Faith by thomas d demus, p.1
Faith by Thomas D. Demus, p.1Will Searcy
By Thomas D. Demus
(a novella by Will Searcy)
Copyright © 2014 by Will Searcy
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
For the lost.
Table of Contents
1. Beginning in the Middle
2. A Life Ago
3. Fighting Quicksand
4. The Rest of My Life
6. Burned Bridge
7. The Here and After
Faith is an illusion.
I used to have it – the illusion. I believed, or thought I did, in God. In Karma. In justice. In lots of things. None of those are reality. Reality is what we see. What we breathe. What we touch. Anything beyond our sensory understanding of the world is as real as unicorns imagined by high-minded people with their dreams in the clouds. You may think me a cynic, but to most people reality is cold, like a slab of marble in a winter mountain quarry. Cold and immovable.
I wish I could tell you this is a happy story. I hope it is by the end.
1. BEGINNING IN THE MIDDLE
“Where are you going?” I asked, swallowing my frustration to attempt civility, if not love.
My wife was flustered. She slung her purse over her shoulder and smacked her keys off the counter.
“I need some fresh air to think,” she said, slamming the paneled wooden door behind her. The screen door screeched a snicker at me as it retreated and clattered against the frame in a mocking giggle.
Our small house felt smaller. It should have felt the opposite with less people inside it, but that was not the case. Without the distraction of human interaction, I noticed that the wallpapered walls crowded the small kitchen and served as a reminder that the 1980s had horrible taste for fashion. Our IKEA furniture in the shag-carpeted living room clashed with the relics that were the brass overhead light and rickety wooden fan embedded in the popcorn ceiling. At some time it had worked. Now, it failed.
The lone quality piece of furniture we owned was a leather reclining chair almost always occupied by my Pop then. He was over there, watching his game. No one believed in his team like my father. No matter how many losses piled up, he would sit in front of that tube television and live and die with every moment. That was what he was doing then - living and dying with his Alma Mater’s football team.
I walked over and slumped onto our cloth couch. Pop was so enraptured with the game that he did not notice I was in the room, not to mention my wife and I’s fight a moment ago. His eyes shone with hope, and his mouth hung open in that stupid look. That look of belief.
“Go,” he whispered.
He clenched the arms of the chair as the tension built.
“Go,” he willed.
He slowly began to rise from the chair.
“Go. GO!” he prayed.
Sure enough, an exhausted player on the television screen dived past the goal line just before a defender could stop him. Pop shrieked and hopped around like a goon.
“We did it, son!” Pop yelled.
I remained pasted to the back of the couch. Pop did not detect my lack of enthusiasm, or he ignored it in his celebratory jig. He settled back into his chair and prepared for another bout of life and death with his team.
“I think things may be different this go ‘round,” Pop proclaimed.
I sneered at him as he watched and waited, and then I redirected my gaze to his stupid game. Nothing would be different. This game had started but was over before kickoff. Everything was.
2. A LIFE AGO
Six months ago, life was different. It was also very much the same. My wife still worked longer hours than me. She still made more money than me. I still resented her for it but did not let it show.
My wife and I loved each other. It was not the crass imitations of love shown on silver screens across America. We did not ache for one another when separated. We saw little enough of each other since I started working the nightshifts that maybe we should have. Our passionate, clothes-tearing bouts of romance were few and far between, if they ever existed. But, we loved each other. We were happy.
I worked as a bridge operator. The hours were eleven at night to seven in the morning. It was simple enough work and did not interfere with the rest of my life, which I liked. My sleep schedule was sporadic, and I would be lying if I claimed to have never dozed off at work. Mostly, though, I read. I read everything. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, screenplays if I could get my hands on them. I read. I spent time in thought. I gained knowledge. As conceited as it sounds, I was the smartest person I knew, and I was smart because I knew. Doctors, lawyers, and bankers were not as smart as me. Sure, if they dedicated a third of the time I did to reading and thinking, they would surpass my intellect, but their lives were too focused for that. They never thought, unless it was about work. They never took the time to know anything outside of their field of practice. That was why they were not as smart as me, as conceited as that concept may be.
My favorite part of my job was that I was invisible. I was not invisible like the man in Ralph Ellison’s Invisble Man where people saw me and looked right through me as if I did not exist. I mean I was invisible as in no one saw me. My blue steel and reflective glass cage was no more noticeable to the passerby than the sky on a clear day. No one ever had a conscious thought that a man was perched above them looking down as they crossed the bridge on their way to work or to a friend’s house or to a night out with their spouse. They would pass by in their cars and boats and bicycles, happily cruising along in their own universes, oblivious to the notion. Sometimes, between readings, I would watch. I saw the meaningless clichés like people picking their noses while they drove. I saw edgier things, too. A young couple making love, or a desperate man ducking behind the half-wall of the bridge to shoot up heroine in the dark. There was life all around me, and I got to be the world’s invisible observer.
My job ended in time for me to return home and take my son to Day Care. The scene was always the same. My wife would hurry through her morning routine, juggling thirty-three things at once. She would be clipping on an earring while slipping on a heel while talking on the phone and serving Sam Cheerios with chocolate milk, just the way he liked it. Sam would follow her with his eyes like a puppy seeking affection, and without fail, the final act my wife would perform before barreling out of the house would be to kiss Sam on the top of his silky blonde head. Then, he would smile. I always loved his smile.
When my wife left, things calmed down for my son and me. We would eat breakfast and chat for an hour or so before I took him to Day Care so I could sleep through the day. He would ask profound questions like, “Why do Cheerios have a hole in the middle?” or “Do ducks like it more to fly or swim?” In that precious hour or so, Sam would learn, and I would learn right alongside him. Sam learned that passing gas could not always be trusted as gas alone, and I learned that beets turned feces red. My son learned that butterflies came from caterpillars, and I learned that the response “when a Mommy and Daddy love each other very much, they make a baby” is as unfulfilling for a four-year-old to hear as it is for an adult to say. Sam was sharp, though, and he would always ask, “How?” or “From what?”
When I found I had no answers, I defaulted to God. God covered all sorts of mysteries and sins of omission. I did not have to explain God to my son, because God could not be explained. He cou
Sam and I went to church every Sunday to attach an Earthly, physical presence to our belief. I was raised Catholic, so that was the type of church we attended. Sam believed in the transubstantiation whereby bread and wine were transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. I thought of it as a good metaphor, even though Catholics should believe. Still, I encouraged our church attendance. God had always been good to me. I did not live a luxurious life, but neither did I deserve one. God gave me a good wife, a beautiful son, and a secure home. He was just.
One day, as ordinary as any other, I had to delay my sleep to take Sam to the doctor. He had a cough and tummy ache that had persisted for a few days. My wife and I tried the over-the-counter remedies, but the cough’s intensity grew. Finally, we buckled and decided to take
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