Friday, June 27, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde
“It’ll be okay.”
Davis reached over the gear shift console, his hand grabbing Kass’ own, one dropped at her side, the other gripping the steering wheel with tight white knuckles. He had offered to drive, but she knew her mamma would kill her if anyone but an insured driver drove the family car. Not like Davis wasn’t insured, but her mother distrusted him. Still. And argued with her about him constantly.
“Will it?” she asked, navigating around a newly formed pothole. “Will it?” she repeated, the anger resonating in her tone.
It wasn’t like she asked him to come with her to the clinic. Dr. Bachelor arrived promptly, even though it was her night off when Kass texted it was an emergency. She explained how she was worried she was seeing things, and that an apparition, phantom, ghost, whatever had given her a warning, and somehow she didn’t think Madison was kidding… or fully gone. Did that make her crazy? Her physician did something unexpected. She agreed with her patient. Stranger things existed and happened all the time. Why not ghosts?
Just in case, she ran a battery of tests, and promised they would be expedited and she could have an answer by mid-morning. When Kass opened her mouth to protest, saying she would wait around until then, Dr. Bachelor wisely suggested she go home and rest, and assured her the tests would be done as soon as possible, even if she had to do them herself. In fact, she would do them herself because she didn’t want the samples ending up at another facility.
When Kass inquired as to why that would happen, Jocasta sighed deeply, and admitted in dire defeat, that the Sun Valley Clinic had just been bought out by the Goth family. First thing Monday morning, an IT company would arrive to transfer files and a moving company would come to move boxes to the Raven Research Institute. Kass couldn’t believe it. The neighborhood clinic and urgent care would be closed and its friendly family practitioners would be without employment as the new organization was letting all the staff go.
Kass made a fist and hit a filing cabinet and said it wasn’t fair, and she didn’t want some nameless faceless corporation to assign her a new physician. Dr. Bachelor assured her that she would be keeping certain documents, like the ones on her EXCES patients, whose treatment wasn’t exactly above board or government sanctioned. She could lose her license by taking the files, but she wanted to protect the dignity and privacy of her patients, Kass and Howard included. She appreciated the efforts, but wasn’t sure what this meant going forward.
Dr. B agreed to continue in the role of health adviser to both father and daughter, but she would most likely be leaving the area. She had already spoken to Simis about moving back to Pleasantview or moving to New Azteca, where she would be less constricted by corrupt corporate rules and government policies. Her daughter had been sighted near La Fiesta just over the border from Strangetown, or so the rumors said. Kass didn’t blame her doctor for wanting to try and reunite with her long, lost child. If it wasn’t tacky, she would’ve asked Dr. Bachelor more questions, as Kass was curious about Jocasta’s celebrity daughter’s disappearance, but she knew better than to push. As she drove away from the urgent care, she couldn’t help but feel steamed about the circumstances, as if the rug had been pulled out from under her.
As the storm grew in its intensity, Davis cast his gaze out the window. He wished he could do something of significance, but Kass was at the wheel, a woman on a mission. He didn’t blame her for her frustration at losing a family doctor, nor did he blame her for her anger over the sudden swoop of corporate giants commercializing medicinal practices for their own monetary gain. However, he wished he could leap out of the car and help an elderly couple move a fallen tree branch from their crushed car roof while they sat at a stop light.
“Come on already!” Kass yelled. “Change!”
Davis breathed in and out. He wished Kass believed in God like he did. It would be easy to suggest they pray for the situation and for a sense of calm, but instead of the courageous thing, he continued his silent prayer for help. He knew the Mighty Padre was probably disappointed.
He wasn’t a good Peteran. Only praying when he really needed help. Kass attended services with him, but she didn’t seem engaged, bored at best, disinterested at worst. Maybe he was rushing things. Maybe he was expecting too much. Tonight they were faced with a crisis, and he was ashamed to admit that he often forgot to talk to God until there was a problem at hand.
“What are you thinking?” she invaded his thoughts, as she clicked on her turn signal and changed her mind, making a right on red.
It was a simple enough question, but it startled him. He wondered why she had chosen that precise moment to ask him such a thing. It wasn’t so random. He had an opportunity.
“I was praying,” he admitted half-heartedly.
“Yeah, I guess the world can use your prayers,” Kass said, sarcastically, as the tires squealed while she skid around a corner.
“I thought it might help… you… uh… us…” Davis continued weakly.
“Oh,” she softened. “Do you pray a lot?”
He grimaced. You couldn’t make it easy, could you? he glanced heavenward toward the source of rain.
“Uh… I should…” he said. “I’ve been busy lately.”
He could’ve kicked himself. What a stupid answer! If he was thinking about sharing his faith, this was the lamest way to do it.
“I… uh… haven’t prayed like I should,” he tried to redeem himself.
“You think the mighty Padre is trying to strike us down tonight?” she said, more of a statement than a question.
“Naw… Padre doesn’t work like that,” Davis replied. “Things happen. Humans make bad decisions. People lose jobs…” he winced, realizing he wasn’t making things better. “Uh… thunder…” he pointed to the roof of the car. “Nature… uh… happens.”
“Yeah,” she laughed, dryly. “I worry when nature happens.”
His points weren’t eloquent or clear. He wished he had studied theology so he could offer a better response.
“What?” Kass shrugged, defensively. “Do you think I’m wrong? I’m worried about this whole thing with my doctor and the buy-out and the fact that the medical community doesn’t want to acknowledge that stuff like EXCES and other alien diseases are a problem and exist. And the public doesn’t care as long as it doesn’t affect them personally. What if Dr. Bachelor gets caught with files? What if she goes to jail? What if my dad’s condition gets worse?” she stopped as she didn’t want to add.’What if my visions get worse?’ “Do you think I have the right to be worried?”
Davis breathed a sigh of relief. Regret hit his gut like a slap to the face. He had an opportunity to talk about his faith, and she steered the conversation away from prayer to a fundamental fear, and he was relieved he didn’t have to share with her his failures to pray and talk to God. It wasn’t a proud moment for him. Talking to the Padre was something he had enjoyed doing when he was younger, and as he aged, he fell away from his faith. Now he was desperately trying to jump start communication with his highest priority and he was failing miserably. He cleared his throat.
“I think you have reason to be worried… but I don’t think you have the right.”She frowned. “What do you mean?”
Now would be a time for a little courage, Padre, he prayed. Help me out.
“Um… it’s natural to be worried. You’re human,” he pointed to himself. “I’m human. But I don’t think, even as humans, we have the right to be worried. There’s a verse in the Good Book. Uh… that Sermon on the Mount…”
“…with that Jesus teacher?” she interrupted.
“Yeah,” he couldn’t kicked himself for forgetting the exact reference. “He says we don’t need to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow’s got its own concerns.”
“But it’s not tomorrow yet?” Kass’ brow puckered. “Actually…” she pointed to the clock on the dash. “It is.”
“I know… it basically means we shouldn’t worry. The Padre’s in control.”
“Doesn’t sound like it.”
“Well he is.”
“It doesn’t say that, does it?”
“No, but…” he felt himself growing flustered. “It implies it. The verses before talk about how Padre clothes the lilies of the field and watches over the birds in the air and we shouldn’t worry because we’re more valuable to God than flowers and critters,” Davis wondered where his newfound strength was emerging from, but he proceeded. “And we don’t need to worry about clothes or food or drink because He fulfills all our needs.”
“But we aren’t talking about meals or clothes,” Kass rolled her eyes. “We’re talking about a disaster here… a big giant evil corporation who buys out neighborhood clinics and lays off good doctors like mine and forces the staff to turn over confidential records in the name of research and progress all while the little guys like my dad suffer or worse become lab experiments and you know it’s great that God handles the little stuff like making sure I got food in my stomach… but even then, I’ve got to pick up groceries for my mamma like all the time or we eat at Nonna’s. She can’t handle it. Padre doesn’t handle it. I do.”
Davis sighed, his heart sinking as he thought about how much his girlfriend cared and held her family unit together. He thought about how his sister had done the same for years. It wasn’t fair, but it was reality, but even so, he chose to believe in the redemptive good.
“Do you ever get tired?” he asked.
“All the time,” she replied, pulling into the driveway at her grandparents’ home, parking alongside the garage.
“But you keep going,” he remarked. “Why?”
“Because I have to.”
“Who says you have to?”
“Well, no one,” she frowned. “I feel an obligation.”
“Who tells you to have that obligation?”
“Uh… what are you getting at?” she frowned, leaving the keys in the ignition and her wiper blades continued to wave at top speed over the windshield. “I love my family. Why wouldn’t I take care of them?”
“Exactly, and who tells you to love them?” Davis pushed.
“I…I don’t know… I guess, it was something I learned,” she shrugged, turning off the engine as tree leaves whipped at the glass and stuck in the wiper blade.
“Think again,” he shook his head. “We are born with a capacity to love. A great capacity to love. Yeah, it can be modeled for us, and some people suck at it, and some people take advantage of it…” he didn’t add like your mom. Like mine. “…but somewhere deep inside of us, we know love… like second nature.”
“What are you saying?” she asked.
“Padre put that spark of love in you,” Davis said. “He put that desire to do good and to carry on inside your soul even when you feel like giving up and you’re tired and people take advantage of you. He gives us love as a gift, and invites you to act out of that love, and you do, without even realizing it sometimes. ”
“That’s all well and good, Davis, but…” she trailed off in protest, shaking her head. “It still doesn’t explain why Padre doesn’t step in and stop disasters like the earthquake or this… mess…” she threw up her hands in reference to everything that was going on in her life.
“Fear, Kass,” Davis said. “Fear is the opposite of love. You just have to trust Padre loves and his love never wavers.”
“But how?” Kass wailed, resting her elbow onto the side of the door, and dropping her head on her hand. “This kind of stuff doesn’t make sense.”
“You can’t worry every time something doesn’t make sense, Kass, or you won’t live your life,” Davis replied. “You have to trust… that God’s got this whole clinic situation and your family when you’re not there to protect them, and even when you are. You can’t be worried all the time or you’ll be worried forever. And is that really living?”
Kass sighed. Maybe Padre can handle the little stuff like making sure we have food and clothes and stuff, but for these bigger things,” she opened the car door and stepped out into the rain. “I think I can handle it.”
Author Notes: I know this chapter got epic long due to the bit about the clinic closing and Davis and Kass’ conversation. I wanted to bring up faith again because it’s important to Davis even if he’s struggling as a believer. In one of my favorite Sci-Fi television shows, Babylon 5, an alien named G’kar wisely says, “If you’re going to be worried every time something in the universe doesn’t make sense, you’ll be worried every moment for the rest of your life.” So much truth there. Davis was trying to say something similar. Thanks for reading.