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The Batte of Repentance
A Tale of The Wise And Kindly Father Shmolnick

The Wise and Kindly Father Shmolnick sat on his throne atop the white dais. The dais overlooked the Wise and Kindly One's common hall, where all of his loyal followers gathered day in and day out to pay tribute and listen raptly to their glorious master.

This day, however, Father Shmolnick was not particularly pleased. An acolyte had violated one of sect's rules. The Wise and Kindly One knew the importance of obedience and could not allow even the slightest violation to go unpunished. Father Shmolnick also knew the importance of discipline.

As the Great One sat playing idly with the cloth of his voluminous and expertly-tailored white robes, he thought again about the foolish young acolyte. Young Vivo Bubble had been a promising acolyte, mastering The Wise and Kindly One's teaching early enough to advance through the Five Steps of the Acolyte. It was unprecedented, really. No acolyte had ever gone so far so fast. Father Shmolnick took an interest in the young acolyte, seeing in the bright young man hope for the future of the Sect of Shmolnick.

However, after achieving the Five Steps and obtaining his gray Acolyte's Robe, Acolyte Bubble began to change. Minor mistakes in ritual came first, leading the acolyte's teachers to report the gaffes to their smiling and beneficent leader. The Wise One forgave the errors as evidence of the young acolyte's earnestness and eagerness. The mistakes continued unabated and in fact increased. Acolyte Bubble was called into the Office of Acolytic Affairs to discuss the problem but became somewhat defensive and refused to accept responsibility for the mistakes.

When informed of the acolyte's bizarre behavior, The Wise One ordered the young man to be watched. Something was amiss, thought the Great One, and He would find out what. His wisdom was such that nothing escaped his attention for too long.

The promising Acolyte began to make other mistakes as well. He came late for important rituals and prayer meetings, he forgot his lines in rituals, and there were even reports of him criticizing Father Shmolnick to other acolytes, who wisely brought these reports to their superiors.

Finally the acolyte began to display strange physical symptoms: his eyes were frequently red, he sniffled a lot, and was constantly snacking on Slim Jims and frozen Philly Swirls. The Wise and Kindly One ordered his quarters searched, and lo and behold, a forbidden stash of pleasureweed was found.

Pleasureweed was forbidden to acolytes in the Wise One's compound. Only Masters and the Great Man himself were allowed this luxury. Yet this acolyte had some on hand, breaking one of the most important rules of the sects. Father Shmolnick was disappointed in the young acolyte, and the more he thought of it, the angrier he became. Why, he had had great plans for Acolyte Bubble. He had taken the young man under his wing, and this is how he was repaid for his confidence? The acolyte must suffer the pain of punishment.

There were many punishments in Father Shmolnick's sect, but for a crime such as this, even if perpetrated by one the Wise One's favorites, there could be only one punishment: The Batte of Repentance.

The crowd of acolytes and masters in the common hall grew momentarily noisy, and The Wise and Kindly Father Shmolnick looked up from his deep thoughts to see Acolyte Bubble being escorted into the room, one burly Master at each arm. The accused acolyte wasn't struggling, but looked unhappy indeed.

The crowd parted to let the accused through toward the dais. Father Shmolnick stood up and held his berobed arms out in the traditional Stance of Judgement. The crowd instantly fell silent. Acolyte Bubble's escorts let him go and retreated into the crowd; the troubled young man looked down and gasped; he was standing in the Circle of Judgement, the glossy blue paint forming a circular space on the floor, once attractive, now ominous.

"My friends, We call your attention to Circle of Judgement, so that Our Judgement may be fairly rendered in your loyal presence," Father Shmolnick intoned.

"We see the Circle of Judgement and pray for Your Justice so that we may learn from your wisdom, Oh Wise and Kindly One," the crowd replied in practiced unison.

Acolyte Bubble began to perspire and rubbed his sweaty hands on his gray robe.

Father Shmolnick looked down at his former favorite. "Vivo Bubble, remove thy robes. Thou hast spoiled their holy aura and are no longer fit to wear them."

Vivo Bubble complied and took off the robe. "I hear and obey your Magnificence, Oh Great Master," the nervous acolyte replied. He was now clad in just an undershirt and boxer shorts. Another acolyte instantly and silently took the robe, and disappeared into an unseen chamber where the robe was burned and the ashes subsequently buried underground.

"Thou art an acolyte no more, Vivo Bubble. Thou hast violated one of our most sacred injunctions, and have brought foul and illegal substances into your midst. Dost thou make the promise of repentance for thy crime?"

Vivo Bubble cleared his throat and wiped sweat from his worried brow. "Y-yes, Oh Great Master, I make the promise of repentance to thy greatness," he said.

Father Shmolnick smiled. "Good," he said to the young man, "You may assume the position, former acolyte, and prepare to receive My Beneficent Justice."

The young man got down on all fours and raised his head. His eyes were closed as required by the ritual. Father Shmolnick reached into his voluminous and glorious robes and pulled out the Batte of Repentance, a baseball bat that had been painted all gold except the handle, which had been painted black.

"In the name of My Holy Teachings and in respect for all of my Beloved Children in attendance, I hereby and reluctantly pick up the Batte of Repentance," called the Wise One. He descended the carpeted steps of the dais leading to the floor and approached the former acolyte slowly, letting each footstep echo throughout the chamber. The crowd watched wide-eyed.

The Wise and Kindly One raised the Batte of Repentance over his handsome face and adjusted his grip on the black handle. Vivo Bubble let a tiny moan escape his lips and his arms began to tire.

"For Justice!" cried Father Shmolnick.

He swung the Batte in a circle above his head once, twice, thrice before bringing it down with a loud THUD on the poor former-acolyte's exposed spine. The young man fell to the floor instantly, yowling in pain and trying to reach the agonizing spot on his back with his hands.

"For Obedience!" cried Father Shmolnick.

He slammed the Batte into the back of Bubble's neck with a loud CRUNCH, causing a small pool of blood to form beneath the prone former acolyte, who could only grunt with the pain.

"For Wisdom!" cried Father Shmolnick.

He swung his instrument of justice in a wide arc and let it crash into Bubble's side twice in rapid succession. Bubble felt something undulate painfully inside him. He tried to move but found he could not as his spine had been crushed.

"For Kindness!" cried Father Shmolnick.

With robotic precision, he swung the Batte over and over into Bubble's exposed skulle, cracking it with the first blow, effectively silencing the young man, then splitting it open with the second, sending a spray of blood and brain matter into the air. His own voluminous robes were untouched by the gory mess, as the Wise One had had the finest Scotchguard applied to the fabric. The third blow landed with a sickening FLUMP, flattening Vivo Bubble's head amidst a spreading pool of blood and bone, causing the dead former favorite's body to jerk up and down reflexively. The crowd oohed and aahed at their Wise Master's expert application of justice.

And then it was done. The Wise and Kindly Father Shmolnick let the Batte of Repentance fall from his hands, where another unseen acolyte quickly picked it up for the ritual cleansing that would follow.

The Great One retreated alone into an antechamber, followed by his personal female acolyte. He slumped into a large La-Z-Boy easy chair and put his feet up, sighing. "Lemme see Bubble's shit again," he ordered the large but comely acolyte.

"Yes Great Master," she replied obediently, and within seconds, Father Shmolnick had Vivo Bubble's baggie of pleasureweed open and his handsome nose stuck into it.

"Aahh, this shit smells like Thai. Fetch me my pipe and a cold glass of water." Father Shmolnick continued to take in the green earthy smell of the late Vivo Bubble's pleasureweed stash. "The Batte of Repentance always makes me wanna get really stoned," he commented.

THE END.

2006 Michael S. Cohen

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