Nic smiled, "Who ever said I was honest, anyway?"
Smyrna continued walking in silence, until he broke it saying, "I don't think I have ever been referred to as dangerous before."
Nic passed Smyrna and whispered as he went, "Take it as a compliment. I've been dangerous all my life."
The two continued down the street with for a few paces, then Dr. Smryna started smiling.
"What's tickled your fancy now, old man?"
"Thomas has tickled your fancy? This seems to be an odd revelation."
Smyrna just gave Nic a dull stare in response.
After a long moment Nic almost sheepishly continued in a low-toned, half-dead whisper, "What has tickled your fancy, Thomas?"
"You had said you have been dangerous all your life, and I began imagining what that would be like in your childhood."
Nic chuckled, "I would say that the title applies there, though in an entirely different way."
"I should hope a different way."
Nic laughed. "Yes, a different way. I was dangerous because I always said the wrong thing."
"Socially, politically, culturally, any way I would always say the wrong thing. Outspoken in my curiosity, I guess. I always questioned what should not be questioned. It made some people hate me, and made me 'dangerous' to have around if you wanted to have a normal conversation."
"You mean you didn't know how to keep your mouth shut?"
"Oh no, I knew how. I just deliberately did not restrain myself." Nic laughed again, a higher pitched sort of snorty chuckle.
"Then I'd agree that you are dangerous. Anyone who can't restrain his tongue could set the whole world on fire."
"And that's my plan, too, if they won't let me speak."
Smyrna shot a curiously angry glance at Nic. "I don't know what deluded me into helping you, but now I am beginning to think that I am assisting a madman."
"Oh, I am a madman, Smyrna, a very mad man. I am mad for so many things. But I do not think that it is I that am crazy, so much as the whole rest of the world."
"I don't think everyone else is threatening to burn away all humanity if they don't get to have control."
"Oh but they are, Doctor, but they are. All in the little limited ways they are. They all throw their tantrums when they lose control. Most of them have only power enough to mess up a few other people's lives, maybe only spoil a day or two, but I," he raised the pitch of his voice, "But I... I am more powerful. If the world doesn't sober up and leave me at peace... they may all rest in peace."
"I suppose you think a burned-out world would be a pleasant one? Would you really enjoy it if you successfully annihilated every voice that resisted you?"
Nic did not answer.
Sensing victory, Smyrna pressed his advantage, "I suppose you realize that you would do them all what they have done to you? You complain of being repressed, that you cannot speak as you would. So instead you would repress every one else in eternal silence, so that you can glory in your exalted cemetery paradise."
Nic kept his gaze on the sidewalk, carefully not stepping on any cracks. Eventually he muttered, "But it isn't fair."
"Life isn't fair, Doctor. A life spent in pursuit of fairness will fall dead on the track no closer to the end than when the gun fired, without divine intervention."
"I do not allow for the divine."
"And there will come a day when the divine will not allow for you. Then you will see what He thinks of all your denial of Him."
Nic remained in silence.
So Dr. Smyrna struck the final chord, "And what then, Nic? What then?"
Nic looked up, surveyed his surroundings, and said, "We had best avoid using our names. I'll be Paul."
Smyrna smiled to himself, thinking, "I hope so." Then he said aloud, "And I'll be Stephen."
More name games and intriguing dialogue in the next part....