FATHER O'MALLEY'S MEDICATION

It was to a dark and dangerous region of the city where young Davy was headed that evening. Father O’Malley was the reason for this sourjorn. Countless times Davy had made this same journey, for a bottle of imported Irish Hootch from the Welshire Province of Dublin. Ferridey’s European Market was the only store in the entire city that carried the liquor. Father O’Malley would send Davy there twice a month to pick up twelve bottles each time. “I can’t do without the Devil’s own water, Davy!,” Father O’Malley would sigh. “Oh, laddy.. it’ll be the end of me one of these godforsaken days!”

We won’t go into the goings on at the liquor store. Everyone there knew Davy. They knew the hootch was for Father O’Malley. They also had their own ideas about what was going on between David and the Priest. David left the whispers behind him as he closed the old wooden door of the shop. He did not like this section of town. It was dreadful. There was poverty everywhere. He didn’t like to think about it. Father O’Malley had told him long ago that the people in the city were a bad lot. Their punishment was their poverty, and a boy like Davy would fall into that world of tricksters and hooligans if he ever so much as dropped a coin in a beggar’s cup.

David took a cab back to the Church. He was making good time. Father O’Malley would be upset if he didn’t get the liquor in him before this evening’s sermon. He told Davy, “An old man like me-self can not for preach without the wine of Satan, boy. It lifts me spirits and tilts me eyes toward the bliss of pickled heaven.” David was not always sure what Father O’Malley meant when he rambled on like that, but he trusted the old man knew what he was doing. After all, he was the priest, the supreme authority of the congregation.

David used the back entrance to the church. He opened the door to the holy kitchen to find Father O’Malley pacing back and forth across the linoleum tiled floor. He jerked as if caught by surprise when he heard the screen door snap back against its bearings. “Davy! you ungrateful little shit! Where have ye been so long?” David stammered to reply, “uhh..”

“Ye’ve been smoothin’ yer pole at a sex booth? Have ye?” Father O’Malley grabbed the large paper bag from David’s hands. “Out with it, boy!” he yelled, “Ye better stay away from beggars and orphans, boy! That business is no good for a Christian lad. Before ye know it, they’ll have one hand up yer ass, and the other in yer pocket.”

David went through this every time. Once the Father had his medicine, he’d be okay. He walked to the cabinet over the sink to get a shot glass. Father O’Malley grabbed it out of his hand with a “give it here, boy!” It was filled with hootch and down the Priest’s throat faster than light. The priest let out a slow, “Ahhh- now that hits the spot!” He opened a package of unblessed Eucharist wafers and took one out. He poured another shot of whiskey. Dipping the wafer in the shot glass he looked at David, eyes narrowing. “What?” David turned pretending not to look. The father munched on the cracker, “..damn boys..”

When the priest left to go upstairs and get changed for the evening mass, David was left alone in the holy kitchen. He cleaned up the cracker crumbs and spilled hootch. Father O’Malley had called him ‘lazy’ before going upstairs. The priest had said, “I’ve been through five nuns in the past month, boy! You’d better learn yer houskeepin’ I’ve no intention of letting another whore of Christ in this Church again.” Father O’Malley never did like women. He had said that they were lazy and not good for much. There were times he called them ‘the Lord’s grave error.’ Other times he referred to them as whoremongers, wenches, sluts, sacks of shit, hairy beasts, and creatures of destruction. One of the sisters that had come to the church recently to help out, her name was Sister Reily. She found herself locked out in the cold all winter. She had to take blankets and sleep in the tool shed out behind the playground. Father O’Malley had said that the woman smelled of ocean fish. He had told David that she was a disgrace to the church. “The odor of unclean privates is an abomination in the house of God!” he would yell each night he pushed her out the back kitchen door into the snow. “The archbishop can kiss me hairy ass if he don’t like it!” That was the last thing he said to Sister Reily before she left last February. David tried to help the poor woman. He would bring out blankets to cover her from the cold winter nights. He would bring her food from the holy kitchen as well. David would listen from his window in the altar-boy room in the evenings as the distraught nun would cry herself to sleep. Father O’Malley had told Davy that we could learn something from the Arabs and Middle Easterners in the way that they handled their women. “It’s scriptural my boy,” he had said. “Maybe I should send her over to Abdul’s Market for a day. He cleans his wife with a wire brush and a can of Lysol. He’d need more than that for Sister Reily though. Heaven knows what in God’s good name that woman has got growin’ up in that bloody gash of hers!”

As young David was thinking about all of these things, Father O’Malley came back into the kitchen. His shirt was off. “Davy!” the priest motioned for the boy to come over. “Grab the Eucharist and the Sacred Chalice, boy!” He did as the Father asked and placed each item on the kitchen table. The priest was standing beside him. “Davy,” he started, “I want ye to look upon my holy back and tell me what ye see!” David looked and told the Father what he saw. There were large boils and pimples starting at his shoulders and spreading all the way down to the middle of his back.

“I want ye to pop the sacred blisters of your Father into the Chalice, boy.” Father O’Malley said. David agreed. “Now, go easy boy! and one at a time! I believe the juice will bring healing to the congregation when it is mixed with the blood of God.” David began squeezing and squirting until every last boil and pimple on the Father’s back left nothing but a fresh scar. The wine had turned a milder red, like tomato soup it was thick and creamy. “Drink!” The priest yelled. David shook himself. The priest was behind him holding an empty shot glass. “Fix me another drink, boy!” David opened his eyes wider. The Eucharist and Sacred Chalice were not on the table. He had been dreaming. He got up and fixed the priest a drink.

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