It had all begun with Emory. Despite his seemingly conflicting predispositions, Emory attended church whenever possible. David Spencer had always been baffled by religion. He saw no use for it. His organisation of the universe firmly declared that he couldn't know if there was a God, so it wasn't his place to decide.
In school, the more zealous of his peers had met this claim with a simple, distilled variant of Pascal's wager. To them it was better to believe, as in the event of it being correct, there was much more to lose than disbelieving. To this David Spencer, aged sixteen, in the changing rooms of Lawrence Zeitsman Catholic High School, simply asked another question in response:
“But what if another religion is correct? Wouldn't false belief be worse than a lack of belief?”
Richard Crowley, also aged sixteen, found Spencer's point troubling. It was not for it's entirely theoretical nature. It was not for it's failure to grasp the intricacies of the theowager. His hypothesis was entirely hypothetical and, thus, was of as little substance as Crowley's own teenage Pascalism. It was, however, these abstract foundations that made Crowley wary of it's importance. He began to question the validity of his ow beliefs. What made them any better? What God could possibly be correct, with the pantheon of accounts of miraculous actions giving credence to so any religions? It was a quandary for Crowley. What followed was a series of attempts at diversity. Crowley built his spiritual stock portfolio on the basic tenets of all the major religions. Feast days, food restrictons, simple notions of morality – these were the aspects of a new faith that he built from the scraps of tradition. Crowley's religious skeleton key seemed fairly desirable. He gained followers as it developd – slowly at first, but at rapid pace as he left school and began working in a fast food joint. It was tedious and unrewarding, and Crowleyism appealed to the huddle masses of the Meat and Go staff (Because life doesn't stop for food). David Spencer did not know about this localised burst of interest in The People's Faith. All he saw of Crowley beyond high school was a sad, dishevelled man hiding in the garden of a mutual friend. Crowleyism had inevitably turned sour, a fact related to the media over the ensuing months by the only three suicide-pact survivors out of the entire tithe-built compound.
Crowleyism had exemplified why David Spencer, at any age, had been unable to put any stock in religion. To him, it was in all forms a mish-mash of old world mentalities and consolations about the inevitability of mortality.
Death had always been weirdly amusing to David Spencer.
His first date, aged fifteen, had been to take a young-but-similarly-aged girl by the name of Rebecca Mulroney to a slasher film in the local theatre. As much as Spencer longed to see the machete tear through the co-eds, Richard Crowley's older brother Timothy refused to sell them the tickets they needed. As much as Mulroney had been relieved to learn the naïve house-sitting co-ed slasher fest was unavailable for their (read: David Spencer's) eager consumption, it was an injustice that he would not let stand. As David Spencer led Rebecca Mulroney up his garden path to the house his parents had vacated for the weekend (as they so often did), her mind turned to the implications of what she believed was likely to happen. She was a strong, independent girl. She held a bizarrely complex view of feminism for a fifteen year old girl living in the 1990s. Even though Clarissa had Explained It All and Patti Mayonnaise had been platonic enough with Doug for her to be dissuaded from what Mulroney would later describe as “The Cult of Perpetual Dating”, Rebecca had formed opinions on the workings of the social world around her based on a feminist perspective that she had drawn from sources other than television. To those around her, popular culture dictated how one lived one's life. For Mulroney, how she wanted to live her life was all that dictated how she lived it. A dilemma thus arose when David Spencer invited her inside and sat her on his ageing couch. She had not had enough time to make an informed decision, and was fairly relieved when Spencer sought not sex, but a partner to watch a VHS copy of The Exorcist. David Spencer described it to her as his favourite movie, although Rebecca Mulroney weighed his praise against the distressed faces of her peers who had already experienced it. Despite finding it dull at first, Rebecca Mulroney soon found it more than she wanted to handle on her first date with David Spencer, quickly finding the impetus to perform enough rudimentary mental reasoning to justify losing her virginity to avoid sitting through the remainder of the film. She would, years later, recount this to a work colleague, only to have it suggested to her that this instance of the free use of her own body was a shameful piece of personal history, one that she should potentially work through with a therapist.
When the time came, she was not ashamed of doing everything in her power to ensure that colleague was a candidate for corporate downsizing.
David Spencer had lost his virginity to Rebecca Mulroney that night and, although not the first instance of weird associations between death and pleasure, The Exorcist would always fill him with a boyish longing for days gone by.
Yet it would be The Exorcist that sparked an impromptu trip to a local church months before the death of Richard Moss. Emory, never impressed with the existence of the film, nor David Spencer's undying love for it, had promised Spencer that he would watch it if he accompanied him to church the following day. Although a standard church service by most definitions, it came to mind after Richard Moss' death. As he sat in his apartment, comforted by Tracy Wilding, Emory Newcombe and an assortment of others, David Spencer was reminded of how pleasing the rituals of religion had been. Although he had been strangely unresponsive to Moss' death, David Spencer had felt the pressure of his social circle's sympathy. The expectation of his grief seemed enough to suggest he attempt to mourn. If he was to act irrationally in response to what had occurred, he felt he should act irrationally in a religious setting. This, David Spencer felt, was adequate. It was now Crowley, nor Lawrence Zeitsman Catholic High School that engendered this belief. It was not the exorcist, nor Rebecca Mulroney's sudden adoption of evangelical religion, a change that redefined her life and placed the final nail in their relationship's coffin aged seventeen. It certainly wasn't her rejection of it the following year. It wasn't The Exorcist. It wasn't anything but the mind-numbingly average experience he had been exposed to by agreeing to go to church with Emory.
It all began with Emory.