Marcia began grilling the girls in her best professional voice. Where had they come from? How would they make money? So on and so forth. She finally ended with “…and you have to admit, coming to New York City not knowing anyone or having a place to stay is a very bad idea.”
“Thus sayeth the Social Worker!” Daniel quipped as the bedroom door squeaked tenuously open. What emerged was a lawyer. Of that fact, Daniel was 99% sure. Brooks Brothers suit, well-shined shoes, monogrammed shirt, and a smug, superior look on his wishy-washy face.
“This is Bill, a friend from work,” Marcia reported clinically of the man. “Bill, Daniel is the younger brother of my best friend in high school. He has a tendency to appear without any warning but he’s harmless. And these young ladies are in need of a place to crash for the night. I guess you’d call them, castaways.”
“Castaways, hey? Like in Gilligan’s Island, ha!”
His joke fell so flat that not even Marcia attempted a giggle. Across the courtyard the chanting ballooned in intensity as though gallons of orgasmic god juice had been thrown upon the Institute.
“Shit, those Krishnas have gotten loud.” The lawyer continued, “Are they always like that?”
“Only until the moment of a shared cosmic orgasm, which — I’ve been assured in triplicate — can only be achieved if you chant Hare Krishna and spin in circles for several hours. After that, they’re quiet.” Daniel replied.
Marcia chuckled as she walked to the kitchenette to make a pot of tea. Looking for chamomile, Daniel thought as he watched her. Always chamomile in the evening.
“The noise ordinance specifically prohibits any sound louder than a trumpet at this hour and I’d say they’re getting close.” Bill the Lawyer reported.
Again no one responded and so he continued to another subject, “So, Daniel, you and Marcia grew up together? You’ll have to tell me what she was like when she was a little girl.”
Aha! A married lawyer. A married lawyer, playing around, Daniel assumed. Did Marcia know? He clutched the ironing board and, using it as a pulpit, began: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is hidden that will not be known. Whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”
The lawyer looked to Marcia for explanation.
“You should have heard him when he was a true believer,” she began. “My God, all the girls adored him. Once his mother held this overnight retreat for troubled teens and the girls cornered Daniel in the kitchen. His sister and I had to come save him! Remember that Daniel?”
Before Daniel could repudiate her story, the lawyer said. “Well listen, man, I could have never hacked it as a priest either. All that abstinence BS.” He stopped to check the time. “Oh shit! Is it 8:45 already?”
“Wife and child expecting you?” Daniel asked.
“No, sorry Daniel. Not married.” He replied, waving the naked ring-finger of his left hand as he grabbed his overcoat, “Listen, I’ve got to catch the nine o’clock express. I’ll see you in dependency court, Marcia. Good luck girls.” With that, he left.
“A fellow social worker?” Daniel asked, as he watched the lawyer try to make his way through the throng of Krishna disciples who’d spilled out into the courtyard for air. He stopped to talk to one of them. A mistake. Daniel laughed. “Looks like he’s trying to explain the noise ordinance to the Krishnas.”
He’s a public defender.” She mumbled.
“I knew it. Still going for that house on Long Island. Shall we try to save him from the Krishna’s?”
“No. He can handle them.” Marcia absentmindedly replied and then quickly she changed the subject, “Listen, girls, I have to be at work very early tomorrow morning so, you can crash here on the floor for tonight but tomorrow you have to find another place, okay? I can help you, if you want, but you’ll have to find another place.” Mumbling their thanks, the girls dropped their things to the floor and slumped onto the resulting pile. They looked exhausted but relieved as they removed wet coats and kicked off shoes.
Daniel took a deep breath. His mission was over. “Daniel, are you staying here tonight too?” Marcia asked as she pulled mismatched cups from the cupboard. She was so predictable. Every event ending with a tea ceremony and a heart-to-heart. Something without caffeine, seductive, relaxing and healthy, of course.
“No, I have to go. I have things to do.” He replied, walking to the door.
“What things? Why haven’t I heard from you for over a year?” She snapped, “I was worried you know. What have you been doing?”
“I think this line of questioning falls into the same category as ‘why are you screwing men you hardly know and don’t care about,’ don’t you?” The teakettle began to whistle. Why had he said hurtful words to her? What right did he have to judge anything she did? He walked over to her and muttered an apology “Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips, their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood and in their paths are ruin and misery.”
She smiled. “You bastard.”
“Thank you.” “
You really know the Bible.” The Catholic’s daughter needlessly pointed out.
“If I remember correctly, Romans.”
“Why didn’t you become a priest?” He knew she would ask that question. It was always the first thing out of a girl’s mouth when they’d found out he’d been a seminarian. Particularly a Catholic girl. Before he could say something snide, Marcia intervened: “He didn’t want to be Daniel, Beloved of God.”
And she was right.
Dear Readers – I’ll be back on October 20th to introduce Martin, who for reasons you’ll soon see could well have been the Devil. What do you think? Does the Devil exist or is it all a fantasy developed by the church to keep worshippers in line? That’s what I used to think.