Free Write Friday #22: Worship/Despair
“Come on, Lisa,” Janice said. “You promised.”
The Energy Oasis used to be a church and it was on the edge of town next to a large paddock. The sign outside was painted cotton candy pink and the building itself was in the process of being painted a truly ghastly shade of what looked like periwinkle blue.
I wasn’t much for churches to begin with. Janice called it a ‘New Age Church’ but there was a ‘you might sell all your possessions and move to a commune in the Catskills’ feel to the place that was making my skin crawl.
As weird as the outside was, that was nothing compared to what awaited me on the inside. Janice eagerly led me through the doors and inside was a woman, dressed in pink robes. Janice folded her hands and bowed formally to her.
“Welcome, Sister Janice,” she said. “I see you brought a guest?”
“Yes, Mother Rainbow, this is Lisa.”
“Hello, Lisa, welcome to our Energy Oasis, come inside for the worship session.”
Now, thoroughly creeped out, but not seeing any way out of there, I followed Janice into the main hall. The room was more than half full and Janice and I slipped into the back row and sat down next to Janice on the large, soft lavender pillows that were lining the room and waited for the worship session to begin.
It began with a whale song. Janice must have seen my expression because she leaned over and whispered. “This is where we connect with nature. Close your eyes and sway to the music of it.” I took a deep breath and attempted to do so, but discovered immediately that whales weren’t into dropping mad beats that you could sway to.
Then, jarringly, a hellish combination of sitar and didgeridoo music began. I opened my eyes and watched as Mother Rainbow processed in and everyone stood in respectful silence (I tried not to be too awkward about it.)
The silence seemed to stretch out forever until Mother Rainbow lifted both of her arms and cried: “Raise the energy! Praise the unicorn!”
I nearly started laughing, but managed to hold back, because a side door opened and two more pink robed people led a unicorn out into the main hall.
Everyone surged forward as it was led down the aisle and people began gathering around it, touching it and sighing in pleasure. Janice all but shoved me into the aisle as it came closer to us.
As I reached out with the rest to touch the ‘unicorn’- trying not to roll my eyes as I did so, the damn thing turned around and bit me! I then did something that in retrospect was perhaps unwise, but at the time felt fully justified. I punched the ‘unicorn’ as hard as I could and to my shock and surprise it collapsed.
There was a stunned, charged silence. I shrugged and looked at them all. “Your unicorn is kind of an asshole.”
“We’ve got nothing.” Pei-Shan leaned back in the chair, rubbing her eyes. “We’ve been at this for six hours.” She shook her head, fighting off a growing sense of despair. “Damn. First homicide we’ve had in years and it’s like we’ve hit a brick wall.”
“Maybe we should-” Wei-Ting hesitated.
“Do what?” Pei-Shan asked. “Go over all this footage again? There’s no sign of movement from the Mainland at all.”
“Do they even know?” Wei-Ting asked.
“Well now,” Pei-Shan considered the question. “That is a good point, kid. If they do know, they’re being awfully quiet about it though. Which means either they genuinely don’t know which would be unlike them or her Daddy got caught up in a purge of some kind and this is… political.” She dripped as much distaste off the last word as she could. “I hate the political ones.”
“Because the political ones never end up the way they should, kid,” Pei-Shan said. “The victims and their families rarely see justice. The powerful always get away with it.”
“Well, that’s not right!” Wei-Ting said, indignation in his voice. He must have realized how naive he sounded because he flushed and Pei-Shan forced herself not to roll her eyes at him.
“Of course, it’s not right, kid. Nothing about the world is fair. If you do the job long enough, you’ll find that your real enemy isn’t the criminals or even the people. It’s despair. Nothing ever seems to change for the better, no matter how hard you try.”
“So I should just quit now?” Wei-Ting asked.
“No,” Pei-Shan sighed. “Quit and the despair wins. Come to work every day asking yourself how you can serve and protect your community better than you did yesterday. Always keep trying.”
“But you said-”
“I say a lot of things, kid,” Pei-Shan said in irritation. “There’s a reason I’m still stuck in homicide and not running a Division somewhere back home.”
“Oh.” Wei-Ting subsided into silence. Then: “What about the fishing boat?”
“The dhow?” Pei-Shan leaned forward and looked at a piece of paper full of scribbled notes. “The one at 0200?”
“Yes,” Wei-Ting said.
Pei-Shan sighed and began scrolling back through the footage. The dhow wasn’t important. There were always a few of them heading out as early as they could to get a jump on the day’s fishing.
“There-” Wei-Ting pointed. “What’s that?”
Pei-Shan blinked. “Well, I’ll be damned.” She zoomed in on the area he was pointing at. “What are they doing?”
“Looks like they’re launching a boat.” Wei-Ting said. “Zoom in further. Wait. There!”
One of the people getting into the boat turned, a light from the rigging framing her face:
“That’s her,” Wei-Ting said.
“Whoa,” Pei-Shan said. “That’s a nice catch kid.” She stood. “Damn it,” she sighed. “Now I have to go and try and be nice to the Chief.”
“Well… he’s the Chief, right?” Wei-Ting asked. “Can’t be that hard.”
“It was when I was married to him, kid.”