Author: Guede Mazaka
Connor and that angel glassed into the window two from the end are virtually identical, but that doesn't mean Paul puts much faith in either.
When someone reaches his age and is still battling it out in the gutter trenches of the modern city, they're either blind or broken. Not being stupid, he doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about which category he fits, but he does spend a while thinking about distinctions now. The English language does that: it's possibly the most flexible and the most frustrating language in the entire world because there are so many, many possible shades and meanings that can be expressed by its vast selection of synonyms. 'Similar' for 'identical,' and 'agenda' for 'vendetta,' just to name a few examples. 'Belief' for 'faith.' Paul has seen the twins at work. He believes what his eyes and his brain combine to tell him, but he wouldn't give shit for what his crumpled little pieces of ethical feeling tell him.
"You could go up to New York for a few years. RICO or not, there's still plenty of scumbags fucking around those streets. Or maybe out to California." They're in the front, just inside the open door. Paul is beneath the roof, but his cigarette is completely outside so technically he isn't breaking any rules. Of late he's become a connoisseur of such hair-splitting. Could halve a fucking rat's whisker with a kitchen knife, like the pale tired negative of some upright samurai son of a bitch.
"You could take another step out and show the house of God a little respect." Connor ruins his angelic act by grinning so widely no one could take him for anything but a man, fallible and mortal but way more alive than those ethereal pansy-ass Christmas decorations.
Sadly, the look that sends Boston PD detectives running in fear does nothing on a McManus. "Suggesting I follow you and your brother's example? How the hell do you rationalize that, anyway?"
He's not talking about the killings. He's not looking at the window or the altar or any of the many, many crosses that are needed to cover up all the sin-stains. Paul might be looking at a certain alcove that could just fit two bodies, if said bodies were supple and creative enough. Thou shalt not try to damn the lost would make a good eleventh commandment; no point in redundancy, no matter what the field.
"Rationalize what? The imperfect translation of the feeling of God into the words of man?" The other man tucks his thumb into his pocket, rest of his fingers hanging loose in insolence. He flutters them at Paul in time to the minute crackling of the burning cigarette. "Stop looking at me like that, man. I'm quoting. Some guest preacher they had two weeks ago."
"Well, that's a relief. I've been living among idiots so long that any sign of intelligence might just kill me." An ash-can is just outside the door, proving that whatever the general state of the congregation here, at least a sizable amount also share this vice of Paul's. He stubs out his old cigarette and gets himself a new one, then offers the pack to Connor.
Pretty Irish boy accepts, but dutifully steps outside and lights his there. "Boston's where we are, you know. Can't leave it for that long."
"I can never have a straight conversation with Greenly because he's such a dickhead I have to keep digressing into explanations. I can't have a straight argument with you either, but here I think it's because you just like to zig-zag." Yes, they're nice-looking men. Stereotype says that gay men are more sensitive and shit-well, maybe they are more discreet. But the equipment and the hormones are all still the same, even if the object of attention is different. Paul is male, healthy, and of course he's fucking looking all the same. If he didn't, then he'd have to add a non-working dick to the rest of his troubles.
Connor sighs lopsided smoke rings-apparently, only Murphy's any good with free-breathing geometry-and shuffles his feet. His face goes smooth and still, like one of those sober saint's statues that watch in literal and perpetual blindness from the outside cathedral walls. "We don't do things so much because of our convictions as for them."
"There's the English trickery again," Paul mutters. He cranes his head so he can see the whole line of stained-glass windows on one side, taking in about seven books of the Bible at once. "You know why they made those? It's a Biblical manual for the illiterate. Pictures…you see a man getting nailed to a cross, you think man getting nailed to a cross. It's only when you have words that the story starts getting complicated."
"Beginning to think you don't like us anymore. Every time one of us shows up, you start trying to make us leave town." Only the twins can make smoking look both pensive and sexual, like they're from a world where encyclopedias have the same effect as blowjobs.
There's a word for that hang-up, but it's too damned ironic for Paul to actually think it into prominence. Besides, he isn't and doesn't plan to ever be that far gone. The day he starts getting off to torturing the truth in his shit-paper reports is the day he finally calls it quits. "It's sensible."
"It's worrying." A smirk folds itself around Connor's cancerstick. "You're worried about us. Thanks, Smecker."
"Go fuck yourself." And stop fucking with me, Paul would like to add. The reason he doesn't is the same reason he hates cuddling and refuses to pick up men old enough to understand.
Connor leans through the door and hooks his arm around Paul's elbow, forcing Paul to come out into the sun. "Buy me a beer and then I'll see you next Thursday."
He doesn't say it as an order or a request, but as a fact. Which, goddamn it, Paul can't contradict the way he could the first two categories. You don't have faith in facts. You believe them.
As they walk away, Paul glances back at the three-dimensional holy book transmuted to stone and metal and glass. Some cranks insist that within the cathedrals are written all the secrets of the universe in a code that can be read by those who know. He wonders whether he's inscribed on the threshold or on the doorway arch.