Conroy parted ways with Voren in the lower level parking lot. Voren drove an older car, perhaps ten years old, with some rust stains starting to appear in places. The paint wasn’t perfect and a layer of dirt covered the car. It was a sign he was going through the lower districts filled with smog and filth. Filled with the poor and destitute. On the other hand, Conroy had the newest sports car, the paint job still maintaining its metallic glistening as if he had bought it a week ago. He had it for six months and put near fifteen thousand miles on it. In a few more months it would be retired to his museum and he would drive it two or three times a year. Women would wear a different dress to social events. Conroy made sure he drove a different luxury car to the social events.
He unlocked the doors, the lights flashing as he clicked the button, then unlocked the car and got in. He pushed the automatic start button and put his keys in the console. His hands went over the custom leather wrap over the steering wheel as the car purred. He touched the black seats. The interior alone was more expensive than the average car purchased. His wife, Elna, was so overjoyed when he bought the car. Now she commented how old it looked. How he needed a new one with more style. In a couple months the new models would come out, and she couldn’t be seen in last year’s colors. He was a little ashamed at his wife’s behavior, but he had done just that for the past decade. He pulled out of the parking structure and was on the highway shortly after, driving through the heart of the over sized city.
Below would be the poor and destitute. They would scrounge for handouts, both from strangers and the government. Conroy turned on the radio, and there was a man’s voice. “We are at a crisis point. People are empty. We have put everything we are into materials instead of our faith or fellow man. We no longer care to take care of the guy under the bridge, killing rats for food. The government will take care of him. We no longer care about what we can do for our local schools or churches. The schools, again the government will take care of it. But the church? We don’t need the church. We don’t need the One. We don’t need God nor His salvation. All we need is stuff.
“There was a time when the church did most of the taking care of people. They fed the poor. They took in the homeless. These acts were done with love. They were done with hope and the desire to improve, not the desire to garner votes, the hope to create a society craving government. Ylinsk was once that way, and we scorned them not thirty years ago, but here we are. We believe that God will not give us what we’re looking for. His old name, Volden, is forgotten. The blessed nature of His mercy is forgotten. His son, our savior, is forgotten.
“Instead of freeing ourselves in His glorious love, we drown ourselves in porn, money, drugs, sex, violence, and whatever else feels right to us. It’s about feelings, and as long as we don’t hurt anyone important, or we have enough money, then it’s okay.” Then something powerful started to happen within Conroy. “We are at a point of crisis, where our faith has been destroyed, and without that faith we are left a broken people.” He started to weep. “This point has been reached many times throughout history, many times His people have thrown themselves low.” His heart ached and his lips frowned so he could acutely feel the muscles. “We are a hopeless people right now, but in every moment of despair, God, Volden, the One, has given us the possibility to climb out of the pit. To climb out of our grieving. To climb out of our selfish, materialistic, self destructive ways.” The road blurred and Conroy sniffled. “All we need to do is ask His mercy, and we will find it.”
Conroy turned the radio off, “Why was that station on, anyway?” He smirked a little through the tears, but couldn’t fight the ache in his heart. It was too much.
Soon he was home, in his bed, beside his wife. He stared up at the ceiling, empty, while Elna prattled on about her day. There were scandals and sex, wives cheating on their husbands or spending more than the man earned. “It’s their own fault. If the man could make enough money he wouldn’t have that issue. You don’t have that issue. And if the man was pleasing the woman in bed, he wouldn’t have that issue either.” She grabbed for his crotch, licking her lips and smiling, “You don’t have that issue either.” Then she had a rare moment of clarity. It was bizarre, an action which had never happened before. “You look upset, honey.” She brushed his cheek. “What’s wrong? Let me know.” Conroy looked over to her, examining her. Then she mounted him and started to feel around in his pants.
He wasn’t mean about it, but he still firmly pushed her aside, “No, that won’t cure it. We should go to church, Elna.” He looked into her eyes. “Our kids are dying. They’re empty inside.”
“Our kids are fine. They have money. They have looks.” She touched his lips, moving in, “Your looks.”
And he kept her at arm’s length, “That’s not enough. I feel empty. This family is lacking. I think,” he thought about his words. He thought about the feelings in his chest, the pit in his stomach, the truth he felt coming through. “I think God can fix us.”
She laughed, “Alright, sweety. If you want to start going to church we can try it for a couple weeks, or something. I don’t know how that works. I’m sure it’s just a midlife crisis.” She turned out the light and laid down on the other side of the bed. “I love you, Conroy. I will support your little phase.”
In the darkness, while Conroy looked up at the moonlit ceiling, he knew this couldn’t just be a phase. This was now him. This was now their future. This had to be, or he was going to die. The life he took had no purpose, so now he had to dash it for a life given by a higher being. He would talk to Voren tomorrow, he thought. Voren would have the answers he craved. Then, for the rest of the night, Conroy tossed and turned, reciting stories and prayers he recalled from his youth, unable to find peace except in those words.
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