|The Path Taken
Author: Literate Barbarian PM
A date between a Satanist and a foreigner turns theological. Set within the Worth of Words continuityRated: Fiction M - English - Spiritual/Romance - Words: 1,437 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 12-01-09 - Status: Complete - id: 2747203
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
When he saw her, he held his watch up to his ear while he stared. He always did this when he saw beautiful women, he told her later, so he could see if time really stopped, or if it was just him. She wasn't quite beautiful though. Her cheeks were high and bony, her hips and shoulder blades a touch too sharp. It was the way she carried herself that made her stunning.
"Natasha?" he asked, walking forward to meet her. It was a silly question, really. He knew what she looked like.
"Yes." She presented him with her hand, almost as if she expected him to kiss it. He nearly did. What prevented him was that he had never kissed a woman's hand in his life. Many other things, but never the hand. He shook it, which seemed much more awkward than it should have been in retrospect.
"I'm Josiah," he added.
"I am very glad for you."
From anyone else he barely knew, he might have been irritated by her attitude. In her case, it was why he had asked her out.
"So what does a girl have to do to get fed?" she said with her accent from a country that he could not find on a map in under 30 seconds. He had the vague idea it used to be communist. The way she bit off her words made him think of a dominatrix. They had yet to discuss sexual kinks.
Over dinner, he tried the usual small talk. "How long have you been in the States?"
"Wow, you speak English awfully good." When her lips curved up in a smirk at this remark, he remembered hearing his 10th grade English teacher say something about 'good' and 'well.' One of them was an adverb, but he couldn't remember which was which, or what exactly an adverb did.
"Not so well as you think maybe. My writing is much better. Everyone speaks two or three languages where I come from." He felt she would now proceed to tell him that she already had three degrees and was just going back to school out of boredom.
"What are you studying?"
Their conversation warbled along with these inanities for a good twenty minutes before Natasha opened the floor to their point of meeting. "So what does Satan really look like?"
Josiah belonged to an online forum for Satanists. So did Natasha, but she seemed to just enjoy talking to them and being snarky. She seldom gave any indication of her own beliefs. When it was discovered they were living in the same city, he asked to meet her. So here they were.
"You know I don't believe in a literal devil."
Natasha smirked and trapped the last of her noodles between chopsticks before raising them to her maw. "I should have known you are bad for…joking talk."
"Let me try again. He is four foot tall, wears too much plaid and burns down orphanages on the weekend."
"I want to leave now," she replied and finished her drink. She graciously allowed him to settle the bill before getting up.
He headed her off as she passed out the door. "Can I at least walk you home?"
She bared her teeth at him. "Let us go to your home, Josiah." The Satanist took this as a second chance. Perhaps she was more forgiving than she at first seemed. They spoke of homelands and family, of liquor and youthful indiscretions. Natasha found the American drinking age particularly scandalous. "It is like they want the youth to never learn how to drink well. That way, they act like idiots when they do get alcohol and nobody needs to act serious at them."
At his apartment, he made them hot chocolate, swilling in a couple shots of vodka to further shield them against the cool November night air. Mugs in hand, they went up to the roof and sat on a stoop with their bodies pressed together.
"So what are you, anyway?"
"They tell me I am a girl. I choose to believe them to make things simple."
"No, I mean it doesn't seem like you're a Satanist yourself. I'm just curious, really."
"Want to make a guess?"
"Sure, prepare to be psychoanalyzed. Freud would have totally wanted my autograph, if he wasn't so busy writing love letters to cocaine." He could tell the vodka was loosening him up a little. "I figure you're at least the type that isn't easily offended, maybe even sympathetic to the whole Lightbringer symbolism: Maltheist, Discordian, Church of the Subgenius, regular old Atheist with a dark sense of humor? But you also make fun of us a lot. I reckon you're bitter. Maybe you had a boyfriend in a death metal band when you were sixteen. He cheated and you took the Sigil of Baphomet as a symbol of his infidelity. Then you went looking for someone to take your frustrations out on and decided we were pretty alright after all, even though, on some level, you still can't admit it." He paused for breath. "How'd I do?"
"Very badly. It is good you do not study psychology maybe. If you want to know the truth…I feel something common with those that consciously side with the bad guy. What is it to you if you are wrong, evil losers? There is something glorious…glorious?...glorious about choosing to be so." Josiah pretended not to notice when she fumbled for correct pronunciation. "It makes me think maybe that I became the way I am on choice instead of being doomed by genetics and child raising."
"I never thought of it like that."
"I do not like me a lot Josiah, but it is a comfort to think that I control that a little." She leaned in against him and grabbed his arm. "And you? Why do you pledge allegiance to Mr. Lucifer? I bet you baby Jesus will laugh when you go to hell."
"That would be why, what you said just now. Images of a divine infant laughing its little cherubic head off at my soul being tortured aside, it's the issue of spite. If God really just lets people go to hell for being wrong about something completely unverifiable, well that, to me, kind of screams petty asshole. So if that turns out to be the deal, it just doesn't seem right to bow and scrape to someone that's such a big dick. It'll only encourage him."
"So you think God is a petty dictator?"
"Well, if some Christians are right, then yes. But here's something I wouldn't admit on the message boards; I hope he's not." They both sipped from their mugs. After a space of silence, he continued. "Some claim that he's all loving and forgiving like. Fount of mercy or whatever."
"Or a lady!"
"That would be nice too. My point is, a truly loving god wouldn't wish ill on anyone. What's so bad about thinking the universe was crafted out of a toad carcass or something? My ideal god wouldn't throw a fit about little things like that."
"So why do you not believe in him instead?"
"On the one hand, if God is an asshat, then it does seem to me Satan must be the good one. But also, I'm kind of daring God to be better than that. It would be a beautiful surprise, don't you think? I mean to find out all of the sudden that someone up there really does love you unconditionally rather than to just assume it the whole time."
The wind picked up, blowing their coats back against their bodies. They soon went back down the stairs. Natasha agreed to spend the night. It seemed that Josiah's talk of love and forgiveness of all wrongs had somehow driven her to lusty madness. She was a biter. Before falling asleep, he reflected that maybe the only real consequence of this path he'd taken was to attract girls with a mean streak.
He woke after noon the next day, alone. He thought he had dreamt her kissing him again sometime in the night. He was planning to see if the milk in his refrigerator was still good when he noticed that his television set was not where it was normally supposed to be. It was not long after that he discovered that his wallet was gone as well.