58: “I’m saving your wayward soul”

Robin was trying to corrupt Joey’s new life path. Joey could tell because Robin kept luring him to back alleys at night. Joey wasn’t sure what exactly Robin thought was going to happen. In fact, he was pretty sure Robin didn’t know what he thought was going to happen either. It was evident that he had no idea how illegal things occurred and seemed to be operating under the assumption that being in the wrong place at the wrong time would inevitably turn up results. Unfortunately for Robin, they lived in a reasonably safe city and instances of random crime were few and far between. Besides, he obviously had no idea where crime occurred because most of it didn’t actually happen in dimly lit back alleys at night like some campy film noir.

In any case, eventually Joey grew tired of spending time in random alleys throughout the city for no real reason. The next time Robin suggested they go out for a walk, Joey told Robin it was perfect because he needed to see a friend. Robin’s eyes lit up like Joey had just proposed he give Robin all his money plus a spare kidney. He immediately agreed and the two of them set off into the night. Joey led the way, taking them into the heart of downtown. Robin kept looking around discretely, as if he was expecting someone nefarious to jump out at them with fistfuls of heroin and drag them into the underbelly of the city, rife with crime and illegality.

And then they arrived at church and Robin turned to Joey like he had personally offended him. It was if Joey had suggested they murder someone for sport, when in fact they were only there for Bible Study. Joey flashed Robin a wicked grin and then pushed open the front doors. He chose seats beside an elderly woman named Edna, grabbing a spare Bible from the stack set out by Reverend Clarence. Robin glared at him, but did the same and then took the seat beside Joey.

“You tricked me into Bible Study?” He hissed.

“I’m saving your wayward soul,” was Joey’s nonchalant reply. Robin appeared to be seriously considering hitting Joey, possibly with the Bible, but he refrained, either because they were in the house of God or because he had skinny arms.

“Hello, brothers and sisters in Christ,” Rev. Clarence greeted them all. Robin grimaced immediately, but Joey smiled. He liked Rev. Clarence. He was friendly, kind, and funny. He was unshakeably loyal to Roehampton’s frequently pitiful hockey team and he called Joey son, which Joey’s own father stopped doing in the late 90s when Joey stole his neighbour’s skateboard and rode it off a pier at the river. Their neighbour, Todd, who also happened to be Sabrina’s ex-boyfriend, had told his own dad what Joey had done and then Todd’s dad had punched Joey’s dad in the face. Joey had grown up in a pretty rough neighbourhood.

“What am I supposed to do at Bible Study?” Robin demanded in a hushed, but annoyed whisper. Joey made sure to look at him like he was really, really stupid before answering.

“Study the Bible,” he said slowly. He’d assumed that was fairly obvious. Robin looked to be considering the merits of hitting him once again. Joey kind of wanted him to do it, if only to see what would happen in the fallout following. He pictured Robin being tossed out of Bible Study by Reverend Clarence. Joey had no way of knowing because of the black robes, but he liked to think that Rev. Clarence was quite jacked. It would be an added bonus to have a shredded minister.

“I hate you,” Robin grumbled under his breath. Joey grinned at him.

Most of the people at Bible Study were elderly women. Some of them were members of the church choir that Joey recognized from Gord’s stories. Muriel, Gord’s star soloist, was particularly keen during Bible Study. She seemed to always want things to be more dramatic and sordid than they actually were, which was a tall order for a book about immense natural disasters and sin.

“Really, when you think about it, the whole reason we’ve decided sin is even a thing is because of the Bible,” Robin said at one point, surprising Joey by actually participating in the conversation. “So I don’t really think we need to guess at whether or not Jesus had a secret romance. Like, the dude rose from the grave after sacrificing himself for all humanity. I think he’s given us enough. A juicy romance seems like it’s asking too much.”

Muriel wasn’t thrilled with his contribution, but Rev. Clarence found it fascinating. He made them discuss the origin of sin for a very long time. Robin kept adding things to the discussion, which continued to throw Joey. He couldn’t figure out Robin’s angle. It took until the very end of the hour-long Bible Study session for him to see Robin’s true motive. By then, Rev. Clarence was calling Robin son and clapping him on the shoulder as he agreed with Robin’s points with significant gusto. Muriel kept shooting Robin very intense glares. She’d been dethroned as the most popular member of Bible Study and she was displeased. This time, Joey didn’t particularly blame her. He had also been somewhat dethroned. His plan to get back at Robin had backfired. And that, he suspected, had been Robin’s plan all along.

“Muriel hates you,” Joey informed Robin as they got up to leave the church. Robin looked over to where Muriel was coincidentally glaring at him. They made eye contact and Muriel furtively looked away. Robin turned back to Joey and shrugged.

“Muriel may not like me, but I’ll always have God,” Robin replied with a smile that grew wide and sharp as he spoke. “He sacrificed his only son for my sins. There’s no love purer than that.”

Rev. Clarence clapped Robin on the shoulder yet again.

“Yes, son!” He said exuberantly. “That’s right!”

Robin turned back to Joey and grinned again. Joey narrowed his eyes at him, but he was mostly unbothered. He wouldn’t be bringing Robin back to Bible Study again, but he suspected Robin wouldn’t be luring him into back alleys either. Robin had turned up victorious once, but there was no way he had enjoyed Bible Study enough to keep coming back.

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