Wednesday 1 – Wednesday 8 June 2011
No secret that I love the Irish . . . & their brogue. God, I love the Irish.
Rain, hail, shine, Mrs. Hunter was at the church at 9:45 a.m., and she hadn’t missed a day since 1952 when she’d moved to the County and married Brian Hunter, purveyor of fine small goods. Mr. Hunter had not seen the benefit of attending church as regularly as his wife. When he passed, she stood at his funeral and proclaimed that his lack of faith was what he eventually killed him, and not the long battle he’d fought with heart disease. Knowing how aggressive she was towards anyone who did not attend church on a regular basis, no one dared proffer a more realistic reason for Mr. Hunter’s passing. It wasn’t worth the mouthful of abuse they’d be on the receiving end of.
‘Morning, Bridget. Can I interest you in a cappohseeno?’ Carl O’Riordan was standing in the doorway of his coffee empire. Bridget had not registered him standing there, and as such, was startled when he spoke to her.
‘For the love of God, Carl! How many times have I told you not to do creepy things like that?’ She snarled at him.
‘But I –’
‘Don’t you ‘but I’ me, Carl O’Riordan. And for Christ’s sake, Carl, it’s pronounced ca-poo-cheeno, not capp-oh-seeno. Feckin’ eedjit,’ she pushed by as she hurried up the street, and out of sight of St. Patrick’s and Father O’Bannon.
From the little window in his office, O’Bannon watched Bridget flee the church.
‘One day, angel, one day.’ A hard knock on the office door pulled his attention back to the room.
‘Coming, Mrs. Hunter,’ he called, ‘I’m coming.’ He quickly pulled on his surplice, straightened it as best as he could, and took care to position his stole perfectly. He’d never liked the stole’s shade of purple, but handled it with due care, always respecting the traditions of the church.
By the time he had readied himself and left his office, Mrs. Hunter was already in her usual confessional. She preferred the right hand side, once claiming to the priest that she felt closer to God on that side.
‘But Mrs. Hunter, it doesn’t matter which side you choose to confess from, God hears you. He’s not particular about sides,’ he’d told her, but she sneered at him, lifting and contorting her lip to demonstrate her disgust at his idea.
Father O’Bannon quietly entered the confessional, prepared to hear all of the mundane trivialities that Mrs. Hunter would confess to having committed.
‘Alright, Mrs. Hunter, confess away.’ He heard her suck in a breath at his complacency.
‘Father O’Bannon, if you don’t respect the sanctity of the confessional, of your job, then I shall have no option than to write to your superiors and request your transfer.’
Enough was enough. Six years of dealing with this woman was enough to drive anyone insane. In that moment he decided that he would not put up with her particular brand of insanity any more.
‘Mrs. Hunter,’ he rose his voice beyond the whisper that he would ordinarily use in the confessional, ‘I’ve had quite enough of your attitude, of your confessions, of your sneering. You have absolutely nothing to confess, whatsoever. And quite frankly, I’m pretty sure that the good Lord will not be wanting you to sit at his side once you pass over. You’re a deplorable old battle-axe. Have you not noticed that everyone in the village steers clear of you? They can’t stand you. I’m the only one who actually tolerates you, and if it weren’t for my position as cleric of this church, there’s no way I’d have put up with you for so long.’
Again, he heard Mrs. Hunter gasping for air. Fed up, Father Derek O’Bannon exited the confessional, opened the right hand door to the cubicle in which Mrs. Hunter always confessed from, and found himself looking at an old woman who was struggling for breath.
‘Oh, good God, Mrs. Hunter, are you alright? Can you breathe okay?’
She shook her head; no, she could not breathe. She ripped at the scarf around her neck, trying to loosen it. Momentarily contemplating how easy it would be to strangle the old biddy to death with her own scarf, Father O’Bannon slid himself into the cubicle with Mrs. Hunter, and loosened the scarf, all the while mumbling apologies under his breath.
. . . To be continued . . .