I Saw A Film Today


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Scene Title I Saw A Film Today
Synopsis It's a day in the life for Joseph when someone comes calling for futuristic insight.
Date April 23, 2009

Guiding Light Baptist Church

There is no mistaking this building as anything but a church, with its arching glass windows and concrete cross fixed to the edge of the pointed roof. Curving stone steps lead up from the pavement to a set of black double doors, often kept closed during the colder weather, but unlocked during the allocated hours written on a blue sign fix to the brick wall. In white, formal letting, it reads GUIDING LIGHT BAPTIST CHURCH and lists its hours of worship.

Through the doors, you first step into an open, nondescript foyer, with access to an unobtrusive staircase headed upwards, and a second hallway leading off somewhere less public also. Mainly, this room opens straight out to the much more spacious worship hall, with immovable rows and rows of pews. A small church, it only seats an absolute maximum of around one hundred and fifty people at a time. It has a high ceiling and is warmly lit, simple and reverent in design, colours light and earthy. The stage before the pews is wide open, with seats off to the side for other pastors and guest speakers, and there is a podium placed off center. On the other side, there is a small organ with music sheets kept nearby.

It's an hour some would call early when she comes. Some might not, of course, but the fact remains clocks are just showing 8 a. m. when feet find the church's interior.

Clothing chosen for the excursion is simple enough: a light jacket, a hooded sweatshirt from her Ivy League alma mater, jeans, athletic shoes. For gear she has a backpack and guitar case as if she were a street musician, though she may seem a bit more poised than many such persons are.

Brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail, alert eyes scan the interior of this place as she walks forward. Curiosity rules the moment, she having heard about one of the clergy assigned to its flock.

For most of the world, it is early. For Joseph, this is pretty normal, a system he's been used to for over a decade. Even so, he has a cup of tea in his hand by the time Cat is moving into the church, which is in direct violation of the rules printed in symbols on discreet signage. No eating or drinking. But he works here, and so, he's allowed. Dressed in slacks, a tucked in white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and no tie at the moment, Joseph is moving from one smaller sector of the church, presumably where he got tea, towards the stairwell, a red ceramic mug in hand trailing steam.

A glance towards Cat, a look of familiarity as if expecting to see someone else, apparently someone he knows, but no. That's cause for pause, which he does, coming to a polite halt about when they see each other. "Oh, g'mornin'," he says, with a quick smile. "Can I help you any?"

"You've gained quite the reputation in the community, if you're the reverend called Joseph," Cat begins, a slight smile forming. "It's made me somewhat curious." Dark eyes settle on his face and take in the features, her course adjusts to bring her near him.

"So I've decided we should meet and have a pleasant conversation, if you've the time."

A subtle pink hue manages to cross his features at her words, that easy smile quirking into something more awkward at the mention of a reputation, but it's gone in the next few moments as he steps forward to offer a hand in greeting. Quickly switching his mug from one grasp to the next, which promises his hand will be warm when and if she takes it. "That's right, Joseph Sumter," he introduces himself properly, Tennessean accent all the clearer as he continues to talk, gaze darting over her form, pausing at the guitar case, then up to dark eyes. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, miss…?"

She sounds like someone from Connecticut whose accent is shifting to one from New York when she speaks. Cat's right hand extends, the skin there warm, soft, and smooth as is common among women, but also featuring calluses near the fingertips. Her reply is made without delay which might belie her thought process, the not wanting word to go around of her connection to someone openly declaring his very other than average ability.

"Likewise pleased, Reverend Sumter. I'm Joan." Joan Jett, the complete name in her head as the lie is spoken.

"Joan," Joseph says with a warm smile and a firm, brisk handshake. "I go by Pastor Sumter, mainly, otherwise you can call me Joseph." Used to be that he offered his first name only, but up here, where no one in New York knows him outside his church affiliations, Pastor Sumter seems to be norm even when he does, if they choose to address him at all. Curling both hands back around his tea, he tilts his head towards the front most pews and starts to walk over there, as if perhaps his office might be too formal for any kind of conversation this woman may want to have, or maybe he just likes it better down here. "Let's get you sittin' down then."

"It's a Fender Stratocaster," the faux Joan answers with the smile becoming less slight. She steps to follow him to the nodded at pews and sits once there. The gear is placed on the floor, with the guitar's case leaning against the pew between them. Legs are smoothly crossed at the ankles.

"Joseph," she repeats. "It's a fitting name for a pastor. There are connotations of being a shepherd in it, you might well believe that choice from your parents was a herald of what your life's work would be."

Sitting down, he folds an arm casually over the back of the pew, taking a grateful, long sip of tea once he's down. Even morning people need their perks and his comes in the form of a milky helping of English Breakfast. A fleetingly shy smile crosses his face, pigeon-nodding once at her assessment. "It wrapped up pretty neatly, 'specially if you consider I used to be a carpenter probably when I was about your age. Roofer, if you wanna get technical." His smile remains, indicating that he's being more facetious than arrogant. "'Joan' has some nice connotations too."

Her age, to appearances, is mid to late twenties. Twenty-six would be a good guess. The woman's mouth emits a quiet chuckle, as she observes, "You gave up being a carpenter to serve a carpenter."

Brief silence is taken, after which she comments, "A heroine of France, burnt not for the allegations of heresy most believe, but for the high crime of wearing pants." She looks at her own attire. "And here I sit, with you not trying to roast me. The Church has changed over the centuries."

The corner of Joseph's mouth lifts a little at both observations, dark eyes glancing down to study his cloudy tea, wedding ring scraping a little against porcelain as he rotates it around in his two hands. "Most things do over that much time," he says. "Church not being an exception to that. I'd hope for something similar being the reason why you've heard've the Guiding Light." The church, not himself, as if ducking out the the limelight she'd cast on him during their introductions.

"Fortunately so," Faux Joan answers. "Religion itself, in my eyes, presents a conundrum. Logic says anything created must have a creator, but in the end no one can answer the question of who creates the creator."

"Of course, it's also a curiosity to me how mankind assigns gender to deities. Is it not more likely that an entity which is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, also transcends the human concept of gender. Should not God be It, rather than He or She?" It's a question perhaps intended to size him up by his response, and set up getting to the real point of her having come here.

"Perhaps in the future these answers shall be shown to us definitively."

Joseph's head tilts to the side at her ponderings, interest and amusement conveyed beneath raised eyebrows as he watches Joan, then a slight shrug. Not to dismiss such ponderings lightly, he adds, "I preach what the Bible has to teach us about the nature of the Lord, although to be honest I'd encourage people to question that kinda thing than give it no thought at all." He lifts his mug up for a sip, before adding, "I believe we will. In the end times, a lot of things'll be made clear, of that I'm pretty sure. For now we— do our best, don't we?"

"Abraham Lincoln commented to that when he spoke of war and religion. That we do what we must, and we hope God agrees with us, but we cannot know." Her eyes remain on him, calm and intent, showing her enjoyment of the intellectual discourse.

"It's said you have the talent of bringing forth visions of possible futures, Joseph."

"We can only try," Joseph says, agreeably, before his head cants along with the subject change, a familiar topic, and in some ways an inevitable one, ever since he'd been so public about what he could do. His name, his church, his power. He's not sure if that's what sums up a man, but it'll do for now. "That's right," he confirms with a smile. "God's plans, if you're a believer, given generously."

"God's plans," the woman repeats quietly, adding a question. "Or are they warnings, road signs as it were, offered that people can choose to heed using free will given from God or ignore? Snippets of possibilities which one can reflect upon and realize how one might reach such a spot through their behavior or the actions of others, and take action to alter paths. Or to not alter paths, if the one shown is rewarding."

A broader smile shows after just a moment's thought. "I find some truth to what Robert Plant sang, accompanied by James Page. Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there's still time to change the road you're on."

It's a decent change of pace, from people nodding and accepting the idea of fate, without stopping to contemplate the paradox and possibility. So Joseph's dark eyes are brighter as Joan gives her 2 c, absently swilling his tea around in the mug as he listens. "I believe it's a meeting of free will and fate, the gift from God and His nature, demonstrating the awesomeness of both."

Awesome in the traditional sense, a sense of awe, the word carrying weight in his voice despite being so readily splashed around in common language. "I've seen men hurtle towards what I've shown them no matter what they've tried to do, or not tried, and I've seen men alter their fates. It's not a question of luck or intelligence, I don't think. It's about bein' shown what's necessary, for those lookin' for it. Some things can't be stopped, some can. It's never so simple as a fortune bein' told, although I'd think it's safer— for some to think of it that way."

Around the end there, his voice trails off into sheepishness, and he gives Joan a half-smile. "Look at me, babbling away at you, forgive me if you will. I wouldn't claim to really understand such things, 's just my take. Had time to think on it."

"We're like children," Cat replies after some consideration in silence. "Children whom God shows what we're capable of handling, bringing out more discoveries when the ability to understand arrives. Discoveries like physics and astronomy, biology, medicine. One doesn't tell a small child all the mechanics of how babies are made, after all. One says some simplified version, or something entirely fabricated, like storks."

Her eyes settle on the distance for some seconds, fifteen to twenty, as more thought processes through her brain.

"In the end we'll likely always have debates over whether thou shalt not kill really means that literally, or if it excludes war and capital punishment."

But from here her words take a different path, perhaps the one she intended to arrive on all along. "I wonder what signs on the road ahead you might show me, Joseph."

There's reservation in his participation of the discussion, even after his apology. Considering his job description, it'd be unwise to accidentally contemplate someone onto the wrong road. Ethically speaking, as well as divinely. There's a place in hell for careless teachers. Still, she's granted an encouraging smile, more around his eyes than his mouth, and it fades with alertness as she asks without asking. "If you care to see 'em," he says, a hand removing itself from the mug, palm upwards in an unobstrusive gesture. His fingers too have calluses, similar to hers, and rougher still from manual labour he'd already mentioned, textures that never go away. "See what God might show you, anyway. I play a small role in the matter."

Without a word, she places her hand atop and in his, clasping gently. Eyes close, the false Joan readying herself to receive whatever is shown her by this gesture. She expects it to perhaps be a perceptual whirlwind, and it may be bad, but hey, she's had visions of nuclear disaster from the point of occurrence before flung into her brain by Peter Petrelli. Can't be worse than that.

One should expect darkness when one closes their eyes, but Cat is greeted with the flicker of light. It's blurry, at first, it always is, colours shifting to form their revelation, until it comes to be. A screen before her, projected images - a movie theatre, black and white. Out her periphery are red velvet rows of chairs on either side, but her focus is up and on the images, flickery, distorted. Arthouse, if anything. It eventually smooths out into a true film, scenes from a movie, a colour film.

A clock face fills the screen, attempting to tick forward and yet some inexplicable force pushes its hands back, a godawful groan that doesn't seem to come from the film itself filling Cat's ears. Back, back, the clock on the screen shudders and shakes and finally, the hands break, and the film flickers dead, with a crackle of cyan blue electricity flowing on over the surface.

Joseph watches Cat's reactions with all the attention of a doctor watching a patient responding to treatment, perhaps. She can't see him, or hear the quiet of the church, but she can feel his hands clasped around her hand, warm and secure.

The vision continues, even if the film does not, going dead. There's the creak of people vacating seats, echoing footsteps. A woman is seated next to Cat, unfamiliar even to Cat's infinite memory. Her hair shines a streaking sky blue, her eyes up and on the dead screen. "I would have chosen some other picture. Ironic that the last thing I see is the lives of others." She turns a sad smile onto her. "He came back."

Rosy blossoms of bruises form on her throat, a less electric blue than her hair, her bottom lip splits and starts to bleed, her eyes start to go pale with death. "It's all going to change," the woman says, her voice croaking. "And it hasn't even happened yet."

In the next blink, it's not the woman's vacant gaze Cat is staring into, but Joseph's earnest one. The sounds of traffic outside the church pour back in, and the darkness of the movie theatre is beaten back by the daylight within the church.

As the vision plays out, the movie within it and the audience around her which follows, her eyes dart in the various direction to take it all in. No move is made to let go and cover her ears against the groan. Cat observes and records all the perceptions. Her head moves as attention shifts to focus on specific aspects, finally settling and remaining on the woman who speaks. Questions frame in her mind to ask this person, whether or not answers are forthcoming.

Only one of those interrogatives are given voice. "Who came back?"

But moments later, after the speaking woman tells of change to something not having happened yet and her eyes vacate, the vision has ended. With the here and now filling her perceptions once again, the person calling herself Joan still has her hand clasped to the Reverend's. Her eyes are wide; she seems affected by what she saw, but not confused. Her mouth opens and closes a few times before speech is found. When it does, the words are preceded by a quirk of a smile.

"I saw a film today, oh boy." But the English Army had not just won the war.

As Joan asks her question to no one, not even Joseph, he smiles a little ruefully. Her voice rings out in the quiet of the church, but Cat herself will barely be able to hear it, let alone in the psychic incarnation of a stranger in her mind. When it's over, and the woman's dark eyes open, Joseph gives her hand a friendly squeeze before letting go. The recited lyric doesn't seem to be recognised, despite the guitar-string marks on his fingers and his inquiry as to her instrument, eyebrows rising up, but at the same time he doesn't take it literally.

"So what do you think? Solitary path of God's plan or a series of warning signs alongside?"

"It… It seemed both literal and metaphoric," faux Joan tells the pastor quietly. "Time seeking to move forward, and something working against it, it and the opposing force cancel each other out. The clock breaks, and the movie dies. As if the breaking of the clock caused the story in it to be unwritten. And a woman spoke. Someone came back." Her hand slides away from his, she takes a step back, her features clearly showing she's adrift in thought. "I don't know," Cat answers the pastor sincerely and solemnly. "It could very well be both. Someone, whether deity, demon, or man may have a plan afoot."

Bare moments later the speculation seems to have been emerged from, the panmnesiac comments "Sometimes a thing like this is a path that can't be avoided, and a road sign at the same time which allows just enough warning to buckle up and brace oneself."

His hand seeks out his half-finished tea, listening without real comprehension but a certain amount of understanding. All visions are different, mean different things, herald different futures, and at her summary, Joseph nods, smiles a little, and gives the advice he gives everyone; "Give it some thought, keep your eyes open. God shows you only what matters, even if it's not— obvious. Sometimes it's a call to act, and sometimes, like you say, it's a call to batten down the hatches."

She nods in response to what he tells her, evidence she heard him, but again Cat is starting to drift in thoughts and speculations. There are paintings she knows of, one of them she has a photo of. Others are out there. And there are other precognitives she knows of. Talking to them could shed more light. The seeings of multiple sources could fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

All she can say, all she chooses to say, to Joseph on emerging from this second burst of pensiveness is "Thank you for your time. Good day." The backpack and guitar case are shouldered, she turns to exit the sanctuary.

For all she knows, this has been just the start of a day in the life of Pastor Joseph Sumter.

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