A Hurt, Lost and Blinded Fool


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Scene Title A Hurt, Lost and Blinded Fool
Synopsis Betrayed by his best friend and his belief in himself shaken, Wiley Schnook closes up shop.
Date July 31, 2010


Down the street, the white tent has been taken down, the empty lot once more empty — a symbolic image, to be sure, for those who know the true story of the downfall of the (r)Evo-lutionaries Fellowship. Outside the red brick building that has been home to the Fellowship for the past couple of months, there is a hustle and bustle as people move modest furniture and a few boxes into a small U-Haul truck.

The energy is neither excited or anxious, but sad and solemn. Those not moving furniture stand within the lobby watching as the possessions of one man are loaded into the truck. Wiley Schnook had come to New York with less material possessions, just a couple of duffle bags and a guitar. But he had come with two buses full of followers and a mission, far greater than the material items he can take with him. Faith and friends, he is leaving behind.

The man himself steps out of his office with the final box of stuff worth keeping — some photos, some books, his stereo. It amounts to so very little.

"That the rest of it, boss?" says one of his many young volunteers, still respectful and deferential. Those who haven't left already are the true friends, those who forgave him for the use of his power once they learned what happened. Those who swore they would have followed anyway, based on Wiley's ideas and dedication. The problem is, Wiley can never know for sure.

And so he's leaving.

"That's it," Wiley says, brows knitting. The college-aged kid takes the box gently, and hurries outside to stow it with the other boxes in the U-Haul.

Leaning against one of the office walls, the painted lady has let her thoughts about everything remain silent, shielded from the inquiry of other volunteers, followers, and the like. Her face has been that of a poker-player, stoic and regarded in a kind of almost-confused silence. She'd helped back some of the boxes, and assisted with the truck, but it didn't mean she liked it or necessarily thought it was the right thing to do.

Finally, as the kid disappears, an eyebrow is quirked rather worriedly at Wiley. Arms cross, one over the other, across her chest before she shakes her head. Her voice is soft, non-judgmental, and certainly not chiding, in fact, there's a hint of concern in her words, try as she might to conceal it, "You don't have to do this… what you're about— what this place is about… they're beautiful ideas…" Eyebrows knit together slowly as she takes an equally slow step towards him.

"Ah, Lydia," Wiley says with a sad shake of his head. The gesture is one of an older man's, jaded and bitter, wise in the ways of the world, except for his quavery voice and the fact he still gets carded for a beer make the tone sound more like a parody than sincere. But the words are sincere. He heaves a sigh. "The ideas are nice but without my power behind them…" he gestures to the small crowd — perhaps fifty or so residents remain.

"I had more than 200 people living here just a few days ago, and now we're down to 52. It's a nice group, sure, but how many of those are here because of me, and how many are here because the rent's paid for? They'll be taken care of, no matter what. They don't have to pay rent for the rest of the year, so I'm not leaving them with nothing," he explains. "And the thing is, people will always doubt me from now on. There will always be that little worry in the back of their heads that I'm using my power. I mean, even me."

"Wiley," the weight of his name pleads as Lydia steps forward again, closing the distance between them, and shaking her head firmly. Her arms are lowered to her side, a far less-defiant or defensive position. She presses her lips into a thin line before reaching out to squeeze his shoulder; it's maternal, really. Concern reflects in her eyes with yet another shake of her head, "They aren't just nice ideas. When we were in your office the other day, that's when I was sold on this."

"And I know, without a shadow of doubt, that you are a good man." Her eyes narrow a little with a kind of reservation about her next words, but she forces them anyways, "I read people and your desires are all pure, I knew that when we talked in your office; you're not a malicious person. It wasn't your fault."

With another weary smile, Wiley leans back against the wall, his head bumping lightly before he reaches up to rub it ruefully. He reaches for her hands, taking them both and holding them lightly. "That means the world to me. That you and these other people — maybe some of them, anyway, I'd like to think some of them still care — still believe. Do me a favor and spread the message, if you believe in it. I know you will. You do, already, just by being who you are, being so non-judgemental."

He gives her hands a squeeze. "I'm not moving far. I'm moving to Jersey City. Most my cash that's not tied up in this investigation is going to this complex to help these folks out. If you need me…" He pulls out a card from his pocket, the phone numbers crossed out and new ones written in pen, for those who care enough to contact him. "Just call. I'm not meant to be a leader, Lydia. People didn't believe in me when I was 'normal.' Looking back on my life, no one ever believed in me when I wasn't using my power… only when I was. It mighta been like the Dumbo's magic feather — because of the success I'd had because of Bruce, maybe I was strong enough without him. When I talked to you, when I wasn't using the power. Maybe. Or maybe I was using it and don't even know."

He lets go of her hands and runs his hand nervously through his lank hair. "That's the thing. I thought I had control of my power — you'd think I'd know I was using it when Bruce made me use it. But I didn't know. So how would I know if I used it myself on accident? I can't." He shakes his head. "I don't want people to believe in me because I made them believe in me with an ability. I want them to believe in me because I'm a good person." He smiles. "You think you do, but you can't really know."

The squeeze is reciprocated with a supportive one from Lydia before she takes the card, pocketing it away. As her hands are released, her gaze moves away, downward. A hint of bitterness creeps into her tone, "Who am I to judge?" Forcing herself to meet his gaze she finds some encouragement for him, "You are brave. You came out of prison, made a choice to not use your ability," she holds up a finger as if to allay any objections, "and put forward this. Even if it didn't turn out the way you wanted, you have courage, Wiley Schnook. I believe in who you are despite what you can do. You don't have to run away. What you've created here… it's a family, and while some leave when they're scared— " her cheeks flush a fierce red "— these people are here for you." There's a strangely vulnerable sincerity even as she manages to sidestep her own path.

And then, with that idea in mind, she presses. "Maybe I can't know why I believe, but I can know you're a good person," Lydia says plainly as her eyes flit around the room, scanning almost suspiciously for wandering ears before quieting her voice even further, "I can tell what people desire… I don't trust people, and maybe… maybe it made it easier to trust you, but… I know you're a good person. I know it."

His gray eyes turn watery at her words, and he nods a few times, silently, before finally clearing his voice. "You're special, too, then. And I do want those things I talked about. Freedom and tolerance and love. I do," he says in a fierce whisper. "But I need some space from this." He gestures to the office and the people watching them. "Maybe someone can step up and keep it going. That would be great. Then I would know that it wasn't for nothing. And maybe with some perspective and time, I can come back. If they'll still have me." He swallows hard, his Adam's apple bobbing in his lean throat.

"Now," he says in a larger voice, forcing a smile on his face, "I better get going. Gotta get that U-haul back before 5 or they'll charge me a second day, you know." He pushes off from the wall he leans against. "I hope you find more people you can trust in, Lydia. You deserve that."

He reaches to squeeze her hand in his again, then begins to move toward the door, shaking hands, hugging and kissing cheeks along the way.

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