Saints and Sinners
John A. Ward

  Diana (aka Bruiser) and Professor Knute Kugelschreiber (aka Salamander) pulled up in front of the Mocha Bean.  Salamander slid out of the back seat while Bruiser dropped the Harley's kickstand.

Inside the coffeehouse, Bruiser asked, "Do you believe in sin, Sal?"  She called him Salamander the first time they met.  He told her his name was Knute.  She told him he was a mature male and should be called Salamander instead of Newt.  

Salamander winked, "Why?  Do you have a proposition?"

  "No, it's a philosophical question."  Riding with a college professor made her introspective.  

"It doesn't matter what I believe.  Every religion has its saints and sinners."  

"Name three."  

"For one, the Greeks had Prometheus.  He stole fire and he gave it to man.  They tied him to a rock and let the eagles eat his liver.  Did anyone care?  No, they just went on cooking and left him there.  'Thanks for the fire,' they said, 'bummer about your liver.'"  

"Those Greeks," said Bruiser, "Do you know the men dance together?"

  Salamander shrugged it off.  "The same thing happened to the serpent.  He gave Adam and Eve the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  In return, he had to crawl on his belly for the rest of whatever.  In this case, the humans got the boot too.  They had to go forth and multiply, do logarithms and calculus, and bear their children in pain.  The Roman gods were nasty, but not nearly as vindictive as the one true God, who, by the way, is made up of a committee -- the Father, Son and Holy Spook."  

"Yeah, what's with that lack of women in monotonous theism?" said Bruiser.   

"Monotheism," said Salamander.  "The deal now is to punish both the giver and the receiver.  Fire is a gift.  You can use it to cook, fire pots in a kiln, and forge steel, but it can also burn you.  The knowledge of good and evil is the same.  Before humans had the gift, they could do anything and there was no sin, but once they knew, they began dividing everything into good and evil.  The Christians got to the table late, so they had to label all of the fun stuff evil."  

"Now they're constantly in trouble, sinning their tails off because they really like it," said Bruiser.  "Nice fake, but you're short one sinner and you haven't named any saints."  

"What about us?" said Salamander.  

"Are we saints or sinners?" she took a demure sip of her cappuccino.  The froth below the rim resembled lace.

  He took a ravenous bite from his petits fours. "Let's finish lunch and find out."  

First published: November, 2006
comments to the writer: Knob'