The Vicar of St. Dunstan's Ep. 12byNigel Debonnaire©
REQUIEM FOR A VERGER
Time rolls on, and things change dramatically at St. Dunstan's. There are times that veer wildly between the comic, erotic and tragic, and this story recounts one such time.
Agnes Sterns sat in front of my desk, signing the contract before her. Her grandmother Mary then signed it as Chair of the Vestry, then I signed it. We continued with the other two copies, then sat back. Agnes was beaming: Mary was smiling and I was uneasy. A fine Tuesday morning shone in the windows; it was going to be a clear, bright, late August day in England. In preparation for the warm weather, Agnes wore a halter top and shorts over her sandaled feet; Mary was wearing a light business suit in preparation for her day's work. It was time to complete the agreement.
"Agnes, you've just signed a contract to be the live-in housekeeper at the Vicarage. In exchange for the apartment, reasonable board, and the stipend listed, you will clean all the rooms of the Vicarage at least once per week. You'll also do the grocery shopping, and provide one meal per day when one of the other cooks aren't available. To bring up an old line from my country: yes, you will do windows, as well as other tasks I may set for you around the house." She smiled broadly and winked at me. I took a deep breath before I continued.
"As far as the parts we aren't putting on paper: I will never enter your quarters without your express invitation that day, except in case of emergency. What you do with your time, provided you get your work and your study done, is your own business. We'll work out a series of signals if either of us are interested in 'other' things. . ."
"Like putting the Wellies in front of my door?" Agnes broke in.
"Yes, like that. I always check my e-mail when I get in, so you can send me a note saying. . ."
"Theological discussion this evening?"
"Good, good, I knew there was a reason I wanted you around. Or vice versa, if we're not both available to talk in person. You may always say 'no' or 'not tonight' with no pressure or repercussions. And if you find some young man that you want to develop a relationship, you can continue to live here and do your two jobs of assistant organist/choirmaster and housekeeper while we curtail the 'other' duties."
"Why say that, Vicar? Who could be more interesting than you?"
"You're young, and if you find someone your own age, I don't want to hold you back. I'm happy to spend whatever time with you that will be our lot, at any level, but I don't want you to think you can't move on. I'll be all right no matter what happens."
Agnes smiled, nodded and came around to sit on my lap and give me a big, open mouthed kiss. "I'm yours, Vicar."
I gave her a smack on her pert backside. "Also, as the junior Quilting Lady, the senior members take precedence, agreed?'" Mary nodded broadly at this.
"Agreed." She said with a smile, and looked at her watch. "Time to get to University. Back by teatime.'
"Very good. Sheila's bringing Tea tonight."
Agnes looked a bit downcast for a moment, but perked up. "I can get my quarters organized," she realized, and almost skipped out the door.
Mary watched all of this and looked at me with concern. "Well, you've got your live-in housekeeper. I hope she doesn't wear you out."
"I'm concerned too, but I think that this week's schedule will help matters. Sheila's coming by tonight, you tomorrow, and Mavis Thursday. That will give Agnes a little space to work out ordinary routines before anything else. Hopefully her classes will keep her busy enough that she won't be that anxious for extra-curricular activities until Friday."
Mary's foot started tapping and she shook her head. "She's young, vibrant and head over heels over you. Things may not go according to plan. Take care and treat her right."
"I'll treat her like a queen. Did you work out the cleaning schedule with her?"
"Right here's your copy. Put it somewhere out of sight."
I shook my head. "No, I'll put it out here in the kitchen where all can see it. It's like that part of the Asimov Foundation series, where two characters engage in espionage while maintaining a lot of open, regular contacts as a cover. It's the best way to diminish any rumors; by acting as normally as possible in public, not being afraid to interact legitimately in plain sight."
She gave me a lingering kiss and a hug. "Time to go. Wish business wasn't so good."
Halfway down the path from the back door, Mary passed Stan Dover on his way in. I had a brief heart palpitation imagining what he might have seen had he arrived a few moments earlier. He knocked as he reached the door, and I invited him in.
"Mornin', Vic. How's it hanging?"
"I'm good, Stan. How are you?"
"Never better, all thanks to you."
"My mate Percy told me some pointers you gave him, and my life's never been the same."
Oh no, I thought, I told Percy to keep quiet about his 'marital counseling'. Stan's wife Doris had a face that could stop traffic for the wrong reasons, and a body that rivaled Mavis Hazelton without the upper endowment. A pleasant enough woman, but with a snide sense of humor and a grating laugh that rivaled Violette Delacroix's for the nails-on-chalkboard effect.. Visions of her making love with Stan, who was the polar opposite of Harrison Ford in looks himself, sprang into my head and turned my stomach. Desperately, I had to change the subject.. "By the way, where is Percy this morning?"
"Oh, Percy had to take his Peg in for her check-up; she's halfway with her pregnancy. Probably going to bore us with more ultrasound shots of his wee lassie later at the Pub, the preening stud."
"Well, I'm glad that Percy and Peggy are happy. . ."
"Sure, Vic, sure. But it's all he talks about. Bloody hell, I never got that daft when my Doris was in the family way, and we did it three times."
"Well, it took them a while. . ."
"I guess. Anyway, our love life needed a bit of a spur, so I has a private chin wag with Percy and he gives me some of your ideas, and lo and behold, old Doris hit her stride again and I'm a happy man."
"Wonderful, Stan. Now, about going up to check out the roof. . ."
"Sure, Vic, happy to do it. No problem. See, I gets home last night, and the kids are all out with their mates, can't keep teenagers at home and who'd want to, know what I mean," he said putting his finger aside his nose, "and Doris has picked up some lovely fish and chips for our Tea. Well, she's wearing her blue floral dress, you know, with the low neckline which really gives you a good look at her knockers, and this bit of tartar sauce falls on her chest, you know she's like you Yanks about that stuff, and I says to her, 'Here, luv, I'll take care o' that,' and I leans over and licks it off her skin. Well she gets a bit uppity first, and says I'm a pervert, but she's giggling and I dribble a little more on her knocker and lick it off again and she's giggling and I pour the whole lot down her front.
"Well, she stands up and says 'What the fook are you playin' at now, Stanley?' and I says I'm trying to spice up our love life, just like you helped Perce and Peg, and she stops cold a minute and says, 'Well, if the Vicar thinks it's a good idea,' and unzips her frock. Well, I'm going at it like a mad cannibal, slurping up tartar sauce and great handfuls of beautiful tit meat that I'm squeezing and working and she's breathing and moaning like a high priced hooker . ."
Now I was squirming and tapping my foot, waiting for a place to jump in and derail this conversation, but Stan is known for extended rapid paced narratives and unfortunately for me, he was on a roll.
"Well, next thing we know, we're in the bedroom and I've got her clothes off and I'm rubbing the tartar sauce all around her tits and licking it off the nipples and the whole nine yards. Then she reaches down and unbuttons my pants and starts pulling them off. Well, we get my John Thomas out for air, and I asks her to give my lollipop a lick and she makes this face, you know, squeezing her eyebrows down and shoving her nose up and biting her lip and I says, why not do what the Vicar recommends and dip it in chocolate sauce. Well, that makes her stop and think, and after a minute she runs out the door starkers to the kitchen and brings back some strawberry jam. My word, Vicar, I thought I was going to shoot my wad right then and there, her hand felt so good as she smeared the jam all over my prick and nutsack and her tongue was a miracle as she licked and sucked around, I thought my mind was going to cum right out of my ears, I did."
"Great, Stan, now about the roof. . ."
"I don't know when I had such a big load of cum, and my Doris swallowed it all down, all down like a trooper and she never done that before. Well, what could I do, I ripped off her panties and stuck my nose as far down her cunt as I could, I did, and worked my tongue like a Chinese lickmaster, no matter how bad she tasted. Also reached up and gave her tits another good mashing, and she came like a banshee, over and over and over again, writhing and wriggling like a beached fish. . ."
"Wonderful, now. . ."
"Wonderful isn't the word for it, Vicar, it was heaven, a real slice of heaven. It wasn't half an hour before we were ready to go again and as I was banging her hard we were both saying 'Thank God for the Vicar, what a great man to teach us.' Cor, Vic, when the kids came in and heard us upstairs, they went right out of their minds with disgust, which is what I'd like them to think when they think about sex, quite frankly, anything to slow the randy little buggers down."
His three children were known as some of the biggest hell-raisers in the area; I'd caught them several times canoodling under the shrubbery since each turned thirteen. "Yes. . ."
"Well, I don't have all day to visit with you, Vicar, glad for the help and now I'm going up to the roof to see what we've got going on up there." He smiled and pounded up the stairs two at a time on his way to check the attic and state of the roof. There had been some dribbles on the walls that concerned me, and I'd been trying to get Percy and Stan to look at it for months.
Sighing, I went to my study to get ready for my first appointment. Niall Jones was first in my diary, the Organist/Choirmaster. He was a fixture at St. Dunstan's, having served for ten years under my predecessor, and heavily involved with politics of the parish at that time. We had gotten along well during my tenure: I was happy with how Niall organized the music and handled the choir, and he was happy to focus solely on his art. A sandy haired man of medium height and thin, he came into my study wearing charcoal slacks and an a grey t-shirt with three gold chains around his neck. He sat in my chair and put one sandaled foot up as he crossed his legs. "How's the lad, Vic?"
"Fine, Niall, fine. Yourself?"
"Grand, Vicar, grand. Francis wanted me to say thanks again from coming round for dinner last night, and the excellent bottle of Pinot Noir."
"I had a wonderful time. You know me: I can get lost in music trivia for hours. What can I do for you today?"
"Well, I'd like to try something new this Christmas season, and wanted to know how you felt about it?"
"Isn't it a bit early to think about Christmas at the end of August?"
"You've forgotten your time on the organ bench, Vicar. I have to plan the whole fall and Advent out now, looking at what I can do for Christmas long before it happens. Used to plan the whole year out in advance, but with the turnover among the Choir boys, I've had to scale that back a bit."
"Okay, what would you like to try?"
"Lessons and Carols. Thought it would be a nice starter for Christmas eve before the Midnight Mass."
I thought for minute. "That's kind of overloading the evening, isn't it?"
"Maybe. But I've been thinking that it's a wonderful tradition, and if it's all good, if we give everybody a stretch break before the Eucharist, it should work. After all, people go to three hour movies happily if they're good enough."
"Well, this puts a lot of pressure on you and the Choir, Niall, but if you think you can pull it off, go ahead. We can try it once, at least."
"Grand, Vicar, thanks. Did you hear the news about Lady Violette?"
"She popped out her little one last night. A grand boy, a big, heavy bugger. Horace says she was in labor for twenty hours, lots of pain, and drove the Sisters crazy the whole time."
As long as she enjoyed herself, I thought. "Has she named the child?"
"Yes, a crazy one it is. Horace Frederick Arthur Delacroix. Says she's going to call him Freddie."
I winced. "God help the little lad."
Niall grinned evilly. "God help the little lad, indeed. Violette's a lot of fun, I love the salacious bitch, but I don't envy anyone who'll call her Mum."
"Maybe I should give him a gift certificate for the psychotherapy in twenty years as a Christening present?"
Niall almost fell off his chair laughing. "Well done, Vic, he'll need it in about twenty one years, ha, ha, ha. Gift certificate for psychotherapy, ha, ha, ha. Very droll, very droll indeed." I laughed as well, but not as enthusiastically since the images of the baby's conception were more vivid in my mind's eye than I wanted them to be.
After Niall settled down from his mirth, I asked: "Is there anything else you wanted to talk about, Niall?"
"Oh, no, Vic, that's all I wanted to ask about. How's the new housekeeper, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more."
I sat up straight and tried to act nonchalant. "Agnes is moving in today, and I'm sure things will work out beautifully. I'm sure living next door to the church will give her more time for organ practice "
"Organ practice indeed, Vic, organ practice indeed," he said smirking. "I'm sure she'll keep your Vicarage a lovely place to come home to."
"Yes, she's a thorough worker and very meticulous. I'm glad to help her out."
"Sure, Vic, sure," Niall insinuated, "Agnes is a lovely girl, and if I were straight I'd have my leg over in a flash."
I gave him a very serious frown. "She's doing a good job as your assistant, isn't she?"
"Lovely, Vicar, she's a fabulous player and a joy to work with. We get along famously, and the only thing I worry about is that some other parish is going to give her the job she deserves. I hope that things will work out for you two; I want her to be happy, and if you can tie her down here more tightly, even better. . ."
"I'd like her to stay around a while, Niall. I want her to be happy as well, but I can't promise how long she'll stay with us."
"Excellent, Vicar." He put his finger aside his nose. "Mum's the word, we're all family here. Oh, by the way, Francis and I have been trying out some of your advice."
"My advice?" What the hell could he be talking about?
"Using chocolate sauce in the bedroom. Franny and I made a nice Swiss chocolate sauce last night for the dessert, remember it on the ice cream? We took it with us to the bedroom for our fun after you left. It was delicious and it took forever to get every last morsel off Franny's little chocolate balls. Never had someone shoot their massive wad on my scalp before, but I rather fancied the Cameron Diaz hair treatment.."
I shuddered: my reputation was going directions that I never thought of, and I wasn't sure it was a good thing. Looking at Niall's smiling face, I was speechless, and he laughed at my embarrassment. "Don't worry, Vicar, this isn't a bad thing. You're helping people in many ways here. Don't get flustered about it, although I must say, you blush is very pretty. Later."
"See you, Niall," I said unsteadily. He left with a smirk on his face and I checked my e-mail. There was a note from Reverend Brenda Porter entitled 'Update'. I opened it and was stunned to read the contents.
Don't know how to tell you this, but I've met someone, someone special, here in Alice
Springs. He's an elder of one of the Aboriginal Tribes, and he's retired here. 'Terry' is
his English name, and although he's sixty years old weathered, scarred, and grey, he has
given my life new meaning.
I'm leaving the priesthood, Alfie. My call was so strong at first, but I can't juggle my
needs with my parish's very well; you remember I had to leave England because of those
affairs with parishioners. Well, it happened here too, but I was lucky this time. Terry is
the man whose feet I want to sit at, and whose baby I'm going to have. The bishop here was hard on me, cruel, and so I have to go. I treasured the time we spent together and I'll
never forget you, Alfie dear, neither your love nor your wisdom. Thank you.
Mum is having some problems with my decision; if you can find it in you run by the
house and comfort her, I'd appreciate it, especially since I'm not coming back to England for quite a while.
In the meantime, Godspeed,
A quick look at the directory and I was ringing Mrs. Porter's number, but there was no answer. I made a note to myself to call her later. Losing her was a pang, but not as sharp as I expected. She hadn't written for six months, and had canceled a planned visit on behalf of her parish recently. My life was full without her, and whatever long term hopes I might have had were only pipe dreams.
It took me a few moments to get my brain moving again. I turned to an article I was writing for a scholarly journal back in the States: a reflection on the Council of Whitby and its lasting ramifications. Listlessly, I thumbed some ancient tomes and reviewed some recent articles, but I couldn't focus on the material. I kicked myself mentally: the article had to be transmitted within a week and the current draft was a mess. Academic writing was part of my condition for staying in England after completing my formal study, and if I let it flag Bishop Delacroix, his successor or the current Bishop of Topeka would be justified in shipping me back over the Pond. With some internal determination I was able to get one paragraph into respectable shape, and resolved to spend more time on it the next day.
I called Sister Barbara and asked her how her mother, Lucinda Parkhurst-Frazleton was doing.
"She went home last night at last, Alfred. Resting comfortably under Willikins' vigilant care. I think in a couple of days she'll be up for a visit."
"Grand, Barbara, glad to hear it. I'll be over to see her Friday. How's things at the shop?"
"Same looney lot. I saw the top of my desk this morning before the mail got in, so a major miracle is probably just over the horizon. Our vocation days are this weekend, and everyone is running full tilt."
"How many are coming?"
"I guess, but it's a bloody nuisance getting ready for them. There's sleeping everywhere except Plato's Cave. I know we'll be lucky to get any of them, but it's good to tell our story to girls who're interested."
"That's the spirit. Keep the faith."
"Are you coming by Sunday night?"
"Won't you be tired? Won't your rooms be all cluttered by the recent departures?"
"No, I'll need a break after the big hen party. We haven't had a resident Chaplain for years, and we aren't using those quarters, so they're yours if you want them. I've got a lovely bottle of Amaretto I'd like to share, and the Chapel at night has a–special magic that I know you'll appreciate."
"All right, if you say so."
"See you soon, Alfred,." she purred.
Going for a jog, I found Fred Bayless waiting for me when I returned. Fred was a retired shopkeeper who had been married for forty years to Doris, who was universally considered a saint for putting up with him. His chubby form reflected his former profession of butcher; he was relatively short, with thick hands and fingers, blue eyes and thick with a hairline in permanent retreat to an enclave of white wisps on the back of his head. Fred's normal good cheer was missing as I showed him to my study, and he sat heavily on my stuffed chair.