Now she hated God. God is her mortal enemy, the ultimate Betrayer. If only God never existed she could be fine. Let it be known: God is doom.
It wasn't always like that. God had been her ally all her life. A faithful churchgoer, she claimed the moral authority and approval that went with that. Dare any elected President not be a churchgoer? Proof positive only the irresponsible abstain. She was dutifully humble in her devotion, respectful and sincere. She never understood the animosity the word "God" could bring. "We need all the help we can get in this world!"
But when the last child left the house, no God or hope could save her. It was like a death in the family as she saw herself slowly sucked into a black abyss never to escape. In those 25 years of raising children, she'd denied her feelings and herself with great zeal and passion. She claimed her life unworthy for the greater good of her children. Then she realized she was as a farmer without his crops and for having never planted seed the ground too hard now for sowing.
Panic started overtaking her mind seeing no way of escape. Outwardly, she had all the trappings of success. Inwardly was desolation. She heard a voice mocking, "Congratulations! You've fooled the world! Nobody knows you're in trouble but you!" Like a drunk waking up the next morning to find he'd burned down the house, what could she do? Where could she go?
Suddenly sober, no more could she convince herself of having led a sinless life. So many years of self-destruction and dishonesty raised the bar of redemption. No point in even trying to justify herself. What did it matter? The abyss has no ears. Who could she talk to? She tried her priest - but in a roundabout way that did not reveal the true nature of her crime. "Of course you miss your children," he misunderstood. No, it's me I miss and this aftermath shows just how much I needed to pursue my own life. I feel so lost!!
Her husband away on a business trip, clutching her stomach in the middle of the night in anguish, her mind raced with fear of her coming exposure. "I just can't live like this! It's like I amputated my limbs. This is unlivable. I've been nothing but a lie! Oh God, please help me! Can You even understand my torment? I know I never listened to my little voice nagging me but I had no idea it would lead to this. What is there now? Tell me please!" She stuffed her face in her pillow, sobbing, forgetting pretense, naked before the world.
In her exhausted dream came an angel bearing good tidings. "Debby, rejoice! All is not lost. Your life can still have meaning."
"How? How can that be after I married the wrong man and hid behind my children wasting my life but unable not to serve them. I've been running away from myself my whole life."
"Call who? God? He's not in my cell."
"You know who. The one you lost, the one you gave up for your marriage, the one you wanted."
"No! No! Never! I'll never do that. You can't make me!"
"Your cries have been heard. This shall end your distress."
"I don't care! I'd rather die! Give me anything but don't give me that!"
But only silence followed. In the morning, Debby was a changed woman.
"Goddamit, I don't believe it! I don't fucking believe it! I'm not calling him, I don't care what You say!" She was looking up to the ceiling. Then she was struck by the looming dread of Sunday church - hell, of any mention of that fucker God. "I was an idiot to open up to You! I won't make the same mistake opening up to him! You can count on that!"
Trapped for the rest of her life she'd be, never able to utter or even hint of her contempt for God to her blindly religious family. Doomed to dine on this bitter fruit, she knew above all else she must not let that bastard Harry know God's reply to her prayers. "Life is hell!"
"Hey, lady, what am I supposed to do, huh? Ever ask yerself that? I know you can hear me up there on yer high horse! Better be careful or someone might go pee on yer car. Whaddya think of that? I coulda been a lawyer too, ya know, only I like meself too much."
The early thirties female entered the legal office building and out of earshot. Harry was deeply pained, shaken to his core. There are times when the depravity and desperation of his life can not be hidden. The rest of the time he wasted energy hiding them. Like a cursed yo-yo, when he was high on a lie he convinced himself he was as fine as he fooled the world. But the lying only made him hate himself all the more leaving him to sink back into a more honest state of self-loathing. Then the honesty would raise his esteem only to have him spend it like a wino on lying all over again.
He wandered off to find a safe place - a place far from where the legal lady had seen him. In shattered moments like this Harry wondered why he bothered living, borrowing his soul on unsecured credit. When mired in homeless suffering he hungered and longed for the day when the world would be set right and justice to permanently prevail. Then he would have an honest shot at living. But the way he felt now he wished judgment day never to arrive.
He dare not make eye contact with anyone as he made his hasty exit, with a special notice to avoid cops. Harry found it curious that even in these trying circumstances a part of him wanted to live, was even optimistic. There's more to life than meets the world's eye. By that one thin thread he did hang. But when would that promise ever be fulfilled?
It was no coincidence the legal lady caught him. He knew her - as much as he could know anyone not homeless. Starving as much for intellectual food as physical food, Harry knew the place where the building's lawyers gathered outside to discuss their cases and issues of the day. He inserted his own rabid opinions from his hiding spot, forever frustrated he could not join the conversation. He despised most of the voices he heard, sometimes barely able not to lash out and "choke the son-a-bitch like he chokes the truth."
But her voice, that was another matter. He rejoiced when he first heard it and then, over time, the rarest of things happened: he trusted her. But though she sat only a few feet away from his hiding spot, Harry would have to jump the Grand Canyon to ever reach her world. Maybe that's why he let himself become lax, taking comfort wherever he could find it; another mock turtle home.
In his present purgatory of complete isolation, his mind was forced to the most forbidden of places for shelter: Debby. "If only she'd say my name, just once, the world would tilt for me." But how could she - or anyone - ever find him to connect with him? That had been the whole point of running away to the street to begin with. She had feigned no interest in his feelings but the more sure of them he became the further from her sight he ran.
Only in moments like this when he was most hopeless did he re-open his heart to her. He prayed and prayed and prayed to hear the sound of her voice. But if Debby had just witnessed the disaster of his calamity with the legal lady she'd swear off him for life. To take another step, to inhale another breath, to cry another tear was to operate on complete blind faith in the back alleys of life - especially on this day when he'd made a new enemy in the world with the legal lady. "Life is hell!"
EPILOGUE: "Hey, Elise, is it really true? I can't believe it!" Ben was a dick, always the first to kick someone when they were down. But he was careful to always make sure it was socially acceptable and as he leaned against Elise's desk in that smug manner of his when he thought himself clever Elise wished she could trip him to the floor. "Did you really catch some homeless dude whacking off behind the hedge?"
What Elise wanted to say was: "Yes, I think it was your father." What she did say was, "I've got a ton of paperwork. Leave me alone."
"Come on, spill the beans! Was he smelly and shit? I heard he left a copy of Playboy as he ran away."
"If you hurry I think it's still down there." Elise cocked her head and smiled and even a clod like Ben knew this was one of her special smiles - the kind of smile that's no smile at all, her one-more-wrong-step-and-I'll-cut-your-head-off smile. He'd felt that pointed sting before and how publicly foolish it made him feel. Ben didn't know why she was so angry with him now over a person so clearly deserving of mockery. He backed off in a cloud of fear and confusion. Elise said nothing to his hasty exit but what she wanted to say was, "It's called human compassion, you ass!"