Gareth - Religion 101

From Masq
Date: Setting:

IC:  05/09/2008
RL: 12/31/2010

Laura's Herbal Apothecary and Supply -- Main Room -- Albuquerque

 You enter a comfortable little shop that smells of leather and tea. Along the right wall, a row of shelves holds many small glass containers filled with loose dried leaves. A hand-written label details the contents of each jar and price: they contain various herbs and teas. The back wall holds a small wooden shelf filled with books. The collection mostly contains books on herbal remedies, tea, gardening, crystals and their healing powers, and various crafts. Stuffed in the lower right corner is a small section of new age books on spells and fortune telling.
 Next to the book shelf, is another shelf unit with various types of quartz, copper bracelets, charms, runes and assorted jewelry. The rest of the back wall is taken up with the glass and wood display case that doubles as the counter (holding the cash register), and a black door marked "Private."
 The left wall holds an alcove that has a wooden table with a few chairs around it. A sign propped on the center informs that readings are available by appointment only. To either side of the archway are more shelves, containing various items of local interest: pottery, small pieces of artwork, woven hangings and rugs.
 The center of the room has been given over to larger shelves that are filled with various hand-made leather goods, from clothing to accessories. There is also a sign here that says custom fittings and commissioned work require an appointment. Inside the display case there are various herbal remedies, neatly labeled with little signs describing what ailment they cure. There's also a line of custom soap, lotions, and lip balm bearing the shop's name.

Obvious exits:
Out <O>   Back Room <BR>

Liane is here! And it looks like she just got here, settling behind the counter and making some tea. A large tupperware is also on the counter, filled with tacos, a 'chalupa', and a bunch of other knock-off taco bell junk food that smells heavenly.

Gareth stumbles in, looking like he didn't sleep the night before. And apparently it's made him edgy. Like one bit. He's fiddling with his phone as he wanders in, he glances around, brightens, and wanders over to the counter. He peers at the tupperware. "What's that?" he asks, mildly.

Liane looks behind her at the sound of a customer, turns to give the usual greeting, but then it's Gareth, and she smiles instead, "G-gareth! H-h-hello! You l-look s-simply awf-f-ful. And th-these are t-tacos. I h-had s-s-some of the t-t-taco bell things a-and I t-tried r-remaking s-some of th-them. T-try some, t-tell me wh-what you think."


Gareth shakes his head. "One day I wanna walk in here and have you say, 'Oh Gareth! You look g-g-g-great!' and just *mean* it." He sighs. Still, he has this dubious, 'well, the pizza rolls were awesome' look on his face. Frowning, he takes a bite. He shuts his eyes, savoring it. It's like that Kalyee from Firefly eating a strawberry or something. Only it's some nerdy college student with an attitude problem eating a taco.

Pure joy is on Gareth's face, he devours the taco.

VERIFY(BHXF) Gareth rolls manipulation + subterfuge against 6 and gets 0 successes.

Gareth shrugs, unconvincingly. "It's okay I guess," he says, with emotion seeping out of his pores. He glances at the tupperware bin.

Liane beams! Such a cheerful smile! "R-r-really? I'm g-glad you l-like them! T-try one of the s-soft-shelled o-ones- l-let me get you a c-c-coke." Liane says, heading to the fridge to get Gareth a can.

Gareth glances from Liane to the tupperware container. "Well, I guess I could try one of the soft-shelled ones. You know for scientific purposes..." He devours the soft-shelled one, and then says, "So if I wanted to find out how to stalk someone, where do I look that up in a library?"

"Y-you would do b-b-better to l-look online f-for such things. Or u-use your c-c-common s-sense. Or s-s-simply ask h-her to go to d-d-dinner with you." Liane says, returning to the counter with a can of coke and a plate. She begins piling a few tacos, of various sorts, onto the plate, setting it in front of Gareth before closing the tupperware and placing it in the fridge. "It u-usually s-saves t-time."

Gareth scowls. "Yeah, I tried that shit. You get all these weird malware sites going that route these days. The internet is a fuckin' shark tank these days. All I want to do is track a girl with an unlisted phone number who I've never met, and the world makes it so damned hard!" He gripes, then picks up the Coke, politely thanking Liane. He shakes his head, looking deeply dubious. "Dinner? Me. Come on, I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, you know."

Liane looks around the counter for a moment, uncertain. Then she spots a book some jerk brought to the counter and didn't pay for, and she happily goes to pick it up, returning to stand in front of Gareth. Then she stands on her tiptoes and attempts to thump him lightly on the head with it. She doesn't even bother attempting to hide her intent. "Inv-v-vading the p-privacy of a y-young lady w-w-without good, uns-s-selfish cause is a t-terrible thing, G-gareth." Liane says firmly. "H-how on earth do you n-know of her if you h-haven't met her?"

Gareth glances over, taking a bite out of his third taco. He chews on it, then swallows, then snorts derisively. "Come on. I don't want to bang her. Don't go all weirdly moralistic feministy on me, sugarlumps," he says with a wink. "This woman was a rising star in astrophysics and gave it up to be a secretary at some nuclear site. I think she was dating this guy who got killed." Gareth furrows his brow. "I met him last semester, he gave a talk to my class, and now he's dead. It doesn't make any sense to me. I hate not making sense. Bothers me."

"You c-can f-find her th-through p-perfectly l-legal m-means, you n-know. J-just find out wh-when the w-wake is and ask to g-g-give your c-condolences to th-that woman." Liane says, quite practical on the matter. "And it's n-not f-feministy. It's c-c-common c-courtesy." Is her retort, hugging the book. "L-life makes m-much more s-sense when you r-realize l-logic has n-nothing to do w-w-with it."

Gareth twitches his mouth. "I don't buy that. It's too neat. Like you're going to tell me God is behind it or whatever," he says, dismissively. "And besides, law is just another kind of logic. So why should we pretend to use law in that case, it's just another logic we try to apply to a life that isn't," he says, shaking his head. He glances back. "There's more to life than just upright, rigid behavior. You have to find your own code, I think." He frowns. "Besides, it bothers me. Him dying like that, no wake, no nothing. Feels...weird to me."

Liane looks startled, looking up at Gareth - and her eyes *stay* there. "N-n-no wake? B-but surely they've d-done something f-for him, s-surely?" She approaches gareth, leaning against the counter and continuing to look at him.

Gareth shakes his head. "Nah. The professors are gonna...well, they went out for drinks and all. I didn't - I mean, I'm just some freshman who gets too eager about that kind of thing." He glances up. "Did I tell you that's what my dad wanted to do? Nuclear science. He wanted to power the world...instead he got tied up in all that old timey religion," he says, sighing.

"S-so ins-s-stead of a l-l-life of r-respectable int-t-tellectual-l-lism, he ch-chose to become w-wrapped up in f-figments and odd-d-dities?" Liane says, then tilts her head as she examines Gareth, before lowering her head and smiling behind a hand. "You c-could ask T-trace, but sh-she's likely to ch-charge you f-for the inf-f-formation."

VERIFY(AUEK) Gareth rolls manipulation + subterfuge against 6 and gets 3 successes.

Gareth shakes his head. "Nah, can't afford Trace," he says, smoothly. Perhaps too smoothly. But the suggestion's dismissed easily and casually. "And yeah! I know! Fucking rides me. And I believed all that. I mean, i was jut a kid, but... I look back and all that apocalyptic shit just falls apart around me. And I didn't know. And I kind of wonder...did the rest of my family clue into all that crap? Or are they out there, just being their end-of-the-world selves?"

VERIFY(QCVB) Liane rolls perception + sense deception against 6 and gets 3 successes.

Liane raises an eyebrow slightly, but lets the lie pass, suave as it was. But her smile is still hidden behind her hand. "Mmm. I s-s-see. At l-least n-now you l-live a life ap-p-part f-f-from that. It's w-w-what c-college is all ab-b-bout, f-f-finding wh-what you believe in and ch-changing c-courses."

Gareth shakes his head. "Yeah, well...maybe I'll need to change courses again," he says, frowning. "I don't think I can hack science, but I don't know what else I'd study. I love physics. I LOVE it. Nuclear physics especially. But..." He glances off, frowning. "I'm not sure I have it in me. I'm pulled a buncha different ways these days." He glances back. "How'd you settle on the librarian thing?"

"I d-d-didn't." Liane says, sipping her tea. yeah, she has her tea, SHUT UP. "It w-w-was a p-part of m-my t-treatment, w-working in the l-library d-d-during school, to g-get me used t-to p-p-people. L-librarians int-t-teract with p-people quite a b-bit. It w-was g-gradual in m-my case, however. And wh-when I came to s-school, I c-continued it as p-part of m-my treatment, and th-then simply because it g-gave me s-s-something to do. M-my major is C-c-comparative Myth-thology and F-f-folklore."

Gareth tilts his head. "How're you going to turn that into a career?" he asks, like he's missing something and he can't quite figure it out. "I mean, I can see comparing it, but where's the money?"

"It's an ac-c-cad-d-demic c-career. M-much l-like being a h-historian, or art c-c-curator, or a w-w-writer. It d-depends wh-what you do w-w-with it." Liane says patiently.

Gareth makes a face. "Yeah, well, you're just...comparing mythology," he says, baffled. He shakes his head. "So anyways, how'd you choose to do that? What made you settle on it? Did you have any doubts? Ever thought about going into fast food, or some kind of mock fast food thingie?" He glances over at the tupperware container, fiddles with his phone. Kids these days.

You text to Katie: Damn. Liane has a gift. Home-made taco bell.
You receive a text from Katie: Is it like sent from above?
You text to Katie: YES
You receive a text from Katie: Jealous.

Liane just...looks up at Gareth. "H-honestly, I h-have an incr-credibly-" She shuts her mouth, closes her eyes, and you can just tell she's counting before she opens her eyes again. "Do you th-think arch-chaeology, p-psychology, anth-throp-pology are also u-useless? Or the other l-liberal arts?" Liane sets down her tea mug carefully, staring down at it and gently tapping her fingers against the mug. "S-stories make up the c-cornerstone of h-human existance. Th-there is no c-culture without its f-fairy tales and s-superstitions, m-myths and f-folklores. And th-throughout these stories, from v-vastly different p-peoples, from the d-dawn of time, there have been c-connections and th-threads, simil-l-larities. 'M-mythos' is the f-flipside of 'l-logos', and both create that ephemeral and et-t-ternal concept of 'truth'."

A glance up at Gareth, sharp but slightly...pitying? "The p-point of c-comparing m-mythology and f-folklore can be to f-find links in two peoples that some may imagine n-never had contact with one an-n-nother. It c-can be to discover arch-chetypes and common th-threads that define p-p-people as p-people regardless of f-faith, c-creed, nation, or t-time period - to f-find the universal. A p-people's myths, their s-stories, tell you more ab-b-bout them than anyth-thing else ever c-could. History is w-written by the w-w-winners yet c-claims to be truth: f-folktales are w-written by the people, and have always been m-meant only as g-guides, and th-thus tend to speak far more of who th-they are." Liane picks up her cup again, and takes a sip. "I am quite f-fond of my ch-chosen f-field."

Gareth looks over. He patiently listens to this. "Yeah, that sounds familiar to me, like you told it to me. I dunno. Stories are for other people. I can't figure out what archetype I'd be, so what good is it to me? And I's just a suspicion, but even the folk stuff isn't just some people's thing. It's still written by the victors. Just...more subtly."

"Oh y-yes. It's v-very c-complicated." Liane grumbles, and not hiding the glee in her tone at the very thought of the work. "It's almost alw-w-ways an oral t-tradition passed d-down, so things ch-change, shift, constantly. B-but that's the s-same as history, isn't it? And you c-can tell things b-by the f-flow of the story, the mentions, the ch-changes themselves are telling." Liane looks so animated discussing her subject of interest, eyes all lit up and posture all perked and not quite as demure as usual. "And m-much like adv-vertising, the effects of stories is s-subtle. Even if you, personally, do not enjoy a story, it has s-still had an impact on your l-life, if only because all those around you h-have grown up with it as well."

Gareth glances over at Liane, and listens. He glances down at his shoes. He looks back up. "How are the changes telling? I mean, in like, stories and shit. "I mean, after everything happened and I ended up on the res, I'd sit around listenin' to the indians talking shit to each other, every story was about Jesus kicking ass and it wasn't no book from Revelations or the book of Mormon, at least what I read, or it was about some dude who lost his penis or some crazy shit like that."

Liane looks back at Gareth, "Th-that's something right there. W-was it J-jesus? Or was it an older G-god given the name J-jesus to fit the attempt to covert them? Would the old s-stories have another name f-for him? How does there d-depiction of J-jesus differ from the mainstream norm, and wh-what does that t-tell you about the values h-held by the c-culture? Is that J-jesus a trickster, a healer, a warrior? What do th-these people fear? What en-n-nemies, what tragedies befall the h-heroes or heroines? G-give me t-tales-" Liane chuckles, just a bit, but it's audible, even as she covers her mouth with a hand lightly, "With t-tales, you know a p-people. Give me t-tales, and I can tell you who th-they are. The study of f-folklore is history, and psychology, and anth-thropology, and s-s-sociology, in one underp-p-paid profession."

Gareth puts up both hands. "Ah, no no no. I'm not a storyteller. That's for someone who wasn't born me. In my wildest fantasies, I think people will tell stories about ME and my badassery, but I just hear weird things and pass em along. Besides, I don't like to talk about Jesus." He glances behind him. "It's like the dude's gonna be watching over my shoulder, looking disappointed at my stupid assed life. Even bringing up his name, and he's gonna come like a thunderstrike, filled with piss and vinegar. No way."

"J-jesus w-was a radical and a t-troublem-m-maker." Liane says, raising a hand to touch at the beads around her neck, "I'm f-fond of him, and m-my faith. B-but I shan't discuss h-him if you d-don't wish. W-would you l-like another c-coke?"

Gareth yawns, possibly after remembering the coke in his hand. "Nah, still nursing this one," he says. He flashes a look, though, deeply uncomfortable with this line of conversation, his curiosity pushes it forward. " what do you mean he was some troublemaker and a radical? THat's not the Jesus I grew up with."

"Are you c-certain you'd l-like to t-talk about it?" Liane says, with just a hint of uncertainty, "I th-thought you s-said you enjoy it. I w-wouldn't want to t-t-trouble you."

Gareth glances down at his shoes, then back up. "I'm tired. And all sorts of shit I thought was true hasn't been true. If you told me Jesus liked to fuck pigs I probably wouldn't blink at this point," he says with a grin, then changes tack. "Lemme hear some of that comparitive mythology magic."

Liane looks at Gareth, concerned, but then bites her lip and nods, "It's n-not c-comparative mythology, j-just history. Consider: p-prior to Jesus, you h-had the jewish p-people and various paganistic and is-islamic tribes. Then this m-man comes around, c-claiming to be the s-son of God. His t-teachings d-demoted all other r-rulers and Kings, who in those days ruled under d-divine will, and many b-believed them demig-gods. He h-hung out with the w-wrong people, s-spoke things that w-were b-blaseph-phemous, des-secrated, we s-see these things as him 'r-righting wrongs', but that is h-hindsight."

Gareth tilts his head, listening. "Okay," he says, but he looks mostly confused. He finds something to lean against, and listens, thinking.

Liane glances over at Gareth, "You are f-familiar with the b-bible, yes?"

Gareth smirks. "A little bit," he says, drily.

Liane flashes Gareth a small smile. "Th-then you n-know J-j-jesus was persecuted and h-harried. Why?"

Gareth shrugs, "Just the important bits. Maccabees, Isaiah, Daniel, the Revelation to St. John, maybe a smattering of Acts, the first and second book of Enoch..." He tilts his head, and thinks. "Well, them Pharisees didn't like him, because they didn't understand what he was trying to tell em, so they tricked the Romans into executing him."

Liane nods, "R-remove, if you c-can, faith from the eq-q-quation. Wh-what you are l-left with is a r-radical of a d-different th-theological and p-political leaning r-raising sympathy and f-followers to opp-p-pose an es-s-stablished p-political and th-theological order. N-nevermind that we, as inh-heritors of a j-judeochristian m-morality consider this simply one m-man creating j-justice: by d-definition of his act-tions, Jesus s-stirred up t-trouble. Necessary? M-morally? Arg-g-guable dep-p-pending on your v-views and your f-faith."

Gareth shrugs, mutely. He goes back to looking at his shoes. "Maybe. I guess. It all kinda makes logical sense and stuff," he mumbles. "But I'm not sure you can separete faith out of that like that. I mean...the whole point is, he's the son of God an' shit." He quickly, and almost defensively adds, "Not saying I believe it or anything. It's just...that's the whole part of who that dude is. He's a transition from the kingdom of man to the kingdom of God. A sign that the world is now ready for the end times to approach."

Liane smiles, "I n-know. Wh-what it d-doesn't change is wh-what it is. I am C-catholic, and I acc-c-cept that my ch-church is built on the b-bones of old g-gods, c-cemented with the b-blood of c-countless c-crimes." Liane says, bowing her head slightly, "The Ch-church was built by he who d-denied Ch-christ thrice, and yet tales h-have it is the m-most loyal of all f-followers," Liane says with a smile, "And d-died upside d-down on a c-crucifix because he f-felt he was not w-worthy of dying the w-way his savior had. I b-believe. I h-have faith. F-faith does not b-b-blind me to f-facts. It only m-makes the s-story more poign-n-nant, to me."

Gareth ponders that, and listens. There's a bit like what was just said is going to lead him somewhere, but that time isn't right now. He kind of mutely nods, and a silence spreads for a moment. "Huh. Well, that stuff about faith and facts sounds good to me. But frankly, I'd rather just shove all that fire and brimstone stuff back in some corner and deal with later, maybe when the world makes more sense than it does now. Right now..." He takes a deep breath. "It just seems to make the world a bit more complicated."

"It h-helps me d-deal with th-things. F-f-fire and b-brimstone m-means n-nothing - G-god doesn't p-play Ch-chess with the D-devil. Wh-what was it - there was s-some book I read, one of the f-few fiction ones, th-that said it is m-much more like a v-very elaborate g-game of Solitaire. Apt. Ev-verything here is p-part of God's plan, g-good or bad. Who are w-we to ask 'why' of an omn-n-nip-p-potent, omn-niscient being? we w-wouldn't understand the ans-s-swers. But b-because we are h-human, and m-made to ask wh-why, we ask. We are wh-what we are." Liane chews her lower lip, "D-don't h-hesitate. D-don't r-regret. S-step f-firmly, when you do s-step. And even if you s-step off a c-cliff, it only m-means that the w-waves will r-rise to meet you, and you d-dance with the w-winds. The w-world is wh-what it is. You m-must simply b-be who you are d-despite, in s-spite of it."

Gareth glances up, then looks back down at his shoes. "Well... maybe," he says. "It seems not enough people ask questions. And too many people have a kind of...relentless certainty in life. They don't hesitate, when they should. They act when they should watch. But luckily I don't have to worry about that. I just watch things. I just watch people. Maybe it'll all eventually make sense. I ... I really gotta go," he says, sounding anxious. "There are things I gotta look up. I gotta...I gotta figure out this heart attack thing. It just doesn't make sense. It's science. Weird things shouldn't happen with science. It bothers me." He gets up to head to the door, glancing back. "Thanks for talking with me," he says, heartfelt but still tense. The exhaustion is back in his eyes, but an intensity drives him forward.

"Of c-course, G-gareth. Do c-come v-v-visit more of-f-ften. I w-wish you luck." Liane says, with a slightly sad smile. "All the b-best of l-luck." The 'you'll need it' is unspoken, but the sad tone leaves little doubt of its implication.

Gareth glances back. Smiles tightly. "Yeah, thanks," he murmurs. "You too. Thanks for the tacos, they truly are great. You should share recipes with those Taco Bell dudes. And hope the comparing mythologies things work out. Luck with that." He murmurs something else under his breath - a repetition of words, nothing more, said for comfort, and he is out the door.