Sanctus

My 2006 NaNoWriMo novel. Woo! Note: since I am posting as I go along, the storyline is backwards. To read this, start from the oldest post and read to the newest.

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

I am an awkward, stubborn, slightly insane woman who would rather talk Plato than Prada, rather watch Frank Capra than Carrie Bradshaw, and rather listen to Norse myths sung in Icelandic than anything currently on the radio. Yeah. Told you I was weird.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chapter 7

The car rumbled slightly as we drove over uneven pavement, headed up the I-5 North. Angie braked slightly as another car cut in front of us. "Dang it. I hate driving on the 5. It's always terrible." Another bump. I stole a glance at the spedometer: 25. Drat.
"So we're going to Los Angeles again today, I take it?"
"Yep. Well...driving through it to get to a part of its history, anyway."
"Oh." I fell silent again, staring out the window. I hadn't felt much like talking that week, and today was no exception. I'd decided to go ahead and go with Angie today, but my heart wasn't in it.
"Jason."
"Hmmph?"
"What do you want?"
I glanced at her. "What do you mean?"
"What do you want? Out of life, out of this world. Out of everything. What do you want most?"
"Um....." I didn't know. I didn't really think about it that much. I mean, I wanted a lot of things. Money. Book. CDs. A girlfriend who wouldn't die on me. But really? Deep down? "I guess...to be happy. And to be useful, productive. I don't want to be a dead weight."
"And how did you expect to get what you want?"
"I dunno. Guess I didn't expect to get it in L.A."
"Why not?"
"Um...because it's L.A."
"Why did you think that you'd find it elsewhere if you couldn't find it here."
I was about to respond, but suddenly the traffic cleared, and I saw four winged creatures, high in the air, standing guard on the right side of the freeway. "What the heck?"
"Oh, that's the Citadel. See, those are copies of those old Assyrian winged lion statues; there's more carved into the face of the building itself. See?"
I looked as we drove past. Looming out of the melee of gas stations, theaters, warehouses, and shoe stores was a huge sprawling concrete building. Winged figures in flat perspective were apparently carved into the fa¬ćade; the whole thing looked completely out of place. I saw a few banners covering parts of the building, and suddenly realized that I was looking at a modern outlet mall. "I repeat, what the heck?"
"I like that building. Someone wanted to build a grand building, that would stand out from the city around it, and they succeeded." She paused, looking over her shoulder to switch lanes, eager to get out from behind a slow-moving car. "The Citadel seems a little pointless at first, and I'll admit to wishing it was something other than an outlet mall. But it's such a great thing, to be driving down the freeway and suddenly find yourself looking at a fortress."
We drove for a little while in silence, the traffic around us intermittently slow. As we turned around slightly to the west, we passed a large complex, with a tall structure of some sort with "The Brewery" printed on it. Angie pointed to it as we passed. "See the Brewery over there? That's an old brewing complex, that's been converted to artist's studios. They have an open-to-the-public ArtWalk once a year. You should go sometime. It's in October, usually. I think Stephan Anastasios is trying to get a spot in there, but I don't know if anything's for certain yet."
Angie flicked on the blinker for a right turn, and veered onto CA 2 North, towards Glendale. "Stupid traffic. The internet said it'd only take 30 minutes, but with traffic...." She sighed. "Oh well, it's a Saturday, it's not like I have to be anywhere else. You don't, do you?"
"Nope. My time is yours today, to attempt to persuade me that there's something that makes it worth it all, right?"
"Something like that."
We took the first exit off the 2 North, and turned left. We were in a typical run-down suburban business section of town: during the few shorts blocks we drove, I saw an adult bookstore, a police station, and several liquor stores. I snorted, muttering under my breath, "Can anything good come out of LA?"
"I heard that. First off, we're technically in Glendale. Secondly, yes, much good can come out of LA, if people know how to see and harvest it."
"Whatever."
We turned right, and then right again, into a wide open space, full of green grass, marble statuary, and enclosed by iron gates. The sign said "Forest Lawn Cemetary."
"Angie?"
"Yes?"
"Why are we going to Forest Lawn?"
"Because it's now home to some people who brought great good out of LA."
I figured that she had been there before; she wound through the small streets like an expert. We parked in the middle of the cemetary, on the side of a small slope.
"Oof, time to get out." She reached into the back seat, and brought out two bouquets of flowers. Carnations, I thought. I opened the door, and swung my legs out onto the grass. This section of the cemetery looked cared-for, but not often-visited. There were no flowers on any of the graves, and some of the flat markers had sunk into the soft ground a little.
Just to the right of a large headstone, Angie stopped, and knelt down. "Here we go."
I looked at the markers she pointed at. "Hey, wasn't he one of the founders of the school?"
"Yes, one of the big three. This is his wife over here," she said, placing a hand on the next marker over.
I looked. On his grave, there was a flat bronze marker, flush with the ground. It gave his name, then the phrase "Fisher of Men," and the years 1848-1932. His wife's was more simple, with only her name, and the years 1852-1920.
Angie placed a bouquet on each grave, and sat, looking out across the graveyard. Off in the distance, I could see the hazy Los Angeles skyline.
"I think they must like being here, were they can see the city." She pointed to the skyline. "The old school building was right there, in the very heart of the downtown area, at 6th and Hope St.
"They knew what they wanted. They wanted to build a school, in the heart of the culture of the West Coast, to train men and women to go out and spread truth to the world."
I sat down, running a hand casually over the raised bronze lettering on the memorial plate. "So they found what they wanted in LA?"
"They could have found it anywhere, really. They'd learned that God can use anyone, anywhere. But certain places are more effective for certains things. They came here, because this was going to be the cultural center of the West Coast, and they could be here to shape that culture. They were hungry to tell the truth, to 'win souls,' as they would put it. They were, as they say, hungry and thirsty for righteousness. And they found it, and found it here." She took a small stiff brush out of her bag, and began cleaning the dirt and leaves from the plates. "And because they were determined to be used of God here, others have been able to find happiness and holiness in Los Angeles."
"Were they filled? I mean, they didn't see very much of the school's history, and it's very different now."
"Yes, but think of what it would be like for them. In Heaven, I mean. They've finished their earthly battle, and have gone to their reward. Slowly, the students who've died start coming up, some of them dying in the mission field. Then, souls ministered to by students start coming in, then people that those people ministered to, and so on. What a crowd it must be by now!" She looked at me suddenly, hazel eyes bright and perceptive. "Do you really think that wouldn't be filling?"
I sat for a moment, not really thinking about anything, just looking at the markers. I raised my eyes to the skyline, and for a moment, seemed to see a fortress, rising into the sky, brilliant flags flying, and a shout of many people coming home from battle. Then my eyes cleared, and the fortress resolved itself into the city skyline, and the roar of the crowds was just the noise of passing cars.

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