… severely. It’s torture… for the three of us. Help me, please, if that’s really you… Cure her!”

“You need to tell your wife about the past,” the suspect said firmly after a few seconds.

“About what – her?”

“Yes, about your treason. Make peace with your wife. Forgive each other. Then your daughter will recover.”

“By herself?”

“By my father's will.”

“T… thank you.”

The prisoner only nodded in response.

“You surely realize that I’m going to have to put you in solitary confinement until the circumstances of the attempted theft are resolved, don’t you? If I had it my way, I’d release you right away. But this is our routine, our regulations, our rules… damn them!”

“I understand,” said the prisoner. “Don’t worry about that. Lead on.”

Having that said, he laid a reassuring hand on the captain’s shoulder, and at that very moment as if a powerful invisible wave passed through his spirit and body, bringing back strength, the desire to live, the hope of saving his own daughter, and perhaps even a little bit of faith in a miracle.

“Lead on!” repeated the prisoner.

* * *

That night, the one who walked the Earth two thousand years ago under the name of Jesus Christ did not close his eyes.

“My father!” he asked the starry heavens. “Why did you give me those who can’t go with me?”

“Others will come,” answered the sky to his spirit. “Those who will overcome their pride and comfort.”

On this clear starry night, Jesus did not close his eyes. Like a bird of paradise, his spirit glided over the Earth, invisibly touching the souls of sleeping people, as if checking which of them was still ready, still waiting for his return.”

This starry night was still waiting in the wings.

29.02.2020

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