Asia tries not to dwell on this ominous thought, but the more she tries not to, the more she does. How could she not. She’s at a funeral and isn’t it natural to think about God at a time like this? Yes, she thinks, but it’s just not that. It’s also about all these crazy things that have been happening and going on in the world. It’s about too many signs of the coming of the Lord. It’s about actual events that have and are still occurring which shows us the end times are now. Nine Eleven-the terrorist attacks of the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, and she was actually there in the city when it occurred; the airplane attack on the Pentagon; all the hijacked planes; the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings of innocent children and teachers in Newton Connecticut; the Boston Massachusettes’ Marathon bombing attack; the Charleston South Carolina Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church bible study group massacre; San Bernadino, California employee Christmas party shooting; the Orlando Florida shooting attack at a gay night club; Dallas Texas police and other officers killed; police killing more than one hundred unarmed black people-at least one hundred thirty six black people killed by police, and these are only a fraction of the examples of the craziness here in the United States of America. Not to mention the horrific events occurring all around the world! All of these thoughts are swirling around inside Asia’s head.
“Babe, what are you thinking about so seriously?” Troy asks his
wife. He has noticed that she’s been in deep thought lately. They all have. Shoot, he thinks, it seems like everyone has. Her husband’s voice brings her back to the present. “Yeah, hon, I have been thinking about a lot lately”, she responds with a small smile. “I know, you don’t like funerals, nobody does”, continues Troy. Junior pipes in with, “dad, where are we going now”? “We’re going to a repast that’s at my aunt’s house”. “What’s a repast”? Asks Beary. “A repast is the reception a family has after one’s funeral to eat, drink, and talk to one another showing more respect and giving more condolences to the deceased closest kin”, explains Troy to both of his boys as he takes each one by the hand and proceeds to walk towards their car. “Good”, says Beary, “I’m hungry!” “You’re always hungry”, teases his brother. Asia once again gives a small smile and follows her husband and sons to the car. They wave and nod at other family members who are also getting in their cars heading to the repast too.
Asia’s mind is still preoccupied when they arrive at Troy’s aunt house. It’s a nice two story home in Bergen New Jersey. The outside shingles of the house are beige with a brown accent around the windows. People enter the house through a brown front porch with beautiful oak doors. You then come to the living room where two beige flowered couches, one on either side of the walls, and two of the same pattern lounge chairs are next to them. Beige metal fold up chairs are placed around the room for more available seating. Troy has a large family and many people are now filling up the room. The woman head towards the kitchen, while the men congregate in the living room. Even though the kitchen is kind of small, it is still cheery. It’s painted a bright yellow and has nice white, with clear glass in the middle cabinets. Troy’s aunt, Thelma can cook her butt off. She has all the food prepared and ready to be heated up. So, all the women, including Asia and Troy’s sister, and two cousins she saw and greeted at the funeral home, busy themselves with the kitchen tasks. Asia goes through the required motions and the time passes quickly. Soon it’s time to go and everyone says their goodbyes with, “we have to get together more often,
let’s not wait for funerals to see one another, make sure you keep in touch”, and this continues until Troy reaches for the boy’s hands and he and Asia slip out of the house. They head to their car once again, get inside, and drive home.
Troy pulls up in front of their home. It’s a quaint, split level Ranch house. The outside is made of light beige shingles with green shudders around the windows. There is a white stone, with rocks driveway and walkway, that leads to concrete stairs. The front door is a simple white door with a crescent shaped beveled glass in the top of it. There is always a wreath of some kind hanging on it that represents the particular season. Because it’s Spring, a large, round, flower wreath adorns it now. Only some of this can be seen because it is extremely dark outside where they live in the Poconos. It is in the mountains of Pennsylvania. There are no street lights. The only illumination is from lights that some homes may have on at a particular time, and the moon. So Beary, who’s only four years old, trips and stumbles a bit when he steps out of the car, and Troy grabs him to keep him from falling on the ground. “Watch it son”, says Troy, “I got you”. Troy assists his son to the front door. Asia opens up the door and she, and Junior walk in with Troy and Beary behind them. They walk straight into the living room. It has bamboo wooden floors that Troy put down himself. He also painted it a beautiful golden peach color after he pushed back the wall which made more space. One brown, leather couch is on a wall across from the window, and another one is on a wall on the left of the front door.
There are over twenty plants of various kinds hanging up, around, and in front of two large windows. A bamboo shelf containing a plethora of trinkets, pictures of family and friends, computer ware, candles and other memorable items, standing six feet tall is in one corner of the living room. Directly across from the other sofa a sixty-inch flat screen television mounted on the wall. Under it is a thick cherry wood table too. Many types of African and Caribbean heads from the Islands, as well as African cultural paintings decorate all the walls. Another thick,
cherry wood table is next to the other couch. This table holds all the stereo equipment, a CD player, a mixer amp, another amplifier, and headphones. And, strategically placed all around the living room are fifteen speakers of various types and sizes, for collecting musical, and electrical devices is one of Troy’s hobbies.
Once inside, the boys head straight to their rooms and fall into bed. Troy and Asia have to go into each boy’s room and take off their clothes. They help the boys into their pajamas, then allow them to return to their beds. Asia and Troy are also exhausted because it’s very late. It’s two-thirty in the morning and they had left the house at twelve noon the previous day. Even though it’s Thursday, no one will be going to work nor school because of being too tired, thinks Asia as she falls asleep with her husband beside her. But before she falls asleep, she thinks about the day’s events and how she had an “Aha” moment about why she has been thinking more of the ominous thought. Why the Mark of the Beast story has been invading almost every thought she has. All the latest occurrences and now the funeral has brought things into perspective. She fears that something big in her life is about to go down.
As soon as the two girls sit down at the cafeteria benches across from, and facing each other, Asia begins questioning Chasity. “Girl, what’s going on?”, she asks her friend all bright eyed. Chasity turns to Asia, looks her directly in her eyes, puts her hand on her friend’s hand and blurts out, “the Mark of the Beast is coming!” Asia looks back at her friend confused. Her eyebrows scrunch together and she lowers her head as she continues to look at her friend with bright eyes. And at the same time, the hairs on the back of her neck stand up and she gets goose bumps on her arms. There’s already a chill in the air and this chill now begins to seep into her bones making her shiver a little. Asia just stares at Chasity with that wide-eyed confused look. Mrs. Berkowitz, the lunchroom aide calls their table to get on line for food. This breaks Asia out of her trance like state. “Chasity, what are you talking about?” “I’ll tell you everything as soon as we’re in the gym and
we can talk without getting into trouble”, whispers Chasity as she picks up a tray that contains a hot dog, a spoonful of beans, a pint of milk and a small plastic cup of fruit cocktail. Sticking directly behind her, Asia picks up a lunch tray that holds the same items as her friend’s. Both girls pick up a spork and napkin that are wrapped in a small plastic package, a mustard packet, and head back to their table.
Once the two girls are seated, Asia once again begins questioning her good friend. “Chasity, what is the Mark of the Beast and what does it do?”, she asks bewildered. “It’s the mark of the devil but my preacher said its gonna be known as the Mark of the Beast in the future”, says Chasity as she picks up her hot dog and takes a bite. And she says it so matter of fact like this is something you tell a friend every day and that it’s no big deal. But it isn’t a matter of fact, no big deal statement to Asia because she drops her frankfurter onto her tray and stares at her friend flabbergasted. But Asia doesn’t get a chance to respond right away because Mrs. Berkowitz blows her whistle for silence. So the two girls finish their lunch in silence because they don’t want to forfeit their chance to speak in the gymnasium at recess. Chasity eats all her lunch, but Asia just picks at hers because she’s bursting at the seams with anticipation about what Chasity has to tell her about this devil story. She just can’t wait to hear the rest of it!