THE FIRES OF HELL

“Why, young Davy? Why do ye wonder so, at the things of life to which ye can have no answer but the ones I give ye?” Father O’Malley toyed with the folds of his great robe. He waited for an answer.

“Father, is it my wondering that is a sin?” David looked inquisitively at the priest. “Is it my simple questions that upset you?”

“Davy.” The priest would not look to David’s eyes. “Ye’ve damned yerself a thousand fold. Ye’ve damned yerself standing in the house of God. Ye’ve blasphemed the transubstanciated host and spoiled the sacred juice of the Lord. What will ye have me say? Go in peace? Yer sins are forgiven ye? Father O’Malley paused. “Ye’ve made the house of God into a devil’s playground, boy! You’ve toyed with the tabernacle that holds his spirit! Ye’ve sexed the peace of confession with your lewd remarks! Ye have questioned the church and the splendid edifice that pleases God. I’ve nothing more to say to you, boy!”

“Do you want me to lock up after I finish cleaning?” David asked the priest.

“Put a lock on the heart of your soul, boy!” The priest raised his voice. He gathered the papers that lay atop the pulpit. “Lock yer soul from the infestation of Lucifer and the devil’s union! Close yer heart and mind to questions and reason. Submit to the spirit of religious fortitude, lest ye damn us all with your constant probing!”

“I’ll leave the key under the mat,” David began, “..so you can get in in the morning.”

The priest had the papers in hand. He tucked them under his arm and looked at David. “The seventh level of hell is where ye’ll find the key to morning, boy. And when ye get to that seventh level, be sure to tell them ‘Al sent you.’ There’s a demon down there by the name of Joe Fitsimons. He makes the best hooch this side of the Atlantic.” The priest started to sing in a low voice,

Oh Laddy boy! The bells, the bells are callin’
Through stormy sea, the mire and dread are fallin’
This path I take! The devil’s hand I’m holden!
And Satan’s kiss, the blessed sense of knowin!

“Father?” David interrupted. “Father! did you take yer medication?”

The priest was still humming as he reached into his robe. There was a buldge in the pocket there. It loosened as he pulled the metal liquor container out. He unscrewed the lid and brought it up to his mouth. He gulped. Once. Twice. He smacked his lips and gave a satisfied sigh. “That’s all the medicine a priest needs, boy!”

“Yes, Father O’Malley.” David replied.

“Eh?” the priest stammered. “Eh? Damn the whole lot of them, Davy! Like lambs to the slaughter they are. You know, not a one of them knows there lays a cock behind this robe!” The priest gestured and shuffled his robe. “But do they give it a damn if I crack meself a fart upon a Sunday mornin’?” Father O’Malley pointed to the pulpit.

“Yes..” David didn’t finish.

“Damn right they do! Not lest there be no odor a driftin’ toward the first pew! Damn the fools! The pigs stink me sanctuary with lewdness! Oh, Davy! I was a man once! I can’t take no more! I’ve cast me last spell! I’ve conjured me last spirit! I’ve given me last rites~ and soiled meself!” The priest looked down at his robe, below his belt. A wet spot had appeared there. Urine was dripping onto the floor. “I’ve pissed on the podium of God!” The priest looked down, lifting his legs to examine the wet floor around his feet. He chuckled. “A piss-poor priest am I! That can’t handle his liquor!” He looked up at the giant crucifix that hung above the tabernacle. He bowed his head. “Sorry about that.” His remarks were directed at the crucifix. He turned back to David. “What are ye standin’ there for, boy? Go get some paper towels out of the holy kitchen before I have ye lick it up with yer cursed tounge!.”

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