Subcutaneous Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 45

He grabbed his weather-beaten, split handle leather bag and opened it. His holy water filled flask engraved with the phrase “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” was nestled in the center of his collection of crucifixes acquired from his various liturgical exploits. Singed on a few edges and a little worse for wear, an overlarge leather-bound Bible laid beneath the nest of crucified Jesuses at the bottom. The Bible was so damn heavy, it put strain on his back just carrying it around, but heaving it out for the “final act” made the whole aesthetic come together. His freshly washed surplice and stole sat crumpled inside his laundry basket along with the rest of his ecclesiastical vestments. It gave him a fleeing pang of regret that he had no time for ironing. Wrapping himself in the white robe accented with the regal purple shawl was his favorite part; it almost gave the illusion of innocence. The thought made him smile as he loosely folded the garments and threw them on top of the pre-packed sacramentals. “Firrrrrre…Smoke she is a rising. Fire.” he sang under his breath as he closed his bag and walked out the door of the rectory. *** Her little Amy was finally asleep after the litany of prayers and pills that were pumped into her helpless 10-year-old body; more pills than prayers if she was being honest. Mary continued to whisper prayers for the cocktail of drugs that traversed through her only child’s bloodstream. They only needed to keep Amy knocked out long enough for the priest to arrive. Tears trickled as she began sweeping up the charred remnants of what was a dresser only hours ago. Mary noticed little changes in her daughter over the past year. At first she and Joe thought it was just pre-teen angst. Their little girl was growing up and testing her boundaries, a little backtalk and slammed doors were normal. Then there were escalating incidents at school; her grades dropped, fighting, parent-teacher conferences where therapy was suggested. Amy’s emotions had become erratic, angrier. They never knew when their little girl was going to burst into a fit of rage. After school detention ended in expulsion following a fire started using the hem of another girl’s skirt. Private schools are used to sweeping things under the rug if the “donation” is sizeable enough, no one was severely injured so no charges were filed, but Amy was never allowed on campus ever again. Joe and Mary’s marriage was already troubled due to financial instability and adultery before Amy was ejected from The Academy, the strain of a troubled youth made things exponentially worse. Amy had been homebound for a week when the dog went missing only to turn up in a heap of blackened bones just days later. That was the first time they felt fear of their daughter. They took turns shuttling Amy to and from psychologists, therapists, and specialists, always ending with more questions than answers. Amy became more withdrawn. She stopped eating, stopped bathing, and refused to leave her room. That’s when the constant arguing took a violent turn. Joe had taken to the bottle in the midst of his daughter’s downward spiral. He and Mary fought end- lessly, blame was cast in both directions, and his being forced to resign from the firm did nothing to improve the situation. He was done. He had been done for over 10 years, but he knocked her up and this was the result. Mary had never worked a day in her life, she didn’t know how important his career was to him, she didn’t care. If he had known at the time that her daddy’s inheritance was almost depleted, he would’ve pushed her down some stairs or something. Enough was enough. Joe kicked open the door to the bedroom he and Mary once shared, empty handle of Jack in tow. “You bitch!” he yelled, startling Mary awake. “This was your trap, you silver spooned succubus!” He stomped toward her with each venomous word. “You wanted a big house, and fancy shit, and fake tits!” He screeched, snatching the comforter from Mary’s white-knuckled grasp. “What did I get?! A fuckton of debt and a demon child!” Mary sat up, furious at the words “demon child.” Before she could form insults to fling back at her husband, the empty bottle came crashing down on her head. Her head throbbed and her vision became blurry, but she didn’t quite black out from the blow. From her prone position she vaguely heard Joe barge into their daughter’s bedroom. There were more curses and screams she couldn’t make out, then everything went silent. She didn’t know whether she had lost her hearing or if she was about to pass out when a brightness suddenly lit up the hallway and a guttural cry filled the house; a strange warmth touched her cheeks, then the lightshow disappeared. She continued to lie there, gathering herself. Mary was still woozy when she wobbled into Amy’s room several minutes later. The entire room was ash, except for the twin bed at the center. The pink princess sheets, stuffed teddy bears, and her little girl were all unharmed and intact. Flames danced in the child’s eyes. *** The good Father trudged up the ornate steps leading to the filigreed double doors of the Christian mansion. He chuckled to himself at the irony as he approached the landing. He pressed the golden doorbell. The chime of “La Cucaracha” jarred Mary from her woeful chore. She took a deep breath. “Salvation,” she thought as she took one last look at her sleeping baby girl. It dawned on her that this was her last resort. 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