My Kind of Town
>> Queen's Medical Center
"I always knew we were different," Lily Ah Sun said after her brother Laird left her cousin Quinn's room. Well, her former cousin. And Laird had recently been downgraded to half-brother. "I figured it was just the difference in boys and girls. Or maybe the roll of the genes. It helps now, I guess, knowing that we have different fathers. But even that, Quinn, my God, the stuff he was saying ..."
"This guru of his, this X.O ..."
"Christian X.O. St. James."
"What did Laird say's the title of his newest book?"
"'Jesus Was An Egoist: Dying Was the Best Thing for His Future.'"
"What do his followers call themselves, the Church of Latter-day Egoists?"
"We've never talked about religion. I mean, personal religion. Which we probably should, now that we're engaged. Are you? Religious, I mean?"
"My mom's a Buddhist, got me into it at the Pearl City Hongwanji when I was young, the YBA, all that. And it works in my life, it makes sense. But other than bon dance, I'm not at the temple too much. How 'bout you?"
"Funny, my mom was the deciding factor too. We always went to Kawaiahao Church. These days I'm pretty much of an Easter-and-Christmas Christian. I know religion does a lot of good, but with everything happening in the Middle East, Muslims and Jews and Christians fighting, sometimes I think the world would be better off without it."
"It would sure be a better world without people like X.O. and his gospel of the ego encouraging people's worst instincts. What he's preaching -- the most important thing in life is me and my needs -- isn't just weird, Lily, it's spooky. The stuff I see every day as a cop out on that bike, that's what it's all about. Whether it's somebody strung out on ice and breaking into cars to pay for the next high or a mom in a van with three kids doing 40 in a 25 because she's 'in a hurry,' it comes down to the mindset that nobody else in the world matters. And there's too much of that already."
Quinn took a breath, smiled sheepishly.
"Not to preach," he said. "But every law that ever gets broken, every person who gets hurt by another, that's where it starts -- my needs count, you don't. Maybe it's the Buddha in me -- trying to overcome desires -- but this X.O. guy is the last thing the world needs."
Lily squeezed his hand, smiled, pleased with his clear morality. Imagine that, she'd found a guy who could talk.
"But you look at me like that, Lil, I swear, I'll never overcome my desire."
"You'd better not!"
Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org