Voice in Dialog– Part Two

This is part two of an exercise from Fiction Writer’s Workshop, by Josip Novakovich.  The idea is to show character through their voice.  The characters in this exercise were formed by this prompt: an evangelist and a philosophical homeless person.

As always, enjoy!

“I can save you.”

“Excuse me?”

“I can save you.”

“From what, exactly?”

“From all the evil, sin, and despair that’s consumed the world and surrounds you.”

“Pretty big claim.  You can do all that?”

“I can show you the way.  I, too, have been saved.”

“How nice.  But I’ll be honest—I’d much rather be shown employment, a supper, and a nice warm bed with a roof over it before the way to be saved.”

“Naturally.  One much care for and nurture the body while it harbors the soul.  We’ve got food and a cot for you.  I can take you there.”

“That sounds an awful lot like temptation, if you ask me.”

“It’s not temptation, it’s an offer to help.”

“Oh, brother . . . are you really a Christian?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Obviously, I guess . . . but I mean are you a real Christian?  Do I get that cot, even if I’m not interested in listening to your teachings?”

“Well . . .”

“I thought so.”

“It’s not like that.  We want to help nourish you—but your soul as well as your body.  We wouldn’t be good Christians if we ignored the state of your soul.”

“No, you’d just be good people, then.  Okay, first off, you don’t know anything about the state of my soul, let alone the circumstances which led to my living on the street.  Second, what you’re doing is bribery, plain and simple.  You can’t get people with paychecks to listen to your crap, so you prey on people with no other choice, who’re desperate just to be treated like human beings.”

“Sir, it’s not—”

“Shaddup, I’m not done yet.  So, you offer them this nice stuff, get ‘em where they’re dependent on you, and then, when you’re brainwashed ‘em well enough—what you would call ‘saving them’—that’s when you actually help them find a job and a place to live, which—if you were real Christians—you should’ve done from the start!”

“I . . . I’m sorry you see us that way, sir . . .”

“Don’t be sorry.  Just change.  Shape yourself into a better human being, then you come worry about me . . . by the time you’re done, maybe I won’t need your help.”

“And how do you suggest I do that?”

“Hell if I know.  I don’t know anything about you, see.  Only you know what truly stirs inside you.  Only you know what feels right for you.  Act on that.  Fuck anyone who tells you otherwise.”

“You curse a lot, sir.”

“Well, you sermon a lot, son.”


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