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Knox Xanthi

Lord knows we're only human. Lord knows we can't help it.

0 · 634 views · located in Tijuana, California

a character in “Left Hand of God”, as played by usernamesareadrag

Description

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"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil..."

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ɴᴀᴍᴇ: Knox Carrol Xanthi

ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ: A smudge of poverty on the corner of a pristine, white Southern town. Also known as Small Town, Kentucky.

ʀᴇʟᴇᴠᴀɴᴛ ᴋɪɴ: Eddie and Juniper Xanthi- the younger siblings he strives to support.

ᴩᴏꜱɪᴛɪᴏɴ: The Young Pope - A Bastion of Practical Christianity Stationed on the Edge of the Pit of Hell

ʙɪʀᴛʜ ᴅᴀᴛᴇ: March 6th, 1990 - Pisces

ꜰᴀᴠᴏʀᴇᴅ ᴇxᴄᴇʀᴩᴛ: Psalm 23:4 & Psalm 25:18






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The Short Truth
The Young Pope walks before you, and he’s unlike any holy man you’ve ever seen. A Preacher Man without a denomination is your Father Xanthi (Father Knox if you’re a regular). The man has a flock, though, found wherever the dregs of society congregate. They are the ones who need the Good Word, need forgiveness and warmth and acceptance more than the prim and proper ladies in their pristine Easter dresses and the men in their nice suits who toss out His teachings the moment they walk outside of their church doors. Knox would know, as a mechanic from a trailer trash smudge on the edge of a town made of pristine, boring suburbia. As a former inmate, locked up for thrashing some boys who thought it was a good idea to beat up his little brother just for being, as their father would fondly put it, queerer than a two dollar bill. As a man who found the Truth with the only holy man he’s ever cared for, a biblical scholar turned inmate turned prison-yard preacher.

He nods at you as he passes by, doesn’t smile but maybe his eyes brighten a little. He’s not an angry man nor a bad one, but you’ve got to be a little stained when you work around here. Not that he minds it much. A steady paycheck to send back home and a place to speak and work where his motorcycle doesn’t make the little old ladies clutch their pearls a little tighter are fine, fine things. It doesn’t really matter that he occasionally has to do a run or step in when a customer won’t pay or goes a little too far with one of the metaphorical altar boys. Hadn’t Jesus already died to absolve us of our sins? Knox might have to pray a little harder at night, but a man’s got to live on this Earth, after all, and Lord knows nobody’s perfect.

He walks to the front of the room with a steady stride, white priestly collar replaced with a leather jacket as black as sin, pressed robes traded in for grease-stained jeans and heavy biker boots that echo with each step. No need to dress up for a sermon like this, after all, and who is he to put on airs in front of this congregation? This group of sinners, and you are all self-professed sinners, standing in a building below the glow and buzz of a neon cross, an image so truly and painfully American.

He pauses at his pulpit, surveying all of you gathered before him with a sharp gaze. He scratches at the blonde scruff growing on his face, and in a deep, Southern twang, he says…
“Y’all need Jesus.”

So begins...

Knox Xanthi's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nico Pastor Character Portrait: Friday Knapp Character Portrait: Damon Soto Character Portrait: Isa Nash Character Portrait: Jack Soto Character Portrait: Knox Xanthi
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A PRELUDE TO BIBLICAL TURMOIL



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first person POV ♰ 2016



I’m blurry the way children get between naps, rubbing paunchy little fingers at their eyes. I’m trying to sweep off last night’s dust but I don’t think it’s worth it, because I’m just going to fall back asleep anyway. On the edge of nineteen, I shouldn’t be sleeping the way a toddler does.

“Get him on the fucking table!” The noise is drowned by attempts at whispers. Shuffling. I figure Luca and his friends are drunk again. They mean no trouble. Just men of their devices. I’m used to it; they’ve practiced being quiet around the house. Luca doesn’t like to disturb me for the most part. Not that I’ve ever minded. Recently, however, he’s gotten really p a r t i c u l a r about keeping out of my business. Or rather, making sure I don’t have an eye on his.

Light cuts through the shutters, hemorrhaging a reflective yellow onto the sterling crosses I hung up on the loose particle board of my bed frame. It does this every day. Morning. Sometimes dusk. Hits me dead in the face and that’s it - there’s no rest for myself, nor the wicked, I guess. We’re all one in the same. Only human, much to the distaste of other worshippers. Whoops.

The sun has soon come to serve as an alarm clock of God’s instrument, where my parents once stood and cooed in the doorway. I’m so tired. But the work is never over. Whether they’re here, or overseas, or scrubbing steel whisks up and down the robust oak of La Basilica’s ground level. I’ve taken up the ladder. Not as easy as they made it look.

In spite of the bible, regrettably, there’s no glory in the morning. I hate it. I’m not happy to see the old circular clock’s hour hand creeping on to 7AM. T h i s should be an original sin.

Gratitude should shine out of most people’s rear end when they wake up. Blessed to see another day. But I’m a little less than thrilled to hear the pantry being assaulted, and even less to see the sun. What can I say? Sorry, I’ve just never been a morning person. I make up for my dawn lethargy in substantial worship. Promise.

Silver is slung around my neck in very lazy preparation for yet another day. Thank you almighty Lord for this splendid gift. Amen. I loll at my bedroom’s entrance, scrounging with a single open hand to find my glasses by my good old book. I nearly bend the thin wire in my negligence, and don’t care much as long as I can see just what in the world is going on beneath me.

Banister’s whiney against my waist, again I rub my eyes like a tyke and strain my ears. It’s the only noise in this place that doesn’t belong to my brother or his gang of misfits. I hear a lot of shushing and sound swamped in quiet chiding. If I had to guess, it sounds like a drunken mess. But as I lean a little further and get under the frame of my glasses, incessantly rubbing, nosily listening

“He’s gonna bleed,” I hear Damon mention in that immune vernacular they only teach in medical schools.
“Come on, come on,” Luca exhausts, “Cállate la boca, Damon. Just… Fucking put pressure or something!”
“Get it out of me!” Who is that?…

“Get it the fuck out of me!”

A blunt, inanimate din echoes in a short story. The house is a little too taciturn and eerie. It’s sudden. My worst fears jump between horror movie plots and bad water in Mexico and I’m wondering just how wild the night got for the boys below. They have no idea I’m here. It’s as if I don’t exist at all. There’s glass between us, and I haven’t bothered to look down because I’ve been mostly indifferent and trying not to see sun spots this entire time and…

Something cuts loose from my face, but not words or anxiety to spill from my mouth. Not concern. No. It’s my glasses.

They follow the silence and the brusque noise and turn the place upside down. Clattering lackadaisically on the dining room floor, probably inches from someone’s foot. I can feel everyone looking up. Oh… Sh…t.

Lord forgive me.

Now they’re above me. I can’t tell how many there are, really. Staring into me, shocked that I’m here like I haven’t lived in this house since conception. Same as my brother. But I’m just some sad bug, flattened on a slide. That’s how it feels. “Nico,” he’s feigning serenity and I can hear it distinctly, tongue caught on his teeth, like it used to be when we were kids. He had a stutter he’s since outgrown. It rears its pesky head when he’s in a pickle. “I’m gonna’ hack the stuff at the church today why don’t you take the day off? Hey or uh,” he gives something hefty a pull. Something unconscious.

“Hey Neek what about that memorial park you wanted to volunteer at?” Damon crops up. How he remembers things I’ve only muttered while walking by, I have no idea. He’s quick. Quicker than Luca, that way. He’s saving Luca’s behind, the vice and the versa. Childhood friendship evolved into brotherhood. We love him here, we always have. But where’s that other voice I heard?? And what is Luca going to do at La Basilica on a Saturday? Yeah… Right.

I don’t ask questions. I don’t say a n y t h i n g. I just open my eyes, full as they’ll go, and sort of cock my head and peer at the dining room table. Whose table cloth, FYI, is rumpled. Mom would go absolutamente loco if she saw that. Why won’t I ask questions? I see the blood. All that blood. Dripping from the fringe, slow and thick, getting cold. Because I know for the secrets that Luca has to handle - oh man, I’ve got a big one of my own. The wicked and the pious are all one breed. I don’t ask any questions. Judgment isn’t for me, it’s for God

“If you need my help, Luca,” I fidget, nearly breaking my thumb nails on the baluster. I’ve never seen that much blood. My knuckles turn white, “D..Damon? I can help.” What could I help? Is someone going to die? I feel sick. I’ve got to help, but Friday isn’t just yesterday. He’s my private sin. He’s in the attached room upstairs. He counts on me to unlock the door and wake him up, and let him be more than just the weekend. I’ve been keeping a promise to him and to God. How much more room can I make inside of my soul for all of these lost men? It’s too big for my body, like a spirit pregnant without means to deliver.

There go I before the grace of God…

“No, Nico, it’s fine. We got it.” I’m not sure which one of them said it. But it’s enough to excuse me to expel my dinner. I push the pathetic lock of my bedroom door in and pray through wretches, knowing the wall separating myself and a l o n g weekend, is not thick enough to mask the noise. I house the excess. The way a church does for those who need guidance and a place to rest their heads. Only I am not the abbey, I’m just a girl. A sort of inadequate home now that I mention it. An even more inadequate Catholic. Did I just turn a blind eye to murder? The doors on either side of the bathroom slip latches, creak on a side of the morning… That Friday… Just doesn’t understand.

He’s not humble. Tactful when called for, but more on the vain side of my sect. A vital force that leaves a rippling wave of pigment that I really could not ignore. Like - I, just had to touch that brilliant color. My childhood chaplain makes it comparable to snakes and the devil. They’re so very beautiful and charming, aren’t they? I revert, cajole myself into thinking no matter how difficult or how harlequin, we all harbor a human soul.

I try to drown the impression that 7AM has made on me. Mouthwash doesn’t cut it, so I brush my teeth until my gums spit cherry pits back at my reflection. Pat my face with a damp rag. Roll my eyes at what he’ll say. I know he’s waking up, Knapp from his nap. I’m buzzing on a short circuit and I feel like I could flicker out of this world. As if I were a mosquito clapped up by an open palm, “Please be quiet,” I whisper and angle my elbows. Clutch the sink, “Please just be so, so quiet, this morning.” I know I look like the very ugly side of insomnia. I slept very well, thank you. I was rudely awakened so you see…..

Leave out the blood.

When he peeks, so kindred to maybe what he used to look like, a child curious and eager to come out and play, I’m swallowing a lump in my throat. It bobs in my chest. I don’t think he’s ever seen me like this. Me neither.

I imagine what he must have been like as a kid. But reality rips me from the false apparition of an angel. “We’re not going to the church today.” Declaration from my usual multiple choice. He won’t like it. But we are not going t h e r e. We may even climb out my window, now. His gaze is as extensive and intimidating as the Pacific. Asking questions, demanding answers without utilizing any precious energy he pulled from sleep. He doesn’t think I’m worth it. I’m used to it, because half the time, I wonder if I should have ever helped him. My Father is my courage and my devotion, and so I give unto.

Snowfall is equivalent to his hair, even when it’s a mess from being choked by a pillow. Plush and you’d want to touch it whether it fell from heaven or grew out of Friday’s head. So blond it’s white. He’s pale, but not too pale - just the kind of porcelain that blushes soft pink when you press it to hold hands. Jaw turns into a scored piece of marble when he’s thinking. When he’s displeased on his illusory throne. I’m the textbook definition of a schoolgirl in his description. But believe me when I say, he is every bit the force to be reckoned with. I know this. And I keep a l o t of distance between us. He judges me and he invites me. I’m not the first Catholic in his arsenal, even if he didn’t tell me that. I can tell there’s a tickle of nostalgia he gets when he’s close to me. It’s his cross to bear. Not mine. I’m no Eve. My mama didn’t raise no fool.

I love him, because I’m supposed to.

He’s been here a couple weeks beneath the radar. My compassion gauge ticks on empty frequently around him and his mouth. His teeth could cut steel. Tongue, diamonds. But somebody dumped him in this place for me to find. God Bless California.

“Friday, please stop looking at me like that.” I’m out of breath still from the contents of my stomach clogging my wind pipe. “We’ll do something fun,” I’m masking the chaos worse than my brother, and Friday is thinking, “Your idea of fun makes suicide sound like a bouncy castle.” It causes me to pull at my shirt. He never made me uncomfortable. But his flinty scrutiny is making me want to confess to murders I don’t even know happened. I imagine, this is how anyone feels even casually interacting with Friday. It gets him off. So now, he’s looking more pleased than judgmental. Fit for a thorn crown rather than his jewels if you ask me. Conceit is a sin. I haven’t gotten him to repent.

Yet, there’s an understanding between us. He softens and scrapes me with his inquiry but doesn’t step a foot onto the tile. “It’s okay.” I tell him. “They’re so distracted they probably wouldn’t even notice you, today.” I’m just as tired as he is on a good day, which is not at all normal. even he knows that. “I’ve been thinking.” Try to distract from the obvious.

“I could just make you up a room at the church instead of here. It’s less risky and you won’t be forced to be around me so much. As much, really.” Careful about my words. I wouldn’t want it to look the wrong way. Like I'm maybe covering up a homicide.

Friday’s expression shifts before she even finishes speaking, a here and gone irritation strong enough to promise a Biblical Plague. Displeased. /Displaced/. He’s taken up residence in the back of her mind more than in her home, a vice grip on her spinal cortex. She’s as aware that he’s pulling at her strings as he is.

He /wants/ to be here. The first thought she has between her morning prayer and her brothers sins. As consistent and constant as her faith. Her face doesn’t always match her words, but he can’t get any closer to see the distinction. There’s a threshold he can’t cross - /leave space for Jesus/. One day, he’ll burn that bridge down.

He resists the temptation to fold his arms least the distinction causes her back to draw up tight. /No paths have been cut yet, Friday, take a deep breath./ “Forced,” he repeats, southern lift softening his tone from the knife that it could be. “Is that how /you/ feel, darlin’?”
--Written for Friday as played by CharlotteV

For a moment I want to reach out and touch the vitality that’s been taunting me over a course of weeks. I wonder who’s the serpent and who’s the charmer. If it’s time to deliver bad news, or good. He plucks at me like fine ivory looped on maple wood. From what I can tell, I’m not quite singing the song he wants to hear. He tightens the strings and brings that bow across me slow and steady, “Darlin’.” My thumb grazes the glossy crucifix. Bad news, or good news.

How about a house blend?

Physical dominions close no space between us, but he narrows us up real analytically just with a few words. I don’t think he’s evil incarnate the way another god fearer would. But I can see the devil dancing behind blue, when it shines opal and stares at me. The sun catches him better than I, but I know he’d rather be asleep. My hair is all dark and a mess, so I cut the staring contest with a glance to the mirror. I see a reduced pupil of Christ masquerading in about a buck seventeen of thin skin. Shoulder bones tipping up into white fabric to match the collar of my body. I think of how Luca used to tease me and say I’d never grow into any shape, much less a woman’s. The girl in the glass has augmented since high school, and sometimes I don’t know how to face her like this. A virgin who feels guilty even buying a lace bra because it’s the last one in her size. Grasping a cross and dithering on the other side of sepia opticals. I don’t ask questions, let alone question God and what he’s given me. “Well if you had another choice you wouldn’t be here.”

Feebly smiling I might as well lay like a rug, but I don’t tend to get walked on easily. I only have too much patience. A surplus for Friday. Because he’s meant to be good, as I’m first to Sunday. I know that test pilot sort of timbre he uses when talks. Signifies that I’m walking a rope that could fray or be pulled to balance me out. Drop me or clock my piece of mind a little longer, I’m getting a little better at playing the game of wit with Mr. Knapp.

But as nice of a distraction as it is to what’s going on downstairs, I have to cut it short. The rood is pendent, loose from my tapered throat. Relinquished in a way that might look like surrender. Truth of it is, I’m just not afraid of Friday. God is always looking out for me, but I look out way better for handsome dressed darkness in my doorway. “Don’t look so sour, Viernes, es porque me importa. I don’t know how much more I can do for you here. I could take better care at the church.” And it’ll look a lot less suspicious when Luca finds out about you. Fully.

I’ve practiced not feeling small in the company of men. Luca taught me that. Dad sort of instilled in me that men are my superior, but Mom was a little more lax and feminist-influenced. Luca latched on to that. He gets to talking and knows how to make you feel small, but it isn’t ruled by any bias. Luca is a demanding presence. Sometimes he tells me that not even I should shudder in the shadow of God. I turn it over in my mind, thinking hard enough to grind my teeth into fine meal when Friday digests my native tongue.

He can read her better than anyone he’s ever come across. A good Catholic, a /true/ Catholic, has no need for secrets or deceptions. She’s an open book, a vibrant promise. Which means that now, the way she’s dancing around him, up all the balls of her toes to keep from causing damage, she’s carefully misplacing weight not just on his bomb, but someone else's.

He can’t smell blood, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The curiosity for her thinly veiled antics causes his own raging storm to calm. The truth is. It’s too early. He’s still more tired than her. There’s a ring on his thumb, forgotten silver from a forgotten time, and he spins it now while he thinks. Considers.

She’s not wrong.

If he had another choice.

But here he is, and the bed is made, and the monster has taken up permanent residence underneath it. The stories begin to form in his mind, flesh out, take a life of their own. /Who is he, where has he been, who does he know?/

Oh, the answer to that? A Pastor.

He see’s her play, but he thinks it’s okay. “It’s fine,” he says, and if he clips the letters a little, well, it’s only /because he cares/. “I’ve always liked church."
-- Written for Friday as played by CharlotteV

Good thing, too.

Because I’m trying to figure out how I would gently reject him over again if he got closer than a few feet. There’s been a couple walls between us - and if we creep up on a month of borrowed time on my brother’s timepiece, we might just be pushing it. Sometimes I don’t sleep at night knowing Friday’s there. Worse, knowing he’s awake. Thinking the same thing. I forced a gap and plugged it with doorknobs and gentle knocks after he first went to smooth a lock of my hair. I saluted his false prayers knowing well they carried little weight. The memory hangs onto the church and leaks through the stained glass, its own color when Tijuana’s eventide kisses it just right. It weighs on me when I’m at the pew.

ImageIt was about the sixth day we’d spent together, him in my voluntary keeping. La Basilica needed weeding and I felt like the buckets were better used for sweat than dried dandelions. Friday attested it and told me he could never look at me the same after seeing me knuckle deep in cow waste, fertilizing scorched soil. Telling me it was hopeless. Refusing to touch the stuff. But he locked onto me that day, when he was taken with my hair for some reason. I think that’s when he got his claws in me. His hands were softer than mine, probably manicured too. He took to a section of pesky hair that had frizzed free in my labor. The California sun can make the strongest women weak, but so could a fallen star.

He was so close. If I’d not known better I would have leaned into it. But I put him carefully down and nudged his digits with my clean elbow, considerate. After that he didn’t try again, just strangled a motion of his Adam’s apple in thought, murmured about leaving room for Jesus. The usual ridicule to light up his hardened expression.

The blood I saw downstairs rattles the reverie. By the time I’m back to the present world, Friday is watching me from my window sill. Unimpressed by my methods. Soon we’re to La Basilica and he’s complaining of the heat in the atrium but I reiterate his fondness of the church to shut him up. He asks why we're here when I told him we wouldn't be coming here. But there's no other place to go.

I bow my head, I break my posture, and plead forgiveness for my brother’s trespasses, and a little extra for my own.

Harmony is fleeting the same way happiness is. I know it by life itself. The peace is cracked like china when I hear familiar disarray at the front of the church, and there is Luca. Damon. Jack, with a whole lot of ACE wrapped around his trunk. There’s been no regard for moral law, but at least Jack is standing on his own. It looks like a ball has been wedged up under his skin between his eye and mandible, threatening to rupture more than just a bruise. “Come on Nico what the fuck!” Luca almost whines, “I told you to take the day off.” Instinctively I drag myself to my feet disorderly, pin myself in front of Friday. It’s the first time we’ve ever touched, and there’s a gun in my brother’s hand.

He’s too pensive to notice the peculiar timing. Or that my ‘apprentice’ has been around a little too much. Luca draws a vascular hand up to his furrowed brow, pistol dangling from his index, clearly more distressed than Damon is about his own brother. “Just open up the basement,” Jack blurts, and I can tell that Damon AND Luca think about socking him cold another time, “I need some fucking Percs and I’ll be fine in a few hours to work.”

I didn’t even know Jack had a job. Bewildered, I blink incessantly and wait for some sort of additional commentary. Luca glances between me and the century old rug, folds it up and drops to his knees. Swaps prayers for a passcode on a stout lock. “Don’t worry,” he grunts and yanks up a hidden subsurface, “I’m gonna’ have this filled over the summer.” What he didn’t tell me then, was that he was going to build a new entrance in the back, and integrate a whole staircase as well as a heavy burnished ruby door. A supplement of sin to our family’s pride and joy.






PRESENT DAY
Fiestas Patronales de San Salvador, August 3rd, 2017
third person POV


ImageWith the last day of an Americanized las fiestas agostinas upon La Basilica, the place was swarming with souls. The church’s doors were taped over with murals of the patron saint and opened for unsecured celebration. Nico had been working for weeks to take up seasonal hires just for the festival alone, employing a dutiful dozen of new preachers. They flowed even and accommodating, each to a booth both indoors and out. Dipping roses in holy water and taking confessions. Families danced in the courtyard at day, made their devotions and offerings at night. Everything felt and appeared alright.

One of the traveling clerics favored leather to traditional cottons, and Nico didn’t knock him for it as much as Luca did. He was good in his word and following of the Lord. But, so much wasn’t enough for men like Luca. Nico shoved him off the walkway when he wanted to start again, whispering, “You leave Father Xanthi alone and mind your business Luca. He’s doing his job.” And so instead, her brother b-lined for Friday, with Damon in tow knowing Damon wanted no part of it. Friday was newly accepted as a fixture of the unholy/holy stable. Nico capitulated, let it happen. He was good enough to defend himself now, even if he’d rather ten minions fall before him the way followers went before God. Even if he’d rather Nico keep herself perennial on the altar in his honor. Or anyone else thick enough to crumble. The smart ones might blink enough to think it’s worth it, looking at snow white hair in midday. A smirk that looked tacked in place and too sure…

But, the digression.

She wove through the guests of the church under the sun, and passed by Xanthi in heedful gratitude. His southern sense of humor and sort of flat satire was faring well with visitors and, so far, had pulled some of the most generous donations. She nodded at his homily, not sure how he kept proclaiming under dark garb. It was hotter than h…

Her lightweight frock clipped at the sand, and was threaded in custom-stitched flowers both gold and indigo. Part of her detested the exposure, and the other half exalted in the liberation of having an excuse to wear so little in comparison to in-house wear. Not that anyone really cared. Not when there were fetish fanatics snapping garters and whips on the other side of the good old homestead, melting condoms for fun in a declaration of sadism. She twitched at the thought of Blue naked. Or giving himself to anyone. Wondered if he was hustling a trick or wearing a little more than usual and coming out to see the revelries like he said he would. Nico didn’t try to succeed over any of the underground’s beliefs, but she really did like to try to keep them fed. She cooked almost every night and sent it downstairs. With Fiestas Patronales, there was significantly more for consumption on the top half, feasts of gazpacho, grilled corn, paella and cured meats. They’d be eating good. So where was that Blue, and where was Jack?…

ImageSophie skirted the festivities as per usual, helping how she could. She’d bob in and out of the crowd and kept reasonably busy. Nico kept an eye out for her habitually, like it had become her job to keep Sophie away from the red door. Everyone knew why that was.

In lieu of committed assistance to the family name, Luca pulled up a few new girls from the thirsty dirt of God knows what town(s) in California or over. They compliantly signed over their hearts and disappeared behind the red door. Nico really hoped he was smitten. He had his eye on a rolling stone though. She’d blown in at the first day of Fiestas, with a burlap bag and sunglasses on. Tawny, medium height, named Isa. No evidence yet of where she came from or why. Sort of lingered around in a manner that made Nico itch, like she should be worried that someone was investigating and sent in the most unassuming girl they could find. Nico didn’t want to risk losing her family. Losing the church. She needed to have a better scoop on what was up.

She approached with absurd and abrupt poise, or lack thereof, “Hi. Isa. Nico, I’m the owner’s daughter. We met a couple days ago. I haven’t heard from you since I set you up with a cot, are you enjoying your time?”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nico Pastor Character Portrait: Friday Knapp Character Portrait: Damon Soto Character Portrait: Jack Soto Character Portrait: Knox Xanthi
Tag Characters » Add to Arc »

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Divine Savior of the World. It has the kind of ring to it that makes Friday want to rip it from it’s hooks and try it on for size. He knows he’d look good in it. Divino Salvador del Mundo. Yes.

Fiestas Patronales de San Salvador could have a day j u s t for him. Paint his fucking face from La Basílica to Catedral Metropolitana.

He wonders if he could get Jack to call him Divine Savior of the World. In its appropriate Spanish.

The smirk that curls over his lips isn’t appropriate for children, so fast fingertips find a clean rose and he hides himself in the perception that the smell is at all appealing. The weight of Nico’s judgement - for more than one unholy thought - settles on his shoulders though she’s nowhere near him.

And what a shame that is.

He crushes red petals beneath pale digits and tries not to let the comparisons drift away in his head. Visions of the Blood of Christ - no, no. It’s not his blood anyway. He’s still a step higher than the son of God because he is God.

There’s too many people in His house and he tries to act like it doesn’t bother him. The festival is too big, Nico worked very hard, appreciation is just on the tip of his tongue. And yet part of him can’t help but feel like every misplaced preacher is spouting sacrilege.

E x c e p t maybe the one in leather. Friday’s a little fond of that one, though he’s not sure if it’s the blonde hair or the way his eyes widened when someone referred to him as Daddy Xanthi. Honestly, he’s a little irritated he didn’t think of that first. Lost opportunities of misfortunate souls. A pity.

(to be reconsidered later. Options: Daddy Knox, Daddy X, Daddy KnoXX. Might as well throw on a third ‘x’, for the aesthetic of the thing. Daddy Father XXX. Classic.)

Finding his Virgin Mary at a time like this is no easy feat, and he almost throws it in when he catches sight of embroidered indigo out of the corner of his eye. Ah, finally, there she is. Perhaps he’s the only one that notices she’s wearing less today as per the norm. If he tilts his head, he might even catch a glimpse of an ankle.

He snorts despite himself, and it’s only funny because Friday himself is modest just the same. Even in August heat, his cuffs reach his wrists and his collar his neck. Mint fabric is kinder to him under the sun but long exposure will, surely, be the death of him.

Or perhaps Luca Pastor will, if he ever realizes Friday has seen more of his little sister than this moment. But their secrets lie in the colors of early twilight, between folds of soft lace and curious blue eyes. He wishes it was as salacious as it sounded in his mind.

“Oh, Mary.” He’s far too amused for a day this hectic. How long was his nap earlier? It must have been a good one, he can hardly even remember. Her dark eyes land on his, she’s already losing patience. Rude, he’s only pestered her a handful of times today. All before the festivities started.

He knows e x a c t l y where her line is and he places himself just on the edge of it, where Jesus can still exist as a whisper between their forms but he’s still far enough away she won’t step back from him; even if he puts her on edge. It was a game he enjoyed playing and finding all the rules to. One day, he would break them.

One day.

Well, this is certainly longer than your mother’s nightgown,” he comments, that Georgian accent keeping his tone low enough to be just for them. “But what is this? A spaghetti strap?” He moves to pop the offending item and stops just short, a wind gust away from untouched skin and things he thinks about at night.

His eyes dark dart to her face, a smile breaking across his own. “You harlot, you.”

Maybe the words hit too close to their metaphorical home, or maybe he’s struck a cord, because there’s a hint of embarrassment under her usual stern whisper of, ”Friday. Please!”

He’s smirking again, and if that expression wasn’t appropriate for children it isn’t appropriate for Nico either. He tugs on the chain around his neck and presses a glossy black cross between his lips to hide the expression. But oh, it still tastes like Jack Rabbit.

Well, if that wasn’t heinous.

Friday never did like for his food to touch. He was lucky in that it often didn’t. His Jack belonged in hell and his Mary in heaven and himself somewhere far above. Able to keep them separated by a red door like the line of a knife between his plate.

“Don’t chastise me, I haven’t done anything.” Yet. Today? No. This hour? Perhaps. Does it count as sinning if it all stays in his head? Probably. He should repent. Confess. He knows his favorite position for it...

Nico doesn’t believe him in the slightest if that look is anything to go off of. He supposes he should feel worse for wear, but he simply drops the charm from his mouth and offers her a complicit shrug. He looks her over again, more curious than examining. “Wipe that blush off your face. It’s hot, Mary dear. You deserve a little light weight. Otherwise you’d be sweatin’ like a hooker in church.”

He’s seen a hooker in church. It’s a beautiful sight.

He’s smirking again.

Something passed his shoulder catches her attention and if he bristles at that well, it’s his business alone. His good mood dissipates and he wants to call her back, but she murmurs an excuse and shifts passed him. He supposes he’ll be in her prayers tonight, at the very least.

Though, again, not quite as exciting as it sounds. When she’s asking for forgiveness on his part and not begging for a lack of description.

Ah well, what was the proverb? Beggars can’t be choosers? Though he supposes John Heywood had never tasted La Basílica’s particular brand of religion.

Shame.

He watches as Nico catches up to her brother just in time to direct his attention away from Daddy Knox, and thinks that’s probably for the best, until Luca’s caught on him. Friday can’t blame him, he is quite noteworthy, and yet…

Ah, he’s coming over now. With Damon.

Oh joy.

Hallelujah.

Praise the Heavens.

This is going to be the highlight of his evening.

He wants a nap.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nico Pastor Character Portrait: Friday Knapp Character Portrait: Hackett Deimos Character Portrait: Blue Victoria Character Portrait: Luca Pastor Character Portrait: Damon Soto Character Portrait: Isa Nash Character Portrait: Jack Soto Character Portrait: Knox Xanthi Character Portrait: Magdalene M. Vega
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Image Guess she’s never really been one for church unless you count the little things; God showing up in the friend who calls to check in when motel lights paint you like stained glass and tawny knuckles burn white at the edges. Communion looking like long distance calls. It’s not that long ago when she sat perched on the curb like an alley cat catching whatever stray light she could from cars passing by, phone pressed to her ear, wondering why fragmented prayers make it to her and never God. Just leak out of the receiver and leave her in a pool of neon. She’s starting to think the flood’ll find her anywhere, wet footprints her insignia.

I wanna do better is something Isa doesn’t have the words to articulate, settles for fishing psalms out of the back of some stranger’s throat, crumbling walls a quiet bystander when the same story gets rewritten in hopes that one’ll stick. But she’s learned seeing the world in darkened colors isn’t without it’s lighter moments. In the morning she’ll wake up on another side of town, light a cigarette like that’s just what you do and listen hard for the sound of the ocean receding as far away as possible. Maybe off to better places, distant shores. The Santa Monica coastline’s nice this time of year, so she hears. That’s all it’s been as of yet; hearsay. A random note in her phone among other places she’ll land in eventually, once she’s got a leg to stand on. Once she’s got a little something going that’s just for her.

A parent’s sins cling like curses, a constant orchestra just for the dysfunctional, somethin only God himself could lift if he was in the business of unburdening wayward souls. It’s a relationship. That’s what her grandma preached. You gotta meet him halfway, have to reciprocate, accept his love and his grace. Isa’s got an idea or two; namely slitting her brother's throat and offering up his transgressions to the dirt. Her sacrifice for a God that’s gotta be shown some measure of deference. The first fruits. It’s not a joke -- she loves her brother every other day. But someone’s got to laugh and Isa’s not shy about it, use to tracing soft fingers along the aging wood of church pews and wondering if this vessel of a body would still float come monsoon season, come high tide. Grandma always said she was stubborn for the sake of being so. Would chalk her current lifestyle up to it if she was alive to witness the sacrilege.

Maybe there’s a version of the universe where we don’t settle for matted hair against headboards and bus tickets, for chapped hands in mountainside towns that echo as much as her wallet. She’s just not sure where it is and the search is exhausting. Makes mistaking enmity for piety behind black rimmed eyes that much easier. (Though, calling it a mistake at this point is lending her far too much grace.)

The desert stretches out for miles just to come to a head at the dip of her collar bones, dry air snagging her skin with an eagerness only met by a certain boy in Phoenix, by an elder’s endless attempts at outreach. She’s part of the EMC crowd -- easter, mother’s day, christmas -- and even when shit got strained, she could at least say she made to God’s house on those days. Had vague ideas of the passover. This is something different and if she’d had a calendar out it’s safe to say she might’ve avoided the whole thing had He granted her the wisdom. But she’s been rocking steady on E. Soles rubbed raw tryna put one foot in front of the other. Passing up a free bed while she’s passing through would be dumb, and Isa hadn’t made it this far denying a hand out sans strings. From a good God fearing girl no less.

It’s more infectious than she imagined, more enticing than a wayward soul would like to give it credit for. In all honesty, it may be the establishment’s lack of pristine sanctimony that catches her eye. From the blonde headed apollo with a pocket knife for a smile hovering over the sun starved flock to the leather clad preacher, there’s an undercurrent that lends to something a little dishonest in its gait. Or maybe they’re speaking more truth than most are willing to slip past closed lips and hands clasped in prayer. The thought lives just behind her eyelids and nags at her brain, maybe that’s why she doesn’t dip after the first day of the festival. Doesn’t peel away from the mosaic of faces around her all hovering around their lord and savior’s eternal flame.

A free cot feels more comfortable by the day, tame’s the voice in her mind that’s been tried and tested by habit, says it’s been nice but there’s more to see elsewhere. And there is. The festival only builds as the days go by and Isa stays as tucked away as a heathen could. Watches various workers flit to and fro all in the service of their Lord, a good deed gone unreciprocated to the naked eye. She may as well have carried the devil in on her shoulder (sure feels like he’s camped out up there sometimes), like it’s painfully obvious she didn’t come for the opportunity to worship. She simmers under the weight of collective gazes for a bit, loses her train of thought in festival food, in watching tanned faces spin circles in the courtyard and trying to place the most common faces to their positions in the church hierarchy. No one ever gives her the third degree that she’s expecting.

In fact, and it’s strange to say, but the festival almost reminds Isa of home. Of biting God in the wrist and feeling teeth crack left and right. Of tip toeing the line that keeps revelry at bay. Insurrection could almost be religion when you do it right, but the way Fiestas Patronales de San Salvador rolls off her tongue like gravel leaves her curious, at the very very least. There's something about God Bless You’s from the mouths of mothers when so much as a shoulder collides; all blackberries and powdered sugar, a summers worth of restitution clinging sticky-sweet to ragged teeth. All Isa can think is I might believe it when you say it like that.

Isa’s peeling petals off a rose and watching the pious to her profane get their fill in before the festival finally winds down when a familiar face approaches. Committed like she was there when Isa’s will power had an affair and divorced itself from her better judgement, though the jury’s still out as to whether or not that eagerness is just the spillage of being a good host or a preacher’s girl sniffing out the riffraff. “Right -- hey,” she pushes cherry stem curls out of her face and let’s recognition wash over as the bristle in her spine fades to nothing. For something to be so unlike her usual scene, Isa could honestly say she was enjoying her time. Here the weather hardly shifts like a dog on it’s last legs, provides a tame kind of consistency that her brain can appreciate in spurts such as this.

“I am, actually. Never thought I’d say that about a church event. Guess y’all just have a different vibe or something.” Or something. Roses by the bunch and a priest to match; lamentations and praises alike thicker than tar. The combinations usually enough to spook anybody. Still, everything’s gotta come to an end at one point or another. And it’s not like Isa came to the desert to reify God. He's made it more than clear to her that restitution rings loud and true when you listen for it -- she's just not in the habit of listening these days. Remembers when her hearing got selective as a child at dinner time. Remembers February hanging overhead, a pastel backdrop reminding her the years don't last as long as the days and perhaps there’s a little something behind the idea of foresight. You can't take the world from someone else's shoulders when your own spine's been set to snap, but youngins always try, don't they? Roll in like a freak storm in the dead of the night, dissipate completely when there's nothing left to destroy. Nothing left to drown.

It’s a shame things can’t be easy anymore. Like orange peels boiling on the stove top, southern saints reminding everyone to just be a simple kinda man and everything'll work out the way it should. Isa knew better than most that nostalgia only softened edges better left anatomically correct -- and she had a surgeon's precision when it came to taking a scalpel to the soft skin of days long passed -- but she’s far too removed to let ancient history pull itself off the shelf.

Or she will be, once she figures out how long someone has to be gone before you stop looking for them on every street corner.

“Anyway, I’m not in a hurry to get where I’m going, you know? Just trying to enjoy the whole thing while I’m here.”

“Thanks, by the way.”


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Nico Pastor Character Portrait: Friday Knapp Character Portrait: Hackett Deimos Character Portrait: Blue Victoria Character Portrait: Luca Pastor Character Portrait: Damon Soto Character Portrait: Isa Nash Character Portrait: Jack Soto Character Portrait: Knox Xanthi Character Portrait: Magdalene M. Vega Character Portrait: Sophie Victoria
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Jack has seen the desperation of man; on his knees, bent backward, flesh digging into walls or dragging red marks into skin with concrete kisses.

Every morning brings in a new sin to behold, a revelation in sweet sacrilege that leaves Jack a quaking mess just waiting for the other dime to drop. The cash to be settled along nightstands, beside rosary beads laid out for safe keeping. He is a brand of faithful that reeks of gratification.

But aren't they all? A group of living pigments existing on the same color wheel of faith whether in the light, or in the dark of a room bathed red. Bleeding out over bedsheets with hands formed into fists. Pleasure in the house of god. The scandal it could be (that it is.) That he intensely enjoys.

Today is the kind of day that dregs these thoughts into tangible form. A busy day, only slightly off from his usual routine - or as much of a routine as he can manage between quick fucks and worship.

He is standing naked, staring at the mess of his bed and wondering when he'll get the energy to clean it up a little. He's a mess, from head to toe, internally and externally to the greatest extent. A trait that had never failed him the grief of others. And yet, with the sheer amount of fucks he gives (none) he still feels that crippling insecurity from a childhood of hard-hands.

After all, some shadows exist only as reminders of missing shapes with nowhere left to go. Afterimages burned onto retinas 'forever more.' He can still hear them if he thinks about it for too long. Long-suffering sighs and disappointed looks. Something, everything, that should be forgotten and yet that still balances on a tightrope in his head.

He should be more lively today.

Fiestas Patronales de San Salvador.

An event in full swing that will no doubt gather plenty of attention to feed his escapism. Theres nothing better than worship under the sheets. And he knows that today is for sinners just as much as for saints (Where La Basilica is concerned.) He wants to indulge as much as possible, only partially for the money. More so for the feeling of skin pressed to his. Tearing at him with the ferocity of a repressed beast.

Clothes first. There are steps to take today, and none of them include walking through the church with his dick hanging out. That usually came later, during those delightfully panicky moments of wondering how he would find the discarded garments without running into at least one person. Maybe, for the sake of the church itself he'd avoid the party usually responsible for that - or, maybe the thought of being caught indulging those darker fantasies makes it even better.

His own groaning snaps him from thought. He glances south, sighs, and drags his clothes on painfully slowly.

"Not the time." He reminds himself. "So not the fucking time."

Adding fuel to the fire that will no doubt be in that damned smirk that haunts him. Talk about afterimages...he isn't so sure he'll ever get away from those pretty blue eyes. Doesn't think he'll ever want to.

After dressing, with few other interruptions from his own constantly churning mind he manages to gather as much of the mess in the room as he can. Presentability aside, he needs the room to make even more of a mess later. It only takes him half the time as it took him to get himself together in the first place. He feels particularly slow today like his skin is crawling at the thought of moving with any haste. Yet there's something frantic about the way he leaves, an excitement building on top of what has already been built.

This is what he's fucking built for.

A whore is a whore, but some of them do it far better than others. None of them are here to be the victim, they're tied too deeply into the foundations of the La Basilica network for that brand of 'worker'. No. Enjoyment, on their ends, is just as deeply connected to this pretty crime of theirs. And nobody can claim that Jack doesn't enjoy every fucking minute of this place - well, shit, that's only half true. His hands graze the scar, that damned reminder of one of the few times in his life he's been truly fearful of this 'job.' A bullet is probably the least fun thing to have penetrated him.

He can think of a dozen other things he'd have rather it been...

"Nope. No. Stop that." He mumbles to himself quickly, quickening his pace as if to outrun the sudden barrage of interesting things sparking to life. On his way out he spots probably one of the worst things for his frayed edges at that very moment - then again, setting him off isn't exactly hard.


But rather than let himself be bullied by his own fucking body, he steers himself headfirst into the danger zone. Blue Victoria is an interesting addition to the troupe. In the way that makes Jack want to find the nearest hole to crawl in and hide. Fear, having nothing at all to do with it. More so, the fact that he seems to lack the necessary self-preservation to keep himself from indulging in things of a dangerous nature.

Blue, is a thing of a dangerous nature. One that Jack is sure could quite literally tear anyone he damn well pleases apart. Human confetti.

"Blue." Jack greets, "Off to the hunt?" the likeness of predator and prey isn't an exaggeration. However not all of the occupants of this place had decided to mingle with the crowd. Plenty of them had their steady flow of customers, and more so no doubt there were secrets being sold for silence above as he spoke. But Jack liked being among the crowd, pretending to be just another normal person on another normal day.

"Well," He looks past Blue, malcontent with standing still for too long when he could be doing other things. "I'm heading out, feel free to join." And with that, and one final smile of a not-so-innocent nature. He slips away and heads into the light of day.

~*~


He's overdressed, stifled by the heat of cloth fabric clinging tightly to his body. While dressed to seem less vagrant than usual, his casual wear isn't exactly his sunday best - quite the opposite in fact. His earlier excitement has faded into dull nothing, gazing without seeing over the vastness of the festival before him. There's something spectacular in the way that they have gathered so many various people under this singular guise of a holy event.

There are more than enough people who have gotten their fingers dug deep, past his skin and into the bones below. Branding like a hot iron against his soul. None of them, up until recently had been capable of claiming their place as 'god' in him. Sacrilege, bittersweet on the tip of his tongue.

He spots his target quickly, being accosted by Luca and Damon of all people. For a moment, Jack considers turning back around and finding something else to do. Lord knows there's plenty of people here to bother. However, he isn't going to change course just because of the annoyance that is his own flesh and goddamned blood. Then again, Luca also looks like he means business, and interrupting business is never in Jacks personal interests.

So, with the casual confidence, only someone who spends most of their time unclothed can master, he sidles towards Friday. Casually lets his fingers brush against the other, barely there. Not enough for anybody to notice or call him out on. He looks up, feels his breath quickening by the second. He shoots a meaningful look towards Luca and Damon.

"Come find me." He whispers. And then, as if he hadn't been there in the first place he departs.