4.19.2014 Journal Prompt

Pittsburgh Press photo By Anthony Kaminski
Pittsburgh Press photo by Anthony Kaminski

April 19, 2014: We weren’t religious.

One Reply to “4.19.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. We weren’t a religious family. Da said ‘Jesus H fucking Christ’ when he hit his thumb with the hammer instead of hitting the head of a nail, and he said ‘Holy Mother of fucking God’ whenever he was surprised or cross – but that’s not really being religious. Mam said da should mind his p’s and q’s in front of us children, but there weren’t no p or q in the words da said. When da left us for a woman with ‘perky tits’ and he was just ‘following his bastard prick like all men’, well we thought it was mam who should watch her p’s at least.

    I was a choirboy at the time and mam said that was sweet and she said I was the only good boy in the family and she kissed my cheek and she made me promise to always be good. I liked that mam thought I was good, so that when my voice changed and I lost all control of the notes I could sing and the choirmaster said he couldn’t really have a squawking hen in with his songbirds, well, I just broke down in tears. I think that’s why they gave me the other job.

    I got to help the minister during service. He was a big smiling man and he said that I would be his trusted right hand and he winked at me and ruffled my hair into untidy. Mam thought I was better than good when I told her.

    Service was one evening a week and Sundays. During the week, the choir were not involved, so it was just me and the minster. He didn’t speak much before the service. We dressed in our surplices in a small room at the back of the altar. It smelled of dust and old wood and candlewax. He was nervous, you could tell. He kept clearing his throat and walking up and down and checking the time on his watch.

    I had a little leather bound book with the pages thin as Holy whispers. It had the whole service written down, all the words the minister intoned and all the words for the congregation. And in italics it had all the things I had to do and when I had to do them. It was like being in a play, except there was no clapping when I got things right.

    Afterwards the minister was all smiles and he said again that I was his trusted right hand and that I had done a good job. And he asked me how school was and how my mam and da were doing and that’s when I told him about how da was gone and about the woman with perky tits. The minister laid one hand on my head and he said he was sorry and he said he would pray for us and he got to his knees there and then and prayed.

    Mam never came to church and she never talked about God or belief, but she always asked if I had been good and she kissed me when I said that I had.

    Then came a day that was the testing of all goodness. It was after service in the week and it had ‘gone as smooth as clockwork’, that’s what the minister had said. I’d been doing the job for months and I was really enjoying it. I got to see people I knew and when they kneeled for prayer they looked different from how they looked in the street; they looked good and blessed.

    After the service the minister was excited and it seemed to me a little nervous still. He closed the door to the back room and took off his surplice. There were sweat stains under the arms of his shirt and his face was red. He said again about my being good and being his trusted right hand. He stroked my head like he’d done before and he kissed me on the lips, which was knew. Then he took my right hand, which was really his, and he put it down the front of his trousers. His prick was hard and he said I should hold it in a grip and he showed me how to move my hand up and down. He had a look on his face like a saint in ecstasy and his breath came quick and short and moaning. Then he cried out for God and my hand was wet and warm and sticky.

    When we’d cleaned up and he was about to put out the light, he said I was to tell no one. He said it was a secret that was ours and God’s and he made me promise. And he said again that I was good, and I thought then that good wasn’t something that I really wanted to be anymore.

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