Saint Teddy - By Brian Law

Phil tapped his cigarette ash into a nearby ashtray on the bar as he eavesdropped on the fellow next to him. The fellow wasn’t talking to anybody in particular, just going on drunkenly about random stuff to himself. 


Then he turned to Phil and seemingly for no good reason asked, “Are you a sinner, friend?” 


“Am I a what?” Phil retorted, narrowing his eyes to slits as he looked at the other fellow for the first time. Phil heard the word ‘sinner’ alright, but he just wanted to put the other fellow on notice that he wasn’t pleased with the term. That was Bar Survival 101 when dealing with fellow drunks. Challenge ‘em to say it again. Most won’t.


“A sinner, you know, a transgressor of God’s laws. A miscreant. An evil doer,” the fellow explained, slightly slurring his words.


“Jeez, who isn’t, pal?” Phil growled as he motioned to the bartender for another drink and lit up a cigarette.


The fellow edged slightly off his bar stool and drunkenly leaned in on Phil and replied, “Well, I’m not. Not anymore. I’m clean as a whistle sin wise, friend.” 


Phil gently shoved the fellow back out of his face, smiling as he did it. Returning to his drink and cigarette, Phil sarcastically remarked, “Well, I’m real happy for you, pal. Now, why don’t you leave me alone. I’m tired, I’ve had a long day, and I don’t feel like talking to anybody. Okay?”


The bartender came over, refilled Phil’s glass on the house, leaned over and said in an uncharacteristically serious voice under his breath, “They call him Saint Teddy on the street, Phil. He’s the real deal. He’s cured people of cancer and shit like that. He’s got a direct line to God, they say.”


Phil glanced over at the drunk he’d just shoved away and then back at the bartender. “Cancer, huh?” he muttered to himself. Phil’s wife and both his parents had gone out that way. Only a miracle would have saved any of them.


“Doesn’t seem right though, God workin’ through a drunk and all,” Phil mused, glancing back at Saint Teddy who was continuing his random rant from the next bar stool over. 


“I seen it myself, Phil, right here in the bar. You remember Tony Ruffo, don’t ya?” the bartender asked.


“Sure, but Tony died just last month. I read his obit in the paper. What’s your point?” Phil replied.


The bartender leaned on the bar and looked Phil right in the eye and said, “That wasn’t the first time Tony died, Phil. He died in here two years before. Keeled over right over there,” the bartender explained, pointing to a spot on the floor. “And Teddy here brought him back to life. And he was dead, all right. I’ve seen enough of ‘em to know, believe me.”


“How many people saw it happen?” Phil asked, still skeptical.


“Just me, Phil. But I swear, Tony died right there and a few minutes later Teddy walks in, kneels down and Tony springs back to life. Swear to God, Phil. A frickin’ miracle.”


Phil sat smoking for a moment, lost in thought. Then, he asked, “You told many people about this?”


The bartender shook his head and added, “No, you’re the first I’ve told about Teddy being able to bring back the dead. And Tony, he never knew what happened. Can you believe it, guy dies, comes back to life and doesn’t remember any of it? And Saint Teddy, forget about it. He doesn’t even know what happened ten minutes ago.”


Somebody called the bartender over and left Phil alone with his thoughts. Phil was having a hard time lately and what he’d just heard might just be the ticket to fixing his problem. He turned to Saint Teddy and asked, “Teddy, I’m Phil, by the way. You got a minute?”


“Sure, Phil. What’s on your mind?” Teddy replied, still obviously under the influence.


Phil slid over closer to Teddy, leaned over, and asked, “When you asked if I was a sinner, you already knew, didn’t you? You knew just what kind of life I've lived, right?”


Teddy smiled and nodded. “I know your sins, Phil. Every last one.” He seemed somehow more focused than before to Phil.


“Well, okay, here’s the deal, Teddy. I hear you have certain abilities. You know, healing powers. So, what I’m wondering is can you heal a guilty conscience?” Phil asked, his eyes focused directly on Teddy’s.


“The murders, they bothering you, Phil?” Teddy asked pointedly.


“Yeah, I can’t sleep. I’m haunted by ghosts, Teddy. I’m at the end of my rope. I’m thinking about doin' myself in.” Phil paused and then added, “But I just heard you cure cancer and even bring back the dead. Clearing my conscience, that can’t be too hard for you, can it, Teddy?”


Teddy, suddenly sober as a judge, put his hand on Phil’s and replied, “It’s not me doing those things, Phil. I’m just the actor. Somebody else writes the script, see.”


“Sure, sure, Teddy, I get it. But . . . and I’m just asking here . . . is there a chance that a really hard core sinner like me can get some help? I’m not asking for too much, am I, Teddy?” Phil implored. “I’d just like to live out my life without these terrible thoughts in my head.”


Saint Teddy moved off his bar stool and stood right next to Phil. He put his hand on Phil’s shoulder and said, “Your heart is evil, Phi. So, there’s no easy way out for you. But . . . there is something that can be done.”


“No, I get it. I’m no Boy Scout, Teddy. So, you said there’s something . . .”


Teddy was now the soberest man in the room as he continued, “When you die, Phil, I will always be there to bring you back to life, time and again, with the same guilty conscience as before. You try to kill yourself, you’ll be brought back to life. You kill me, somebody else will take my place. This is the plan for you, Phil. Your suffering will continue for as long as deemed necessary.”


And with that, Teddy moved back to his bar stool,turned to the bartender and, slurring his words, ordered another drink. “Make it a double, bartender!”


“Coming right up, Teddy. You, Phil, you ready for another?” the bartender asked as he turned out Teddy’s drink.


Phil nodded, his shoulders slumping, his eyes fixed in a sleepless, dead stare.




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