tagNovels and NovellasThe Vicar of St. Dunstan's Ep. 04

The Vicar of St. Dunstan's Ep. 04

byNigel Debonnaire©

FUND RAISING

Another slice of life at St. Dunstan's; for background, please consult the previous episodes First in a flock of four. Feedback welcome.

We sat around a large table in the Vestry Room just off the Undercroft of St. Dunstan's Church. The September Vestry meeting had gone an hour and half so far, and Bert Button's tirade was making it longer. He pounded the table as he spoke at full volume, almost shouting and shook his finger at various members of the council:

". . .We have got to get this money situation taken care of once and for all. The stained glass needs repair, the steeple hasn't been jacked for ten years, the organ is in awful shape, and the brickwork is badly in need of tuckpointing. Then, there's the £30.000 we owe the diocese from years ago. The last time the Rev. Stokely asked for money from Bishop Delacroix, he was turned down flat. We need to do something."

Mary Sterns looked stunning: her red hair was set off by her dark business suit and white blouse, yet the look on her face was a study of frustration. She tapped her gavel. "I agree with Bert, although I'm not sure how we're going to go about this. It would be good to start the Autumn with a plan for getting rid of the debt. Any ideas how to go about this?"

"Rummage sale."

"Carnival."

"Bake sale."

"Selling the children to White Slavers."

Mary tapped her gavel and shot Harry Hazelton a dirty look. "Harry, you should be ashamed of yourself."

"But I can provide at least a dozen meself."

"I know you're only half serious, and Mavis would kill you in your sleep if she knew you brought it up. Let's have only reasonable ideas, please."

"A raffle."

"Texas Hold 'Em Tournament."

"Beauty pageant."

"Slave Auction–for chores around the yard one afternoon and such."

"All you can drink night."

"Futures speculation."

Mary tapped the gavel again. Bert Button and Fred Bayless were on the receiving end of her glare this time; they chuckled like schoolboys in defiance of her ire. Bert pointed over at Wilma Branson and shouted: "Hey Wilma, call your cousin Richard; he'll take care of everything out of petty cash." Mary pointed the gavel at him, and he gave her a smirk. She turned to me. "Vicar, do you have any ideas?"

"There are several good ideas here already, and some of them can be combined to good effect. We could have a fund raiser around All Saints' Day, or All Souls' Day; it would do the Parish spirit good as well as raise some cash. Why doesn't everyone who made suggestions work on their ideas over the next week, and we can get together a week from today to share them and develop the big picture. I know this means a special meeting, but if we stay on task and hold the goofing off until afterward," Bert and Fred sniggered again, "we can keep the meeting under an hour, make a good start on our fund raising plans, and still have time for the Pub."

There were nods around the table, especially from those whose minds had been numbed by the ordeal. Mary called for a motion, which was made and seconded, that passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned two minutes later, and the members of the Vestry broke into groups of two and three to talk. Fred, Bert, and Harry came up and punched me lightly on the shoulder: "Nothing personal, Vicar," Fred said, "thought we could use a bit o' humor. Things were getting long."

"Yeah, Vic, nothing personal," Bert and Harry echoed.

I thought for a moment. "All right, apology accepted. Your penance will be to work out a Texas Hold 'Em tournament for a £100 stake where the parish will get half the proceeds, preferably to happen around the time of a Parish festival. Man enough for it?"

"Sure, Vic, love to do it," Harry said.

"Just get ready to lose your money, Vic" Fred laughed.

"Good night, gentlemen."

"Good night, Vicar," Bert said, "Care for a round at the Pub?"

"I'd love to Bert, but I've had a long day, and I've got another tomorrow."

"Sure Vic. Good night."

"God bless."

I wandered around the room and found people excited about doing a Parish festival. At last, I got to the Chair, where Mary just finished with an very anxious parishioner who was concerned about modesty at a possible beauty contest. Seeing it was me, she blew out a frustrated breath and looked at me cross-eyed. "Care for a drink?" I asked.

"That'll do for starters, a double at least, " she said, "let's close up the Undercroft and get into someplace more comfortable." The last of the Vestry had left, and we did the routine of shutting off the lights and making sure the doors were locked. Carrying our briefcases in opposing hands, we walked upstairs and through the deserted church holding hands with fingers interlocked. We went to my sitting room on the second floor of the Vicarage; Mary threw her case down on the floor and demanded: "Who do I have to fuck to get a bloody drink around here?"

"I think you know the answer to that question," I replied coyly.

"Give me that drink first." I poured two huge Scotches, and we sat together on a small sofa. Kicking off her shoes, she settled back against me with her drink in one hand and her other on my opposite knee. I curled my arm around her, grasping her elbow initially, but she moved her arm so I could cup her left breast. We sat there, savoring one another's touch, for a lifetime, sipping our drinks. At last she came out of her reverie: "Well, what's the mood?"

I took a sip and gave her a squeeze. "I think that a festival or fair sounds like a good idea, even if only for community building. Asked the Three Stooges if they'd organize the poker tournament."

"You didn't."

"They can't fail. Either they're going to be excited enough to do a good job of it, or they'll bicker or blow it off and it won't happen. I'll keep an eye on them should they get anywhere near launching it; it could rake in a lot of money if it gets off the ground."

Mary nodded. "All right, I see your point. It would be good to have those clowns busy with something they're motivated to do. There's something else we ought to do if we're going to get serious money raised."

"What's that?"

"Talk to the rich people. It's been several years since we've targeted them particularly, and the last time they rejected all Father Stokely outright. You're liked well enough and you haven't hit them up yet; it's time."

Another slug of Scotch loosened my muscles. "I don't know; I'm ordinary folks and I'm not that comfortable around rich people."

Turning to look at me, Mary was puzzled. "I thought the Episcopal Church in America was The Eye of the Needle; the rich man's gate to heaven."

"We never were that rich in Western Kansas, although we were comfortable. The class system over here is still in force, and I could screw up the etiquette."

"You're an outsider and people will forgive you if you make a mistake where they wouldn't forgive me or Father Stokely. Give it a try, luv. Don't see yourself short." She looked at me, and her glance turned to concern. "You don't like fund-raising, do you?"

I looked down. "It's something I've never felt comfortable with. Working on the annual fund appeal is always my toughest message to preach every year. Asking people for money is something I understand in theory, but doing it always frightens me."

Her face held a look of sympathy. "I know, I know. I'm not comfortable with this either, but it's for the good of the parish. You've always stepped up when we needed you before, Vic. Can you do it. now?"

After a long silent moment, I nodded my head. "All right, I'll give it a try. Help me with the list?"

"Sure, luv. Anything you say."

"Anything?" She smiled at me sarcastically, then gave me a long, deep kiss where we sampled the fine Scotch on each other's lips and on our tongues. My senses began to tingle, and I slipped my right hand inside her jacket to caress her perfect breast.

Finally, we broke and looked at each other longingly, our hips joined. "I feel a bit manky, and a bit tense," I said softly, "maybe we should get in the shower."

"I can't mess with my hair. Don't have another hair appointment for weeks."

"Janet left one of her shower caps in the dresser, I believe."

"I feel manky."

The steam floated away what was left of our worries, as we luxuriated together under the warm water. I ran my hands over her shoulders, chest and breasts as the water flowed over us; she ground her bare hips into my groin until my nine-inch manhood teased her splendid curves. We switched places, and she rubbed herself all over my backside while her hands went up and down my chest and stomach. She went lower and started stroking my erection one hand after the other, speeding up until I almost popped before she stopped.

I turned to face her and managed to lower myself to one knee: directly in front of me was her bare labia, with the bud on top. My tongue insinuated itself in her delicate folds, wandering around, swirling the bud, probing the depths. Mary leaned back against the wall as the water poured over her front. Inserting a finger, I picked up the pace until she was close to her climax.

Standing up again, she started to kneel, but I stopped her. Turning around and leaning against the wall for leverage, I picked up her hips and sat her on my erection facing away from me. She gasped at the penetration, and I steadied her as I bounced her off my hips. Shuddering and hooting, she quickly reached the peak of her ecstacy, her vagina clasping my cock intensely. I slowed down and let her relax, until she said: "When are you going to let me off this ride? I'm hungry for some spunk."

"Not yet, I'm not done with you here."

"I don't know if I can take this any longer," she warbled.

"Let's find out."

I started thrusting into her again, the water flowing over her bouncing backside, her white shower cap bobbing up and down. Mary trembled, writhed and came twice more before I erupted in rivers deep inside her; she could hardly stand as I dried her off lovingly, running the towel gently over her wet skin. After toweling her off, I dried myself and carried her to my bed, where she curled up beside me and fell fast asleep.

In the early morning light, I felt my John Thomas engulfed between warm, loving lips. A head of short, beautifully curled head of red hair was bobbing up and down over the pulled back blankets. A soft tongue was running circles around my corona, encouraging me to full stature. Giving into the sensations, I felt electricity build in my twin batteries. As I got closer, she swallowed more and more of my erection into her mouth until she reached my pubic hair, moving in and out in long strokes. Then she sped up and stayed around the corona, her hand stroking the shaft in a circular pattern. My fountain sprang to life, and my Mary took in all the cream I had to offer.

We dressed: I in my bathrobe; she in her suit from the night before. "Well, Agnes ought to be off to school by now, and Derrick's going out today, so I should get in before they realize I've been out all night."

"There's a turnabout," I observed, "Normally kids coming in after a night out avoid their parents." .

She gave me a nasty look, and made a face. Then she took a piece of paper and wrote down five names: Colonel Sterling Hyde-Smith; Mr. Harold Caldwell; Mrs. Clarissa Clyde-Walker; Mr. Frederick Titterington, O.B.E.; Mrs. Lucinda Parkhurst-Frazelton. "Vicar, these are the people you need to talk to in the next week. Each one of them is rich enough that they could write a check tomorrow for everything we need and not miss it. It would be better if each contributed something; we need a broader donor base in case there is one dies or develops a desire to use his or her money as influence. If they give £5000 each in a spirit of true charity, I believe we can make up the rest with the festival and smaller donors. Do you understand?"

"Sure, Mary. I agree, having one big donor who gives us everything will have a bad effect on the parish; people will hang back and wait for the patron to bail them out. Momentum in the parish for anything will grind to a halt. The more big donors we get on board as equals or for limited parts of the picture, the better, but everybody needs to be part of the picture."

"Great, luv. Let me give you this list of some of the pieces of the project, as well as copies of the estimates for the work. For example, if Col. Hyde-Smith would like to restore the stained glass, including the portrait of St. George in the South Transept, that would be great, we could take it. See if there's something on our shopping list one of them would take a shine to."

"All right, I'll work on it. I'll get cleaned up and start making some phone calls."

"Great. Sheila is out of town and Mavis is under the weather, so you'll have to put up with my cooking the next few days."

I gave her a long, strong kiss while holding her tight. "I could live with that."

Colonel Sterling Hyde-Smith is a hale man in his seventies who was a career Army man. The strong jaw, fierce grey eyes, prominent nose, tall and heavy, with large limbs bespoke a warrior. He'd gotten his first taste of battle in Korea, and served with distinction in many peace keeping and police actions, finishing active duty with a command during the Falklands war. Still very active, his only free time was early the next morning at the range, and he invited me to shoot skeet with him. I accepted, thanking God for my cowboy heritage one of the few times in my life.

It was a grey morning when we met on the range, and he met me with a firm grasp that I returned in kind. "Good man, Father, good, strong grip. Like to see a man of the cloth with some balls for a change. Not like that Nancy boy Stokely we had before. Ever shoot skeet before?"

"When I was younger. I won the Kansas State Skeet Association Gold medal in my age group two years running, but I'm very rusty. Probably can't hit the broad side of the barn anymore."

"Nonsense, lad, self confidence is two thirds of the battle. Take your weapon. Open fire. We'll get those flying gauchos." We got our guns and went to the range without many words. The weapon wasn't much different than my shotgun on the ranch, and I was ready to shoot very quickly.

I waited initially, deferring to the older man, but he would have none of it. Generously, he beckoned "Go ahead, lad. I'll be right behind you."

"PULL." My first shot destroyed the clay pigeon in my flight, pieces flying everywhere. "Must be like riding a bicycle."

"Good shooting, lad. PULL." His first shot was on target as well, as I expected.

"PULL." Another hit.

"I hear that poofter Niall is still playing the organ at St. Dunstan's PULL."

"Yes, I've kept Niall on, for professional reasons. We're a High Church parish, and a High Church parish without excellent music is a contradiction in terms. PULL."

"High Church is the only church worth doing. You do it right, every detail perfect, every button gleaming, every shoe shining, because that's the way it's done. Snap to attention, look smart on parade. PULL."

"Of course, Colonel, I agree with you completely. PULL. It takes a lot of work, and many good people to celebrate the liturgy well. Especially people with unique talents."

"Well, done lad. Yes, I like the way you do things at St. Dunstan's. PULL. You're no wanker, no old granny like Horace Delacroix. You're a man's man, and that's the kind of fellows we need running the Church of England."

"PULL. It's hard to find an organist who isn't. . ."

"Right about that, lad. Musicians all like that, especially organists. Bloody little fairies. PULL. Even heard the little Niall is in close with the old queen Horace. Guess we have to put up with the blighters. Nothing can be done, write it off."

His attitude was irritating me. "All musicians aren't gay. Agnes Sterns isn't. PULL."

He put his gun down a moment. "Who's she? She a parishioner?"

"Oh, yes. Mary Sterns is her grandmother. . ."

"Fine, fine lady that one."

"And she's an organ scholar; graduating with a Bachelor's this spring. Fills in while Niall's away."

"Oh yes, I remember her. Little corker, that one. PULL Pert little titties and a world class ass, just like her grandmother. Your shot, Father."

"PULL." My string of hits was unbroken.

The Colonel sighted his weapon. "PULL." His last shot missed; and he clapped me on the back in recognition. "Well done, lad. You've still got it; good show. Didn't know there were marksmen in Western Kansas. How about a spot of breakfast; the club does an excellent bangers and mash."

"Delighted, Colonel." Heaven help me, I was lying; the Colonel's attitudes were making my skin crawl. We made the short trip to his club in caravan; it was an elegant place, with a myriad of trophy heads of different animals on the walls. Portraits of companies took up the rest of the space: units from India, Sudan, South Africa, Egypt. This was a club for retired Imperial officers for a hundred and fifty years. We were shown a table and settled in; the waiter brought coffee, which the Colonel added to from his hip flask.

"Bangers and Mash for both of us," he said, without looking at the menu.

"Fine." I took out my file and showed him the state of the stained glass windows. "You can see how urgently this work is needed. Here is an estimate from the restoration company, as you can see it will take almost £5000 pounds to complete this job. Alas, we are in debt and have many more things to undertake. . . "

"Well, lad, I can help you here. This South Transept window of St. George is a treasure; it would be a shame to lose him to the ravages of time. I'll write you a check right now, let me get my pen."

"Please, take mine."

"Thanks, Father. £5000, to be used for St. George and the rest of the heavenly band. Here you go."

"Thanks Colonel." The bangers and mash were astounding.

The next evening saw me in the drawing room of Harold Caldwell at the billiard table. Caldwell is an investment banker and futures trader. He is a five feet seven, in his mid fifties, very thin with dark hair, brown eyes and a persuasive smile. A picture on the mantelpiece was a young woman who was not his ex-wife or his daughter. The music coming from his house wide sound system was much to my liking: the best of English church music, but the game we were playing was beyond me. I had played Eight Ball as a youngster many times, but Three Cushion Billiards was eluding me. Caldwell made series after series of shots, and laughed with every success. He was relentless, and after another loss I returned my cue to the rack and took up my snifter of Cognac. "You're too good for me, Mr. Caldwell."

"Harry, Father, Harry. This is just something to pass the time; you're a sport for trying it. I've never heard of Eight Ball, you'll have to show me sometime."

"Done. But you'll need to drop by the Pub, unfortunately."

"No problem, Father, I've been in lots of Pubs. Worked my way up from through the ranks, I did, lived in a tiny flat when I was just starting out, and worked fourteen hours per day. Wonderful times, Father, wonderful. I'd love to see our people at the Pub some evening. Just have to find a day free."

"Of course"

"How is our sweet Niall doing?"

"Oh, he's doing all right. Seems to be very happy with the choir this year; they're sounding great"

"You can say that again."

"And he's very happy with his new partner Francis. They had me over for dinner the other night and showed me their collection of Pollock reproductions."

"That's great, Father. You're reaching out to everyone in the parish, I hear."

"Thank you, Harry. Just doing my job."

"So you say the organ is in disrepair?"

"Yes. The reservoir needs to be releathered, and neither the Bombardes or the Cornets were installed with the rest of the organ in the Eighties. A few small things in the console need doing as well: cleaning contacts and such. It will take some fine detailed work by some highly skilled professionals. . ."

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