“…And In His Saints!” A Work of Fiction from a Real Tragedy

niceThe French EMT helps load another stretcher into the ambulance, and shuts its doors as it takes off.  She wearily turns around and looks down the street of tragedy; lined with the injured, and the dead.  Just a little while ago it was full of people, celebrating the founding of a republic, celebrating Bastille Day.  Then tragedy struck in this city of Nice; one maniac in a truck, mowing the people down.  Now, there is fear, agony, and grief.  And her heart is screaming:  “Where are You in all of this?”

She closes her eyes for second.  When she opens them, she is looking at the curbside.  She notices for the first time, a little friar, dressed in a patched brown habit.  He is holding the hand of an injured child, singing a French ditty for her.

The sound of sobbing draws her attention to two women, kneeling over a covered body.  One of them is bent over with grief; the other has her arm around the grieving woman’s shoulders, holding her tight.  This woman looks like she is from the Middle East.  She is wearing a long blue veil; her face looks as if she has known much sorrow in her life, and now she is comforting another woman through hers.

The EMT looks further down the street of tragedy and saw a police officer standing guard.  He nervously stares out into night, holding his rifle tight.  The EMT blinks her eyes, because she could swear there was a girl standing next to him.  She is dressed like a French peasant, with short-cropped hair.  Her hand is gripping the officer’s shoulder, as with fierce eyes, she also stares into night with him.  Is that a sword in her other hand?

Movement next to her drew the EMT’s attention.  She stares at her medical bag, and sees that someone has placed a red rose in it.  She looks quickly behind her and thinks she sees a nun, a Carmelite nun, disappearing into the crowds.  She turns around again, but the people she saw, the friar, the woman in blue, the peasant girl, have also disappeared.  She looks down to her bag, the rose is real.  As she looks at it; she suddenly no longer feels so alone.  She grabs her medical bag, takes a deep breath, and walks back down the street of tragedy.

“Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.”

A Little Friar During the Night of Terror!

(MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

(MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

He walks among the wounded, and the dead.  The City of Lights has become the City of Fear.  The tears well up in the eyes of the little poor one, because he loves the French people.  His father made his fortune selling French cloth,and he had the name of his first-born son changed from Giovanni to Francisco to honor France.  In his youth, the little one would dress as a French troubadour, entertaining the young ladies of Assisi with French love songs.

He kneels down beside one of the wounded, who is crying in pain and fear.  He takes the person’s hand, bends over, and sings to him in French.  An EMT rushes towards the wounded person, he thinks he sees a dark robed friar kneeling over him.  He blinks and the friar is gone.  He kneels beside the injured, who is now quiet, and has a peaceful look on his face.  “Paix!”