“Splendid dining”, Leonard smiled to the missionary wife. “I’m a lucky chap, finding this home for my lodging.” He nodded gratefully to the family. “I shall now get on with some things”, he offered, and stepped from the room.
Entering his own room he rolled his head slowly about and gave his body a long stretch. Moving the few steps to his simple desk, he took up the ledger that had come home with him weeks before. Squiggles on an open page revealed his latest entries – further markings attesting his focused quest. To prove the clergyman wrong, show the “holy book” up for what it was – a bundle of contradictory myths. Seated now, he reached for the Bible itself.
Fingering the book marker inside, he flipped to the last page he had visited. Over past weeks his practice had become ritual. . . Arrive home from a day’s work – down a cup of tea – tidy up a bit – join the family for dinner – retire to his room – and resume the task at hand. That is, expose the religious book for what it was. And reinforce his atheism all the further.
His daily regime with the Bible had taken Leonard through the ancient books of Law, the Histories of Old Testament Kings and the like. He had passed onward and through the Wisdom books – jotting notes the whole way. All the Prophet Isaiah’s sixty-six chapters were recently gone through, bringing the sum of his readings thus far to twenty-three entire books of the Bible. There seemed no reason to think today’s exercise would hold anything specially notable.
The book of Jeremiah the Prophet lay open before him at chapter seventeen. Leonard came to verse nine. He read slowly.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Leonard Coote – the keen-minded, self-assured man – took in the fourteen words. He read it once more. Then again.
And was undone.
©2017 Jerry Lout