Christian Patience


joseph_icon.gif sable_icon.gif

Scene Title Christian Patience
Synopsis An encounter with the irrepressible Sable gives Joseph a chance to employ a well trained virtue.
Date May 24, 2010

The Lighthouse

The hazy light is taking its time to wilt— despite the cold and the wreckage of a snow storm this end of the country, the sun still considers itself to be late May and spreads faint, foggy illumination from the west as the pickup truck rolls to a halt out the slush and dirt riddled parking area outfront the Lighthouse. Otherwise, the sky is the same oilskin grey, and so there are headlights shining, hitting the curved walls of the building as the vehicle swings around to park, a Staten Island-kept rental whose engine dims to a growl before shutting off completely.

Pulling himself out from the cab, Joseph's mouth pulls in a frown as his boots sink into the wet ground, near ankle deep, awkward all over in the bulky winter jacket, woolen gloves and a cap of the same material pulled low to cover the tips of his ears, his brow. Announcing his presence only with the clap of the front door closing, he sets about peeling bright blue tarp from where it covers the GCT-offered supplies for the Lighthouse. Likely more than they'll need, at least at first.

Sable lies in wait. Well, she's not literally lying. Not physically. And as she hasn't had anyone to say anything to, she isn't telling falsehoods. But enough with semantics, the point is, she was very quick to snap out the opportunity to do this particular chore. For one, because it'll get her outside for a bit, and that's proved good for her mental state lately. Second, because the delivery boy's a /preacher man/. And that's just /peachy/.

Out in the snow, Sable wears goggles over her eyes, and her head is bound by a hat and a tightly wound scarf. She's crouched behind a snow drift of particularly impressive size, the holographic lizard eyes on her eyegear peering down at the new arrival. Is that him? It must be. She vaults over the top of the drift and slides down it on her rear, landing feetfirst, giving herself a push up to standing position. "Preacher man!" she calls out to Joseph. He can't see it underneath her scarf, but she's grinning.

Crinkling of plastic, the whisper of ropes coming untied through metal loops, these things pause as Joseph glances over at the sound of— well not his name being called out, but he responds to it in much the same way, surprise stilling his hands before he manages to offer a crooked smile. "I guess that'd be me," he confirms, circling around the pickup to finish uncovering the supplies. Food, mainly — the kind of thing that burns through fast, non-perishable and likely to be stacked in the basement until its needed. "Gonna be givin' me a hand?"

"Only if you ask, preacher man," Sable says, the grin audible if not visible as she saunters up to him, as well as one can saunter through snow, "But don't the Lord help them that helps themselves? Or is the Heavenly Father too busy to help spare your back?" Her tone is undisguisedly wicked, halfway between teasing and goading. It's hard to tell if it's good humored or not.

The look the darts up from the silver rows of tinned cans, towards Sable, is mildly surprised in a defensive kind of way, before he opts for the good humoured option. A chuckle manifests mostly as steam rather than noise, tarp pushed aside entirely, Joseph resting his gloved hands on the edge of the truck. "You know that sayin' ain't actually in the Bible," he says, round shoulders coming up in a shrug. "It was a Greek thing, I think. He's more inclined to teach us to work hard and ask for the help we need, an' no more. My name's Joseph, by the way."

"Well, sure. Don't think I'd be talkin' in real Holy Scripture, now do ya?" Sable says, hands shoved idly in her pockets, "Now where's that accent from, huh? That Kentucky I hear in your voice, preacher man? Plenty of devout sinners 'round those parts. Here, comon', guess what bit of Dixie I walked most of all?" No answer, namewise.

"Uh huh. I think New York's rubbing off on you — has a way of doin' that. Tennessee. Is where I'm from, I mean." Hands dipping into the back of the pickup, Joseph levers out a cardboard tray of cans, sealed in plastic with slots for fingers. He stacks one on top the other for ease of grabbing as he speaks. "I'd peg you for one've the Carolinas. Dunno, Georgia maybe. You wanna help me get these inside?"

"Toldja, only if you ask," Sable says, lifting her hands from her pockets and spreading her arms, "I ain't permitted to lend you no assistance, nor interfere like, unless you ask me specific." Why? She doesn't say. "Georgia's right, preacher man. Good guess. One of the favorites."

One fuzzy eyebrow goes up at semi-refusal, arms slackening from where they'd tensed to haul up the box of cans. "I was askin'. Kinda. Askin' enough— it's really cold." This final statement flatlines the flustered stop-start his speech tends to get in these situations, Joseph spreading his fingers in a splayed gesture, exasperation in the steamy exhale that follows. "Please, wouldja help me get some've this inside, Georgia?" He can do nicknames too. "I need to round by McRae's before it gets awful dark."

"Oh, always glad to oblige a man of God," Sable says, moving up at once to lend a hand with the crates, kneeling so she can lift with her legs rather than her back, the mark of someone who's spent a decent bit of time moving things. Inventory work was one of her most common details on her path from Atlanta all the way up here. "What's got you called to this line of work, eh? Good works, sure, but not maybe whatcha studied to do."

Her response gets a soft snort, but there's no rebuke lined up — simply a nod as she goes to help, Joseph hefting up the box and moving around the back end of the truck to head for the imposing structure of the Lighthouse, the glow of windows only proving to make him feel a little colder for not being inside. "What, you mean with the Ferry?" he asks, waiting with practiced patience for her to fall into step. "Just sorta fell into it, I guess. Had a church, once, over in Manhattan — it was for the Evolved, in a way, and the Ferry started usin' it like a gateway. It got shut down, so here I am. Unless you're askin' about my bein' a pastor."

"Tough line t' walk," Sable says, keeping pace behind him, her shorter legs working a little harder to keep up, "I know decent folks in the Ferry gotta do things that mightn't quite fit yer convictions, eh? Gotta wonder what a preacher man like yerself has had to do, what tests he's overcome, 'n' what state his soul is in after enough of a life such as this, however good the intentions."

Old snow crumbles easy beneath striding feet, and the pathway leading up to the door of the orphanage is well-trampled, sliding underfoot and visible in the more perfectly white snowbanks on either side. Joseph has his eyes on it rather than Sable, a static pause wedging into this impromptu conversation. He shrugs uncomfortably. "Like you say, 's a tough line to walk. I have to believe that what the Ferry does is ultimately good, is what it'll come down to.

"I dunno if the ends justify the means. It don't, not always. But I know decent folks inside the Ferry and outside of it who don't fit with my convictions — I pray for them. And myself."

"Speakin' as an adversarial sorta advocate fer the moment," Sable says, quickening her pace so as to get to the door first. When she gets there, though, she just sets down her crate and stands still, waiting for Joseph to catch up. "How much 'r' the ends worth? Let's say… it's b'etween your soul, and th' success of one big ol' important Ferry mission, arright? Some people are gonna die if you don't do somethin' you know'll damn you for good and all. And all the folks that'll die, they might well go to heaven early, which'd be a kindness of sort since they're livin' on the run. What say you, then? Would you pay the Ferry's way with your spirit?"

Stopping as Sable makes her halt in front of him, Joseph looks about to protest this line of questioning, but ultimately does not — ultimately, he listens with a kind of narrowed look dealt her way, as if trying to figure out where these hypotheticals might be coming from. Rarely are things purely just about him.

"I believe in salvation more than I believe in the worth o' my soul over the souls of other men. I ain't naive enough to think that every refugee that passes through the network is good and clean and on the pathway to heaven — in fact, dyin' early before they accept the Lord as their Saviour is no kindness at all."

Moving to step up to the doorway of the Lighthouse, setting the box ontop the crate, Joseph rolls his shoulders a little from the stiffness brought through heavy lifting and the insidious cold. "I like to think I can live as a Ferry worker without damning myself. Time comes that that ain't true— well. I have faith in God's plans for me.

"Why don't you tell me what you think?" he proposes, turning to move back for the truck.

Sable moves over to Joseph's side, sort of galloping sideways to keep facing in his direction as they move. Only the trampling of the snow here makes this sort of motion possible, and even so its ungainly. "I think that ain't hardly no answer to my question, preacher man," she says, "It ain't a matter of if it might 'r' might not happen. I'm askin', if it did, if that was the choice… what'd you do?"

Glancing sidelong, Joseph tucks his gloved hands into his pockets as he walks. "This reminds me of one o' those questions 'bout— how would you rather be eaten, by ants or by a lion. Or some such thing. As for me— I'd let what's right guide me. Letting people get hurt, or die— that's not what the Ferrymen is for. We wouldn't be here at all if we thought that some kind of sacrifice wasn't worth helpin'. I also believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, an' yours, and that the soul ain't so disposable as you're makin' it out to be. We all start out as sinners, you know?

"How much of all of this do you believe, anyhow? Usually I can tell if I'm talkin' to a believer, but I ain't gettin' a good read on you. 'cept maybe you'd like to be."

"Oh, boy," Sable says with a snicker, "Believer? Suuure. But now how you mean it, preacher man. I know what I know, 'n' I know y'can't read what ain't properly there. Son, y'think I come here, to you, cuz I'm worried 'bout what /I/ believe? You got it turned around. I'm askin' how much do /you/ believe. Matter of professional int'rest t' me."

Turning his back to her, Joseph hefts out a box of water bottles, the sloshing sound indicating what they are even before he turns again to face her. "Aight," he responds, easily, before moving to push the box into her arms to take. "You just know that He'll be ready for you when you're ready for Him."

Sable takes the water bottles, heavier than they look, and her knees strain a bit. She has to teeter somewhat, grunting with exertion. "Don't think y'gather my meaning, preacher man," she says, "Y'leave everythin' up t' 'what will be'. What if the test is right now, huh? What if right now, in this very instant, this here conversation, y'r the Savior in the desert?"

"I'm a precog. Course I leave everythin' up to 'what will be'. I believe in divine plans and that not every situation is gonna be so broad strokes perfect as your hypotheticals. Just 'cause you don't, Georgia," and he turns around to heft up another similar case of water, slight strain in his posture as he backs up from the truck, heads again up the trampled path, "don't make my answer worthless. But if it was as cut and dry as you're sayin', then yeah. I've sold out on my soul for less, in the past — doin' it for other people is, at least, less selfish. But I get through the day believin' that my path will help me do God's work and when I'm dead and buried, that'll be— "

His fingers splay from their curled grip on the edges of the case. "— y'know. Accounted for. What you're askin' me, in the end, is is it paradoxical, to work among the Ferry, for all the good they do and the not so good they hafta t'do sometimes, while still bein' a man of God. My answer is no, it ain't."

"Answer I'm interested in, y'told me," Sable says, making the second trip, the water making gentle sloshings in her arms, "You'd sell your soul f'r the right price. That's all I gotta know f'r now."

The beginning of protest sounds as an aborted, wounded syllable in Joseph's throat, before his mouth makes a flat line and he crunches through the snow in silence for a few short moments. Eventually, he inquires, "And may I ask what you make of that?"

Sable gives a thin snicker as they walk the rest of the way to the door, keeping her piece until they reach it and she can set her burden down. She turns to Joseph, "Means I'm halfway t' closin' a deal, preacher man," she says, tugging her scarf down and reaching up to lift her lizard-eyed goggles free, revealing her weird yellow eyes and her fiendish grin. Her intended appearance: demonic.

It's not so much that his grip slips on the waterbottles or anything. He's just putting them down quickly, which is what he turns his startle into when the collection of devilish shapes of grin and eyes make their appearance. Exasperation defines the lines of his expression by the time his back is straight again. "That so?" Joseph says, with a movement like he might put his hands on his hips, but the bulk of his jacket makes this a needlessly clunky gesture, which he winds up discontinuing in favour of stepping around her, with a hand to shoulder open the door. "You know, I'm gon' go say hi to Brian. You got this, don't you?" is not really a question when he vague gestures to the cargo at the doorsteps and in the truck.

Sable's smile breaks into a laugh, and she wheezes with somewhat unkind mirth. "Aw, hell!" she chortles, "God/damn/ but you talk in circles, pastor. I was tryin' t' lay that shit on you 's early as we got started. Y'think the north rubbed off on me? Where's your good ol' down home paranoia? Y'don't think the devil'd send someone for you in person? Wooo…" She brushes a gloved finger under one yellow eye, wiping away a non-existent tear, "Comon' now, don't walk away sore. Let's finish this up." She sticks out her hand, "Name's Sable. Sorry, but when I heard you was a preacher man, I just /had/ to fuck with you some." Ah, just a little good natured japery.

The look narrowed at her is probably more good natured than her laughter lends itself to be — with a genuine kind of irritation, some infinite source of patience and a vaguely paternal kind of disapproval before Joseph goes and takes her hand. "Maybe you shoulda anticipated it wouldn' be so easy to get a man of the cloth to say he'd give up a piece've his soul," he says, though allows half a smile to hook at the corner of his mouth. "The Devil knows circle-talk anyhow. You're gonna stick to heavyliftin', now?"

"Serious, though, d'you think you'll ever meet a real agent of the devil or whatever?" Sable says, conversational now, her weirdly pigmented eyes just as expressive as any mere mortal's, as she shakes Joseph's hand, "That's honestly what I try 'n' figure when I pull that stunt, y'know? Find out of a man believes enough that he'd fear the devil appearin' before his eyes." Because that makes it so much better. She wrinkles her nose, "Sure, sure. Let's do it. This shit's my fuckin' penance, I guess."

"I've had one too many tests since comin' up this way. If the Devil weren't in some of the faces I've had the displeasure of encounterin', then I dunno where he resides," Joseph says, as he leads the way back towards the truck, the windows of the Lighthouse glowing brighter as the western sunset dwindles. "Sorry if'n you're disappointed and all."

Sable aims a punch at Joseph's arm, arm snapping out, fist thwapping against the thick coat with a sound that's louder than the impact is forceful. "Fuckin' hardly. Seems like you've forgiven me my bullshit. And if that ain't the essence of Christian charity, then /I/ dunno where that shit resides."

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