Tangible Schizophrenia



Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG
Pairing: Gen. Smecker pov.
Feedback: Good lines, bad ones, etc.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Early-morning, Smecker’s in church and pondering.


He assumes he comes from a Catholic background. In his parents’ home there had been a bright, crackle-crisp Bible with butter-brown leather binding and shiny gilt pages, which got cracked open whenever he came back from Catholic school with a debate to lay before his father. But his father had always taken the skeptics’ point of view, forced Paul to curl back on himself and dig deep for the inarticulate feeling that, when voiced, always came out stuttering and incoherent and weak. Pale, like the blanched-out twittering of the city songbirds, their throats smogged rough by the filthy air.

It wasn’t that they lived in a bad part of town. It was just that they lived in the city, and in the city everything was slightly grayer.

Eventually Paul learned to just look up the Biblical quotes himself, and then to search out the theological commentaries in the New York Public Library. It was where he ended up a lot of the time, after his brilliant, aloof, questioning father became questionable and then a question mark. A blank space on the endless administrative forms where they asked for the paternal contact information. His mother never picked up a replacement, either—too damn proud and cold and glittering in her own right. On the one hand, Paul’s always been grateful he was spared that particular stock situation of the American family soap opera, but on the other, he wonders if it would’ve been better to have an excuse. A few words of explanation, false or true, from her that he could offer up to the priests and the nuns and his bastard cock-mouth schoolmates and his condescendingly sympathetic neighbors.

She never gave him one. And when she started working full-time, she wouldn’t give him a key to the apartment, either. Instead he got a library card and a blue-haired wrinkled old hag set to watchdog his appearances on the library steps, because that way his mother would know he was doing something productive and wasn’t off getting into the same shit every single-parented kid was supposed and goddamn it but she was educated and could handle their lives very fucking well by herself, thank you.

He’s never been able to drink her brand of whiskey. She held herself together till he finagled a full scholarship and a college admission out-of-state at sixteen.

No, the priests stayed the fuck away from him. The old theologians were pretty damn explicit about sins of the homosexual persuasion, and it didn’t take Paul long to figure out how to not only navigate the stacks, but also how to lose his old rattle-toothed hound. He’ll give that for his mother—she kept him in the best school in the district, and in her own way, she got him educated beyond the parochial limits. He picked up information fast from the books, the periodicals, the newspapers, and he learned even faster how to put them into practice. By the time he was burning through his sophomore year, he’d fucked and gotten fucked and had learned every single detail of the alcoholic’s downward spiral just in time to get word of the end of hers.

Stupid fucks held the funeral on the day of his psychology final. He wrangled the burial for early morning, did some plane-zipping and got back with ten minutes to spare to his exam. Wrote a beautiful fucking piece of work that made his professor, still red-eyed, call him in and sit him down and tell him he had a fucking genius that he shouldn’t waste.

There’d been a second Bible, too: the only thing he took back from his mother and his father. Black cracked dry desert leather, gilt as patchy as a mangy dog’s fur, with varying gradations of faded ink scrawling the names of his predecessors. Till after his meeting with his professor, he’d never actually opened it.

It was a hell of a time to learn that his parents were never actually married.

So he figured becoming a federal agent might kill off some of the irony. Because hell, the law had no sense of humor. Problem was, life and death still did, and crime ended up being that instead of statutes filed neatly away in thick volumes, instead of bills and laws and proclamations. Paul said to hell with it and just twisted, working himself so tightly into the criss-cross of ink and blood and steel and blaring lights that he felt comfortable in it. At ease. Able to mock it even while it rasped him raw then red then black then grey and smooth and diamond-hard. Un—Crack—Able.

He really should’ve known better than to even think something like that. Because then comes McManus, comes twins, comes an Irishman made into an Italian duke of violence, and now Paul is sitting somewhere he hasn’t been in years. He’s in a church pew.

Oh, not reverently, and certainly not in a prayerful attitude. His arms are folded on top of the bench back in front of him, and his eyes are staring that piece of graphically wooden crucifixion head-on, and he’s got a sharp, teeth-showing smile on his face. No, he’s not smoking, but the itch is there and only the slight sound of rustling in the background is stopping him. It’s two in the morning on a Wednesday night, and he’s just come from the murder of a rapist shot simultaneously in the head by two guns.

Even when he was attending Catholic school, he can’t remember a time when he took Catholicism seriously. Maybe it was his father, maybe it was just his natural mindset not being able to take that leap of faith because there was no rationality behind it, beneath it, or maybe it was just some cosmic stall till the punchline could hit him decades down the line. Because Paul’s taking it pretty fucking seriously now.

Those pretty little Irish darlings and their insane father think they’re on a mission from God. It’s Blues Brothers gone bloody, that over-the-top peaceful arrest taking a left off a high bridge and landing with machine guns. It’s in the name of the flickering candle flames about Paul, the Heavenly Father beyond the roof, and the Son whose tortured baby blues are fixed on Paul right now. It’s right and it’s wrong and fuck it, but couldn’t the Bible even get itself straight on killing? Sixth commandment and Exodus’ eye for an eye. The twins better hope they end up in the right with the higher morality, because they’ve long since run out of compensatory body parts.

It’s something Paul can’t do, and it’s something he has, because under the law accessory to murder is also a crime. It’s something that keeps his future job workload down while heaping to the sky on his current one, and it’s something that makes him feel an emotion he hasn’t felt in a long, long time.

No, not guilt. Guilt he felt all the fucking time, though he’s damn good at submerging it now. Shame.

Oh, Lord, I have failed in my duties as a just and impartial enforcer of the law, and I have failed in my conscience as a moral man. Even if I don’t always follow the morals I have set up, I at least feel that I have done wrong in doing so. And here, Lord, I don’t know what I’ve done.

In all his life, Paul has never experienced an indecision as long as that which he feels about the McManus men. And it angers him, and it shames him because intellectually he should be able to reason it out and emotionally he should be able to feel the right answer, if years of experience in law enforcement has shaped him at all. Except he’s beginning to think that the one is inapplicable and that the other is underdeveloped. It may never be developed enough for this particular situation, and he’ll have to go hurtling into the darkness with hands before him, groping for the way and getting sliced to bits for his pains.

“Is that why you called out?” Paul asks. “Bet you’d never been on the receiving end of death. Must have been a real kicker—did it give you any insight in the fucked-up little mini-images you created?”

But it’s the modern age and miracles no longer happen. There’s only crazy men and improbable coincidences, and no one ever really hears from God. Whenever the McManus twins realize that—and Paul has a hunch that at least one of them will; the father’s too far gone—it’s going to be hell on earth for them. If it isn’t already.

When the rustling grows nearer, materializes into a wary, worried priest, Paul cuts off that train of thought before he goes on to decide in what condition he is living and gets up. By his watch, it’s now three-thirty a. m., and he could use some sleep. In the later morning, that corpse is still going to be waiting for him, and so will the carved one up above.

“But don’t you dare fucking close your eyes,” he mutters, a last throw-off before he has to go back to being tight and controlled and practical. “Of all people, you’d better keep watching. Witness us all, O Son of God.”