Page 37 - WTP Vol. XI #3
P. 37

 “Yeah,” Mark said. “I think so.”
He was waiting for a quip, but nothing came. She was staring at the table, blank and tired.
“Today,” Spencer said, “will be even better. If you can believe it.”
“Cool,” Mark said. He didn’t know what else to say.
“It’s corny, I know, but it’s good to see a guy as young as you so firm in faith. A man of God. It makes me proud.”
“He watched as Spencer hovered, as he placed
a slow hand on the tabletop. He was embracing her, almost, like some shimmying golf coach correcting her swing.”
It was then that Mark noticed they were wearing the same shirt. It felt like being greeted by an officer or prophet, clean and beatific in the outfit of his kind. He was smiling at him, steadily. An air of ancient pas- tures and of wisdom unassailable.
He took his hands from Amber’s chair and stepped away.
“I guess I’ll leave y’all to it. See you out there in a bit.”
He turned and left Mark standing there, alone now with his friend.
“Did you see that shit?” she said. “What? Spencer talking to you?” “Talking to me.”
She stared, once again, at the table. “So,” she said. “You didn’t see anything.”
“I mean, I saw him standing here, if that’s what you’re saying. What all was he telling you?”
“Doesn’t matter.” “No, what?”
“I barely heard what he was saying. The way he was on top of me.”
“Come on.”
“I want to go home.”
“You don’t get it. Like, at all.”
A bell rang. He was all set to respond, but then stopped.
He sat down across from her, turned without answer- ing. The pastors had arranged themselves before the congregation. Dennis held a microphone. Spencer stood beside him. Announcements. Long instructions. Hackneyed jokes of middle age. He barely heard what Dennis said. He was looking, instead, at Spencer—the calm, crossed arms, the subtle smile of his authority. He wanted to be swayed into a state of total confi- dence. Commanded, ushered forth into his faith. He turned around to face her and insist upon this con- fidence, but the look she gave him then was hard to take. He turned away.
At last the talking stopped. The people all around them stood up laughing from their chairs, though Amber stayed. Mark did the same. The room was soon emptied, the crowd having left a thin quiet behind them, punctuated only by the clamor of their exit, their long pouring forth into the corridors, the ballroom.
He tried to look at her again. At her anger and her beauty. All fear, all numb fatigue, had burned away.
“You were going to say something?” she said.
“Shouldn’t we go? Won’t we be late?”
“I don’t care about that now. I’m not sure I ever did.”
The room felt huge and frigid in its emptiness.
“Really though,” she said. “You were going to say something?”
Ferguson lives with his wife in New Orleans, where he works as a high school English teacher. His fiction has recently appeared in The Westchester Review, The Courtship of Winds, and The Champagne Room.

   35   36   37   38   39