|The Noncommital Numinous Nonappearance
Author: The Blue Fenix PM
Some problems have nothing to do with world-saving.Rated: Fiction K - English - Middleman - Words: 521 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 2 - Published: 02-15-10 - id: 5748529
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There's a chance that he could go to Hell (as distinct from The Underworld) for doing this. A larger chance, he usually thinks, that it's a pointless waste of time. But even a Middleman is entitled to the occasional vice.
He's left his gun and equipment belt, usually his Eisenhower jacket as well, locked up secure in the Middlemobile. He slips in ten minutes late, while everyone else is distracted, and takes a seat well to the back. The crowd cuts of most of his view of the front of the room. A high turnout minimizes his risk of standing out.
"… Rise and join together in singing hymn number four-fifteen."
He stands with everyone else, finds the right page. The Middleman is standing behind two or three other tall people, he shouldn't be particularly visible even from the slight elevation of the pulpit. All the subtle hide-in-plain-sight maneuvers are second nature. In spite of appearances, he doesn't sing. He used to enjoy it – he has a strong baritone and a razor-sharp sense of pitch – but that might stand out, too. Besides, singing is an emotional outlet. Putting a crack in that dam in public could be a very bad idea.
He's visited this specific church four times now. This had better be the last. Drawing in possibly-shy newcomers is part of any minister's job. He won't be able to evade that conversation indefinitely. He has a false name and skeletal cover story ready, but better not. Before he gets too comfortable here, before other churchgoers start giving him familiar nods, it's time to move on. A city this size has hundreds of other churches to false-visit.
Everyone else starts reciting a description of their faith in unison. The Middleman sits it out. As always, the display of certainty – or at least community unity – leaves him cold. They may be right in every detail. He's seen stranger and more supernatural things face to face; he can't rule out a God. He can't even rule out a God directly above Ida in his chain of command. But all he really gets from these sessions is muddled relief from pretending to be normal. A genuine Supreme Being might be Eternally offended, being used as a cheap placebo.
The whole sanctuary lowers their eyes and begins a silent prayer. He uses his usual terms, on the off chance and look, if You'd bother to exist for five minutes. He's past chewing out the Almighty in silent rage. He has a purpose in life, a set of duties, and he fulfills them. Whether God has called in nonexistent on his job is not the Middleman's worry.
There's nothing new here. A group of mostly-sincere, mostly-decent people doing their best, a profound silence from the altar. Maybe the human side alone should be enough. He's not sure whether he's pretending to them he belongs here or pretending to himself that he doesn't. He only knows he keeps coming back.