Re: Sunday Service: Mercy/Shiloh
Out of place, that was the sign they should've hung on Shiloh's crib when he came out caterwauling and unwanted. He reasoned there'd never been time for things like signs. There had been a baby to move, hide, smuggle and adopt, and that was how all the lies in his life began. They started in one messy tale concocted by two women and as a result of one man's ill-behaved cock, and all that led him here, to this overheated outfit outside a church as white as this white town.
The man in front of him was a welcome splotch of color on a landscape painted in shades of nothing. Boring. Repose was easy, and easy was dreadfully boring.
Instead of thinking about his flock and their pressed linen and sanctimonious souls, he thought about cars. "Mercedes, if you'll forgive me, doesn't seem to suit," he offered. He meant it. This was Shiloh at his kindest, blunt but softened by a drawl that still clung to the South's syrup with defiant slowness. Vaguely British sounding, as if Plantation owners never quite accepted being American, but more proper than his voice ever sounded during a normal day of filth and frolic. Jail had changed him, but not in the way you expected jail to change a man. "Mercy softens you. Is that the intention?" he asked, as if he was asking about someone's need for religious succor.
"Please," he added, "Leo." The name soured his stomach, despite becoming accustomed with it over the last year, but he wanted that to continue being something that happened. He wanted that man's name to sit like a rock in the gut and to boil in acid and bile. But the offering of his first name, rather than 'Father,' was made with a benign smile. "Mr. Browning, if that's considered too familiar," he went on. Youth smiled under that sun, and he laughed a soft laugh at the comment about tracking down an aunt. Laughing, Shiloh's normal laugh, was all teeth and a hint of mayhem, and it wasn't at all proper for a pastor standing in the shadow of a church's spire. This laugh was milquetoast and ordinary, and nothing like Shiloh at all.
"I've heard rumors, but you know how small towns are," he added, glancing over at the congregation with a soft smile of beneficence. "I think this is a good fit for me, so I'll have to ask forgiveness for being thankful that my predecessor found greener pastures. I'll assume we're both where God intended."