April 24, 2011

It's been cool on the Island, a coolness that culminated in quite a window-rattler of a dry wind that shook things up proper during the early hours of Saturday morning. Sunday opened out with bright sun and a promise of a heat wave coming this way. This ought to be good news to folks East of the Sierra where they are handling flood-swollen rivers and straining levees. Old timers are saying it may turn out to be a wet summer, so just enjoy the respite for now.

Spring has busted out all over, and not even the voracious slugs and snails can stop Her Highness now. Peas started late and the pole beans are pallid, lowly creatures for now. We shall see what the week shall bring.

Father Danyluk has had a bad week which ended worse. First this woman showed up with a child -- it was Marlene towing Adam and trying to get the boy into what she imagined was a private boarding school at the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint. Marlene had come to realize that living in a tumultuous household featuring a stripper, several itinerant musicians, a homeless bum who slept on the porch, and any number of perverted misfits probably was not a positive influence. He had to tell her that the place was not really a boarding school or a seminary and there were no bunks for boys.

Adam chipped in with a comment that he had heard all the priests liked little boys and Fr. Danyluk then had to explain with a sigh that this was not like other places and they were all well behaved here. He also explained that the school was not free and what kind of tuition was it that they could afford.

Well, Marlene had not thought about that. She had imagined the place was run sort of like a religious agency for poor folks like herself, and then Father Danyluk had to explain that he could provide religious instruction well enough and turn the boy into a proper Jesuit by means of Sunday classes, but as for the school part, well that was not free. That was not how it worked here.

So Marlene went away from there to the Buddhist temple and worked out something there with Cindy, a very nice Buddhist nun, even though she had no hair.

Ordinarily the Easter time was a good one for Father Danyluk, for Easter time is one of the few times Catholics get to demonstrate and enjoy some pleasure in life, but of course not too much. All in moderation. It was not good to get too attached to worldly things you know.

Then there was Pedro Almeida who he was sure was listening to the Pastor with the Red Shoes on the Radio again. He had been far too happy lately, even to the extent of humming bluegrass tunes. Mrs. Almeida had told him that her husband was expecting a CD he had gotten titled "Mouthsounds: How to Imitate an Atomic Toilet and the Sound of a Pterodactyl Devouring an Hot Air Balloon Carrying a Load of Chickens in a Thunderstorm."

These sounds did not seem proper for a good Catholic to be thinking about.

These sounds did not seem proper for a good Catholic to be thinking about.

Then, to cap it off, who should show up but Jesus Contreras complaining about this dream he had last weekend. He had dreamed that the apostles had mistaken him for the original Jesus and they were all having a party during his crucifixion. Jesus had never come into the church before this, which had prompted Father Danyluk to quip, "I never thought I'd live to experience the day I see Jesus come into my church with trepidation."

Finally, he had gotten into serious hot water with the archbishop. Yes, Bishop Mitty was in a wax, even though none of the affair had been his idea.

Mario, his old schoolmate from Poly High, had called him up with an earnest plea for an audience with the Bishop on a matter of grave importance to the Basilica. It was not until later he had found out that Mario had gone first to Pastor Nyquist, and the idea that Mario had approached the Lutherans first really rankled.

Basically, Mario had gotten hold of what he felt was a very valuable ikon, a serious holy relic, and he had tried to sell the thing to the Pastor, who had to tell him, first of all, Lutherans were pretty much all about doing away with all that stuff which basically just got in the way. He advised him to avoid the Methodists as well. Ikons and things like that were right up the Catholic alley.

So it was Easter week and the Bishop happened to be in a rare good mood so he had agreed to meet with the man and view this holy relic.

So the three of them and Sister Beatrice met in the Confusorium of the Basilica and Mario pulls out this box that was all ornate shining silver -- very baroque-looking -- and encrusted with any amount of fake jewels. No wonder Nyquist had turned this thing down; it was positively ugly.

"You say this is an holy relic," said the Bishop.

"You say this is an holy relic," said the Bishop.

"You betcha", Mario said. "Pope Paul hisself."

Bishop Mitty and Father Danyluk looked at one another.

"You know, Mario, that Pope Paul is being canonized this very week. This is serious."

Mario clapped his hands. "Exactly! I got in on this relic on the ground floor. While he was still just a dude!"

"A dude." The bishop said flatly.

"Oh yeah! A pretty holy dude, I gotta admit, but not like a saint or a demigod or nothin' like that. Reason I am sellin so cheap. Cause ya know I am," here Mario put his hand over his heart and looked to the ceiling. "I am deeply, deeply, uh, sanctified and all."

"How can you have a relic of Pope Paul?" Father Danyluk asked. "He was entombed in front of millions of people!"

"Ahhhhhh!" Mario said and clapped his hands again. "Cause I found Sister Grimace."

"Sister Grimace?" said both the priest and the bishop.

"Yeah!" said Mario, and here he opened the little box with a flourish. "Sister Grimace, Officiale Custode della Toletta di Vatican Più Santa!"

The priest and the bishop peered into the red velvet-lined box wherein resided a greyish, desiccated mass.

Sister Beatrice gasped.

. . . a sample of the actual . . . Papal Poop!

"The Keeper of the Vatican Watercloset has given me a sample of the actual final Papal Poop!" Mario shouted happily. "It was on my last visit to my mother's old village, Villaggio Polloalimenta, I stopped by in Roma."

Mitty slammed the box closed and shoved it at Mario. "THE TWO OF YOU GET OUT OF HERE! IMMEDIATELY!" With that, the archbishop stormed out, his robes flapping angrily behind him.

"What's wrong!" Mario said, sounding quite hurt. "Dontcha want the relic?"

"Mario, you have been an idiot for as long as I have known you." Father Danyluk said. "Take your poop with you. I am going back to the rectory."

"Hey, you're a priest! You aint supposed to talk to me like that! You're supposed to be meek and mild and stuff!"

"Eff off, Mario!" Father Danyluk said coarsely.

"Father Danyluk!" Sister Beatrice said. "Do not curse in the Basilica!"

It would be a long time before Danyluk would live this one down with the archbishop. When Father Danyluk got back the first thing he did was break open the oak armoire and pour himself a stiff one over ice. He was not what they call a "whiskey priest" but the day had been especially trying.

So there he was when Sister Cicatrice came around the corner and saw him with a bottle of scotch in one hand and a glass in the other.

"Oh dear, dear, dear," the Sister said. "Its gotten as bad as all that. I shall call the Bishop now to have a word with you, if I may."

"I think," Father Danyluk said with patience that surprised even himself. "That would be a really bad idea right now. . . ".

It's Spring and the roses were rioting all over, pretty much the way roses do, tossing their heads and showily calling attention to themselves the way some women will flamboyantly toss their skirts as if daring you to see something exciting and really mysterious and fun.

The wild turkeys near Franklin Park have been striding about, going to the ATM, rummaging in the grass and crossing the street back and forth. The squirrels are out and about, digging for landmines and placing explosives that likely will annihilate the cat if he is not careful. All the terriers and sausage dogs have emerged to take their humans for walks, keeping the species about two or three steps behind them as is customary.

Spring is not a time for seriousness.

Spring is not a time for seriousness. No one has ever completed a colossal project in early May -- such earnestness is better put off until June.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Suzie pours shots of Chamucos tequila, which is a reposado of course. But you knew that already. The bartender at the Lucky 13 named Rosemarie turned Padraic onto the stuff and so the OSPB has ordered cases of the stuff from Mexico. It goes down well and makes you glow like a little teacandle inside, and gets you a little lively, much like Spring itself. When Denby gets a snootful, he forgets that his life is a miserable train-wreck headed for the gorge of disaster and that he lives in a Lunatic Asylum. He begins to believe that Life is actually interesting. And that the woman with red hair sitting over there is also quite interesting. As well as that elvish-looking gal over on the other side; she has a nice voice. Both of them do. Everybody was sooooooooo innnnnnnteresting . . . .

The handmade blown-glass bottle of the Chamucos features a label sporting a rather pleasant and happy demon. When Spring arrives, a little deviltry is good for you. Just a little wickedness.

Suzie watches the hookups, the matches, the clinking glasses and the paired departures impelled by the Chamucos all night until the big Western sky has melded from its molten copper to deep blues floating with the cold slag of clouds until it all drains out to the pitch black kettle of night and fog. She settles in behind the bar on her stool and the dim light of the backbar to open her textbook while the remaining regulars finish up their drinks with low murmurs among themselves and the radio quietly plays an Audioslave song..

Be yourself is all that you can do . . .

Suzie leafs to the section she has been reading for a while. "The Bonobo appear to have found that perfect mix of joy and community among themselves. Each community member seeks to make each member they happen to meet by chance in the forest as happy as possible. Family and place of birth matter nothing. It matters only that one has found another Bonobo and the joy each finds in each in that moment. The Bonobo are unusual in that they have no permanent anxieties, no hang-ups. Because they live in the here and now, there is for the Bonobo, no Heaven, no Hell. So it is, the Bonobo are the happiest of all the communities we have studied thus far. . .".

A quiet snore eminated from where Denby snoozed with his head in his arms. Dawn went over and snuffed out the candle. "I'll call a cab," she said to Padraic.

From far across the way, the long howl of the the throughpassing train ululated across the chuckling waves of the estuary and the joyous wildflowers of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.