Asylum, Chapter Six

Monday, 27 January, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

"Reverend Thomas, are you alright?"

"Yes, Lord be praised. It seems the demon of reckless negligence didn't manage to claim any of the sheep today, fortunately."

"I'm so glad you are alright, but what happened?"

"I was just stopped for the red light. I come this way every other Saturday on my way from the West Block Mephitical Choir's charity for families of Hansen's Disease Victims. You know it's a terrible affliction, Hansen's disease. It's..."

"Yes Reverend, I'm sure. But tell me about what just happened."

"Ah, yes. I was just stopped at the red light, and as I pass here often I know the red light comes out later than it should, so I stopped in time. And then there was a red car behind me and at its wheel was a lady dressed as to embody sin itself. When she saw me stop for the light, instead of doing the right thing she just pushed the gas pedal and flying she went past. Too many times a good family, and loved by God, is ruined by this new habit of just pushing the gas pedal and flying past when you instead should stop and attend to the word of the Lord. For it is said in Corinthians 'Thou shalt not push the gas pedal and fly past when there is My word to be heeded'."

"It is?"

"Of course it is."

"I'm sure you know better Reverend, but what happened to the woman?"

"Well, as she went past I lifted my eyes in silent prayer so the Lord keeps any harm away from this poor soul lost in the fog of self centered adulation of the golden idol. Too many times a young man, or indeed a beautiful young lady, is ruined by this new habit of ignoring anything around and just blindly following whatever dark forces take hold of them. One should always stop and consider the implications of their actions, and even words, to the good people around them, and only do legitimate, good deeds to please the Lord who, in his mercy, created the entire world as a garden and let us inherit it and make the best of it by living his word."

"Amen. But how did the car end up there in the window?"

"As the girl sped past me, the traffic light changed and there was a minivan coming at it from the right, and she steered left to avoid it, but then she noticed another car coming from up ahead, because she was on the wrong way by now, so she steered even more left trying to turn around. The car went on two wheels and then started sliding. Luckily, the car coming from ahead did manage to brake in time, so at least they didn't collide. But she went sliding into that window."

"Oh my god, the poor woman!"

"She was perfectly alright after, she came out of the car, cursed and tried to fix her hair in the side mirror, which was by now at just the right height, then cursed continuously until they came and arrested her."

"Arrested? For a traffic accident?"

"At first the trooper asked for her license, but she just kept cursing, and then made for the poor man, nails first."

"She didn't!"

"She did a lot more than that, and I am surely glad there were no young ones to witness her wicked ways."

"Oh dear. It was that bad was it?"

"Oh yes, even worse."

"Hello."

The man just stood there, as if they were all in his living room the morning after a party, and the fact he didn't know them didn't change the fact they were drinking his brandy.

"Hello", answered the Reverend. "I think I must have seen you before Mr..."

"Probably."

Ralph managed a barely audible "Hi", while pondering what sort of person was this, obviously not even registering that he was interrupting a conversation of people he didn't know at all, in the middle of the street.

"I heard Frankie got herself in trouble again, surprisingly."

"Who is Frankie?" the Reverend and Ralph formed a nice chorus.

"Well... see that red car over there, the one just pulled from the window? How do you think it got there?"

"There was an accident earlier."

"Yes. Frankie."

"Oh you mean to say you know the lady who was driving?"

"Was there a lady driving?" the man looked amused and faking surprise.

"Yes, there was. Blonde and tall ,in a very low cut white dress."

"Well, I will be sure to mention it to her ladyship. She will be delighted."

Ralph had the uneasy feeling the stranger was mocking Reverend Thomas. The Reverend himself didn't seem to notice.

"So, since you were at the scene, what sample of creative driving did lady Francine grace the public transportation network with?"

"I was just stopped for the red light. I come this way every other Saturday on my way from the West Block Mephitical Choir's charity for families of Hansen's Disease Victims. You know it's a terrible affliction, Hansen's disease. It's..."

"The what?" the man suddenly seemed on his guard, as if suspecting the Reverend was about to pull a fast one.

"Hansen's disease?

"Oh never mind. Can we get back to what happened?"

"Ah, yes. I was just stopped at the red light, and as I pass here often I know the red light comes out later than it should, so I stopped in time. And there was the red car behind me. When she saw me stop for the light, instead of doing the right thing she just pushed the gas pedal and flying she went past. Too many times a good family..."

"She's not married."

"Sorry?"

"What's family to do with anything, girl is not married?"

"But I am."

"Good for you. So?"

The Reverend looked shocked. Ralph was eying them both with uneasiness... the Reverend was known to be a short tempered man, and once, years back, he got into such an argument with the bride's brother at a wedding he presided that they ended up in a brawl. The Reverend had a black eye for two weeks on account of whatever article of faith was discussed.

"See, that right there is the problem with today's America."

"What, the fact she ain't married?"

"No, the fact that there is no respect left for traditional values, and family foremost. This country wasn't built by people in red cars. It was built by people who worked hard and respected their neighbors and went to church every Sunday, and indeed sent their children to Sunday school. And that at a time when everything was scarce and expensive. A pair of shoes to go to church would maybe cost half year of saving on beans, and yet nobody went to church bare footed. And after all that effort and sacrifice to build a land where their kids could be proud to live, off comes a bunch of idle drifters to poison the young generation with red cars and fast driving and fast living and forgetting the word of the Lord."

"So, basically you would have people eating beans and going to church every Sunday to peer at everyone else and comment ceaselessly on all sorts of vague details, from their dress to their favorite book?"

"No, that is a thing of the past. But reading the Bible is not. And going to church is not."

"For all you know, the girl does go to church every Sunday."

"If she would go to church it would show in more considerate behavior."

"Ah, so your point is not going to church at all, it's rather behaving as if she did?"

"I don't understand..." the Reverend seemed puzzled, and that's something Ralph didn't remember ever seeing before.

"You didn't like the girl's behavior because you figure it could easily have injured you. From that you decide her behavior should be, and therefore is, unacceptable in an universal way. As it happens, the universe is very unconcerned with your well being, and even less with your ideas about how it should be working."

"But..."

"And the very reason you even insist on people going to church comes from this as well. It's a sort of association of the weak. Normally to interact with others you have to be valuable. To buy something you need the money. To get a job you need the skills. To make friends you have to be interesting. To get married you have to be seductive, even. What you try to achieve is to replace this system with a sort of badge of membership. Now suddenly you could make friends even if you are not interesting. And maybe you could get a job even if you lack the skills. And get married without being even a shade above boring."

"Without some form of that temperance, it would be a jungle out there."

"And you suppose the tigers would mind?"

"Probably not, but not everybody is one, or can be one. What would all the other people do?"

"That I don't know." replied the man with a blank gaze.

"Oh, I'm late for my visit to the Evening Star Nursing Home. With all the commotion I had forgotten what day it is." The Reverend said, just as Ralph was getting desperate for a way to separate the two gentlemen before it came to choosing weapons and such.

"It has been a pleasure Mr..."

The man just shook the hand the Reverend extended and turned to Ralph.

"Good bye Reverend Thomas," Ralph said, but the Reverend was already a couple yards away.

"So the lady driving the car is a friend of yours?" attempted Ralph while turning back to face the man's even gaze.

"Not very sure, but we have known each other for a while now."

"Oh, by the way, my name is Ralph", said Ralph extending a sweaty palm.

"Nice to meet you, Ralph", said the man, still gazing evenly at the nervous man in front of him. "What brings you to this part of town?"

"There is a new and interesting club that opened around here recently, and I was trying to find it."

"A club? Didn't figure you for the clubbing type, actually."

"Yes... well... not that kind of club."

"They come in kinds now-a-days?" the man seemed yet again amused and faking surprise.

"I don't know much, just got a leaflet in the mail, but I'm thinking maybe it would be a nice quiet place to meet new people. I hope to meet others who, like myself, would like to put the time into making friends."

"Making friends as a deliberate act?" the man seemed genuinely surprised for once.

"You wouldn't think it takes that, I suppose. Certainly as a kid you aren't ever told it would come to it. Then again, as a kid you aren't ever told you will never be famous. Or even nearly infamous. Or the president of the United States. And still most people never do get to be the president. I suppose that's unavoidable, there being only a few of them every decade. Yet it does come to it. If you don't put in the time to make friends, you will just go for more shopping anyway."

The man just looked at Ralph for a long moment.

"Do you mind if I join your search then?" he asked eventually.

Continued

Category: Cuvinte Sfiinte
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