“That time I went to Bible group, when I prayed to God to grant me a wish? I said look, God, if you want me to believe in you, this is what you’ve got to do, alright? Give me a family. I wasn’t thinking, give me a wife or a kid or nothing like that, I know I don’t have no kids and I don’t want a wife, not at my age. I was thinking maybe, just maybe…”
Paul smiles encouragingly. He can see that Trevor, for the first time since he’s known him (but then, he hasn’t known him very long) is overcome with emotion. His eyes narrow in an effort to hold back tears, the knuckles on the steel table clench.
“I was thinking maybe he’d find my mum, after all these years. It would’ve been a real hard ask, yeah, but he’s God, he can do what the fuck he wants, so no harm in asking him. I didn’t really expect him to come up with the goods, I thought the whole Jesus thing was a load of bullshit to be honest, but then…he did. Jesus gave me a family. A sister, a nephew, two nieces, a whole bunch of other folks too, but it was her that turned up. So I said to God, fair’s fair, Lord, you answered my prayer, when I didn’t even believe in you, so now I got to keep my end of the bargain, right? Cause I never break a promise, Paul, that’s me. I always keep my word.”
Paul is really moved. He speaks into the phone. “That’s a really wonderful story, Trevor. I’m so glad your sister found you, that must make a real difference to…”
Life in here, he means to say. Trevor wipes at his eyes with his free hand. “Yeah mate, it gives me hope, you know what I mean? Like, this place isn’t it for me, it’s not like, all I’m ever gonna be. I got someone who cares about me and you know what? Even though we never met before and she didn’t even know she had a half brother let alone one who’s in the fucking slammer for, you know, bad stuff, she does care about me. She’s a real nice lady…I’ve been lucky, and it’s all down to God, right? So, I guess it’s about time I paid him back, that’s what I’m thinking now. He did me a favour, now it’s my turn.”
And that’s an excerpt from the novel I’m currently working on, The Point of Us. The story involves Paul, a Catholic school teacher who signs up to visit Trevor, a maximum security prisoner and former hitman. Trevor’s recently got religion, and wants to explore, with Paul, the topic of God. Now this is HARD for an atheist. I don’t know what it feels like to love God, or believe in Him. I’ve read the Bible but I don’t find it convincing, let alone inspiring. So why is faith so important to Paul? And how does Trevor come to believe?
I guess you could call this cultural appropriation; an atheist trying to imagine herself into the skin of a devout believer! Not to mention a law-abiding citizen trying to worm her way into the soul of a murderer for hire. It’s certainly a challenge…