THE CATHEDRAL FLOOR
“And ye shall clean the pews of this church, over and under until they are an immaculate reflection of shining divinity.” Young David turned, broom and toothbrush in hand and walked to the last pew of the church. He hoped the Father O’Malley was finished barking commands. Somberly, he dropped the toothbrush into the bucket of cleanser, gripped the handle with his right hand and knelt down on the floor.
The priest was behind the pulpit, practicing for this Sunday’s sermon. He must not have seen David kneel down, and in his senility thought the boy to have ran out the door. “Damn ye Davy! Damn ye to Hell! I’ve no time for tomfoolery. These are the last days my son!.
“Father!” David peeked his head over the last pew. “I’m here working. I haven’t left.”
“Damn ye Davy, this is not a game lad! You are cleaning the house of the Lord, boy! Now get to work!” The priest muttered a sigh of disgust and turned another page of the large Bible that sat atop the pulpit.
David began scrubbing under the last pew. He would work his way to the front. Was this some kind of punishment, a penance? He dipped the toothbrush into the pail of cleanser and scrubbed. Dust fell to the floor. Pieces of chewing gum, old and hard had to be pried out with the end of the brush. He used a whole roll of paper towels to clean the excess goop that had accumulated on the floor. After an hour, he was finished with the last pew. He stood up, legs aching. His eyes were red and burning from the lack of light. He looked up toward the front of the church. Father O’Malley was still there, muttering to himself. David sighed, and looked at the next pew. Even if he could finish it all tonight, he would still have to sweep and polish and wax. Even thinking about it all, made him tired.
He started in on the second to last pew of the church. As he knelt down, something bruised into his left knee. Ouch! He looked to see what it was. A Rosery bead. He looked at it. There were more. It looked like someone’s necklace had broken. He decided to tell the priest.
"Father! I found a few Rosery beads here.” Young David yelled.
“A few?” The priest yelled back. “Just exactly how many did you find, boy?”
David counted them. “Twelve! Father.”
The priest threw his hands into the air. “Two sixes, you little devil! One shy of the coming beast! Put ‘em in the pail before they jynx ye, boy!”
David gathered them in his hands and threw them into the bucket of cleanser.
“Now bring them to me, boy!” The preist stepped down from the pulpit. “Hurry, lad! I don’t have all day!”
David ran to the front of the church. As he did, he was drying off the beads in a paper towel. He stopped before Father O’Malley. Rubbing the excess liquid off the beads, he handed the pile of twelve to the priest.
“Good work, lad.” The priest smiled. “These must belong to Mother Francis. She was a wreck this week without them.”
“Yes, Father” David began, “she was in the confessional nearly every -”
“Silence!” The priest glared at young David. “Silence your insignificant, trashy little mouth boy!”
“But...” David protested.
“Shut yer mouth, boy.” Father O’Malley was eying the beads. “This beads are no good anymore. Saint Mary would spit on the prayers offered by such. To pray with these would be damnable! They can only serve one purpose.” The priest put a bead in his mouth. He swirled it about, hacking saliva at the back of his throat. David had a puzzled look on his face.
“Pfhhoot” The priest spat the bead out at David’s head. “One for the cleansing!” He put another in his mouth and spat it at David again, “Two for the soul of Mother Francis!” He put another in his mouth. The beads he had spat out, rolled accross the floor and under the first couple of pews. Father O’Malley spat the third. It hit David in the eye. “Three for the burden that rests in my loins!” David gasped. The priest was on his fourth bead. He hacked, and wheezed.
“Father?” David tried to touch the priest’s arm.
“Unhand me boy!” Father O’Malley began choking. He was truly gasping, and hacking uncontrollably.
“Father?” David tried again to offer assistance.
“Mother Mackree!” the priest choked, “I -” The priest’s face turned red. He collapsed on the floor. Falling with a thud.
David stared. The remaining Rosary beads spilled out of the paper towel onto the floor. They rolled noisily on the marble tiles. “Oh, dear.” David thought. He scrambled after the beads, leaving the Father in a heap below the altar. As David ran, he tripped and fell, hitting his head.
There was a kick to his side. He was coming to. “Father O’Malley?” David exclaimed.
“Get your lazy devil’s ass back to work, boy!” The priest yelled.
David looked around him. He was at the back of the church, at the second to last pew. The cleanser on the toothbrush was drying as he stared.
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