The higher you fly, the farther you fall. Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert, warnings for religious themes and present tense.
Disclaimer: Any similarity between the fictional version of the person portrayed here and the actual persons is purely coincidental. This is a work of fiction. This is not an attempt to defame the character of said person on the basis of libel, as the work is FICTIONAL (and NOT an intently false statement created with the express purpose of misleading others about the actual character of said person). Any mention of 'The Daily Show', 'The Colbert Report', 'Viacom', any associated entites, or any copyrighted material pertaining therein is reasonably protected by the Fair Use Rule of the United States Copyright Act of 1976 and is not intended to infringe upon any copyrighted material.
Sweat gleams on his forehead. Globs of saliva dangle precariously on his lips. His hands suddenly spasm as his abdominal muscles contract, forcing a burning trickle of acid up his throat and into the toilet bowl. Stephen gasps and pants, his back and knees aching in sync with his heartbeat.
He hears steps behind him, and now his wife is rubbing his back, a damp cloth pressed at the edges of his mouth. She runs her fingers through his hair and gently eases off his glasses. He wants to say /thank you/, /sorry for waking you up/, but he feels like there are white-hot needles licking at his lungs.
She waits while he flushes and sits on his heels before murmuring, "Take your shirt off. I'll get you a new one."
He looks down at his vomit-flecked tie. "It's okay. I've got it." He rubs his stinging nose with his shirtsleeve and smells the faint scent of muted cologne and cigarette smoke. He tries to ignore the sudden lurch in his belly.
She watches him, the worried crease on her forehead as familiar to him as his own. "You might be coming down with something."
He keeps his eyes fixed on the tie's blue-grey stripes. "Yeah, I probably am."
In his darker moments he wonders, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? and immediately wishes he didn't.
Sunlight streams from the stained-glass window, painting delicate ribbons of color on the dark wood pews. Candles on their wrought-iron stands flicker and their light slash shadows on the brilliantly-tiled floor.
His eyes are closed. His head is bowed. His knuckles are white and strained.
In a drawer at his desk at home, he keeps the Bible that his mother had given him for his ninth birthday. The cover is well-worn and the words almost unreadable under the weight under layers of notes and highlights. Last week, he almost tore the thin pages with the violence of his red pen.
Prayers will fall, dry and bitter and delicately heavy, from his lips. Their words will echo until the pain collapses at the edges-darkening then turning grey, white, then nothing.
Afterwards, he stands up, reaches into his pocket and slips the ring back on his finger. It has to be enough.
The gift had been chosen by his wife when she heard the news. He has no idea what it is; he doesn't want to know. It is probably an appropriate one, and it certainly looks like it too as he holds it in his hands. White paper patterned with gold roses, wrapped and topped by a length of gold ribbon set in a picture-perfect bow. In this moment he wants nothing more than to throw this appropriate, perfect gift as far as he possibly can. His fingers itch for the satisfaction it'll bring.
Instead, he runs his handkerchief over some imaginary marks on its surface and carefully places it on the backseat of his car.
He feels the rush from a successful segment ease from his body and he smiles, not the wide hammy one he flashes on camera, but a tiny one that sparkles a little brighter. Across him, Jon's doing the same, his shoulders slumping as the burden of his persona temporarily lightens.
He moves forward, aware of the buzzing chatter of the studio audience and of the crew. He tells Jon, "Hey, congratulations again on your wedding."
Jon's smile spreads and the buttons on his suit are digging into his chest. Jon hugs him, whispers thanks in his ear, and the overhead lights have been on for far too long.
He leans close and breathes deeply.
Notes: For the curious, here are the verses that Stephen remembers, from the TEV Bible:
"Do not commit adultery." Exodus 20:14
"Do not desire another man's house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys or anything else he owns." Exodus 20:16
"But now I tell you: anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:28
"So they are no longer two, but one. Man must not separate, then, what God has joined together." Matthew 19:6
"Marriage is to be honored by all, and husbands and wives must be faithful to each other. God will judge those who are immoral and those who commit adultery." Hebrews 13:4
My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? is from Mark 15:34--"At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, /'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthant?'/, which means, 'My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?'"