I'm getting sleepy sitting here, staring at the computer screen. I better get up and move around. It'll look bad if they find me asleep in my chair, again.
I wander around. What day is it? Tuesday? Wednesday? What time is it? I look at my watch. 9:03 am. Man, I've only been here for an hour-and-a-half?
There's Matt over by the copy machine. What's he doing? Counting the individual sheets in a ream of paper?
“What are you doing, counting those?” I ask.
“Tray's empty. Wanna put in just enough to finish my job.”
“Just stick the whole stack in there.”
He shakes his head.
“Want it to be empty when I'm done.”
“Erin's over here a minute ago. Needs to use the machine.”
“Yeah? So what?”
“When she comes back, she'll have to fill it.”
“You want her to fill the paper?”
The point of Matt's exercise escapes me. A look of incomprehension must be written across my face, for Matt stops his counting and addresses me in the tone of an exasperated school master:
“Because she'll have to bend over to fill the paper tray.”
“Oh,” I say.
“And I'll be right here to watch her.”
“Well,” I say, “that makes sense.”
I watch him as he starts to count the pages of paper again.
“Why not just stick the whole stack of paper in there, and when the job is done, just take out the leftovers?”
“Might see me taking out the paper. Too obvious.”
“She might come over right now and see you counting the paper.”
“Wouldn't be as obvious.” He stops counting, stares at me. “Look, no plan is a hundred percent fool-proof!”
“I guess not.”
Now I wonder, why did I even bother coming over here? I'm standing there trying to remember just as Jerry walks by. When he sees us, he says “hey, good, I need to talk to you guys.” Matt keeps counting his papers. I laugh to myself. It's amazing the power an ass has over some people. “What's he doing?” Jerry asks. I shrug. His boss wants to talk to him, and he can't be bothered, because he wants to see Erin bend over. “What are you doing over there?”
“Uh,” Matt says, “uh, the machine is out of paper.”
“Forget that for now. I need to talk to you.”
“But. . .” Matt says, and he remains there, paper in hand.
He really wants to see Erin bend over. *Real life* pornography. . .almost interactive, even. You get an image in your head, and it can cast a shadow over everything.
“Put the paper down,” Jerry says.
“But. . .”
“Put the paper down, Matt. Do the right thing.”
“But. . .”
All his hopes and dreams. . .Erin bent over. . .his little vision of heaven. . .her ass an open invitation. . .it all fades away, fades away. Matt sets the paper on the work station next to the copier. He takes a couple steps over to where Jerry and I are standing.
“This better be important!” he says in a pathetic attempt to retain his dignity.
“Tell me,” Jerry says, “why does this have to be important?”
Look at poor Matt, trying to think of an answer that won't end in utter humiliation. And all he because he lusted after Erin, wanted to see her ass in a *suggestive* position. Now he stands before Jerry, with nothing to say for himself. In this case, unlike Christ before Pilate, no answer is the worst answer.
“That's right,” Jerry says, “I can call you over here and just whistle Dixie, if I like.”
“As long as there aren't any African-Americans around,” I say.
A little bit of a wince cracks Jerry's face. The mighty don't like to be reminded even their power has limits.
“Yes, well, I wanted to tell you today is Ken's first day back at work, so go--”
“He's back at work already?” I ask.
Look at Matt. He's not even listening. He's staring at the copier.
“'Already?' It's been two weeks,” Jerry says.
“Two whole weeks? I guess you can get over anything in two weeks, huh?”
“I didn't say he was over it. You probably never get over something like that. But life goes on. And that includes work.”
“'Life goes on,' eh? Wow,” I say, “that's deep, Jerry.”
“Whatever. I'm not going to get into one of your pointlessly negative discussions. I'm just trying to make things as easy as possible for Ken, so I'm asking you both not to immediately dump his projects back onto him. Let him ease back into the work routine. Have some consideration.”
“Is that it?” Matt asks.
Jerry doesn't even bother to answer. He looks as if he is disgusted as he walks away. But what is his disgust born of, except misguided arrogance? As if him asking us to continue to do Ken's work, asking us to continue to sacrifice, as it were, somehow credits merit back to him. Not that I mind doing Ken's work, or even really consider it a true sacrifice--I have little to do as it is. But don't canonize yourself off the saintly deeds of others.
“I thought he'd never leave!” Matt says as he hurries back to lay his Erin ass trap.
I try again to remember why I came over here. For that matter, why am I even at this stupid job? I don't know if I could come up with a satisfying answer.
Matt finishes his trap. I walk with him to his cubicle. For no reason. Other than time must be filled.
“How are you going to know when Erin's at the machine?” I ask, as I sit in the guest chair.
“She has to walk right past my cube to get to the copier.”
I sit there. He stares at his computer screen. American workers are the most productive in the world, studies show.
After a long silence, almost like *missing time,* Matt speaks:
“What are you going to say to him?”
“Ken. What are you going to say to him?”
“I don't know. Nothing, probably. I hardly ever talked to the guy before, anyway. Why should now be any different?”
“You have to say something, don't you?”
“Like what? 'Gee, I'm really sorry, Ken. If there's anything I can do, let me know?'”
“Yeah. I guess. Why not?”
“It's so fake. I barely know the guy. I mean, yeah, I'm sorry. But that's just a phrase, a saying. 'I'm sorry.' What does that mean? Too bad it happened? Sure, it's too bad. And what could I do for the guy? Those words, that phrase or saying, is just an excuse. To excuse us from the burden of saying or doing anything of any genuine meaning.”
“Don't make it all complicated. You gotta say something, at least the first time you see him.”
“That's my point. You say your little saying once, and that's it, you're excused from any genuine, meaningful human interaction.”
“All I know is, you gotta say something.”
Another moment of missing time. And then Matt's phone rings. He answers, he listens, he says “yeah, yeah,” he hangs up.
“Damn! I gotta go see Arrington,” he says.
He starts to leave the cubicle, sees me still sitting here. I guess he expects me to leave. People are funny about their cubicles. Treat them like *homes.* The visitor is supposed to leave when the host leaves. I suppose I should go back to my cubicle, check my email, work, etc. But I don't really feel like getting up.
“I'll just wait here till you get back,” I say to Matt.
He hesitates. He wants to say something, but you can't really tell somebody to get out of your cubicle. In the end, whatever emotional attachment you have to your little work cell, it's just too silly to make an issue of it.
“OK,” he says.
After he leaves I examine the junk he has littering his desk and the cloth walls. Nothing of interest. . .except for a calendar. Tenjho Tenge, it is called. I don't know what it means. It's one of those Japanese manga things, featuring teen girls with cute, innocent faces and centerfold bodies barely concealed in slutty school girl uniforms, weird military get-ups and two-sizes-too-small lingerie. Matt is thirty-two years old. There is no age, of course, where one is old enough to lose these kinds of desires. . .yet there is an age when one should be old enough to know to conceal these kinds of desires. As I am thinking this, Erin passes by. She is carrying a pretty-good-sized stack of papers. Must be going to the copier. I wait a few seconds, then slowly head that way, myself.
I see her at the work station, sorting out her documents. Erin is probably 25 or so, yet I notice she is trying to cultivate an even more youthful look. She has medium length straight black hair tied into two pigtails and she is wearing those big clunky black eyeglasses, that kind of '50s style frame. . .she has on some type of denim bib overalls thing that cover a very tight, almost sleevless black t-shirt. . .it's really a strange kind of look: 21st century farmer's daughter/bookworm/retro chic or something. Not as overtly sexualized as a manga calendar girl, but she still embraces the girlishness Matt apparently craves.
She sets some papers in the document feeder, presses the start button. . .nothing happens. That's right, Erin--the machine is out of paper. First she bends down and opens the door to the bottom cabinet of the work station. That's where the paper is stocked. There's really not much to see when Erin bends over. Not that she doesn't have a nice body, but with the overalls, it's not much of a show. I wonder why Matt went to all this trouble? What would he see in this?
As I am pondering that, Erin opens a ream of paper, turns toward the copier, sees me looking at her. She looks a little surprised.
“Is. . .er. . .did you need to use the machine?”
“No. No. I was just. . .” I was just what? Better not even try to answer that. “Is it out of paper?” I ask.
I think I need to say something else. I don't think I can just walk away, my behavior would seem a little odd. What to say, though?
“Oh. Gee, I'm sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can do to help?”
That didn't work. From the expression on her face, I can tell she is marking this as a weird encounter.
“Uh, no, that's OK. I can fill it myself,” she says.
“That's good, then,” I say. Now I can walk away. I wonder if she thinks I wanted to see her bend over? I really didn't. I don't even know why I came over here in the first place. Now Erin probably thinks I'm some creepy old guy. But I'm not that old. I'm not even old enough to be her father. Well, I could be old enough to be her father, if I'd had a kid when I was around seventeen. Who cares, anyway? She's the one in the ridiculous outfit. Bib overalls. How stupid. There really ought to be something in the corporate dress code about bib overalls.
I wander the hallways. Where should I go? Back to my cubicle? I guess so. I have to take a piss, first. I head for the restroom.
I get in there, and just as I have finished unzipping and am about to urinate, Ken comes in and stops at the urinal right next to the one I am using. Even though there are three urinals, and I am at the urinal on the left, he uses the middle urinal. He could have taken the urinal on the right. True, it's one of those low urinals. . .I have never understood the purpose of those low urinals. They are kid-sized, but no kids work in a corporate office. So who are the low urinals for? Dwarves? Men in wheelchairs? But how would that even work? Ken could have still used the low urinal, and not stood right next to me. Now I have to piss right in tight quarters. It takes a little while to get started. It's his first day back on the job. Why did he have to stand right next to me? Now I feel like I have to say something, with him being so close. But what can I say, with my zipper down and my pecker hanging out? All these situations in life where you have to say something. And there are no words. This is ridiculous. Why didn't he use the low urinal? He would have been far enough away where I wouldn't have felt the need to talk.
“How's it going?” he says, like it was a real effort to get the words out. Like he's trying to *get on with life.*
Man, why did he have to talk to me? I can hear his urine crashing against the urinal cake. I start to piss, too. What am I going to say? How do I get into these situations?
“It's going all right,” I say. I feel compelled to say something more, though. “You know, Ken, I was real sorry to hear, you know. And if there is anything I can do, just let me know.”
“Thanks,” he says, as he zips up his pants.
I linger at the urinal while he washes his hands. Well, I feel sorry for the poor bastard. It must suck to have to come back to work, and try to be the same person. But what can I do to help the guy, really? Stay away is the best thing. Leave him in peace. He probably wants the same. To not have to talk about it, acknowledge it to the strangers at work. What an unbearable spot to be in. All these strangers knowing your grief. You wouldn't want to have to be in that situation. But I guess he had to come back to work. “Life goes on,” that's what that idiot Jerry said. What an idiot. Ken probably wishes everyone would just ignore him.
But why did he take the urinal right next to me?
Days passed at work, like they always do: lots of empty hours interrupted every now and then with short bursts of necessary activity, gossip and paranoid conversations, and the scavenging of leftovers from various department lunches. I didn't see too much of Ken, which wasn't unusual, nor did I bother thinking about him. Later, afterwards, when he was a hot conversation topic for a couple weeks, I heard it said that during this period he had seemed very quiet and withdrawn. Well, why shouldn't he have been? But anyway, it was a week or so after the urinal encounter that I looked up from my computer monitor and saw Ken standing in the opening to my cubicle.
“There's something I need to talk to you about,” he says.
“Sure,” I say, thinking it must be something related to work. “What is it?”
“I'd rather not talk about it here. Conference room 833 is open, if you could come down there.”
A darkness rolls over me. He wants to talk about his daughter. He wants a conference room where he can close a door, and nobody will hear. Nobody except me. This darkness rolls over my spirit. By nature, I don't want to be bothered with other people. It's just not in me. No need for me to apologize. No need for you to apologize. We are who we are. This darkness is the shadow of predestination. The impossibility of the task at hand--to say something that will convert Ken--is given to me, a being who has no personal interest in the matter, by my Master. It is an exercise of faithfulness. . .as physical exercise is a darkness to the grossly obese, this faith exercise is a darkness to my naturally cold spirit. Of course, it is the least I can do.
Ken closes the door to room 833. We sit on opposite sides of a long oval table. There is a telephone between us. The chairs are nice, fake leather with high backs. I stare at the phone as Ken begins to speak. I remember that scene in Tarkovsky's Stalker
where the phone rings and rings and rings and rings. That was a good movie, I think. A real good movie.
“The reason I wanted to talk to you was because. . .you know how it is in the workplace environment. . .you hear people's conversations. . .you walk past people's offices or cubes, you catch bits of their conversations. And I've been working here almost five years. . .and I've heard you and Matt. . .a few times, not a lot, but enough that it's stuck in my mind. . .I've heard you and Matt talking about religion. . .and--”
I look at Ken. I have to cut him off, here. I've learned over the years you have to be very very precise in these matters. Very precise, right from the beginning, or you waste a lot of time and energy on the insignificant opinions of people like Matt and Ken. . .who are pretty much like most other people, come to think of it.
“I never talked to Matt about religion. I never to talk to anyone about religion. I talk about the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.”
Ken looks a little surprised.
“OK,” he says, “I'm not sure there's any difference between the two. But--”
I have to interrupt again.
“There is a difference. I'll talk about the Lord Jesus Christ, but I don't want to be bothered discussing the nonsense of religion. . .the traditions and rituals of the blind.”
I think Ken is taken aback by my seeming curtness. He has probably been treated very delicately the last three or four weeks. He may even have come to expect people to indulge him in his grief. He may even assume it is now his right to be indulged.
“OK. All right. That's OK with me. I just. . .”
He's unsure now about how to bring it up. And maybe he wonders now if he even should. Maybe he expected me to indulge him all the way down the line, point by point, until I gave him whatever answers he wanted to hear to whatever questions he had. Maybe he now thinks I might say something that could somehow make everything feel even worse. Maybe now a whole new darkness is rolling over him.
“Is there something bothering you?” I ask.
Now he looks shocked and surprised.
“You heard about my daughter, didn't you?”
“Did you hear how it happened?”
“I read a couple stories on the internet. I imagine they didn't give all the details, but what they did sounded bad enough.”
“So obviously something is bothering me,” he says with a small note of anger in his voice. But he has no right to be angry with me. I'm here, aren't I?
“I was real sorry to hear about your daughter. But what I meant was, is there something beyond what happened to her that's bothering you?”
Give the man credit, he takes a moment and considers the question.
“Yes. That's an interesting way to put it, but yes, that's right. There is something beyond what happened to her. To Katie.”
“What's bothering you?”
“Well,” he says with a long sigh, “listen. I believe when people die, that's it. They're just dead. They cease to exist. There's nothing else.”
He looks at me like he expects me to respond. But I have nothing to say. I want to say as little as possible. Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll just leave. I won't feel guilty. I came in this room, and so far I haven't denied anything.
“There's just nothing,” he says.
“That's what I believe,” he says.
“Listen, I was raised, we were all raised with some kind of religion, you know. We all heard the stories about heaven and hell when we were kids. If you were good and believed in Jesus you'd go to heaven when you died, but if you were bad and didn't believe in Jesus, you'd go to hell.”
“I don't mind. . .sure, it would be great if Katie were in heaven and everything was--”
He looks down. He's probably a little choked up, picturing his daughter in heaven, angels healing her numerous wounds and wiping away her tears. I do feel sorry for the fellow, whatever those words mean.
“That's OK if there is no heaven. I don't believe there is. I don't believe there is anything. But. . .I don't think there is hell, either. . .but. . .we got some minister for Katie's funeral. . .I don't know who he is. . .he did the funeral. . .I had this feeling. . .not a feeling. . .a fear. . .it's killing me. . .”
He stops talking. He rubs his hands over his face and through his hair. His face, which had looked normal, maybe a little sad and a little tired, but normal, now wears the expression of the tormented. It's strange how a thought can twist a face. This thought, whatever it is, is really bothering him.
“Do you mind if I step out for just a second?” he asks.
“No. Go ahead.”
As I wait for him to return, I really start to think about Ken. Most of the time, you just glance at people at work. You don't really see them or consider them. Ken is probably around the same age as me. I could have had a daughter the same age as his Katie. How did he manage that? How did he manage to have a kid? A family, they call it. How did he manage that? I wonder how much of his life revolved around his daughter? How much of his everyday routine was based on his responsibility to her? Even though she was nineteen, he was still presumably helping her with college, etc. Now that part of his life is gone. Part of the foundation of his life has been removed. I had told that idiot Jerry I was surprised Ken was back at work so soon. Now that I think more about it, I wonder why Ken would even return to work at all? The structure of his life has been severely damaged. Maybe he continues on here out of habit, still too traumatized to realize his new reality? Or maybe coming here, doing this meaningless job, distracts him from his new reality? Anyway, I wish he would hurry up and come back. I'm getting tired sitting here.
Through the window in the door, I see Erin walk by. Hmmn. I wonder what she thought when she heard about Ken's daughter? Did she imagine such a thing happening to herself? Or did it not even register? What if she knew about Matt's preposterous plan to catch her bending over? Does she realize how disturbed most people are? How truly vulnerable she is? She probably thinks I am the creep. That's how wrong most people get it. Why, I could be her father. I am old enough to have a daughter her age. Poor Erin. Gee, I'm getting tired sitting here. Where's Ken?
For some reason, a picture of Erin, bloody, battered and bruised, clothes torn, her clunky black eyeglasses lying next to her on a sidewalk, enters my mind. I'm wondering where such a vision comes from, when Ken finally returns.
“Let me tell you what is really bothering me,” he says as he sits down. “Like I said, I believe when you die, that's it. That's the end of it. You just cease to exist. It's just a nothingness forever. But like I said, we were all raised with these ideas of heaven and hell. Heaven not existing doesn't bother me. And I am sure there is no hell. But I have this fear. . .I'm ninety-nine point nine-nine percent positive there is no hell. . .and I never thought about hell my entire adult life. But after what happened to Katie. . .every now and then, there are these brief moments. . .and I think, what if there is a hell? Like I said, I'm ninety-nine point nine-nine percent positive there is no hell. . .but just those little moments when I wonder, they are eating me alive. Then I think, but even if there was a hell, why would Katie be there? She never did anything to anybody, and after what happened to her--”
He chokes up a little bit here. It's understandable.
“Listen,” he says after he regains his composure, “we had this minister. . .I don't know who he was. . .somebody recommended him to my wife. . .after the funeral I talked to him. . .I told him I didn't believe in heaven or hell, but that I had these moments of fear that were killing me. . .moments where I wondered if there was a hell.. .and so I asked him, I said, even if there is a god, there is no chance he would send Katie to hell, right? She never did anything to anybody, and after what happened to her. . .I told him Katie was raised without any kind of religion. . .but that shouldn't matter, right? He gave me a wishy-washy answer, that above all, god is a god of love, and that he's merciful, and he always does the right thing. . .and I said, well, I remember when I was a kid, Christians believe you have to believe in Jesus, right? Or you go to hell, right? And then he said, and I remember this word-for-word, believe me, he said 'Those are decisions only the lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won't. I don't want to speculate about all that. I believe the love of god is absolute. He said he gave his son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have.' He just wouldn't say there was absolutely no way Katie could be in hell. This thought comes to me, every now and then, for just a moment, just a couple seconds, a couple times a day, two, three times a day, and it is killing me.”
He looks at me, like he is expecting me to say something.
“I don't know what you want me to say.”
“Like I said, I heard you and Matt talking about religion a few times. I got the impression you were one of those old school Christians, who believed that you had to believe in Jesus or you would go to hell. Is that right?”
“I don't talk about religion. I talk about the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.”
“Katie didn't believe in Jesus. We didn't raise her that way. So you believe she is in hell, right? I figure if I talk to you, there is no way you can convince me it is true, and this fear that is killing me will go away.”
“How do you know your daughter didn't have faith in Christ?”
“How do I know?” He seems surprised by the question. “We didn't raise her to believe in that. We never talked about it, never went to a church. Nothing. No religion at all of any kind.”
Ken doesn't understand the difference between religion, which you can *raise* children in, teach them to observe traditions and rituals, etc., and the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“You can't raise a person to have the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. That's a gift God gives to people. It has nothing to do with our actions.”
“So you think Katie is in hell? What kind of god would send Katie to hell just for not believing in somebody? And after what she went through? This is good for me, good for me. . .it drives the doubt out of my mind.”
“The doubt will come back. I tell you in all sincerity, I am sorry for you and your family. I can only tell you this, when the doubt comes, take your eyes off of Hell, and place them on the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. It's possible in your daughter's last minutes or seconds God delivered the gospel to her, and she received the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“That's ridiculous. That's impossible. How could that have happened? Hell is more believable than that.”
Ken's worldly reasoning is a balm to his nerves. I can see that. He looks free of worry. He is convincing himself of the unreality of Hell by his arguments against the Father and the Son. It will work. For now. But the doubt will come back.
“When the doubt comes back, imagine your daughter staring up at the sky and seeing a vision of the stars aligning themselves into an alphabetical pattern that spells 'Jesus Saves.' Imagine her with Christ, and not with Satan.”
He snorts. Then he says:
“I'm sorry. I don't mean to make fun of you. I just don't believe it. It might seem weird to you, but I honestly thank you for talking to me. It means a lot to me. Like I said, I don't mean to make fun of you. I don't think you are stupid or anything. But just hearing about your religion convinces me of my own beliefs. It's kind of strange, I know, but you really have helped me. I hope you are not offended.”
“No. Not at all.”
“Well,” he says, standing up, “I guess that's all, then.” He reaches over to shake my hand. Another formality, another tradition, another ritual. I shake his hand. I watch him exit the room. I stay seated in my chair. It's a nice leather chair, with a high back. Very comfortable. I'm tired of being bothered. I review the conversation. I am certain Ken's doubt will return. He will fear his daughter's possible damnation in Hell, again and again and again. Knowing only the garbage of religion, he will look upon Satan and Hell, instead of Christ. He cannot imagine a miracle for his daughter. Too bad. He fears Hell, now, instead of during the nineteen years his daughter was with him. Typical. Well, as I tried to tell him, he couldn't have told her anything about Jesus, anyway. Only the Heavenly Father can do that. Only He can draw a person to Christ. And maybe He did draw Ken's Katie to Christ.
What was the point of this for me, I wonder, as I get up from the leather chair?
Days passed at work, like they always do: lots of empty hours interrupted every now and then with short bursts of necessary activity, gossip and paranoid conversations, and the scavenging of leftovers from various department lunches. I didn't see too much of Ken, which wasn't unusual, nor did I bother thinking about him. One morning, a week or so after our talk, I was sitting in Matt's cubicle. He was telling me the real reason for global warming:
“You have six billion people on the planet now. Each one is approximately ninety-six degrees. A hundred years ago, you had what? Two billion people? That's four billion more people, each at ninety-six degrees. So of course the planet is warmer. If you have one person in a phone booth, the temperature's fine. Stuff three or four more people in there, and then it gets hot. Same principle for global warming.”
I was just about to tell him how much sense that made when Erin stopped at Matt's cube.
“Jerry wants to have a quick department meeting in 833 in five minutes,” she says.
“What's that all about?” Matt asks.
Erin shakes her head and moves on.
“Somebody either quit or got fired,” I say.
“More work for us,” Matt says.
We go down to the conference room. As we are waiting for Jerry to appear, Matt says:
“Notice how much warmer it gets in here with all these people?”
Jerry walks in. He looks a little nervous. Maybe he's going to announce some lay-offs. Or a merger. Or maybe the whole company finally went under. I dread having to look for a new job. Those ridiculous interviews. “Can you tell me about a difficult situation at your last job, and how you handled it?” “Well, there was this guy, Ken, whose daughter was--”
“This is tough moment for our department,” Jerry says, interrupting my imaginary interview. “I know a couple of you have already heard the terrible news. For the rest, I am very sorry to have to tell you that our friend and co-worker Ken Simmons took. . .took his own life yesterday. You are all aware of what happened to Ken's daughter. . .”
Jerry continued on for a few minutes, outlining what the company would do for Ken's wife, how this would impact our department, etc., etc.
A couple people gasped aloud when they heard Jerry say Ken took his own life. A couple people sobbed, most seemed shaken.
I have to confess, as soon as Jerry had said Ken had taken his own life, I wanted to stand up and say:
“Life goes on, eh, Jerry?”
But I thought better of it, as they say.
Then I remembered what Ken had said:This thought comes to me, every now and then, for just a moment, just a couple seconds, a couple times a day, two, three times a day, and it is killing me.
He could not free his mind of Hell and Satan. He saw his daughter's agony continuing in Hell. He felt guilty because he didn't *raise* her in *religion.* Judas felt guilty, too, over a matter of *religion.* Ken was overcome of Hell. Totally defeated by Satan. He could not allow for a miraculous Christ, for the Right Hand of God to reach down to his daughter as she lay dying. . .and even if he could allow for such a miracle, I suppose the uncertainty would lead him in a circle right back to Hell.
I kept my eye on Erin while Jerry was talking about Ken. I was old enough to be her father.