Continuing the preview, we meet Daniel’s father, Pastor Nathan Dark. Relationship between father and son is strained to say the least. But Daniel has no idea just how intense this conflict will go…
The living room was full of priests.
Okay, ministers, really, pastors – of the Baptist variety like his father. They didn’t wear white collars like their Catholic counterparts, though Daniel knew they were pastors all the same. The conservative dress sense and lame haircuts were dead giveaways.
His father, the only one who wore glasses, threw his son a fake smile.
Yeah, right. That was sincere. He might as well have said ‘there he is – the son who’s a constant embarrassment to me!’
Pastor Nathan Dark stood and began his introductions. “I’m sure some of you know my son. I think you were the last to see him, weren’t you, Bill?”
Pastor ‘Bill’ set down his coffee mug and stood, shaking Daniel’s hand as though cracking a whip. “Of course! He was only about fifteen then. Changed a bit, haven’t you, Danny?”
Daniel forced a weak smile. In other words, I should clean up my act and dress like a minister’s son, right? Jesus Christ.
“We’ll be having our monthly meeting here from now on,” Dad informed him. “So…”
“Yeah, I got it.”
Nathan was never a lover of his son’s dress sense, unruly hair, slouch, or general attitude. Whenever he saw his son coming through the door he was tempted to say ‘you look like something the cat dragged in’, had it not been such a cliché. The boy’s shirts were oversized, dark, and moody. And as for his hair – the chestnut-brown tresses that seemed to form a permanent curtain over his nose had caused Nathan to forget the color of his son’s eyes.
Nathan had to admit to himself that most of the pastors he knew had rebellious sons – and daughters – who tried to be everything their parent wasn’t. Perhaps it was just a natural part of growing up in a clerical family, he mused. Don’t deceive yourself, Nathan, the pastor thought. It’s worse than that. Much worse.
The eldest of the reverends had to be at least seventy. He’d waited until the other men had stood and shaken the boy’s hand before finally doing likewise. Unlike them, he didn’t smile. Instead, he wore a knowing gaze that unnerved Daniel. The snowy-haired pastor looked directly into the teenager’s eyes, unblinking.
“I’ve been a pastor for a lot longer than the rest of these men,” he began. “And I know what’s what…and who’s who.”
Daniel didn’t know what to say. He didn’t like this. His palm was sweating, and not just because the elderly pastor was squeezing it.
Finally the old man released his grip and sat back down, picking up his tablet of lined yellow paper and looking over his meeting notes as though he hadn’t seen Daniel at all.