Peter came into the store again yesterday. He came to collect his Diltiazem prescription, and asked me again if I was still worshiping “the Lord of This World”. I smiled, and told him that I still wasn’t ready for his fairy tales. We make this exchange - or something like it - every time he comes in.
The problem is, I don’t think he’s joking.
Peter is a priest. I’m pretty sure he’s retired, but he still wears the collar. He’s old. If I had to guess, I’d put him somewhere between my father and my grandfathers in age. Of course, my father looks about my age, and my grandfathers might be in their thirties. (I have two surviving great-grandparents: one looks to be just hitting forty, and the other has begun to change. I don’t think ‘youthful’ is the right word for the sort of vitality she has, but she’s certainly active.)
But Peter worships a false god, and the years have withered him. His hair is white, he’s shrunken and frail, and his hands shake when he reaches for his medication. But every month he comes in, and every month he confronts me... almost.
The church knows about us. At least, the Catholic and the Greek Orthodox do. They know there are people who worship the Old Ones, and they have some idea what the Old Ones are like. Nobody seems to be sure what the Protestants know, but it can’t be much or I’d have heard about it. They threw away too much history when they separated themselves from Rome. I don’t know how Peter recognized me, or how much he really understands; but I think, somehow, he recognized my allegiance.
There have always been people who were sensitive to outside influences. Many of them join us, but the ones who don’t are often our most dangerous opponents. I think Peter might be one of them. I think so, but I’m not sure. He never presses the issue, and I never ask him why he says what he says to me.
If I knew - for certain - that he knows what I am, I’d have to kill him. I don’t want to have to kill him. He seems like a nice old guy. Plus, murder is risky. If I changed his prescription, substituted something else, I could take him out easily... but I could lose my license or end up in jail, just as easily. With my value so diminished, I can't count on my fellow worshipers to help me out.
I think Peter knows that, too. That’s why he never accuses me of anything specific. If he did, one of us would have to kill the other. I don’t want to, and I don’t think he’s up to it. So we just keep moving on. Where does it end? I suppose we'll see.