Monday, 1 May 2017

Elijah

(c) Denis Fitzpatrick

Elijah d’Israeli, since about a month after the beginning of his freely chosen wandering life of a prophet at the age of twenty-three, absolutely hated his reflection in the small mirror on his bank’s ATMs. Elijah hated how that small mirror showed the dirt buried deep into his very pores. Presently he grimaced at it, and inserted his card.
     The machine promptly told him that he had only $114.57 left. He was short by around $100. He needed all of what he had left for his beer, cigarettes, and food for this week, in that order. And there was no point trying the Trust Fund for assistance; the regulation daily $250.00 (to cover any hotel costs that the wandering prophet might need, and sundries) would be there once again at 9:30 am tomorrow morning, and there was no negotiating for an advance. He was lucky his moderately wealthy parents couldn’t bear to completely have him at the mercy of the wilds.
     He was $100 short to entertain a new belle that he had met three days ago in Chippendaille, near the end of a very cold winter, 2011. Chippendaille he found extra depressing in winter, feeling shut away into darkness, and he sometimes wondered if its utter wintry barrenness was counterpoised by a brighter Chippendaille in another Sydney, in a parallel Universe. But to this young lass. She had seen the grimy, shabbily dressed, Elijah sitting on a wall, his travelling bag nearby, looking to all intents and purposes as if he was really enjoying the cigarette he was smoking. Probably a joint. She decided to help him out a wee bit by buying him some hot chips, a nice hearty feed of them.
     Elijah had in fact been smoking a joint and the dinner box full of chips was just the thing for the consequent munchies. He didn’t fail to notice either that they were offered by a fairly attractive young lady, in an aqua dress, with blue denim jacket, calf-length, shiny black boots, and such fine, long, straw coloured hair. She introduced herself as Janette Meunier.
     Elijah didn’t take long either to ask her out, after he had finished off the chips in conversation with her. He assured her that he had ample, ample resources, that his present homelessness was his voluntary response to a vivid dream that he had had around the start of the year: it was simply an image of Christ in a wasteland crying and pleading for help from someone, anyone, just please help. He awoke shortly after shaken to the core. That morning he went searching for the source of his vision, abandoning everything, including a writing career that was just beginning to be fruitful.
     But all this interesting history doesn’t look like it’ll be able to be conveyed upon the eager, earnest Janette, unless he can now come up with the $100 missing from bank his account. He could of course go without the beer, but then again, no, that was simply not an option. At least he had given up the red wine after waking in an old man’s house, with presumably his son in attendance, with no idea as to how he had got there after a heavy night of the red, red wine. But was there any possible solution to his present monetary woe?
     Yes, he instantly thought. Tonight’s Speaking Night (which he was planning to forgo in favour of a restaurant) so just take her around the traps. Speaking Night was every Sunday night and Elijah travelled the inner city suburbs of Sydney, Aus, preaching a particular truth revealed to him as a result of his wandering search for the wailing Christ. After all, it certainly had novelty as a date and Janette looked like she liked anything interesting. He pulled out his phone to dial her with the change of plans.

*

Janette thought that joining him on Speaking Night was indeed a novel idea, perhaps able to shed an entirely new light on her fellow citizens. They met up at a café across from Redferne station at seven pm and decided to have just the one coffee each and start off the Night just outside the station.
     The coffees were engagingly and leisurely consumed but after Elijah, who had spruced himself up very well and was without his travelling bag, had paid the bill and was waiting beside the still seated Janette to join him in the Night’s journey. She remained completely motionless. Elijah soon became slightly concerned.
     ‘Janette? You okay?’ She remained motionless.
     ‘Janette?’ She then jerked her head to her left and looked up at him,
     ‘I’m terrified of crowds.’ She looked frightened but wasn’t pale.
     ‘I’m absolutely terrified of crowds,’ she continued. ‘I know it’s a silly fear, modern life is crowded, and that’s why I decided to join you for Speaking Night. I would be in control of any crowd that developed. Or partly in control. I knew I’d be scared but I also knew it wouldn’t kill me and that I’d face my fear.’
     ‘That’s very brave, Janette. But I very rarely have crowds gather in front of me. The good people usually ignore me.’
     ‘Still, it’s the thought that a crowd might form in front of me that absolutely terrifies me. Although, my freelance painting is now starting to get talked about more so I’ve had to force myself to be amongst small crowds oftener. I can overcome the fear easily enough; it just takes a few minutes of quiet preparation. And a glass of water.’
     ‘Can I get you one,’ asked Elijah.
     ‘Yes, please.’
     While Janette was drinking her water and preparing herself Elijah offered to hold her hand while he was speaking, to help her be sure to remain steady and unfrightened. She thought about it and decided any help oughtn’t to be rejected. And he was a nice guy, well-dressed now, with Mediterranean features that alluded to curiosity. Short haired too, thankfully.
     Janette soon announced that she was ready and they made their way across the road.
     ‘Brothers and sisters,’ he assuredly called while they were both taking up their stations, hand in hand. ‘Cousins and strangers! I preach the word of Christ. And I have heard Him Calling to me and I remain responding to that call. He has told me many things to aid my search, some of them good, some of them horrible. Tonight, brothers and sisters, cousins and strangers, I will reveal an utter abomination before His Eyes, an abomination enacted by the Roman Catholic Church. Their paedophilia is well documented, people, but what is not well documented is that these very same abominable priests are regularly going to Confession, admitting their evils, and then being absolved of their sins. Of course the Father who hears the Confession will sometimes pass the information onto his superiors and another disgusting, vile priest is shifted onto a new parish with no knowledge of his damnable sins.’ Elijah paused, looking around at the passing people ignoring him. ‘An utter abomination, brothers and sisters, cousins and strangers. But there is more.
     ‘As I said the Roman Catholic Church’s paedophilia is well documented but what is not well known is that Its victims, once having received monetary compensation, must contractually agree not to talk about their horrors to anyone, neither to friends and family nor to counsellors. Brothers and sisters, cousins and strangers, it is talking about this abuse that is the first critical step towards healing. The Roman Catholic Church are simply prostituting the children in their care, buying their silence once they have been so completely damaged.
     ‘So what can you do, good people? Simply boycott Mass. Simply extend your charity elsewhere. Turn your backs upon the Roman Catholic priesthood, as the Roman Catholic priesthood had Its back turned to worshippers in Mass for centuries, until the Pontiff allows them to marry.’
     Elijah then led Janette further down the road and once again he revealed the same message. They spent an hour in Redferne, randomly moving to spots, and then spent until five am the next morning Speaking all over inner Sydney, always the same message, to make it the more effective with repetition. They parted back at the café across from Redferne station and Janette said she might like to come along on the next Speaking Night. Elijah had no problem with that. They had a milkshake each and agreed to get together in a week. Elijah headed off to sleep in a park seeing as how the morning was warming nicely.

*

Janette indeed joined Elijah for another Speaking Night, the next Sunday, and it was to both of them outside of Central train station that a Roman collared priest approached. He had heard Elijah at Central last week and wished to offer the olive branch. Would he and his wife care to join him for tea to discuss the matter?
     Elijah, naturally, took the priest at his word and they all agreed to a meeting on the following night. The priest remained affable when they arrived at his place, a balding sandy haired American, still with the accent, and they all sat down to some tea without suspicion.
     How Elijah knew he’d been poisoned he didn’t know. It was just a sure, undeniable conviction that made him dial for a taxi to the nearest hospital the instant after he’d first sipped his sweet tea. The doctor said it was that instinct that got Elijah to him in the nick of time. Elijah would be sick for a while but he just needed bed rest and he’d soon be fine again.
      The priest handed himself in soon after the attempted murder, admitting to everything. He had got the arsenic from the Net. The priest, Father Sebastian, said he did it for the greater glory of Christ and that he would easily do it again if it meant keeping the Holy Roman Catholic Church rightly all powerful. The police thought he was a nut.
     When Elijah and Janette returned to the Speaking Nights a month later she did some of the Speaking, exhorting reason to the passers-by that weren’t listening as usual. They didn’t do it primarily to be heard but to hear each other. They were never derided, simply ignored. They also did it for a love that was growing in Christ’s name. And Christ indeed must have been paying heed for after three months of Speaking with Elijah, and other dates, Janette had a similar dream to that of Elijah’s Christ wailing in a desert. She had seen Him sobbing, crouched down upon his knees and bent over, crying into His Cupped Hands.
     She then awoke with a start, shaken to the core. She naturally told Elijah of her vision the following morning, his response being to ask for her hand in marriage: together they could the better assist the desperate Christ. Janette happily assented. They took to travelling and Speaking across the length and breadth of Aus, until a year ago, when they had their first children, twin girls. They have put the Speaking in abeyance until the children should have flown the nest. They remain on the lookout for the forlorn Christ. 


~~~


If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and
paperbacks (go to http://amzn.to/1NfodtN). Other ebook and paperback options are available at  http://bit.ly/1UsyvKD Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing in 2018. You can follow its journey at www.aberrantselected.blogspot.com

No comments:

Post a Comment