The Backslider has a couple of marvelously rendered spiritual scenes. Religiosity is strong as a background element in Byuck, but does not often appear in the foreground. A notable exception is this short chapter. The selection does include some spoilers, but nothing you wouldn't have guessed by the end of page ten.
Chapter Thirty-Nine = Nice Quiet Place
Dave spent the first part of Tuesday trodding head down from class to class, utterly failing to enjoy the first day in months that not only could be called warm, but was warm. Instead he was berating himself for one failing or another (you like girls! you like unbowdlerized Grimms’ fairy tales! you like shampoo commercials!) and watching his shoes strike sidewalk over and over and over again.
As he approached University Parkway on his way home, one of those shoes suddenly tripped over the other one and Dave flew face first into a signpost, barely getting his hands out in time to prevent a nice crease in his forehead. The impact bounced him back a couple steps, then he staggered on to the intersection, his mind void of thought.
As he stood there waiting for the light to change he realized, One, he was moping. Two, no one likes a moper. Three, he should knock it off. So he took his keys out of his pocket and threw them over University Parkway into the nearly deserted stadium parking lot. “Keys!” he cried. “Where are you going?” The light changed and he thanked the little green man for appearing—“Martian or leprechaun?” he politely inquired—then ran into the parking lot and kicked his keys as hard as he could. He chased his keys kick by kick to the low hill at the east end of the lot, then grabbed them and ran up the little incline to the stream that flowed there, already filling with spring runoff. It was actually a ditch, he supposed, but too pretty to be called that. He put the keys in his pocket, sat on the dirt, listened to the water, looked at the parking lot through the soon-to-green foliage, and prayed.
He started by mentioning the beautiful day, the good semester he was having, his new job and this nice quiet place to sit and clear his head and, he realized, pray aloud. Like Joseph Smith. Dave smiled. He thanked his Heavenly Father for his friends. He mentioned how good they were to him, then admitted maybe he wasn’t such a good friend in return. He mentioned Ref. They reminisced about his many years with her, about the times he and she’d had. Then he admitted something he had never even admitted to himself. He searched for the right words. It wasn’t that he was Aware of Ref, though that was suddenly true. And it wasn’t that he Loved her either. But she was his friend and somehow . . . that wasn’t enough. Dissatisfaction. Was that his problem? Ingratitude. Not exactly.
Dave leaned back on his hands and looked up at the sky through the trees. “I told her I couldn’t go to her banquet with her,” he prayed. “Why did I do that?” Why had he done that? Dave lowered his head and shook it. He brushed his hands on his pants and leaned over his knees. And kept talking.
Dave hadn’t checked his watch when he’d started praying, and didn’t when he finished either. It hadn’t been an Enos-a-thon and it hadn’t been earth-shattering. But he felt better. A lot better. He walked the rest of the way home smiling, and he kept talking to God in his mind because he felt He was still there, listening.
Dave felt like doing frabjous cartwheels down the sidewalk, or some other acrobatic act of derring-do. Pity he didn’t know how.