Matthew liked the name his parents had given him. The name of the first book in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. His parents had named him well. He paused a moment, closed his eyes, “Thy will be done, God in Heaven. Thy will be done.”
He checked the three clips for his AR-15, attached to his belt. Fully loaded, 30 rounds in each. “Give me strength, Father, to do what you’ve asked me to do.” He checked the fourth clip, put it in the 15, and turned to the picture of Jesus hanging on a cross on his ball, over his fireplace.
“Tell my Cindy how much I love her. Tell her I did this for her.”
He left his house, got in his truck, and headed toward the city treasurer’s office in town. “They’re taking everything.” He’d watched as they put a big damn road across the end of his property, the land his family had owned for generations. Four lanes of asphalt, separated by a concrete barrier, with ten feet of leeway on both sides. “They took my family’s land.”
He’d watched as they made him stop hunting in the woods a couple of miles from his home. His family had always hunted there, deer, squirrel, duck, rabbit. They were part of his diet, part of his family’s way of life. Then, the city had fenced it off, put property signs on it that said, “Natural Wildlife Preserve”, and stopped him from hunting there. They told him it was because a rare bird lived in that forest. Some damn bird that was nearly extinct. Hell, he’d never heard of that bird. He’d never seen one either. “They made up a damn story to kick me off that land, make it where I couldn’t hunt, like my Daddy, and my Grandpa.”
They’d made him agree to hookup to city water and sewage, they dug big trenches through his yard, ran pipes, and then made him pay to connect to the systems. And every month, they made him pay for using those systems. Hell, his yard had been a mess for over a year after they’d torn it too hell. And the water his family had used for generations hadn’t cost him anything. Water from a well. Damn city officials gave him a report about all the things in that water, how that water was poisoning him and his family. Especially his little girl, and his pride-and-joy son.
He knew better. He’d drank and bathed in that water all his life. They’d made up a lie, and forced him to pay for something he didn’t need. And then they made him pay more for it every month. They measured what he used, how much water, and made him pay for it by the gallon.
That was wrong. What they’d done was wrong.
Then, they sent out an inspector, and had him come up with some phony number for how much the house, and the land it was on were worth. Twenty five acres was worth a lot, it seemed. They told him his property was worth some insane amount. He couldn’t have afforded to buy it if it was worth that much. But he owned it. His family owned it, and had for three generations. And by God, he was going to give it to his son when the time came.
But them lying city people made up some ridiculous number and said that’s how much his property was worth. And then they told him he had to pay taxes on his property every year, and the taxes were based on how much the property was worth. They gave him the bill, and he choked.
He couldn’t afford it. Not every year. Hell, he’d have to have all the gold of Midas to afford that. They’d left him with no option but to sell off most of his land.
Well, by God, that wasn’t going to happen. That land was his family’s, had been for three generations. He wasn’t giving it up to some liars that worked in town, and wanted to get his land, and build houses and stores and parking lots on it, and chase him and his family off it.
Matthew had prayed to God every day. He asked God to show him what to do, show him how to fix this, how to do the right thing, how to take care of his family. And God had shown him, right there in the Bible. “There is a time for peace, and a time for war.”
Matthew knew what that meant. He knew what God wanted him to do.
He patted the AR-15 resting on the bench seat of his truck, next to him, as he drove into town, to the city treasurer’s office. They’d started everything. Now, God was going to have him finish everything.
No matter what.
As he drove, Greed sat in the bed of the truck, and enjoyed the scenery of the drive. It was going to be a glorious day. Another Christian was going to perform the word of God, and shoot people. Innocent people. People who were only doing their job, rendering unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s. Christians were such fun people to play with. They always thought it was God that told them what to do.
Not once did it occur to Matthew that everything that happened was normal. That the town was growing, and as it grew, it reached his property, and his property had become part of the town. That meant he had to pay taxes. And use city water and sewage. That meant he’d have to do what others had done before him, when the town reached them. Sell off what he couldn’t afford, and accept being part of the town.
It meant changes.
Christians, Greed had found, didn’t like changes much. Matthew was no exception. Greed grinned. “Ah, it’s going to be a glorious day, isn’t it.” He peeked into the cab to watch Matthew driving, and got excited when he saw Matthew pat the AR-15 a second time.
“It’s going to be a glorious day indeed. In the name of the Father. Amen.”