30 – FATHER IGNATIUS

30 – FATHER IGNATIUS

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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THE LIFE AND LOVES OF ANNIE GRABLE - 30

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Even at her advanced age Annie felt herself blushing.

I guess I know what you might be thinking of me, Mr Thrush, that I was a s**t greedy for the intoxicating joy of a man in my arms and in my heart, and maybe that’s exactly what I was. You see, David called on me on and off for a dozen years or more, all for the same reason, because he wanted to sleep with a woman and I was a woman. There was no pretence of emotional love, I wouldn’t have done it if there had been. But I was a lonely woman and he was a lonely man and for an hour once or twice a month, not more frequently than that, neither man nor woman was lonely. And for over a decade nobody discovered my secret, though more than once he was discovered with me at home when one of the kids chanced to call.

But, fortunately, it was simply accepted that he was a man from the council making sure that my house wasn’t falling down around me. I don’t know why they swallowed it for so long seeing as I was buying the place, but they did. I guess they couldn’t see their granny living a debauched life with a council employee and my explanation was more plausible than that!

He was lying there with me, in my bed, when the phone rang and I learned that Klaus had died.”

It had been a shock. She had dismissed Klaus from a great deal of her thoughts, and the truth of the matter was she had lived the life of a widow for so long she was beginning to feel like one.

Klaus had never formed another relationship and they had never divorced because he, being a Roman Catholic (he thought he was and on occasion went to mass, though was never quite sure where he got his faith from) believed divorce to be a sin. Marriage, he always said, was for life, which meant he had been most acerbic when Daniel had his very brief and inexplicable interval with Eva.

There was nobody else in his rather sterile life.

It fell on me to arrange the funeral,” sighed Annie. “You might be excused for thinking my life was all funerals in those days, but that’s what it seems like when you just list the highlights of the years. A year, maybe more, maybe two or three, pass and nothing worth mentioning happens and then there’s a funeral. Anyway, I explained to David that he would have to leave me for the moment because I’d a funeral to arrange, and he went, all good grace and smiles but with a simmering look in his eyes that suggested that I might have been no more to him than a free w***e, which hurt me. But I had no time to worry about that because Klaus needed to be buried.

The funeral, when it happened, was conducted by Father Ignatius of the small local Roman Catholic Church, and Father Ignatius took a rather individual view of his function when it came to grieving widows. And it didn’t take me long to fathom what lay like a serpent in his mind.”

She smiled at the thrush and could tell that he smiled back at her. It had been the very day of the funeral and she had laid on a tea at her own small house because by then the only occupant of Klaus’s home had been Klaus himself and she didn’t know where anything was.

It’s so sad,” murmured Father Ignatius into her ear as she tried to look anonymous.

Pardon?” she asked. Her contact with this priest had been minimal and she was a bit surprised that he remembered who she was.

A good man taken before his time,” came slithering out of the holy man in a way that suggested he used it as a chat-up line if there were any single ladies around, and it being a funeral there was often at least one.

He had enjoyed his three score years and ten,” she reminded Ignatius, “which the good book suggests we should all be happy with.”

But to leave a lonely wife… so young to be a widow...” he mumbled, “is there anything I can do to assist in any way?”

No, it’s all right, I have everything arranged,” replied Annie.

The Lord guides me,” he said quietly, “he knows human needs… and women’s needs … he created woman and knows the way to her heart...”

I’m quite all right!” she almost snapped. She hated the way some men assume there’s a natural frailty inside women than only they can repair.

There are grieving widows in this parish who know the worth of an understanding man of God in times like these,” he almost whispered.

I have never had the need of any man of God,” she replied, “you see, I’m not a believer.”

But a heart guided by our Lord...” he simpered.

No thank you.”

Our personal lives can be so torn by events like this,” he said quietly, “when we are most vulnerable we might feel the need for company… I know such things and find them heart-rending. So if you, dear lady, ever feel the need for support in prayer, even though you may not share your dear late husband’s faith, feel free to approach me. The Lord guides me, you know, in all things. He puts my hand where it might do most good...” and here he gently placed one hand onto her bottom and stroked it in a way that sent arrows of anger deep into her heart.

Is that what you call celibacy?” she snapped, and was fully aware that the two of three others at the funeral tea heard her, “man-handling a grieving woman’s bottom? Talking suggestively to her, using your weasel words to try to find a way past her defences and into her knickers?”

Madam!” he replied, sounding shocked, as though such a thought had never entered his mind, nor would it for as long as he lived, “I don’t know what you’re implying … I am not a man of the world in the sense you seem to think I am, being a humble priest in the service of our Lord...”

I heard what you said to me, and there could only possibly be one interpretation put on it, especially after you started massaging my bottom with your filthy hands!” she told him, her voice still loud enough to alert and, it seemed, amuse the small gathering.

Madam, you misunderstood … I’m sure it must have been my fault, but, madam, please forgive me and if I touched your … body … please forgive me, it was purely unintentional, just nerves on my part...”

I think you should leave now,” she told him, “before I involve the police.”

What? Police? Them? But why, madam… I will go, yes, that’s what I’ll do, I’ll go and never darken your lovely door again, misunderstandings, I can’t apologise enough...”

And Father Ignatius almost ran out of the house and down the street, looking fearfully behind him as if he was being pursued by all the hounds of hell.

And at my age!” snapped Annie.

It’s about time someone gave him what for,” said one of the mourners, “he’s got quite a reputation for it. I think celibacy! Well done, dear,” and slowly, gladly, the little tea party dissolved until all that was left was a heap of washing up and Annie herself.

I suppose, looking back on it, it was quite funny,” sighed Annie, “but now, Mr Thrush, it’s time to say goodnight.”

And she was sure she heard a goodnight whistle as the thrush replied.

© Peter Rogerson 29.05.20



© 2020 Peter Rogerson


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Added on May 29, 2020
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Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing