Jail or Hell

“I hate you,” grumbled the priest, seated in a dusty corner and handcuffed to a pipe.

“I hate you more,” growled the gangster. Despite wearing clothes easily worth more than $2000, the gangster also sat on the floor. He was handcuffed to the same pipe.

The detective looked at them from where she leaned over several maps spread across a tattered folding table beneath dim yellow lighting alongside the three other detectives in her unit.

“If you two don’t shut up,” she told the handcuffed men sweetly, “I swear to God, I’ll murder both of you.”

The priest and gangster first stared at the detective and then at each other.

The gangster erupted into giggles. “She wants to go to hell AND jail,” he whispered across at the priest.

The priest rested his head back against the wall, replying quietly, “She’d go to jail first though.”

“Unless she’s sent to a place qualifies as both.”

“Aren’t they synonymous anyway?”

“Pfft, I thought you were gonna say something like ‘they’re two very different things… the difference is that one… is temporary, and one… is eternal.”

“I don’t talk like that.”

“You do. The dramatic pauses. You’re like an actor.”

The priest smiled broadly which was unusual for him, his teeth the only whiteness in the dank space.

The gangster noticed. “What?”

“Well, I thought you were going to say ‘Wouldn’t jail plus hell equal either be hail or jell’?”

“You bastard,” said the gangster with a crooked grin. “That’s the impression you have of me…”

The priest rubbed his bloody nose on his shoulder. “Occasionally, yeah.”

The detective slammed a permanent market down on the table, and the handcuffed men fell silent.

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