return to episode 3

 

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Father Callow confessed that science had a hold of his cosmology: God, he believed, was the distal source of all things, but His will manifested in accordance with the natural laws of the universe.

“Do you not believe in miracles, then, Father?”

Father Callow believed, rather, that he lacked the capacity to understand the myriad ways of the Lord, and that His works were therefore miraculous to behold.

“But, then, miraculous things could be happening, even as we speak—in full accordance with the natural laws of the universe!”

But Father Callow had made it his habit not to ascribe to providence what earthly science already explained.

“Can science explain the demons, Father?”

Here, Father Callow confessed to a heresy: demons, he maintained, were the conjuries of a corrupted mind.

“Do you think I am insane?”

Father Callow thought the better question was whether he had sinned or been sinned against

“—But I wasn’t asking you, Father; I was asking Junebug.”

Father Callow acknowledged this bit of cleverness with a tight smile.

June, meanwhile, rattled her blood-soaked bobble-head in vigorous agreement, mockingly twirling a finger by her ear and jabbing it in my direction.

Under the bed (to which I had been secured with thick canvass restraints), Little Finnegan rehearsed his catechism. Although he stayed mostly out of sight these days, he had learned to modulate his voice so that, whatever the level of ambient noise, his muffled imprecations reached my ear.

An unhappy accident had left Delores without the use of her legs, and she was reduced to dragging herself along by the elbows. But she seemed to have picked up a trick or two from Little Finnegan, as she succeeded in working her way up the wall and was clinging now, like a monstrous stain, to the ceiling tiles over Father Callow’s head.

And there were others.

“The jury is still out, I think.”

Father Callow took a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed his brow. Then he stood and removed his jacket.

I fixed my eyes on Father Callow’s collar as he recited a prayer of deliverance. I raised my head as he pressed his handkerchief to my lips; I offered no resistance as he forced his fist in my mouth—

But a storm erupted as Delores, in the sudden throes of a convulsion, rained saliva onto the room, and June whirled and clapped in delight that I had turned such a fulsome shade of blue. And then it passed.

Father Callow was still praying the rosary when an orderly stepped in and wheeled the body away. I was on the floor with my legs crossed and an arm locked tightly around Little Finnegan’s head. And a world of time remained to make Father Callow’s acquaintance more thoroughly.

 

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continue to episode 5