The Vicar of St. Dunstan's Ep. 08byNigel Debonnaire©
THE DIOCESAN RECOGNITION DINNER
The Vicar and his Quilting Ladies ride again. Many thanks for the feedback: both the constructive criticism and the kudos, both are greatly appreciated. The folks of St. Dunstan's are expanding their horizons, with your kind permission, and the Vicar will try to stay out of a rut. I tried to persuade Bishop Horace Delacroix to appoint a lady Archdeacon, but he had another favorite to install in that office.
Those of you familiar with how churches work know the profound banality of the meetings, receptions and dinners associated with them, especially when the leadership is involved. I'm sure surviving them as stretched your creativity, as it has mine.
The first bird of spring was singing, and the way my day was going I thought it was crapping on my head alone all day long. It even took the energy out of my legs as I jogged down the pavement; the day hung heavy with one exercise in futility after another.
First, came an interminable breakfast meeting with the Diocesan Planning Commission, replete with a thick sheaf of papers that kept me up reading half the night before so I wouldn't look like total ass. Immediately afterward, Bishop Horace Delacroix and Archdeacon Tommy Hughes buttonholed me to work on one of my parishioners, Mrs. Lucinda Parkhurst-Frazelton, to become a major donor for a diocesan project, promising great favors for success and dire treatment for failure. Second, a formal luncheon with Mrs. Parkhurst-Frazelton, a generous donor to St. Dunstan's. She was a delicate eighty five year old widow with a menagerie of hats to cover her sparse, grey locks, whose conversation was inevitably banal except when reminiscing about her sex life, and whose chef produced almost inedible meals. At the end of my interview, she asked me to return in a couple of weeks for 'a special treat', since she figured I would be getting lonely in the Vicarage and would need some release.
I'd managed a short nap afterward, since by the Grace of God I'd stayed awake fairly well so far, and tried to treat myself by slipping in to listen to choir rehearsal, but the boys had a strong dose of spring fever and Niall could hardly keep them focused. The Lesson for Sunday was the Great Priestly Prayer from John 16: a passage I always struggled to make sense of and struggled even more to preach every time the Lectionary spewed it up. The running usually re-energized me, but today my body felt leaden.
There was one last thing I tried to lighten my spirits; a favorite fantasy of mine. After getting back to my rooms, I put my feet up and set up a string of Charlotte Church tracks on my iPod. As her silvery voice wafted into my headphones, I imagined us together at Kew Gardens, the Palm House. We had the place to ourselves, and she was wandering nude through the sunlit palms like a nymph, her long hair arranged down toward her bare breasts and sweet nipples. She smiled as she sang to me, her chest heaving, one hand coquettishly laid just below her throat and her other laid flat on her thigh, right beside the fragile web spun between her bronzed legs.
Her voice became more passionate as a new palm rose to salute her. Unfortunately, the phone rang just then with another piece of triviality to deal with, and the spell was broken.
The capper was the Diocesan Recognition Dinner that night. "Another bloody boring formal function," I grumbled into the mirror as I adjusted my dog collar in preparation, "at least the black pinstripe suit came back from the cleaners on time.".
"Cooie, Vicar, are you decent?" Mary Sterns' voice came up the stairs as she mounted the stairs. "It's almost time for our car, and I hope you're ready, luv."
"Ready as of this moment," I replied, and she entered my bedroom. She was a sixty year old grandmother who didn't look her age: a red formal dress showed off her splendid figure above matching shoes, a black fur wrap covered her shoulders and chest, her medium red hair was splendidly coiffed above her dancing blue eyes, stunning makeup that highlighted her excellent facial contours and minimized her crow's feet wrinkles, red lipstick, and diamond earrings glittered on her shell like ears. Pulling off her wrap and pirouetting revealed a pleasantly sculpted neckline that showed her teardrop breasts to good effect, and her skin glowed. "Mary, people will think you're my mistress rather than the Chair of my Vestry."
Her eyes gave me a saucy gleam. "Little would they know that I really am one of your mistresses as well as the Chair of St. Dunstan's Vestry. Are you ready?"
I took her into my arms and gave her a long deep kiss, which she responded by grinding her crotch into mine. "I'm more ready to spend the night here with you, but I guess we must be going." Another quick kiss and we were descending the stairs to exit where our cab awaited. I escorted her gallantly to the vehicle, holding the door open for her and seeing her settled before closing it and going around to enter myself.
The cab driver had recently arrived in England, and after three minutes explanation he finally understood where we wanted him to take us. Mary settled against my shoulder as we moved into traffic for the half hour ride to the Bishop's residence. I held her gently as we rode through the twilight streets, and savored the touch of her body against mine.
A large vehicle crowded us for moment before rumbling on; I flipped a bird that fortunately went unseen by the huge driver. "Damn you fucking truck. Why don't you share the damn road?"
Mary laughed and slapped my knee. "Vic, sometimes I think we'll never make an complete Englishman out of you. We call them lorries over here."
My anger passed and I chuckled. "Yes, I still call lifts elevators, biscuits cookies, constantly get my chips and crisps mixed up and mispronounce aluminum by your standard. I've adjusted and I haven't; I'm reminded about that a lot. It's a good thing I don't tell stories about my family: you'd never understand about my cousin Randy."
She snickered. "Well, at least you're entertaining in your ignorance." After a pause she said quietly: "Did my Derrick and his Jenny come round to see you yesterday?"
"Were you able to help them with their–little problem?"
"You know that professional ethics prohibit me from discussing what another parishioner has said to me, even if he is a member of your family."
Reaching down, she gave a strategic spot on my trousers a squeeze. "I'll make it worth your while."
My pants became very uncomfortable very quickly as she began to stroke the fabric in just the right place. "If you give me a damp spot in the cab before we visit the Bishop, he's going to know a lot more about us than he should know. And I don't think the taxi driver needs a Kama Sutra demonstration if we're to get to the right place on time."
"Shit," she said as she stopped. "I hate it when you're right. I know what they're doing anyway; Derrick told me at lunch yesterday."
"Are you all right with that?"
"Of course. Jenny's a nice girl from a good family; Sheila and I have been trying to get those two kids together for years. It's too bad we have to hurry things up since they've been careless. Jenny told Agnes they were pumping away one afternoon and got lost in what they were doing, forgetting to pull out in time."
"They should have been more careful. Well, the arrangements are taken care of. I'll push the paperwork, and we'll have the wedding in a couple of weeks."
"Grand. Don't know if I'm ready to be a great grandmother, and neither is Sheila, but we're not afraid to find out."
I gave her shoulders a squeeze. "That won't change how I feel about either one of you."
"Thanks, luv." She turned and gave me a long, slow, soft kiss that required her to fix her lipstick and makeup afterward. A classic spit in a handkerchief removed the evidence from my face stiff white collar.
"Did Mavis go back up to Scotland again?"
"Yes, she left this morning. The christening is this Sunday and she's going to stay a month."
"Has this grandchild changed her outlook significantly?"
"What do you mean, Vic?"
"You've known her most of your life: does she seem different to you lately?"
"No more than Sheila and I feel. You've opened doors for us, and we've all blossomed in new ways since that morning in the Quilting Room all those months ago."
"Well, some of her requests have rather bothered me lately."
"Well, you know that I moved that old prie-dieu to the basement Recreation Room since I dodged that bullet seven months ago."
"The Bishop's Daughter?"
"Exactly. After that night, I couldn't have it in the room anymore, and Percy Wilton and Stan Dover were kind enough to take it down for me."
"Good lads, have been keeping the Church in shape for years."
"Well, Mavis has discovered it, and every time she's over for–recreation, she takes me down there to use it."
"This sounds interesting. Say more."
"She puts a stool over the kneeler part and drapes her big breasts over the ledge. Says it holds them up better than anything she's ever known and likes the access it gives me."
"We might have to try that."
"I don't know if you want to go as far as she does. Last time she had me get out my Western spurs and run them all over mammoth tits after I tied her up. Then I had to run a feather duster all over them while she used the biggest vibrator I have ever seen on her private parts."
"Now I'm in danger of a wet spot."
"I'm afraid of what she's going to ask for when she gets back. She's such a dear, she's so eager to explore this new side to herself, and I'm glad to help her out, just like I do for you and Sheila. I'm afraid that she's going to ask me for more pain for pleasure, and I don't know if I can handle that."
Mary turned to look me squarely in the face. "Look, if it makes Mavis happy and you're willing to do it, what's the problem with that? What two consenting adults do in private is their own business." She snuggled her body against mine and heal my hands in front of her. "It's all right with us if Mavis becomes a slut for pain. It doesn't matter if she wants you to string her up and whip her whole body a cheery red; you'll still be the sweet Vicar we know and love." She gave me a quick peck on the lips. "And it's OK if it turns you on, too."
I shook my head. "I think it would be better if she could find someone who can take care of those. . .desires better than I. Someone more experienced in giving what she wants."
"Mavis trusts you, and that's the most important thing," Mary interjected, "like Sheila and I, we have no other real options out there for what we want, and you are more special than you realize. What's Mavis going to do, take out an ad? 'Extrememly plump, 60 year old, hyperactive, multiple grandmother with enormous knockers seeks partner to explore her masochistic side. Must obtain husband's permission and trust.'? Who do think would answer that ad that she'd want to meet?"
"All right, all right, I think I understand."
We made small talk for the rest of the ride until we arrived at the Bishop's Residence. It was a grand old house in a stately part of town; its initial construction went back to the 14th century and the reign of Edward III, and it had been rebuilt several times. The weather was extremely clement, and we were ushered into the garden for pre-dinner drinks. After being announced, we moved to get our drinks, then separated so I could chat with my brother Anglican priests and Mary could visit with some of the clergy wives she knew. George Staton, the Vicar of St. Alban's spotted me: a longtime acquaintance who helped me get settled in the diocese. George is a distinguished man of middle age, his hair almost completely turned from black to grey, his lean body sporting only a small paunch. He was wearing his best suit with his dog collar, and came over to herd me behind a shrub for a whispered conversation.
"Alfie, good to see you," he whispered,. "How's St. Dunstan's these days?"
"Fine, George," I whispered back, "Finally out of debt and ready to move on some new projects. How's your parish?"
"Damn place is falling apart. I've spent the entire week with contractors: roofing contractors, tuck pointing contractors, flooring contractors, wood workers, stained glass repair. I could go on forever. Launching a capital campaign next week, and I hope some old rich fogey will get sentimental enough to give me the whole amount."
"Have you got one in mind?"
"God yes, several, and royal pains in the bum they are. Think they run the country from Monday to Saturday, and don't change their attitude on Sunday. God, I wish I was back in Liverpool."
"I'm sorry, George. Hang in there."
"Well, I didn't throw you in the bushes to gripe at you. I've been hearing that a certain transplanted American managed to dodge the Wicked Witch of the West without being sent to Timbuktu. That was an escape comparable to Dunkirk, my friend. You are one of my best friends, Alfie, tell me how you did it."
"George, I just played the good host when they dropped by; I was firm about my boundaries and they respected them."
He rolled his eyes. "Bullshit, you've got something on them. Either that, or you decided to work the other side of the aisle. Have you gone queer, Alfie?" It was time for me to roll my eyes.
"Blackmail, then. And pretty damn good, since V.D. got knocked up around then and you managed to avoid the noose while getting a plum job on the Planning Committee. C'mon mate, tell me."
"Do I look like someone who would stoop to blackmail?" I tried my best innocent look on him.
"Don't make me laugh. It was life or death: any of us would stoop to anything we could, and justified it would be. The only time I'm glad to be married to Rachel is when Hatchet Face is around." He gave me a long, probing look, then relented. "All right, I'll let you keep your little secret, but my hat's off to you for pulling off the greatest escape since Houdini." He slapped me on the back, and we emerged from the bushes. He looked across the room. "Did you come with the Chair of your Vestry again this year?"
"Yes. Mary and I are great friends; she's wonderful escort for an occasion like this." The chimes were ringing, a signal that all were to go to the dining room for the meal and State of the Diocese address. We started toward the door and Mary angled across to meet me.
George's brows went up in interest: "My heavens, she's a stunning lady. You know, if she were a few years younger, she would be on my radar."
Out of charity I stifled my initial reply. "She is younger than you are, George, " I said quietly after a pause. Mary gave George a warm greeting before she took my arm to enter the room.
The dining hall was huge enough to hold the clergy of the diocese, their wives and the Chair of every Parish Vestry. They were seated at many round tables around the room, while the head table was next to a wall hung with pennants bearing the Diocesan crest and the Bishop's noble ancestors. Ancient wood paneling surrounded up, reaching upward to massive oak beams that dramatically supported the Great Hall. Candlelight dominated the room, helped by some subtle track lights that destroyed the aesthetic appeal of the room. I nudged Mary: "Those lights had to be put up in the Seventies, didn't they?" She nodded and gave me strange look.
"Where are we sitting, Vicar?" she said. I checked the tickets I received in the mail and discovered that we were by ourselves by a table next to the wall, far to the left of the podium. "Great," Mary muttered softly, "We'll be looking at Old Dunderhead's profile all night." The table was covered by a long, white tablecloth that reached the floor, and a single blue candle and a single red rose held center stage with the normal condiment dispensers. Looking around, only half the tables near us were occupied, and the ones that were held priests that I had only met once or twice: functional strangers. We sat at the table, and accepted our carafe of wine that accompanied the meal.
Mary was splendid company at table, as she always was. The meal was unremarkable, but the wine was passable, and a waiter kept our carafe topped up. We chatted easily while the meal progressed, and over dessert, noticed Violette Delacroix getting up to powder her nose. I pointed her out to Mary.
"Oh yes, I remember Hatchet Face. She came to the Ladies' Society Tea last year, the shrew. Goodness gracious, she is pregnant. At least she's got some nice little titties now, and that baby bump looks about seven months along. Pity she couldn't find a better dress to wear." Violette was wearing an awful green smock that uncovered much of her bony chest and left her calves exposed: her hair was its usual chaotic weave, and her feet uncharacteristically were thrust into flat, black shoes. She maneuvered heavily to the door without a glance in our direction.
I looked at Mary's face carefully as she watched Violette. It had missed her that seven months ago, I had fooled Violette into thinking that Mary's grandson Derrick was me, and it was her great grandchild the Bishop's daughter was carrying. The only look Mary's face held was amusement, and I was not going to remind her of all the implications of Violette's condition.
Dessert was dreadful and we only took a couple of bites before putting our forks down for good. The coffee was also vile, so we returned to the wine, which was tasting better with each succeeding glass. The lights dimmed and the Bishop began the program. First on the program was a series of reports from heads of different organizations: they droned endlessly about their operations with sedate pride in the work they were accomplishing. The diners close to us submitted to the monotony and took a glazed look on their faces; experienced diners ready for a long evening's open-eyed nap.
Two minutes into the first droll presentation, I felt a silken touch inside my right knee. I glanced over at Mary, whose head was propped on her hands and benignly smiling at the podium without giving me a glance. The candlelight gave her face a warm glow, and her hair was a roaring blaze. Turning back to the speaker, I tried to follow in case there was an important needle of information lurking in the haystack of words, but a nyloned instep softly and slowly traversed my right thigh, barely making contact but creating a compelling distraction with each pass.
Applause stirred me out of my reverie, and I glanced in Mary's direction; she was still ignoring me with a faint, sly smile on her face. The next two speakers were accompanied by the teasing touch, and my manhood was becoming very interested in getting attention of its own. I caught her glancing at me: she kept a poker face save a gleam in her eye that sparkled in the shadows. Finally, her foot rested in my crotch, where her toes wiggled against the rising bulge in my trousers and caressed my oysters. My attention to the speakers was completely sidetracked, and glances around showed our distant neighbors were still in their ecclesiastical-function- meditative-state. My breathing grew heavy as I looked at Mary, who kept her attention focused on the current purveyor of boredom as a smile broadened on her lips.
Finally, it was time for the Bishop to speak at length. He was greeted with a standing ovation that lasted a couple of minutes, and no one noticed how awkwardly I stood or the massive bulge that poked forward from my trousers. As we sat, Mary gave me a hungry look and said, "I do believe I dropped my dessert fork. I'll be just a moment."
As the Bishop began his ponderous presentation, I felt a pair of hands pushing the floor length table cloth out to cover my lap. My trousers came undone under the table, and I squirmed as they were pulled down, followed by my boxers. The faux leather of the chair was cold against my posterior, but a pair of soft hands stroked and fondled my forked radish, sending another kind of shiver through me. A glance around showed the indifference of the other diners, and a waiter soundlessly came to offer another carafe of wine. I nodded and poured a glass to sip.