Hearing that, [the religious leaders] walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
“No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”
Friday, July 20, 11:29 am
“You’re too old to do anything except order other people around, yeah, I’ve noticed.” I cannot believe that Daniel says this to Paul, who is older and more experienced than him. Of all the ungrateful, nasty things – when Paul has done so much to help free me from my car! It was his good advice that got the Hummer turned off, and his insight that showed the way to extract me.
Quite frankly, I don’t think much of Daniel, for all he says he’s a firefighter. His language is altogether too crude, and I don’t trust people who swear. It shows a lack of mental intelligence.
“Daniel!” I exclaim, before Paul can say anything. Paul shouldn’t have to defend his wisdom to an idiot like this guy. “I think you owe Paul an apology. Paul has been a real help, and you’re wronging him, and you should apologize. In fact, I completely agree with everything Paul has said, and that puts you in the minority.”
“This isn’t a democracy,” Daniel shoots back. “I know the hazards of this situation, and your stubbornness is going to get you killed and I refuse to let that happen, even if you don’t believe it will.”
“Nothing worse is going to happen, and we aren’t going anywhere. That’s final.” I cross my arms and set my face firmly, using the Don’t You Dare Argue With Me, Young Man body language that works so well on Michael. The effect is probably marred by the fact that Daniel can’t actually see much of my body through the darn dust, and my face is a smudgy mess, but he can certainly hear my tone. I ache all over, and I can’t imagine clambering over all the rubble and debris I can just barely make out looming all around us.
I’ve steadfastly refused a face covering, I already feel mostly-suffocated, and I couldn’t imagine trying to breathe through a cloth on top of everything else. Daniel tried to say that we could choke on the dust, but I’m sure I’ve coughed everything out, and now I have water to rinse my mouth, I’m much better.
We’re in a kind of clearing, an open space that Paul and Daniel created by heaving some cement blocks – part of the ceiling? – out of the way. My car is one wall, and there’s a kind of gap between the other cars around, so this seems like a pretty good space. I’m sitting on Paul’s jacket for some padding; we have water from the Hummer, and Paul has uncooked hot dogs. I don’t relish (har, har) eating raw hot dogs, but I think they’re actually pre-cooked and BBQing them actually just warms them up, so it’s probably okay. Paul checked the cars around us and all those people are beyond helping – he told me not to look, so I’ve avoided looking in the shattered windows. This is a good place, we can wait for help here about as comfortably as anywhere. More comfortably than if we try to move around, that’s for sure.
Daniel personifies all I dislike in younger people. I can’t tell how old he is, maybe in his early 30s, probably around 15 years younger than me. His casual approach to everything is dangerous, you can tell that just by hearing his voice, and he simply will not listen to reason – I suspect that he never actually learned to reason from the data at all, and just goes by his “gut feel,” whatever that means. Kids don’t learn reasoning skills in school these days, it’s why all those new grads who keep replacing the old guard at work are doing such a terrible job. They’re running the company into the ground, but management, of which I should be one even though I’ve been wrongfully passed over, keeps hiring young people to fill positions. Not that there are that many openings these days. Plenty of people were laid off not so long ago, and yet now they’re hiring again. What’s that about?
That’s when I remember my meeting. An indescribable feeling fills my stomach, a combination of dread, disappointment, sense of unfairness, and frustration, leavened with a little bit of hope and my innate optimism. I can’t help but think things will work out for the best, even though my entire life has been one slow downward slide. “What time is it?” I ask, which seems apropos of nothing to the guys, both of whom look at me questioningly – or so I assume, since they’re both wearing those ridiculous face masks made from ripped up fabric that obscure half their faces.
“What?” Daniel asks, while Paul glances instinctively at his wrist, then shakes his head ruefully.
“Sorry, my watch seems a bit worse for the wear,” he tells me, holding his wrist out so I can see the shattered LCD screen.
“My meeting – it was supposed to start at 9:00, and I’ve probably missed it by now,” I explain. “I hope those rescue guys come soon. I really need to get back to the office and start repairing the damage my missing this meeting caused. It was a big meeting, I was responsible for it, the client’s going to be wondering where I was. I’m sure Shane screwed up without me there.”
Daniel snorts, another indication of his general uncouthness. “I wouldn’t worry too much about Shane screwing up,” he says, drily. “He’s probably dealing with a mess the same as we are.”
“Well, no, I don’t think so,” I tell him. “I don’t know what caused this collapse—”
“Dammit, an EARTHQUAKE!” Daniel shouts. “A fucking HUMONGOUS EARTHQUAKE! How stupid are you? Haven’t you heard us talking about aftershocks? Do you think tunnels just collapse out of the blue?!” He makes this incredibly insulting, derogatory noise with his nose, a sort of exhalation of disgust.
I clench my jaw. His outburst has just about put me over the edge, I’m about to give him a piece of my mind. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo: Day 12”