Rex turned to face forward, away from Butch. “I guess that’s what your family does.”
“Must come naturally to you,” said Double-J, not looking up at the rearview mirror. “Praying all the time like that. Must feel natural to you, like eating is for some people, or taking . . . going to the bathroom.”
Butch laughed. “You think I’m just a praying machine? A robot?”
“Pretty much,” said Double-J. Rex turned to him with disapproval, and Butch leaned forward to speak. However, Butch spoke first.
“I pray because I like to pray. Yeah, for a long time I was going through the motions, when I was a kid, I’d recite the prayers because that’s what I was suppossed to do. Didn’t really believe in God when I was a kid, and a couple years back, when I was middle school, I was beginning to wonder how long I’d be able to keep up the charade.
“But then there was this day, we was out on recess, and you know how you had to line up by your class at the end to get back into the school?” Double-J and Rex nodded. “Well, there was this one day, when I was still in fifth grade, and since we was the youngest class we all lined up against the brick wall, the one outside the cafeteria, you know which one I’m talking about right? Well there was this one day, we were all lined up and most of us are leaning against the brick wall, and the older kids are making fun of us like they always did, and I’m just looking down and ignoring them. Then all of a sudden I start thinking, why am I leaning against the wall like this, why are any of us fifth graders out here, why are the older kids yelling at us, why are our teachers here, why is any of us here, what is all of this about? I know, weird stuff for someone who’s ten to think about, but I couldn’t help it, all these thoughts kept coming to me.
“Then, all of a sudden — I don’t know how else to describe it, other than I felt something. It was inside me, deep inside, and although I felt it physically it didn’t seem to have a physical origin. And though I didn’t know what it was, I knew what it meant, and what it meant was — I wasn’t alone, none of us was alone, at least we didn’t have to feel like we were alone if we didn’t want to be lonely. And it was until that moment that I finally believed in God, because that was the only way I could describe what I had just felt. There was something out there, bigger than any of us, and it was saying to me . . . ‘hello.’
“But then one of the older kids threw a rock that almost hit me, and I realized everyone in front of me had started walking, and the teachers and the kids behind me were yelling at me to get moving, so I went into school.”