Soon: Chapter 18: Call Me Phyllis
Paul moseyed around the trading floor a few minutes…
Meh, it’s just a government investigation of two missing persons and possible financial crimes. No need to rush.
Then, Paul’s keen bloodhound senses pick up the unmistakable odor of peanut butter.
Sadly, it turns out that one of the traders is having a sammich at her desk, so Paul continues to mosey.
A woman is raising a small ailanthus tree in her tiny cubicle, which seems like a decision that would be both short-lived and very annoying to her coworkers, if you can smell peanut butter all day from yards away. Hey, I like peanut butter, but that would get really old really fast.
Paul stalks the woman out of the building, but loses sight of her in the street.
Someone plucked his sleeve. He tried to jerk away, but the tug was insistent. He turned and found the same street person he had given money to clutching his coat, pointing past him with a filthy hand. There she is! “Thanks,” Paul said, darting after his quarry. How did he know?
OMG THE HOMELESS GUY WAS JESUS ALL ALONG!!!
Guess that’ll teach us all to shove dollar bills into the hands of homeless people so they’ll go away, right? Because you never know when ONE OF THEM WILL BE JESUS.
Paul chases down the woman and bonds with her over the displays in front of the New York Stock Exchange: “a mammoth mobile of the spinning planets. Behind it, a zodiacal chart loomed.”
Apart from calling them “silly,” these two religious folks have no other thoughts on “real religion” versus astrology.
Paul shakes the woman’s hand and passes her an ailanthus leaf as he does so. So they go to a deli (because they’re in New York City), and they introduce themselves, no doubt while having pastrami on rye.
“Call me Phyllis,” the woman said.
Oh, and turns out that the cursing-and-disappearing employee was named Dolores. Because these ladies are Noo York dames, don’tcha know?
Paul quotes two sentences out of the Bible at Phyllis, which is enough for this savvy New Yorker to respond, “You seem to know what you’re talking about,” and spill her guts about being a Christian.
Whereupon Paul, who easily memorized two verses, just as anyone could, arrests Phyllis for being a Christian, pins the entire scandal on her, and goes to have a drink with Arthur Demetrius to celebrate.
Instead, Paul gets Phyllis’s views on the happenings at the firm, even though Phyllis really has no insider knowledge at all. She has her vague theories, of course:
“Tell me, Phyllis,” Paul said finally, “what do you think is going on at your firm?”
“I think it’s God.”
“What do you think [the guards] saw in the vault.”
Phyllis shrugged. “God. Some evidence of God.”
Thanks, Phyllis. You’re a font of useful information.
Actually, Phyllis does drop two interesting tidbits: 1) that there are over 30 believers at Demetrius and Demetrius, who are pretty open about their faith because 2) “things are a little more open here than in the rest of the country.”
So, New York is open about astrology and open about “real religion”? I wonder if Jenkins pondered the significance of this idea?
Phyllis knows nothing about the wereabouts of Dolores, and has no idea if Ephesus Demetrius had anything to do with it. So again, good that Paul has found such a great inside source.
“What about Arthur?” [Paul asked]
“Arthur idolizes his older brother. But he was never as ruthless. We pray for him.”
“You what? For Demetrius?”
“Of course. We’re supposed to love our enemies.”
Your enemy? Damn, Dolores, what did Arthur ever do to you besides give you a job at an incredibly prestigious and successful company?
“That can’t be easy though, can it, Phyllis?”
She hesitated. “No, but when you think about it, it’s a privilege.”
“I think I’d be tempted to pray he would come to a bad end,” Paul said.
“Oh no, sir. We pray for his salvation.”
And damn, Paul, what did Arthur ever do to you? Gee, I can see that your conversion has really changed you, made you into a better and kinder man.
What Would Jesus Do?
Pray for a nonbeliever to come to a bad end.