John remained home for the next few days, gathering strength. He listened to the strong-willed voice tell the same thing, once more comforted. Still, on this occasion, he felt a sadness – something that he had not experienced. On the days when Christopher kept guard, the old John slept mostly and gathered himself together. Preacher Marvin told him to love others, that the strength of god came to him when he found compassion in his heart. John knew that the sadness in him was that compassion. “I do feel for them.” Five days later John moved sluggishly down the stairs and slid thankfully into his Altima. He rested a moment, dazed from the exertion the stairs demanded. Ten minutes passed; he started the car and drove without plan. The streets, the pedestrians and the configuration of traffic took him wherever he might go. He stopped at a theater downtown and pondered a film. The titles all seemed profane and harsh. He met no-one willing to talk with him, and so John placed himself again in his Altima and drove where he thought was home. The drive once again took him more than a few hours, and a few more dents and dings appeared on the fading sheen of the Altima. John yet retained energy on that day, so he called Nick. The two men drove Nick’s car to Shirley's restaurant. Ruth enjoyed the greasy in this greasy spoon and treated friends whenever possible.
“I met a very young man the other day,” John began.
Nick and Ruth nodded with interest.
“He was using one of those little what do they call, boxes.”
“It’s a tablet,” Nick said with confidence.
“He didn’t care about anything but that little box.”
John shook his head.
“He’s young. Let ‘im go.”
“He’s got no way in the world.”
“Sad,” said Ruth.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but I tell you one thing I do know….”
The waitress came and asked for their order.
“I’m glad I’m found.”
“Well, amen to that.” Ruth and Nick agreed.
“I met a young woman too. Nice lady. She claims to be spiritual, but no God.”
“I want them to be with us…”
“Oh, I would too.” Nick agreed.
“But I can’t.”
“You sure can’t talk to ‘em.”
“Well, they don’t want to be part of the truth.”
“You got to try,” Ruth felt compelled to add.
“When was the last time you changed anyone’s mind, Ruth?”
“We can pray for them,” she said as she tapped John's thigh.
The friends agreed anew. Christ is lord, The Bible is the center; God is theirs. They talked about Matthew and the sad state of current affairs, taking comfort and commiserating into the long afternoon. After Nick left, John sat turning his spoon inside of his coffee-cup as he looked out the window. Ruth gathered her jacket.
“You take care now, John.” She patted his shoulder and found her way to the bus.
A young woman of about twenty and five years seated herself beside his booth. She wore tight-fitting spandex and heavy makeup; her language was rough for a young woman, her blond-streaked hair and several piercings telling. She had been given many opportunities to welcome god into her life, but she rejected them. She drank too much alcohol and she associated with men, not boys her own age, but men who had sex with her and offered her drugs. She cried at night and sometimes to her friends, but at the same time always did she return to them, and gladly. John knew as much. She had gone to school for only a few years, dropped out and now she was again attempting to obtain a degree. She came from loving parents and a good home; she grew her years in Wheaton and her parents – an upper-middle-class family – had given to her all that was needed and required. They made the mistake, though, of not watching over her development and influences. She fell into playing the internet and games, very strange music. That was when she began to associate with older men. She had already been sexed and schooled in lust by the time she left her parents home and she now lived in a run-down apartment near the University. Her boyfriend pursued many other women and she and he agreed that they were allowed to have sex with others. She had not seen the inside of a church in several years, and she had no intention of seeing one any time soon. She pursued what she thought was god in meditation, or laying on the ground, or something like that, and she thought that she found something unique, something spiritual, but she felt still an emptiness, and that emptiness was a part of her so much that she thought it a part of everyone. She turned toward ways of thinking stranger still, John knew.
“Excuse me,” John said.
The young woman turned to him, eyes serious and contemplative.
“May I ask you a question?”
“Are you interested in philosophy?”
The young woman turned her head down, but rolled her eyes up in order to maintain eye-contact with him.
“As a matter of fact, I am.”
“I thought so.”
John opened the car door and descended into the comfortable, beige seat.
“You flirt with any young fillies?” Nick asked.
“I tell you, my friend, I am so glad to be me.”