Saint Debbie/Ep 10 - Installment 2
The love that these two have for each other radiates through the tired space as Evie looks on. Paul, beaming with pride, hurriedly motions for Evie to come meet this man. Evie steps over and is also greeted with a loving embrace. Poppi mentions what a beautiful woman she is and Evie is immediately smitten by his charm. Watching Poppi work does give one pause. Is Paul's ability to attract women a natural phenomenon, or did he train at the feet of a master? Poppi cautions Paul that Puerto Rican woman have "eyes to the soul" and with a wink, he assures Paul that there are no secrets around our Evie. Paul quickly acknowledges the truth in that statement as the whole "Rebecca Webb fiasco" flashes before his eyes.
Alva emerges from his lair. Paul's expression confirms that Alva is in a mood and it's going to be a really long day around SQ. Paul moves quickly to present Alva, but it's awkward - like introducing the mistress to the wife. The tension between the two men is thick and Paul begins to squirm a bit as he considers how best to proceed. Poppi saves him by announcing that he may have work for the investigative team.
Paul is pouring coffee as the four discuss the prospect of the new case. Paul's serving style is very ritual - an interesting mix of alter boy and swanky restaurant waiter. Poppi is explaining his colleague's dilemma in resolving if indeed the Apple Tree Cafe event is a true miracle. Alva has chosen this moment to challenge the existence of any miracle per se, clearly wishing to belittle the role of the church in assessing such phenomenon. Poppi, not one to back down from a fight , asks Alva to clarify his position. Alva assumes a haughty tone and dismisses any assessment with moral undertone. Annoyed, Paul plops the coffee pot down and begins to pace - Evie's eyes are rolling - Paul is tugging at his shirt collar - it's getting really uncomfortable, really fast, and something is going to blow...........
Poppi, in a fatherly tone, likens Alva's view to that of the "One Boxers" he knew in college - people who put good, bad, God, devil, all in one tidy box - treating it all as just information, without drawing any moral distinction. Alva thrusts one more jab, likening moral assessment to the Neanderthal's misguided belief that lightning was something evil. "Until it hits you" quips Poppi. Paul and Evie both break into big relieved smiles and the spiritual guy in the black & white is awarded the point on that round.
Alva questions why the church has come to SQ to investigate? Why not use Paul's replacement? Poppi explains that there is no current replacement for Paul - his qualifications are quite unique - (hey, we knew that) Alva nods in complete agreement and once again there is peace in the Commonwealth.
Paul walks Poppi out and they have a father/son moment at the door. Poppi encourages Paul to be his own man - just because Alva is a "One Boxer" doesn't mean he needs to be. Seeing this exchange gives you hope that Paul's life is going to turn out just fine.
Easy to tell SQ has a paying customer on this trip - our gang scores plane tickets to California and a rental car!! As they drive through Ventura County's countryside Paul spies a tall water tower reminiscent of the one in his recurring visions. The tower appears normal, but Paul keeps a wary eye, anticipating a bloody message at any moment. None comes and the team rolls into the tiny town of Three Springs.
Throngs of people line the sidewalks on the main drag. A festival atmosphere exists, complete with commemorative t-shirts and a strolling troubadour. Paul sighs as he takes in the spectacle. For the purpose of the research they must remain neutral, but all the signs are pointing toward carnival sideshow. (oh geez, I sure hope there's no clowns in cotton candy houses!)
The first stop is the Presbyterian church where they are greeted by the town's mayor. An avid capitalist, he is giddy at the prospect of what a miracle validation can do for real estate values. Evie gives him an over the shoulder visual evaluation. She sounds just a little catty as she suggests that his sole motivation appears to be money.
Without reservation he confirms that - Kaching!! -that's exactly his motivation. The local pastor gives one of those "God loves him, so I have to also" grimmaces and inquires about the next steps. Paul steps us through the miracle validation process and the mayor whisks them off to meet Debbie in an effort to "git 'er done".
Debbie and Daniel are fighting their way through the teaming mob when they are approached by the mayor and the SQ Team. Introductions are made. Amazing as it seems, Paul's "Chick Magnet" appears to have become degaussed........why, Debbie seems to have hardly noticed Paul...... Unbelieveable!
The mayor makes the introduction - Paul steps forward and shakes Debbie's hand - she glances in Paul's direction, but no reaction. Next she shakes Evie's hand - Evie points back toward Paul's handsome face - Debbie looks again, shrugs and mouths "sorry....nothing" - Evie shrugs, Paul shrugs....even the mayor shrugs. Alva gestures in Paul's direction, but Debbie's gaze remains fixed. She has some serious eye contact going on with Alva.
Alva suddenly realizes this too and steps forward to offer his services. Just as he's showing us his warm and fuzzy side, some scuz-bunny lunges forward with a rattlesnake. One venomous bite later, Debbie is down and Alva's hopes for a romantic moonlight stroll are dashed.
Questions to ponder:
Poppi seems to understand women well. What romantic advice might he have offered Paul over the years?
Is it possible Three Springs is a Bermuda Triangle of sorts for Paul's attractiveness?