The wind tousled the ten years old boy’s shoulder length hair as he sat on the front steps of Father Broussard’s rectory. The cloudiness matched the autumn chill in the air, but the boy didn’t move but continued to sit. He was still dressed in the good black suit and pants that he had worn an hour earlier at the funeral, he had wished he had changed back into his comfy t-shirt and jeans before coming but in another hour he expected that he’d be sitting in the back of his grand parent’s red Skylark on the six hour trip back home; he wouldn’t have time to change and see the Father. He had been sitting there for almost ten whole minutes, eight minutes longer than he could comfortable sit anywhere without beginning to fidget. He resisted the urge to get up and run – he had a promise to keep, a duty to fulfill.
The boy thought back to earlier that afternoon at the funeral internment and what led him to sitting on the stoop waiting for Father Broussard. It had been real easy to get here, he supposed, considering how hard it had been to convince his friend to help him get the Father alone on such a busy afternoon such as this was. The two argued over it, the boy’s friend insisting that meeting the Father on the day he was burying his father wasn’t right; and he had resisted the boy’s requests until the whisper in the ear of the phrase, “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”, then the understanding of what the boy meant to do became clear and delectable to the grieving ear of the friend.
It was then that the boy’s friend and he began to near Father Broussard after the interment ceremony as everyone waited for the workers to ready the coffin for lowering into the ground. For five minutes they would close in on the minister then they would back off slightly as some other grown up would come up to talk to the Father. They were beginning to think that two ten year old boys wouldn’t be able to get the Father’s attention…in public.
Father Broussard finally did notice the two boys behind him. He turned and put his hand on the darker skinned of the two. “Sorry about your father,” Broussard said kindly, “He was a good man. I knew him very well…very well.” The boys couldn’t help but notice that the good Father’s smile became almost sickly as the Father spoke.
“Thank you, Father,” the dead man’s son said. He remembered his manners and introduced the other boy as his friend that had come to the funeral with his grandparents.
Father Broussard nodded, “Oh yes,” he said, “You’re the one who was with him when the angels called him home. The lord certainly was looking after you, after all, not even a night in the hospital.”
The heavier of the two boys spoke, “I wouldn’t rightly call it a callin’ – more like a demandin’.” Father Broussard frowned and the boy hastily added, “T’ain’t nuthin’ but a hurtin’, sir, and Madame says that a little spit an’ shinin’ will heal me alright, but I ain’t too up on the Lord’s ways.” The boy inhaled deeply after speaking, the after effect of the soreness of his shoulder seemed to test his vocal chords when he was trying to control the tone of voice he was using towards the Father; a man that he knew to be the cause of the funeral in the first place but wasn’t about to let that fact slip out.
“It’s never a bad time to learn the ways of God,” the Father told both boys though he kept his eyes locked on the heavier boy, as if to evaluate what reason his God would guide the bullet away from its lethal destination of the boy’s head to merely graze the shoulder, allowing the majority of the damage to be done by the boy spinning and meeting the less fatal of wooden door frame splinters to pierce his upper chest. What the Father hadn’t heard though was the half hour the boy laid on the floor covered in the shooter’s own brain matter, skull fragments and blood when the shooter had turned the gun on himself. “Perhaps one day you should have a talk with your local minister about these matters.”
The other boy gave a large smile and said, “Father, you couldn’t talk to him today, could you?” Father Broussard looked taken aback at the notion of talking with the boy at a time such as this, but the other boy pushed on. “After all, you’re family, and he’s family – learnin’ about the Lord’s way from family is better than a stranger, ain’t that what you said to me?”
The Father was quiet for a moment and then said, “Why don’t you come to see me when the internment is complete and I have said thank you to everyone.” He looked at his watch, “We can have a chat before the reception starts, would that be alright?” He looked straight into the boy’s hazel eyes with his own light blue ones.
The boy said nothing but stared back. His friend gave him an elbow in the ribs…his sore ones, no less, and answered for him, “That sounds like an idea, don’t it?” The boy nodded his head at his friend while he held his throbbing side. Father Broussard didn’t notice, but looked at the two boys and smiled.
“Well, then I shall see you at my residence soon, then,” he said softly. “I have some things to do here, and then we shall…talk.”
The boy nodded and the walked backwards away from the good Father as he turned his attention to several of the older women of the community that had come up to him. The boys forced smiles disappeared. The boy looked at his friend and nodded – the first stage of the mission was complete. The Father hadn’t caught on that the boy knew exactly how well the Father had known his friend’s father, his shooter. In fact, the boy knew that the minister wore a shallow kindly façade; that behind the smile lurked a monster that had systematically gone through his friend’s family from his father and mother down to his six year old sister to gain intimate knowledge of each one.
The boy winced from the pain of the wounds he had received less than a week before. He wondered if Father Broussard would have been so avid in inviting another prepubescent child into his private residence as he had done hundreds of times in the thirty years he had been stationed as the town’s moral compass if he had known that it had not been just an attempted murder and successful suicide. That the shooter had been hallucinating that the boy was his boy and that as a good father he couldn’t let the evil taint him as deep as it had him; he wondered if Father Broussard perhaps knew that his defiling of an entire family to satisfy his own petty lusts was the reason for that day’s funeral. The boy decided that even if the minister knew, he probably didn’t care....
A hand came to rest on the boy’s head jolting him away from his thoughts. The Father’s voice seemed to come from inside a hollow tube as he told the boy to come in. The boy nodded and followed the minister in, watching from the corner of his eye as the minister looked around the outside as he held the door for the boy. The boy walked a little past the Father, waiting as the Father closed and locked the door.
“Just so we aren’t disturbed,” Father Broussard said with a wink to the boy and then motioned for the boy to go into the windowless study just off to the left of the front hallway. The boy briefly thought about changing his mind on his course of action as he watched the man go behind his large oaken desk covered with papers, a well worn bible and nine ceramic Jesus’ that the Sunday school had painted and presented to him.
The boy figured that Father Broussard fit the image of what a man of the cloth looked like; taller than his grandfather though slimmer. There was a sternness of demeanor that was etched into the Father’s fifty-ish long gaunt face, thin lips that seemed to curl inwards toward his mouth hiding the minister’s teeth even when he smiled. Even the way the man stood seemed to exude a forbidding aura though Father Broussard was stooped down in a shallow leather chair to show concern and understanding. The boy patted his left suit pocket to reassure himself that everything was going to be alright, the familiar feeling of the slim bump of the present his grandfather had given him for his sixth birthday resting there reaffirmed his resolve.
“Well, my son,” Father Broussard stated in an inviting tone, “I’m happy that I get a chance to talk to you about the ways of our Heavenly Father and his Son. What can I help enlighten you on so that you can walk in His light along with your friend?”
The boy thought for a moment and said, “I try to do good things but deeds don’t seem to account for much.”
Father Broussard nodded and replied, “Good comes in many forms, that you try without moral righteous guidance just means that your intentions may not be seen as good but self serving. In the Bible there are many examples of where Evil masks itself with good deeds in order to weave its way into a person’s trust.”
The boy looked at the Father blankly.
The Father gave a broad smile and paraphrased for the boy, “Being good means to serve God, if you aren’t seen as being the Lord’s servant, it can be seen as serving only yourself.”
The boy nodded. “So since I don’t go to Church, I’m evil? Cuz my mamma says I’m evil all the time and God don’t want me there – how I am gonna be good if I ain’t even allowed in the Church?”
Father Broussard chuckled, “By taking Christ, our Lord, into your heart, one cannot help but be good – his love frees us from our sins and makes us see that all are our brothers and sisters. That feeling of family is what binds us and makes us as one showered in God’s love.” Father Broussard leaned forward in his chair, “But is that what brings you here to me today? To see if I can cleanse your soul so that you can serve the light?”
The boy crinkled his nose and answered, “Everbody tells me that I ain’t clean cuz I don’t go to church.” The boy paused for a moment, curling his nose up even further as if the action would organize his thoughts better, “But I think I’m cleaner than most everybody…mostly.”
Father Broussard got out of his chair and came to sit on the edge of the desk in front of the boy. “Now what makes you say ‘mostly’? Is there something you need to get off your mind?” he asked gently.
The boy took a deep breath and said, “Evil likes to disguise itself, right? It hides its true form until it’s too late, right?”
Father Broussard paused momentarily looking at the boy from top to bottom; the boy didn’t like that but kept his eyes squarely focused on the white square on the Father’s collar. “What makes you ask that question?” Father Broussard asked, putting his hands together and rested them between his legs.
“My friend says that what I’ve got is a sign of evil,” the boy lied, but he figured that a little white lie could be excused.
Father Broussard’s eye brows went up slightly as he asked, “A sign of evil?”
“My friend tells me that you’ve dealt with this kinda evil…that you can take the devil out of me just like you done did to him” the boy answered. “I figure ya must have done it good cuz his don’t hide – like its been purified, I want you to purify me too so I can be a good boy an’ maybe my mama will love me.”
Father Broussard’s hands left his lap and now set themselves on either side of his body on the desk, as if bracing himself against the weight of the boy’s answers. “What doesn’t hide?”
The boy’s face reddened as he stood up. The Father and he were only a couple of feet apart but at that moment the boy felt as if the Father was in his skin from the way the man’s eyes looked at him. The boy undid his pants and let them drop; the Father gave a sharp intake of breath – though the boy thought it wasn’t from disgust but from something other. The boy pushed his underwear down to join his pants at his ankles and stood there looking at Father Broussard. The Father licked his lips, and the boy noticed that the man’s hands trembled slight as they moved from the desk back to between the minister’s legs.
Without taking his eyes of the Father the boy grabbed his uncircumcised penis and began to stroke it slowly. His hand moved all the way up, pulling the foreskin taut, then bringing the foreskin all the way back down until it disappeared into the quickly hardening fleshy member. The corners of the Father’s mouth began to twitch.
The boy began to talk though he didn’t know if the Father was even listening, “Now, see this here’s the confusin’ part. See how it looks? Like that hooded fella, what’s his name? The Grim Reaper…yeah, that’s it, an’ he’s evil, ain’t he?” The boy watched as the Father’s blue eyes seemed to turn an icy gray as he studied the boy’s hand. “But watch when I do this…the cowl just plumb ol’ disappears, like it didn’t even exist…but then it appears again. So that means I’ve got the evil in me, right?”
Father Broussard didn’t answer for what it seemed like an hour to the boy as he pulled his foreskin back and forth as the man watched. “Father?”
“Hmmm? Yes?” Father Broussard said not taking his eyes off the boy’s bald groin. The man moved each of his hands to the side; the boy could see a bulge in the pants. “Yes, Evil does hide in the most…” Father Broussard paused, “…in the most tempting of places.” He stood up and came close to the boy.
The boy didn’t move but took his hand off his penis, leaving it sticking out by its own hardness. The boy didn’t even flinch when Father Broussard’s sinewy right hand wrapped around the penis and roughly pulled back and forth on it.
Father Broussard smiled at the boy and commented softly, “It is fortunate that you have such a good friend who wants you to find salvation.”
“Yes he is a good friend, Father,” the boy answered, he winced as the father pulled the foreskin to its limits with an increasingly rougher tugging.
“I shall have to remember to thank him for his efforts to save your soul,” Father Broussard purred. He released the boy’s penis; the boy innerly sighed from the release of the pain the Father had been administering.
Father Broussard stepped back a footstep and told the boy to kneel before him so that the Father could start the cleansing ceremony. The boy went to pull his pants up, but the Father told him not to – they would have to be down to complete the holy blessing. The boy went to his knees; his face was just a little lower than Father Broussard’s pants bulge.
The minister looked up to the ceiling and said, “Oh great Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing this lost soul to me so that I may show him the path to your glory.” As he said this, the Father’s hand unzipped his pants and pulled out his own penis out; it was less than six inches away from the boy’s face.
The boy fought the two urges than ran through his mind. The first was to run away from the Father and his thin circumcised five inch penis, the other was to laugh and tell the Father that his was bigger. He did neither but looked at the splotched skin along its length.
“Now,” Father Broussard said in a harsher tone, “To begin the road to your salvation. Take into you me and the more that you give of yourself, the easier and less…painful it will be for you as I sanctify the most inner parts of you.”
“Father?” The boy said not understanding.
The minister’s smile became more lurid and a predatory gleam entered the eyes as he clarified matters for the boy, “You are going to take my penis into your mouth and suck on it. Make sure you cover me with a lot of your spit.”
The boy played dumb at what the Father was intending to do and asked again, “Father?”
Father Broussard put his hand on the boy’s head and pushed him toward his penis as he spoke, “My son, I have to absolve and purify your sins from the inside out. We’ll pray and then my holy seed will infuse goodness unto you…through your bottom.”
“Yes Father,” the boy responded. The boy grabbed Father Broussard’s penis in his right hand, just below the man’s tip. As he inched his mouth closer to the tip of the penis, he could feel the Father’s eyes burning into his scalp; the penis throbbed from anticipation. The boy could smell something pungent from the minister’s member, something not right and fought down the bile that threatened to escape from the back of his throat. The boy’s hand slipped into the left pocket of his jacket.
“That’s right, my son,” the Father intoned, “Let the love of God fill your mouth.”
The boy could feel the heat emanating from the penis as he opened his mouth as wide as he good so that the fleshy tip wouldn’t touch his lips.
In the pocket, his hand gripped his grandfather’s present and hit a release button on it.
The boy tightened his right hand’s grip.
Father Broussard moaned.
The boy counted one…two…three. Then he bit down hard on the penis tip that had entered his mouth while his left hand came swiftly out of his pocket. In his hand was a jackknife with a three inch serrated edge. The knife his grandfather had given him for skinning the tails off of gophers to take into the town office for ten cents a tail, extra money for movies and books, now pierced the Father’s penis between the boy’s right hand and the Father’s scrotum, slicing easily into the thick flesh.
Father Broussard seemed frozen for a second but then pushed himself from the boy, the boy resisted the pressure from the Father’s hands to keep his head straight, making the boy’s teeth leave deep gouges in the tip of the penis as it was forced from the boy’s mouth. The boy released his right hand and put it on top of his left hand to steady the knife as it ripped forward through the penis as the Father went backwards. A sickening stench of acrid urine and blood hit the boy’s nose as liquid pour out from behind the blade as it sawed its way up the remaining three inches of the Father’s penis, sliding out easily as it just slicing through the middle of the tip.
As Father Broussard hit the desk, the boy fell onto his back from the unfettering of the blade in flesh. The boy still had both hands melded to the handle of the jackknife. It felt like the world had gone into a slow motion mode for the boy; the Father screaming and holding his divided penis in his hands, the Father’s knees slowly unlocking and dropping him down to the floor.
The boy felt no horror but only satisfaction. As he slowly stood to his feet, his pants still down at his ankles he said with disgust, “You know, for big holy man, you sure squeal like a piglet bein’ stomped on by it’s daddy – ain’t the pure of heart supposed to suffer in silence? Guess this means that you ain’t meant to be wearin’ that white collar around your neck, now don’t it?” The words had no effect on Father Broussard the boy knew, he doubted the Father even heard them; it was more for the boy – to stop the urge to throw up and cry.
The boy looked at the Father as he tried to stand without letting go of his profusely bleeding crotch; the Father had made it to one knee; the boy walked quickly to the desk and picked up a ceramic Jesus and brought it to the Father’s temple’s left temple. Shards of hardened clay stuck into the minister’s hairline as the boy watched with satisfaction as the Father curled back into a ball on the floor, rolling back and forth.
The boy spat into the minister’s eye. “Madame also told me that hurtin’ has many layers,” the boy said over the moans of the semi conscious man. “Spit an’ polish works for the ones that ain’t on purpose,” he continued, “But there’s kinds of hurtin’ that are so deep that they ain’t that easy to heal. You caused a lot of deep hurtin’.”
Father Broussard stopped his roll and squinted up at the boy. Through gritted teeth he stated in harsh expulsions of air, “I loved them all…there was no pain, just a release of love.”
The boy laughed as he unbuttoned his shirt, his chest splotched and welted with sixteen puncture marks of various sizes and depth scabbing over; where it took the doctor three hours to pull out all the wooden splinters that the door frame that the bullet had shattered instead of entering the boy’s cranium.
“This is what your love caused,” the boy replied through his own gritted teeth. “Don’t say this ain’t pain.”
Father Broussard went to open his mouth to respond but a stream of urine drowned out his words and made him choke instead. He looked at the boy who was finally pulling up his pants and buttoning his shirt back up. The father’s eyes became unfocused; beginning to more quickly as if to force his eyelids to close as the boy finished buttoning up the last button on his shirt.
The boy bent down and with the same blade that he had administered his sentence to the good Father he took a large tuft of the Father’s hair and put it in his pants pocket along with the knife. In twenty minutes the boy would lay the tuft of hair on the pillow of his friend’s grandmother’s bed, but for now the boy was content in watching the Father’s eyes roll back and face loose all rigidity to the onslaught of unconsciousness. The boy knew the minister wouldn’t die, just as he knew the priest would never face the charges that he should for what he had done for almost three decades, that’s why the boy was here: He recalled what his friend’s grandmother had said to him the night before the funeral after she had pulled him aside at the family and friend’s gathering.
The boy was nervous talking alone with the old woman; she had hardly spoken to him more than a few sentences all his life, more watching him with a severe look than anything else, he wasn’t sure he liked the new interest the old woman had in him at all.
She didn’t glare at him that night, her eyes seemed to burn intense but he could tell that it had nothing to do with him.
“Tomorrow,” the old woman spat out in broken English, “Is the beginning of your duty.”
The boy had expected the old woman to say something in regards to the suicide of her son in law, ask if he had said anything in the final moments – but at the same time the woman’s deep brown eyes told him that she already knew. He responded, “Ma’am?”
The old woman’s face seemed to soften as she continued. “Your momma’s right that you have something in you. You’ve got a spirit about you; it ain’t the devil like she thinks, but something more.”
The boy started to feel his stomach churn; he hated being reminded of his mother and what she always said about him. He wanted to walk away from his friend’s grandmother and hide in between his grandparents, but he couldn’t get his legs to move. He said nothing.
The old woman seemed to take no notice of the boy’s fear or confusion. “You are a destroyer, to be sure,” she said. “But you are only destructive to amend what the spirits see as wrong. Tomorrow you take your first step into who you and the spirit are – for my family.”
“A man who gets away with evil actions will always be evil – but if you give him a reminder of the evil, he can begin to see the evil and repeal it.” The old woman whispered as she grabbed the boy’s arm and brought his ear close to her mouth. In an even quieter voice she hissed, “Remove the evil but make sure he’s around to remember the evil, boy – make sure he’ll be around to remember it.”
The boy had asked what the old woman meant, but she just gave him a smile and had told him that he was a bright boy, he would figure it out. He had spent last night thinking about it, and that morning he had come up with the solution he felt worked best to meet the condition his friend’s grandmother gave him as well as ensuring that Father Broussard never hurt another person again, plus satisfy the boy’s own sense of irony. He knew what the word celibacy meant, obviously the Father had forgotten – perhaps by having to squat to take a squirt would remind him of the misuse and the lack of adherence to the code of conduct he had sworn for his beliefs was an apt form of justice.
The boy walked out of the study and down the hallway. He unlocked the door and peered cautiously out the door; there were several people standing around, his friend’s cousins. They looked at him sternly as he stepped out into the chilly air and towards them. One of the older boys came up and roughly pushed him into the large mud puddle on the side of the road, soaking him; he would have to change as soon as he got to his friend’s house and of course there would be a certain chiding from the elders that would end in with the chuckling admission of ‘boys will be boys’. There would be the insistence that the clothes would be laundered immediately, they would send down the clothes clean.
A week later the clothes would arrive at the boy’s house along with a note about the latest scandal to hit the Northern town: The minister was attacked on the very day of the funeral – witnesses would claim to have seen a man break into the church to steal the donation box. Father Broussard would surprise the robber and would suffer deep wounds. The thief escaped and the good Father managed to drag himself to his study in the rectory before passing out. A suspiciously wide open door would lead a good samaritan to investigate and find the man of the cloth unconscious on the floor. The police would have no leads and the diocese would decide to move Father Broussard but would never ask for an investigation into the incident. Father Broussard would spend the remainder of his days with a catheter attached to replace his amputated penis to siphon his bladder waste and the police would never have any new leads to who the attacker was and would shelve the case under “Unsolved”.
But for now, the boy picked himself out of the puddle. There was no eye contact from the boy to anyone, and nothing was said. He was drenched, thickly covered in the mud that had a distinct slimy feel. He began to walk down the street to his friend’s grandmother’s house but as the cold wind slashed through the sodden clothes attempting to penetrate to his very bones he felt nothing, no cold, no anger, no glee, after all, it was a matter of duty…