Who: Jean and Reverend Conrad What: Shopping When: November 18th, midday Where: Downtown Tucson Rating: Low Status: Complete
Something I get the feeling you’re still looking for.
By the time the truck had gotten them to the center of town, Jean felt a sense of excitement to be somewhere else. Didn’t look like much to her, some cowboy town out of the old west. Still, a new hotel was being constructed and it seemed a decent amount of people were settling down there. She did marvel at the desert landscape and the way it felt like early fall at the beginning of winter. Maybe traveling had been exactly what she’d always needed.
As the car came to a stop she turned to the reverend and offered him a sly smile. “I ain’t never been to a town like this before, reckon I best keep by my Reverends side.” She teased before she launched herself out of the truck and onto the gravel of the road. Offering a hand to Willis she pulled him out with a laugh bubbling in her throat. She couldn’t help the flirtation, life was easier when all men thought of her was that her head was filled with air.
“We’ll need to find produce. I’m just going to tell you, this ain’t no quick process, it’s going to take a couple of days.” She warned him, turning on her heels to make their way into town.
Will turned the engine off and joined Jean on the street. There were quite a few people around as it was the prime part of the day. “If I’ve learned anything, my dear, it’s patience.” He said, walking in step beside her as they moved down the street. ‘Sins’ buzzed around him as people passed. It took everything he had not to distract himself by whispering in the cute couples ear, planting doubts of… fertility. Oh, that was a good one.
His fist clenched at his side as they passed the couple and approached the shop. “So, I should ask… what brought you to Zion?” A good conversation would distract him.
She peered over at him now as they made their way to the market area. She liked the Reverend, sure, but was she ready to divulge her secrets to him? She supposed it was alright to gloss over some of the facts. “My daddy died and I found out he had another kid.” She began, hooking her arm around Wills. Men were easy to play so long as she didn’t show all of her cards.
“Turns out that kid worked as an animal handler at Zion. Momma hates me and I never met my brother so I came to find him.” Simple, that was the best way to answer his question, without all the details that might make her vulnerable. Plenty of Reverends tried to have their way with her so it was smart of her to assume Reverend Conrad could be that type too. “What about you?” Maybe if she pointed the question back at him he might not try to delve deeper.
Daddy issues. Mommy issues. Not unique, but he could work with it. “Me?” Will shrugged. “The carnival was set up in a town I had been calling my home and they were looking for someone at the church who could preside over a funeral.” He explained. “Shortly after I found myself staying with. That was a long time ago.” He’d been in the carnival for fifteen years. Those who’d known him from before knew he hadn’t aged, but newer people just assumed he was younger when he joined.
“So, did you have much experience with big cats before you came to have your own show?” He inquired as he opened the door of the shop for her.
They grew near to the market and she thought carefully before she answered. “Just always been around big cats is all. Plenty of mountain lions in Montana.” She replied, hoping that was the end of that conversation. The only one who knew about her shifting was Nic and that was because he was a shifter too, and of course her brother. Maybe if she got to know the Reverend a bit better.
“When I was a kid we took one in for a bit. He was injured and needed to heal. Ever since I just learned how to communicate with felines.” Of course that was an outright lie, only other way she was willing to explain her purpose there, even if it was twisting the truth.
“What made you want to become a Reverend?” She retorted, since most she knew felt themselves a higher tier than herself.
He could feel, what he considered to be, people’s sins. “I was given a second chance at life, and felt it the best way to give back.” Willis had never learned what he was, just that he had no memories prior to that day waking up in the field, he had gifts and didn’t age. Wouldn’t you come up with a similar line of thought as he had? “So, I took up the collar.” His fingers raised to the clerical collar at his neck. “It gave me purpose…” He tilted his head slightly at Jean. “Something I get the feeling you’re still looking for.”
Her eyes widened at his reply and let go of his arm as soon as he said she was looking for purpose. She regarded him as they finally made it to the shop and shook her head. “Well you couldn’t be more wrong Reverend. I don’t need a purpose to be who I am.” The whole idea that he thought she needed one was insulting to say the least. She liked the Reverend sure but he told her he wasn’t trying to convert her. Looks like that didn’t last long.
She made her way ahead of him into the shop and approached the shopkeeper with her million dollar smile. “Well hey there handsome. I was hoping you could help me.” She flashed her teeth at him before leaning over the counter. A cheap trick she used to get things she wanted by putting her chest on display.
Will was mildly amused at how offended she got. If anything it proved his point. Oh, the Reverend didn’t seek to convert her, no. He had plenty in his flock, and more than enough sins listened to he was forced to ‘forgive’ on behalf of god and not punish- thanks to his agreement with Verner. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t find meaning in her life. If taming animals was part of that, then good for her. But he suspected that she could do more in life. Watching her interaction with the clerk made that clear.
As the clerk went about grabbing the items for them, Willis came up beside Jean. “My apologies, I didn’t mean to offend.” He said with a polite nod. “I didn’t mean to insinuate that you do not know who you are. I’ve just found that most who’s life have recently gone through abrupt changes as yours… don’t always find their footing right away. It takes them a bit to realize their full potential.”
He pulled out some money to pay for the items. As the clerk set them on the counter and totaled everything up he felt that familiar buzz. Oh, bad boy. I don’t think you’re boss would appreciate you stealing from him. Whether the boy had in the past or not, Willis couldn’t really tell, but the fact that he would was clear in his mind and he took that as proof that it had happened before. As he pulled a coin from his pocket, his shadow briefly enveloped it before he handed the money to the boy. Leaning in, he pulled the boy close and whispered in his ear. He then pulled the canvas bag from his jacket and placed the ordered items inside. “Shall we?” He asked, turning to Jean.
The sad part about all of this was that Reverend Conrad was right. She had no idea what her purpose was, now that daddy wasn’t around. He’d raised her and showed her the ways of a shifter her whole life, and now he was gone. “Suppose things are a bit fresh. It’s only been a couple of months.” She could almost vividly remember the dreams she’d had after he died, about her mother stabbing her again and again, or hunters poaching her as she was shifted. It frightened her to close her eyes sometimes.
She flashed a quick smile at the clerk as they grabbed their items and made their way out of the store. “I never really had much of a future. If my daddy was still alive and I stayed home in Montana, I’d have probably married some farmer and given him a litter of kids.” The thought made her shiver. She’d flirted with men before and almost came close a couple of times by force but if she got married, she’d have to be with him intimately.
Will nodded as they approached the door. They opened it just as the clerk let out a small yelp and began frantically patting down his pants to extinguish the small fire as the coin he’d slipped into his pocket ignited the fabric. May he learn from this sin and be a better man for it. the Reverend thought.
Catching the ruckus behind her she gasped but backed out of the doors anyway. The smug look on the Reverends face suggested it wasn’t just some freak accident, but an act of purpose. As they made some distance from the shop she looked over at Will. “I don’t mean to be forward, but was that you just did that in there?” If Jean was anything, she was bold and when she wanted answers she got them.
It hadn’t occurred to her that other people might be different like she was, outside of the realms of possibility. If she could shift into a mountain lion, maybe the Reverend had some tricks up his sleeve too. “You don’t have to lie to me Rev, I know things happening in this world you wouldn’t believe.” Although he would, because that’s what Zion was. She was beginning to realize that it wasn’t at all what it seemed.
He shook his head softly. “I did nothing but facilitate gods test. It was the boy who gave into his baser instincts and stole from his employer. And god punished.” Even though he planted the thought and cursed the coin- from his perspective if the boy had been of stronger will and a good Christian he would have been able to resist.
A brow raised to him and a chuckle ensued. “Alright Rev. If you say so. Say, is there anything else we need while we’re here? I got everything I need.” She couldn’t be bothered with his nonsense response, seemed to her like a load of bull crap and she wasn’t going to spend her time arguing with a man of god. Still, there was something familiar about him that she gravitated toward. He couldn’t be much older than she yet he reminded her a bit of her dearly departed father.
As they approached the car he opened it up and deposited a bag. “You doubt. I understand. And I wouldn’t dream of trying to convert you if you are resistant. I only follow where I’m lead and help test those who stray along the path of evil.” He didn’t even question that most he had tested failed.
“I don’t require anything else, but if you’re not eager to get back, we could walk a bit more. I believe there’s a park a few blocks over.” He offered.
She smirked over at him. “Depends. You got any more in that sneaky little flask of yours?” She said and then emitted a low purr. It was almost too silent except for the low tones that one could feel from a distance. She wasn’t above using the Reverend for his liquor.