Sunday, 15 November 2015

Father Ed

It's mid-morning on Monday, and a lone figure leans into the wind holding a small suitcase against his chest to protect him from the elements. Wearing a yellow storm proof coat and trousers with matching sowester hat, they try to not trip over stray sheep as they make their way towards the grey, rain-soaked, hurricane battered walls of Craggy Islands Presbytery.

Inside, Father Dougal McGuire is kneeling the wrong way on a moth-eaten arm chair with his hands resting on its back as he stares, with the kind of open mouthed excitement that is normally only associated with a highly strung labrador, out the grubby front room window.

“Oh my God, I can see him! He's coming!” Dougal squeaked with unbridled glee as he bounced on his knees on the badly sprung seat. 

“Quick everyone, get ready, he's coming up the path!” He continued in a near squeal, as he leapt from the seat and repeatedly bounced on the spot.

Mrs Doyle rolled her eyes, tutted and shook her head as she shuffled out of the room and headed towards the kitchen. While on the other side of the small front room, Father Jack Hackett stopped snoring with an abrupt snort from his stained chair, opened one bloodshot, crazed eye and let out a guttural growl, before closing it again and continuing his loud sleep. 

Dougal was still bouncing with his fists clenched and his eyes tightly closed as the doorbell rang and he shot off like an over-enthusiastic toddler towards the front door.

“Ah hello there Father,” The stranger loudly announced as the door swung inwards and the tempest outside continued to batter his drenched features, “you must be Father McGuire?”

Dougal said nothing, just continued to stare directly at the sodden Priest with the same open-mouthed glee that had been on his face since he'd awoken that morning in his Iron Man pyjamas.

“I'm Father Edward McGuinness,” The stranger continued, bellowing above the roar of the untamed wind, and holding out his hand to be shook, “I'm the new Priest in residence here, may I come in at all?”

Again, Dougal continued to say absolutely nothing for what seemed an ice-age as he studied every inch of Father Edward's face, before he looked down at Father Edwards hand and slapped it with his own.

“What you standing out there for Ted!?” Dougal suddenly blurted, with a look complete confusion, “You'll catch your death out there. Come on inside, and I'll go get the Ker-Plunk from my room.”

Father Edward looked concerned, but nevertheless, after removing his bright, rainproof attire and placing his suitcase in the hallway, he followed Dougal into the front room.

“No Father Dougal, I'm Father Edward, Father Edward McGuinness,” he tried to explain, “but you can call me 'Ed' if you like?”

“Where have you been Ted, you've been gone ages!” Dougal said shaking his head, “You had us all worried there for minute.”

“No Dougal, I'm Father Edward! Father Ted died some 17 years ago, don't you remember going to his funeral?”

“Oh yeah!” Dougal replied, with a knowing nod, “That was brilliant Ted! How did you manage to do all that?” He then leant in with a conspiratorial whisper and added, “You know I think Mrs Doyle actually believed it, she was crying and everything! But then she is very stupid, not like us ay Ted!”

Father Edward shook his head, wondering what he had to say, before Dougal piped up once more.

“Have you died your hair there Ted? I think I preferred it grey meself.”

“No Dougal,” Father Edward said as he tried to slowly explain, “this is my hair. I have brown hair. Father Ted had grey hair, but Father Ted is dead Dougal.”

“Oh right you are then, Ted.” Dougal said tapping the side of his nose and theatrically winking. “I'll tell you one thing though Ted, I'm never playing hide and seek with you again. You just take it way too far!

It was then Mrs Doyle came shaking through the doorway carrying a fine china, cup of tea on a silver tray. 

“Ah, you must be Mrs Doyle!” Father Edward brightly said as he rushed towards her holding out his hand, “I'm Father Edward, but you can call me Ed if you like.”

Mrs Doyle stood motionless glaring at him, looking him up and down as she screwed up her face.

“No, I don't think so.” she finally said after shaking her head.

“I'm sorry?” Father Edward said feeling even more confused, then looking down at the tray Mrs Doyle was carrying, added, “Ah, is that cup of tea there for me Mrs Doyle?”

Mrs Doyle looked completely affronted, and turned the tray away from Father Edward.

“No, it certainly is not!” She said before turning on the spot and shuffling back towards the hallway.

She muttered as she left the room, although her muttering was done at volume that everyone could hear.

“Coming round here wearing his provocative cardigans, acting like some sex-crazed Casanova, with his 'oh you can call me Ed if you like'! Who does he think he is!? What's wrong with a nice long name like Ted – THE BASTARD!”

Father Edward stood confused in the front room, as he looked across at Dougal still full of wonder, and noticed Father Jack was stirring. Maybe he needed a rousing speech to get everyone on side. 

“Well, everyone,” he said clapping his hands, “it's a Monday. It's the start of a new week. A new chapter in all of our lives. So let's make it a grand one ay. What do ya say?”

Father Jack snarled as he open both his eyes, and grabbed the armrests of his chair before bellowing,

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