A week after the police arrested Father Sass in the Paradise Motel outside Port Hope for fiddling minors, my father drove us to the city to meet Father Joe at the train station.
—Be nice to the man, give him the benefit of the doubt, our father said.
—Can we hit Burger King on the way home? my brother asked.
—Do you think the bookstore will be open? I asked to no response.
Going to the city was an event, all our info came by mail or mouth. It took my father three years to pay off the encyclopedias, which I thought we’d never read but devoured in a few months and panted like dogs at the barbecue for those annual updates.
Father Joe got off the train like a snowstorm. Laughter all bellows raising the station roof-beams, vestment a dance in the wind, handshake more an arm wrench I-got-you-now-more-than-hello-nice-to-meet-you, you’d have to be dead not to like this guy. Father Joe was life. Kissing babies, steering one-liners to exact targets, putting others first–Jesus who’d a thought it possible to bubble over with all that genuine curiosity and enjoy showing interest?
—Do you play hockey? Who’s the hot shot around here? Do I spy a Pub on that corner?
All before we’d loaded his few bags in the boot.
My Father, Father Joe, my Brother, and I around a table, 4 black pints, and 4 cheeseburgers.
—So Sass was a wicked Uncle Ernie? Father Joe asked, spreading relish.
—Even worse, a glutton and a bore. Pass the vinegar, would you? said my Father.
—There’s an elephant in the loo and I don’t know what to do, my brother said.
—Lead him to the center of the room, I said, passing the condiments.
—Boys, no Tom Foolery now, my Father said.
Father Joe squired ketchup. Guzzled his pint, attacked his plate, barely returned for air.
—Never trust a fat priest, boys.
He waved for another pint and opened his huge mouth for round two. My brother stuck two fingers up my underarm and I fell out of the booth, used laughter to cover the fall.
On the drive home, my brother and Father Joe were asleep in the backseat. Cornrows autumn high, at a gravel crossroad, a station wagon was wedged under a John Deer Harvester. My father rolled down the window for the cop, the ambulance driver, then the farmer. They all told him there was nothing more anyone could do.
David Morgan O’Connor is from a small village on Lake Huron. After many nomadic years, he is based in Albuquerque, where a novel and MFA progresses. His writing has appeared in; Barcelona Metropolitan, Collective Exiles, Across the Margin, Headland, Cecile’s Writers, Bohemia, Beechwood, Fiction Magazine, After the Pause, The Great American Lit Mag (Pushcart nomination) , The New Quarterly and The Guardian. Tweeting @dmoconnorwrites.