Normally, I am not awoken by my mother pounding on my door, but she was sobbing,
“It’s not worth it …”
“Oh mom!” I yelled but with a son’s tenderness, “I fell asleep! What time is it?”
I opened the door to see my crying mother. This was uncomfortable for me. She was not the overly crying type. Usually, her over obsession toward things she loved would temper her sobbing.
“What is the matter with you?” I said.
“Dear, I want you to meet Father Chirpins. We talked, and you know he is a social worker . . .”
I interrupted, “Why? Is this … is this about what happened earlier? I … Jesus mother, what do you think? I don’t want to see a shrink in priest’s cloths. That’s the worst kind.”
“He is knowledgeable and kind …”
“He tweets like a bird. Hence ‘father Chirpins.’ Besides I cannot keep from laughing at him. And what should we talk about?”
Mom stood with her mouth tight. Her eyes looked larger than usual through the panes of her glasses. For the first time, I could see that her eyes were scared and her mouth concerned. She always did that before confessing. Usually, she was not the one to be quite for long. This time, she stayed quite.
“What is it mother?”
“I want you to go. I spoke with him.” She was tearing up now.
I felt anger and embarrassment, “About me … masturbating?”
“Oh stop it, Frank Julius,” her mind in too much thought to finish my name. She went on, “You know how I feel about THAT and our faith, but we can talk tomorrow.”
Before I could respond, she cut me off and waived me to dinner and then to bed in one cumbersome sentence, “You will have dinner and go to meet him at 8:00 am. I told him my feelings, my plan for you but felt it best coming from him. Yes …” looking at her hand as if it were her other son, “It’s better if he tells you.” And she walked away.
I laid on my bed and could not sleep much. I knew Mom was serious. I knew she meant business and something told me to play the good son. Okay, as embarrassing and humiliating as it is, I will go and see Big Bird Chirpins, I thought.
Before I knew it my legs were walking towards the familiar childhood Church. Just behind the modest house of God hid the rectory, as if something secret, and I could not help feel, as blasphemous as it was, that I was going in to get some illegal or nasty porn while in mid-daylight. I looked around, as guilty as hell and told myself, Frank, just get through this and go to the farm.
There I sat at the rectory office table waiting for the familiar priest to come in. I stared at the shelf full of good books and the many, many Bibles of all ages. Just above the dark mahogany bookshelf, were the Lord’s Ten Commandments, all in a straight line, as if sin happened in an orderly fashion.
Just as I got to “Though Shall Not Commit Adultery,”something huge and wet started caressing my right ear and the side of my face. I jump up and turned toward the mammoth-licking object only to find myself face to face with an enormous Great Dane.
“Ah!!!” I yelled and this scared the normally mundane and gentle-spirited animal into combat mode.
The tongue retreated but the fangs rushed forward. The sweet whimpering of the loving beast became the growl of a ferocious loin. I was a little girl again, if I were ever one. I cried a girly screech and bolted to the nearest door only to find that I shut myself in a small room, maybe the entrance to Hell, and locked the door. I was saved, but I heard the beast’s breathing on the other side.
“Oh, thank you Mother Mary Jesus!”
I then became aware that I wasn’t alone. I heard a commotion behind me, and the combination of that and the breathing at the door made me freeze and, I sniffed … shit my pants? I stood still until whatever was behind me spoke.
“Dear son,” came chirping but godly voice behind me, almost intimate, “What scares you so about this place, this world?”
I fell on my knees, “Oh God, it licked me and scared the life out of me. It’s so huge, like the devil I swear.”
“What … licking … are you talking about, what Evil, son?”
I started to get my wits about me as I knelt on the floor. Still I was too afraid and shaken to look at the Godly entity. This God had a familiar chirping sound, and I thought, Hey, God, you sound just like Father Chirpins.
Then it came to me that it was Father Chirpins. I was not in heaven or Hell but rather in his bathroom, and I did not shit my pants; he took a crap on the toilet. I must have rushed into his toilet during mid-defecation.
I tried to gain my composure. “Oh, gosh Father I am sorry. I felt a bit of urgency coming on, and I rushed in, but your dog scared me.”
I turned around to face him but kept my eyes on the ground. I was as red as a Red Delicious apple.
Father put his hand on my shoulder and my eyes did not have to move up that much to see the half man, half bird examining me with a tilted head and with humor enough to put me at ease.
He looked at me with such interest that I started to fear I was a worm and he was making the decision whether or not to devour me.
If he did devour me, I would have accepted it at that moment. Instead, I found myself sitting back in his office chair while my ear was being randomly French kissed by his girl dog “Lickins” as he called her.
Father reassured me that Lickins was harmless, that is if I let her lick my ear and didn’t “yell” at her. But the whole event was awkward. There was a sinless man, a good judge eyeing me and a large beast licking my ear. What could I do but tolerate all of it.
“My son,” said Father, “your mother was here yesterday and was quite distraught. We spent much time talking.”
Between the chirping at each “S” and “H” and the occasional and overpowering lapping sound in my right ear, I interpreted that mother was upset.
I rushed in, “Father, I am not into sex with cookie-loving puppet monsters or any child-loving puppets whatsoever. I … I…was looking at something else …”
There was that curious look again from Chirpins. He attentively eyed my soul as Lickins tried to wrestle it from me. I was starting to get this. It was a kind of enhanced interrogation that involved licking and chirping. I really wanted to run out of the place.
“Son, let’s not talk about less important sin. Puppet love does not even make the top 1000. We have to deal with the larger half, you see. Your mother … has a mission for you, and I want you, Frank, to take me very seriously. She has asked me to tell you to leave home.”
I jumped forward in shock, “Why?” I mean how will she live?”
“As she has for all these years. We will see to her. Her journey will concern us. She wants you to leave the nest.”
How would mother get on? What about my job? I didn’t make enough to support myself? I was angry.
I got up, pointing my finger at him. “Father, am I being turned out? Are you, a man of God throwing me away? Is she?”
Chirpins looked at me patiently. He was not the stern type. He continued to examine me. He pecked at my soul searching for vulnerability.
He then asked, “What you should want in this life is to furnish the next. There is no throwing away of a human soul.”
He paused. I got the message and sat back down.
“Frank. Listen. I want you to listen to me. For one moment, I want you to want me to be your Father. No words, just listen.”
“Okay, Father. I will listen.”
“As is with God and with life, I cannot reveal all. Some I know and cannot tell and some things I don’t know. But your mother has given me a mission and God has given me the other end of that mission. You are to leave the house and go and find your brother. You noted this to your mother.”
I nodded with my hands in my face.
“She said that you would not seek your father, out of anger, but we will address that later. You are to seek the closest part of you.
For you, brother means your sibling; for me it means the bond of love between people. To you, father means Dad, and to me Dad means God. Things sway differently depending on how the light presents it.”
I protested, “But how … the money?”
“Frank!” Said father loudly but with tenderness. “Remember? You are to listen. You lived your life your way, but are you happy?”
“Yeah! Very happy.”
Then something odd happened. The good Father looked at the sky, said a brief prayer, stared me down as if we were two cocks in a fight, and said,
“Father!” I said startled.
“Bullshit!” He said again trembling as if it was the first time he sinned in forty years. He continued,
“I am not as naïve as you think I am. I know what you did in that room, and it’s not about the sex act or the masturbation. Maybe you like cookie-loving puppet monsters? Maybe you like dogs licking your ears? “He smiles and pauses,” but you are lost and lost sheep can beckon to wolves.
You are a man. I know that. You think I have no sexuality? You think it’s easy for me to keep vows? Oh, how we ignore the crosses others carry! It is not, and sometimes I fail, but do you know why I am here? Is it the love of Jesus on the cross?”
I stay silent and peer at him thougtfully. Here he confesses, is nervous, and seems to be apologetic to God.
“No, I am here because I have a passion to help people, not the Church. The Church is the vehicle toward my selfish acts: to help people. But it’s a better kind of selfish. I am happy when you are happy. You are not.”
Still stunned, I ask, “What do you want me to do?”
“Your mother has been studious in her faith, and it’s not about her or anyone else being hypocritical. It’s about commitment. She is committed to God and to you. You see, you and God are on the same plain, at this moment. You give me the wrong answer now. It’s not what I want you to do.”
“But Father you just said …”
“I know what I said. Let me repeat this, “hypocritical.” I have given you the first direction, and it is up to you to complete it. You are expected to leave next week Friday. Go see to your mother, and I will be back to bid you farewell.”
To be continued in Series C
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