The words. Sometimes the words haunted him. They came to him in the night. They flowed like water through the edge of his dreams. Sometimes. Sometimes they were a fire in the belly of his soul. Burning. Wrenching. Hardening. Waking him from sleep. In those shivering moments when his soul was bare to his Maker, they burned through him.
“Ye cannot serve God and Mammon…ye cannot…seek ye first…ye cannot.”
Groaning and struggling, he would pull out the bag. The cool fall of the coins against his hands was the only thing that would quiet the fire of the words.
Now as he stood in the dimly lit hall – a back corner, hidden away, that had seen the shame of years of shams in a thousand flickering lamps – the words came to him again.
“All these things…all these things…God and Mammon…”
The bile rose in his throat. He drew in a breath that seemed to never reach his lungs. The edge of his vision began to sway, and he focused on the glint of silver in the lamplight.
“Count every one,” he told himself, “Listen to the clink.”
The words faded into the background as the silver coins dropped from pure white hands into the mouth of the bag.
“It’s all there. Thirty pieces. Just like we promised.”
He reached hungrily for the bag. Nothing more mattered.
“Wait for my signal,” he muttered, “Wait for the kiss.”
The words were quiet now.