Written by Maggie the Cat
It was the smell that drew him.
Granted, it was not the absolute premium aroma that
it _could_ be; nor was it the light, toasted,
appetizing ambrosial scent that it _should_ be. It
was burnt, heavy, and nauseating.
But it was coffee, and that was all that mattered to
Frank Pembleton at half of nine in the morning.
The detective veered towards the coffeepot, intent
upon pouring a cup of that steaming elixir of life.
Pembleton paused. Closed his eyes. "Yes, Felton?"
Beau continued merrily, never noticing that he was
being a nusiance. "I want you to settle something.
Munch here--" he gestured derisively across the table
at the thin detective, who raised his
eyebrows--"Munch thinks that there was a female God--"
"Godd_ess_," Munch interjected.
"Yeah, goddess, whatever--who was edited out of the
Bible." Beau squinted at Pembleton's ramrod-straight
back. "You were brought up Catholic, Frank. Tell him
there's no such thing."
"Felton," Pembleton intoned with infinite patience,
"not only am I manifestly untinterested in this
particular topic as well as severely disgruntled at
finding an empty coffeepot, but if I did choose to
have a discussion on theology, deiology, or any other
-ology with a co-worker, rest assured that _you_
would not be him."
"Fine." Beau was annoyed, but only momentarily. "I
don't need you to tell Munch he's wrong. I could just
ask any priest--"
Munch snorted. "Oh, that's good, Beau. Why don't we
just ask the low-lives we drag in here night after
night to put together their own defense cases in
court?" He ignored Beau's glare and continued,
picking up speed.
"The clergy perpetrates the edited text of the Bible
because the have to show solidarity. They have to
clan together in righteous brotherhood and make sure
that they preserve the might, majesty and mystery of
the Church of Rome so those collection plates keep
rolling in." Satisfied for the moment, Munch dropped
back in his chair, avoiding the sugar packets Beau
had resorted to tossing at him.
Pembleton loomed menacingly over the coffee machine,
which was painstakingly dripping a fresh pot. Any
more time standing here listening and he'd have to
correct their misconceptions on general principle.
But then he heard something that let him off the
hook. Felton and Munch behind him at the table,
Lewis paused in mid-amble towards the coffeepots,
looking over at Munch and Felton. "Whut?" he asked, a
fair amount of suspicion evident in his tone.
Squinching up his eyes again, Felton reiterated the
debate. "Munch thinks there's a female God. Whaddyou
"Well, honestly--" Lewis saw Pembleton standing
forebodingly in front of the coffeepots and
redirected himself off toward the vending machine--"I
really try not to think about God all that much. I
mean, God ain't something we _should_ try to
unnerstand, y'know? I mean, God is _beyond_ human
comprehension. You can't explain God. You shouldn't
_even_ question him."
"Aha!" Beau half-jumped out of his chair, pointing at
Meldrick. "You said 'him'. You referred to God as a
male." He grinned, gloating, at Munch, who waved one
"He's been programmed by centuries of biased church
doctrine pushing the idea of a male God," Munch
scoffed. "You can't honestly expect a product of the
system like Meldrick here to come up with anything
"I ain't gonna stand around here and get insulted for
my religious beliefs, _Munch_," Lewis huffed,
scooping up his tin of soda and marching back into
"Colloquial English isn't designed for gender-neutral
pronouns," Pembleton said, almost to the coffeepots.
"In fact, it was only because there was no
gender-neutral way to express 'Jehovah' in Hebrew
that we ended up with the masculine term 'God'."
"So what are you saying, Frank?" Beau needled. He'd
get Pembleton into this discussion if it took all week.
"Hey, guys. You brewing fresh coffee in here?" Kay
Howard strolled into the coffee room, her hands
jammed into her pockets.
"There, ask your friend and partner," Munch prompted.
Felton grimaced. "Howie? She's a woman, Munch. Of
course she'll agree that there was a female God who
was wronged and oppressed. That's what women _do_."
"Ask me what, Beau?" Having caught the tail end of
this exchange, Howard was curious. Besides, she had
to wait for the coffee to stop dripping, and Frank
seemed to be guarding it like a pitbull.
Sighing expansively and rolling his eyes, Felton
repeated the question in a tone which clearly stated
that he considered this a waste of time.
"So whaddyou think?" he finished, without much hope
Howard considered. "I think," she said musingly,
pulling up a chair and turning it around so she could
rest her arms along its back, "that there's only one
Supreme Being, huh?"
"Hah! _One_ God! Oh, Howie, I never should've doubted
"Yeah, hang on there, Reverend," Munch said, folding
his arms. "Kay, am I right in assuming that since you
used a gender-neutral term to describe the Almighty,
you _don't_ believe in an exclusively male God...?"
Howard smiled. "Nothing gets past you, Munchkin." She
pushed her hair back and looked over at Pembleton.
"Frank, is that coffee _done_ yet? Some of us have
cases to get back to...."
Pembleton didn't budge from his station, glaring at
the machine with growing intensity. "A pot of
coffee," he pronounced ominously, "brews faster for
"Or woman," Munch corrected, just to be difficult.
"How about 'for no-one'?" Fed up with waiting, Howard
got up, passing Bayliss on the way out.
"Watch it in there, Tim," she warned. "Munch and Beau
are finding religion, and Frank's a coffee fascist."
Bayliss craned his neck, glancing about in interest.
"Sounds like fun...."
Howard's answering snort fell on deaf ears as the
tall detective went through the doorway.
"Ah! A new victim!" Felton rubbed his hands together
and kicked out a welcoming chair for Bayliss. "C'mon,
Tim--you've gotta get in on it."
Bayliss sat down in the proffered chair, bemused.
"What's all this about?"
"The gender--or lack thereof--of the Lord our God,"
"And the existence of a female counterpart. A Yang to
His Yin. A Mama to His Papa," Munch grinned.
"Oh." Bayliss fiddled with one of the sugar packets
on the table, considering. "Well...."
Felton leaned back smugly. "This should be good."
"I believe," Bayliss continued, "that the Christian
representation of God, the Holy Trinity, all of that,
is a corruption of pagan creation lore."
"Pagan?" Munch was personally offended. "Wiccans
dancing in circles and drawing pentacles in the dirt
have something to do with the holy beings in the
Bible? I don't think so, Tim."
"Let him talk," Felton remonstrated. "We asked his
"I changed my mind. Look, there _has_ to be a female
Goddess. That's the whole basis of life as we know
it--the assurance that there's a balance for
everything. A woman, apart from harassing, tormenting
and generally destroying a man, is there as his
isometric opposite, his helpmeet, his biological
counterpart. Women complete the circle; they're half
of the whole. Without them, we're not fully
functioning beings. Now how could the world be
arranged like that if there aren't co-Creators?"
"Munch has a good point there," Bayliss said
thoughtfully. "Except it's not the whole picture."
"Oh? And what _is_ the whole picture, Swami?" Munch
was on a full-throttle irritation jag.
Bayliss cleared his throat. "The pagan creation myth
is centralized on the Goddess. Now, she gives birth
to the Horned God, who then becomes her lover, after
which he dies."
"Sounds believable," Felton chuckled.
"And then," Bayliss continued, "the Goddess once
again gives birth, restarting the cycle."
"All this is very interesting, Tim," Pembleton said,
"but what bearing does that have on Christian
"They cleaned it up. Christians separated the Goddess
into two female figures--Mary the Virgin Mother, and
Mary Magadalene, the Lover. They've even given them
the same name, which, actually, is kind of a lack of
creativity _and_ foresight on the Church fathers'
Felton sighed resignedly. "So, who else can we ask,
now that Bayliss has shot his credibility to hell?"
"Ahhhh..." Pembleton poured himself a cup of fresh
coffee, eyes half-lidded in anticipatory pleasure. He
took a careful sip, hungrily inhaling the aromatic
steam that curled up from the brim. "The day can
Cradling his cup, Pembleton began to head out to the
"Frank, you can't leave _now_! It's just getting
good!" Felton protested.
"On the contrary, Felton--if I value my immortal
soul, now is the perfect time to leave. This room is
so filled with blasphemy I might be consigned to
perdition by just _being_ here."
"But you haven't even taken a side!"
"I don't need to."
Felton frowned. "Why not?"
Pembleton favoured the detectives with a wide grin.
"Because, Felton--unlike the rest of you, I know the
Felton, Munch and Bayliss quietly watched him go.
Then Bayliss sighed, shifting his tall frame on the
"Anyone else," he said, "get the feeling that Frank
didn't finish that sentence?"
"Yeah," Munch smirked. "He was supposed to say, 'I
know the truth. I AM God.' ...Anyone want some coffee?"