Tag Archives: bishop

THE CASE OF THE BISHOP’S BATH

11 Aug

Has it ever crossed your mind, Watson,” said Holmes, lighting his pipe and filling the room with a cloud of his favourite tobacco, “that water holds many a secret.”

Water, Holmes?” I asked, unable to see any relevance to anything that had recently touched our lives.

Yes indeed, Watson: Water,” he murmured, puffing furiously to bring his pipe to life. “And unless I’m very much mistaken the owner of those footsteps on the stairs is going to remind us of that fact before we’ve had a chance of forgetting it.

I heard the footsteps a microsecond after Holmes mentioned them.

You know who it is, Holmes?” I asked, vaguely.

I knew that he must because several blasts from his pipe had been crushed against the glass of the window that overlooked Baker Street. It was an occasional occupation of his, looking at the world from the first floor and finding clues out there.

It’s my brother Mycroft,” murmured Sherlock. “Now why the devil has he come here? He much prefers to call me to him!”

He is older than you,” I pointed out.

And doesn’t he know it! But hush, Watson, here he comes. There’s no Mrs Hudson to show him up, it being Sunday and she being at church”

The door opened without being knocked and the portly figure of Mycroft Holmes stood there, his brilliant piercing eyes taking us both in in a single sweep.

It’s not good enough, Sherlock, expecting visitors to climb Everest in order to get to see you,” he complained.

There are considerably higher Everests than a few stairs. Mycroft,” said Holmes, somewhat tartly. “But what a pleasure it is to see you on a Sunday even if you have had to climb to a first floor room in order to provide me with that pleasure.”

I have come on a serious matter of national importance,” he said, suavely.

Whenever you want to see me you claim national importance as if the Empire would dissolve if I didn’t do your will,” said Sherlock. “Now hearken. I can’t order you tea or crumpets because Mrs Hudson is off praying, so pray just take a seat and tell me why this country’s at risk all of a sudden, on a Sunday.”

It’s the Bishop of Westerly,” he said, almost pompously.

It is? A minor Bishop if there is such a thing,” murmured Holmes thoughtfully. “But Eton and Oxford none-the-less. And he spent some years in South America, I believe. Possible Peru, if my memory serves me right.”

He’s been back here preaching for thirty-odd years,” said Mycroft. “But that’s all by-the-by because he’s now an ex-Bishop, I’m afraid. But he was always favourite of the king, and his demise is therefore cause for concern.”

His demise, Mycroft?” asked Sherlock.

Indeed. Demise. He was found in a bath of cool water, sans life, sans breath, sans everything as the bard would have said. And before the King is informed we must know for certain that he died naturally, for if he didn’t it could well be one of Moriaty’s more devious schemes to get closer to royal circles.”

I can see that,” murmured Holmes. “Is that all there is to it? He was found dead in his bath? People do die in the bath, you know. There’s nothing particularly suspicious about that, unless they’ve got a dagger in them, or a nice round bullet hole somewhere not too pleasant.”

He wasn’t alone, Sherlock,” said Mycroft.

Not alone?” I spluttered.

He had the company of the Lady Ursula Bilmous,” said Mycroft, shaking his head.

The wife of Lord Edwin Bilmous?” spluttered Holmes, “probably the rarest beauty among the angels of the aristocracy? Said to have been courted by dozens before Lord Edwin snared her?”

And snare her he did,” sighed Mycroft, “put her with child and was too decent to have her installed in an asylum for her wickedness, so wed her.”

He was a leg up for her, too,” murmured Holmes. “So tell me. In the bath with a Bishop who died…?”

They were both dead, Sherlock,” said Mycroft, “and it was no shiny pleasing bath with gold taps and a quick-drain plug! Oh, no, it was the kind of bath a crude worker, someone of the lower classes, might soak his filth off once a week! A tin bath, they call them!”

A tight fit, then,” murmured Sherlock, “to hold two bodies. Come, Mycroft, don’t be shy and tell me where we will find the pair of corpses.”

I’ve ordered that they be left where they were,” said his brother quietly, “knowing you are particular about details. They were found at a small establishment on the Bilmous Estate, a cottage previously occupied by the shepherd’s mate.”

This gets cruder and cruder!” said Holmes. “Tell me, did anyone have the good sense to measure the temperature of the water in the bath?”

Mycroft nodded. “I ordered that much,” he admitted, “The constable said he was no judge but thought it right.”

I see,” murmured the younger brother, “so time is short! Come, Watson, and bring your bag with you! It will take a good hour to get to Bilmous, and we may already be too late!”

Leaving Mycroft to take a carriage back to his club Holmes and I set off at a fair pace for the estate of the lamented Lady Ursula.

This is a strange one,” I ventured to Holmes.

He nodded. “Though it may be straight-forward,” he said, “for a tin bath in a labourer’s cottage is a strange place for either a lady of high status or a bishop to decide to end it all.”

You think it was suicide, Holmes?” I asked, shocked. “Surely no bishop, knowing his place in Heaven is assured by his living a good life, would risk it by committing the worst of sins, which is what suicide most assuredly is.”

The human mind can be easily twisted by emotions, Watson,” he said obliquely, and we continued on our journey engaged in more irrelevant chit- chat, mostly about the weather that, until that morning had been appalling. Holmes, it seems, can devote a great part of his mind to the solving of problems whilst making almost meaningless conversation with the smaller part.

The cottage was small and mean as one would expect to be inhabited by an under-shepherd. This one had been empty for some months as the present occupier of the lowly post of shepherd’s mate already had a home in the village on the estate, living as he did with both parents.

The sight of a bishop (portly as they often are, testament to good game and port, no doubt) lying in cold water with the most beautiful of women, in her thirties by the look of her, but sadly with the pallor of death on her.

Holmes spent some time examining both bodies, and the sorry piles of clothing that had been folded onto a chair, and then his eyes lit up and he looked at me with that expression I had long associated with the instant solving of a hard question.

See here, Watson,” he said, and he pointed to a puncture mark on the naked woman’s thigh. “I would guess that this is the culprit! Someone used a syringe and injected some toxin into the fair maiden’s flesh.”

I stared at it, and shook my head. There could be no doubt: I have seen syringe scars many times. “So sad,” I whispered, “but what of the bishop? After all, it is he your brother was most concerned about.”

The story, as I read it, is this,” he said, almost sharply, “remember what we said of the weather? Take a look at his discarded clothes. The bishop was out in the rain, possibly moving between parishes as bishops are won’t to do, and became soiled by splashes of mud and the like. The lady, for this is her husband’s estate, remember, brought him here to be cleansed rather than risk taking him to the big house where his presence and state would be available for all to see and mock at, and provided him with a bath. But the water, Watson, was much too hot and the shock of it, whilst not scalding him, sent his body into a fit from which it would never recover. See his weight and the gross swelling of his skin where it met the over-heated water…”

I see that much,” I assured him, “I am used to such things you know, Holmes.”

You see where the water, hot though not normally dangerously so, caused his heart to lurch one time too many?” said Holmes. “The lady Ursula would have been here, tending to his needs, and may well have slipped into the bath and joined him accidentally at the shock os his passing… Feel the water, Watson, there is still some warmth in it.”

Naked, Holmes?” I asked frowning.

Most certainly,” he replied, “especially if she too had also been soiled by the foul weather. She would probably have wanted to make herself clean for her husband… whatever happened, when she discovered that he was dead and seeing no decent way out of a predicament that might have been wholly innocent but seen as anything but, she decided to end it all.”

So she carried a syringe of deadly poison with her, did she, Holmes?” I asked cynically.

Perhaps,” he nodded, “remember, she had previously had an unenviable reputation and it was highly likely that she could foresee the occasion coming when she might choose the hereafter rather than humiliation…”

So it wasn’t a simple case of her husband finding her in a tin bath with a dead bishop and, in despair, doing what he may well have considered doing years ago when her character was first known to him?” I asked, “you know, when she fell pregnant?”

But Watson,” he said, appalled at my suggestion, “he’s a lord, a member of a noble aristocracy … you really must learn to think before you speak…”

Of course, Holmes,” I mumbled.

© Peter Rogerson 30.07.17

FENLAND FUTILITY

4 Aug

It was like a hint of death in Cold Barrow Fen.
Pretty had been there before, on the wing, fluttering in time with the scudding clouds, but it had never been as macabre as this. The fragrance had been different, rotting stuff maybe, but rotting vegetation and not the oozing juices of rotting flesh from this or that creature that had given up the ghost too soon.. But now it was flesh all right, decomposing rapidly as the breath of Cold Barrow Fen touched it. Pretty didn’t like it, and fluttered off.
But he couldn’t flutter for too far. Something drew him back.
Maybe it was the hope that his love might come, a bright and orange Monarch from his clan, that she might flutter up to him, eyes beseeching, needing him. He was old, he knew that, and age makes all things whither.
Age crumbles gossamer, breaks the substance of fragile wings, stills vital juices as they course through a gentle thorax, brings the spark of life close to a sombre ending.
Pretty paused mid-flutter. A sudden scented wind took him, and as like as not he knew no more.
And down below him, not so far for a butterfly to fall as the spark of life is being squeezed out of him, staggered Father Ragan Priestly. Or what was left of his spirit.
ooOoo
Father Ragan Priestly was broken hearted.
Bishop “Dimwit” O’Toole had sent him to the fenland cottage where he’d been brought up as a child, proving that his nickname had been well earned because cottages like that, never much to talk about compared to palaces, soon surrendered to the moist airs that washed from the not-so-distant North Sea and began to return whence they came, to the wild Earth and wilder spheres. It might have been a cosy home way back, but now it was giving up its ghost.
Timbers had moved. Windows had cracked and then fallen out, the deep well had become clogged, and mischievous winds had whistled everywhere through its empty rooms. Even ancient roof slates had shifted, leaving gaps for all manner of weathers to creep in. It was no place to send a sickly Father, but “Dimwit” had done it.
“You’ll find succour and strength there, my son,” he had said, his assumed Irish brogue a mischief lie along with his absurd faith. Norfolk born and bred, he’d never even paddled in the Irish sea let alone crossed it to the land he claimed to be his own. His life had been a lie, an easy one to tell in all truth because the big one, his faith, had slipped easily enough from his lips far too many times.
So Father Raglan Priestly found himself miles from his parish and in a wild and wet place where everything stank and corruption and decay was the lay of the land.
“It’s uninhabitable,” he’d told “Dimwit” on his mobile telephone. “No man could live here and survive! There’s damp everywhere, goodness knows what creatures have eaten through the timbers and as I talk are snuggling under the very floors and up in the rafters, and when I sit on any chair in any room the seat of my pants get wet with mould and corruption and any disease that flesh is heir to!”
“I spent my boyhood there and it never harmed me!” snapped his Bishop. “The air will cleanse your lungs, my boy! You’ll live to thank me, take my word for it! Just you pile some logs in the hearth and set a flame to them! I know it for what it is … our own piece of Heaven on Earth…” And he hung up. He didn’t want to know. His boyhood home, where he’d yearned over many young years for a friend but found none, was a paradise in his mind and therefore beyond criticism. And to him things don’t change. There’s no such thing as decay.
“The man’s turned loony,” he muttered to himself, and attacked his whisky decanter with a new determination.
Meanwhile Father Raglan Priestly coughed long and loud and wrapped himself in his own thin coat and struggled with dripping mildewed logs and matches that wouldn’t strike before going out into the mists and bitter winds for relief from the damp and cold.
And it was while he was out in that desolate place that things went wrong.
He saw the butterfly out of the corner of one eye and reached out to grab it, but missed. But as the fluttering creature escaped his outreached hand he caught a glimpse of its compound eyes. And in them, in both of them, he saw enough real truth to still his heart and send him, like a crumpled old sack, to lie terminally in the mire to add with almost indecent haste to the fragrant flesh decomposing all around.
And somehow Pretty sucked a little strength from his departed soul and fluttered aimlessly on.
© Peter Rogerson 03.08.16

GRANNY BONES AND A BOX OF FROGS

3 Sep

GRANNY BONES AND A BOX OF FROGS

frog photo: frog 070415d7.gifWhen she was in the middle of her elder years Granny Bones went to the flea market down the road from where she lived, and erected a stall.

She had quite a lot of surplus stuff in her cottage, and she had decided to go minimalist. It wasn’t that she thought she didn’t need the stuff (though she really didn’t) but that she’d been watching a television programme all about style and fashion.
“I need to be fashionable,” she decided. “And all this clutter’s not remotely fashionable. So it’s just got to go.”
And in truth she was extremely cluttered. There was barely a corner of her cottage where she could see the actual wall for furniture loaded with clutter. It was orderly, true enough, but still clutter.

So she took her clutter to the flea market.

There was a clock with a dial marked in thirteen hours rather than twelve and it had a chime loud enough to waken the dead of seven counties. Granny Bones had had it specially made by an old boyfriend when she’d been his young girlfriend Bones because she wanted to annoy the neighbours. She’d done that, all right, and they had huffed and puffed their protests and then moved home just to get away from the silly noisy clock next door. The trouble was, and she’d not taken this into account, her loving boyfriend was their son and lived with them, so when they went so did he.

Now the years had passed, she hadn’t used the clock in decades, and it had to go.

There were loads of other things, too. At one end of the trestle table that constituted her stall was a box of frogs. They weren’t silly porcelain frogs, though, not the kind of thing that people collect and stand in serried rows on their mantel-shelves but real frogs. Living frogs.

She’d collected them ages ago, devised a sleeping tincture for them and kept them in a box, waking them up every few months to feed them (lettuce leaves had to do) and then returning them to slumber before they could as much as croak. But it was time for them to go. They were clutter and as we know she had decided against that!

“How much for a frog, duck?” asked a passing customer as she was contemplating the rest of the stuff on her stall.

“I’ll swap it,” she said, staring almost rudely at the woman who had made the enquiry. “I’ll swap it for that brooch,” she added, pointing to an ornament on the woman’s cardigan.

“Hey! This is real gold and that’s just … what’s the frog made of?” squawked the customer.

“Frog,” smiled Granny Bones.

“I can see it’s a frog, but what’s it actually made of?” demanded the woman, almost angrily.

“I told you! Frog!” hissed a suddenly agitated Granny Bones. “It’s a real live living frog in a deep sleep,” she added. “It’s having porcelain dreams! Look at the poor little thing! There’s a maggot coming out of its nose!”

“Urgh! It’s horrible!” wailed the customer, who suddenly became an ex-customer. “There should be a law against such cruelty! Selling boxes of dead frogs indeed There ought to be a law against it!”

“There is,” boomed the Reverend Josiah Pike, suddenly emerging from nowhere and looming over them. “This is a church flea market and we don’t allow the torture of God’s little creatures!”

“What about the fleas, then?” demanded Granny Bones. “This is a flea market, so it must have fleas. Probably thousands of them judging by the way the clothing jumble in the corner is jumping about on its own!”

The Reverend Josiah Pike who only had answers to questions he’d already thought of and contemplated at great personal length snorted and wandered off.

“Wake up, little darling,” cooed Granny Bones at the dead frog, and the maggot slithered out of its nose as it twitched and jumped a good six inches into the air whilst croaking the National Anthem in an almost acceptable baritone.

“Ooh! How sweet!” cooed the ex-customer who had suddenly decided she might become a customer again.”Does it take batteries?”

“Only dead ones,” confided Granny Bones, thinking on her feet.

“I’ll take one! That one! The live one!” waffled the woman, and Granny Bones wrapped the frog in tissue before she could change her mind.

“Here you are, then,” said the woman, unclasping her brooch. “It’s only nine carat or I’d want to keep it,” she added.

It took only a matter of microseconds for Granny Bones to snatch the brooch and tuck it in her knickers as a queue formed and all the frogs were exchanged for items of jewellery in next to no time.

But that clock of hers, that wasn’t sold. It seemed that thirteen hour clocks were looked on as unlucky, and nobody wanted it. But that didn’t dishearten her. She still had a hope at the back of her mind that one day she might bump into that old boyfriend of hers.

It was, she thought, a long time since anyone had kissed her and she knew he would.

© Peter Rogerson 03.09.15

TALKING OF COLOURS

6 Oct

There seem to be developing several episodes in this series, so here are links to the earlier ones:
Talking of Sex
Talking of Faith
Talking of Girls
Talking of Lust
Talking of Blood
Talking of Deceit

TALKING OF COLOURS

sailing dinghy photo: Dinghy Sailing DinghySailing.jpg“I sometimes think,” muttered Gringol Barnacle to the dusky grass-skirted Ayoni as he lay stretched on the bed in the vicarage spare room, “that if a man could feel the colour of his underwear as he walked along, then his life might be all the richer!”
She giggled. “What makes you think such a thing?” she asked, teasingly.
“I’ve long wanted pair of crimson boxers,” he sighed, “you know, the brightest of reds, florescent even. But what’s the point if you can’t feel the red rubbing on your bits? It ought to be a thing of nature, that a man (or woman come to think of it) can actually feel the colour of his pants!”
“Like blood,” she sighed. “But you’ve bled enough, sweet Gringol. That vicar and his dagger – they made quite a mess of you. It’s a good thing that I trained as a surgeon back on my native south-sea island, and that I kept my hand in by suturing palm leaves and making my favourite outfit out of them!”
“You are so clever,” he sighed. “I don’t think I’ve ever met so perfect a lady in my life before. I adore you, dearest Ayoni, and not just because you sewed me back together again. If brains and beauty go hand in hand together then just looking at you tells me you’re the cleverest woman in the Universe!”
“And you think bright red boxers might feel different to your manly parts?” she teased. “Do you think black pants would put you in a black mood and bright cherry ones in a flushed and florid mood? If so I’ll hit the shops tomorrow and buy you some of the brightest and loudest underwear ever!”
“I wonder what colour the vicar’s wearing?” asked Gringol, thoughtfully.
“He’s been arrested for what he did to you with that dagger, and they suggest they’ll charge him with wounding with intent, so he might find himself in one of your dark and dismal prisons for years!” laughed the beautiful young woman. “Serves him right, if only for spreading fiction in the name of truth for so many years, and I hope he’s wearing muddy brown!”
“And that housekeeper of his, The large and bouncy Wanda Slowbottom, will have no one to bounce with during his free afternoons!” grinned Gringol. “He was a dirty devil by all accounts, watching pornography until it turned his mind and then watching her until she turned him into a slavering wreck, all flushed and excited!”
“Like the underpants you crave for!” giggled Ayoni.
“Not exactly crave” he protested.
“I’ll turn you any colour you choose,” murmured the lovely creature as she stroked his head.
“I never knew…” he choked.
“What? You never knew what?” she asked, curiously.
“I never knew what it felt like to … you know, dear Ayoni, I think … I know … I’m certain that I love you…”
“Oh my man, my Englishman!” squealed his surgeon-love. “I’m so glad that I did so good a job on your wounds with my needle and thread.”
“I’ve prepared a bite to eat,” said the Bishop from the door. “I might have become a chef before I trained for the cloth, but there’s more money in being a Bishop, and the hours are considerably shorter. But I do enjoy stirring ingredients and making delicious things.”
“Oooh!” squealed Ayoni, “just as I was beginning to feel hungry! What deliciousness have you created for us?”
“Shepherd’s pie,” he replied, proudly. “For all of us. Your companions, sweet Ayoni, are also down stairs, cavorting in front of me until my mind was anywhere but on the kitchen! But I persevered. Perseverance might well have been my middle name! Does the young man think he can manage the stairs or shall I bring yours up for you?”
“Bring it up, please,” decided Ayoni. “We were having a fascinating discussion on the subject of coloured underwear and it might embarrass you to hear some of the things that might be said, you being a bishop and all!”
“I’ve stopped being a bishop,” he replied proudly. I telephoned my notice to the Archbishop not ten minutes ago and the two of us have decided to sail round the world in a small dinghy and spend our hours regretting all the time we wasted in prayer!”
“The Archbishop too?” grinned Gringol.
“The same. We all have doubts, you know, and we decided that by the time we return we’d have a better idea of our faith and what’s true and what isn’t.”
“I know what’s true,” simpered Ayoni.
“You do?” asked the Bishop eagerly.
“Yes,” she sighed. “Love is true. Love at first sight like mine for dearest Gringol here, or love of any sort, really, as long as it’s from the heart.”
“I love you,” muttered Gringol to Ayoni.
“And I love you, whatever coloured boxer shorts you wear!” smiled Ayoni.
“And whatever the colouts feel like?” asked Gringol.
“Even the brightest most blushing red!” laughed Ayoni. “But first, lover boy, let’s get that pair off you! They’re red, but with your blood and that’s not so nice.”
Gringol struggled out of his pants, and it was a struggle. Despite her huge skill Ayoni hadn’t quite eased all his pain. He winced as he dragged them down past his knees.
“I think I’d better call you big boy,” whispered the dusky Ayoni, staring at him.
He blushed.
The ex-Bishop spluttered and decided to hurry and fetch two dishes of Shepherd’s Pie before things went too far.
“Phthphss…” sighed Gringol as Ayoni lowered herself onto him until there was neither metric nor decimal space between them.
© Peter Rogerson 06.10.14

Talking of Lust

3 Oct

TALKING OF LUST
dripping blood photo: blood dripping thblooddrop.gifNobody was more surprised than Jodish Pariah when the Bishop fell into his front room without doing him the courtesy of knocking the front door and waiting to be invited in first.
Jodish, a Reverend Gentleman with irritating doubts and a whole host of unfulfilled desires, was having a free afternoon, which involved watching pornography whilst pleasuring his housekeeper, one Wanda Slowbottom, a well-bosomed lady with some years behind her on her ample biological clock.
Wanda Slowbottom particularly looked forwards to the Reverend Pariah’s free afternoons because they relieved the monotony of scrubbing, ironing, more scrubbing before balancing on an upturned bucket in order to clean the outside of the scullery window, and even more scrubbing. She had once been married to Jake Slowbottom, but he had passed on to her third cousin and twenty years her junior, which she found to be a pretty equal mixture of contemptible and understandable. Since then, her main delight in life involved the good Reverend’s free afternoons, though truth to tell she could have coped without the pornography.
The arrival of the Bishop was a jolt to everyone’s system, not because of who it was but because of how he was dressed.
In place of us usual sober suit he was wearing a Hawaiian-styled tee-shirt emblazoned with gaudy palms and gaudier women. On his lower half he wore a pair of Bermuda shorts that were equally graphic, and it would be in nobody’s interest for me to describe what the pattern in the region of his crotch consisted of, though I will. It was a dusky maiden (there have been images of none duskier, I can assure you) and she was holding something that closely resembled an engorged male organ, though truth to tell it was merely cotton fabric mischievously printed by a sex-crazed tailor in China.
“I have come for help,” he shouted, which was of little use seeing as his junior, the Reverend Pariah, was bouncing up and down on top of his housekeeper who was screaming for more and harder in trembling tones.
“Jus’ a minute,” gasped Pariah, sliding sadly off Wanda Slowbottom who was already in the process of proving she was far from slow when it came to covering her bottom.
“I am being pursued by wenches,” shouted the Bishop. “They have sailed with me across the rolling oceans! They have performed unmentionable interferences on parts of me I never knew I had! And still they come, clamouring for more! They say that I am like the horned viper of legend! They say they can never get enough of me and see – I am drained drier than a desert in summer, and may well meet my maker from dehydration at any moment!”
“Then you are indeed fortunate, sir,” grumbled Pariah, pulling his trousers up and trying to conceal his still rampant excitement from his superior clergyman who hadn’t noticed that anything was amiss, so deep was his own agony.
At that moment, with a clamour like a senior schoolroom filling on the dot of the crack of dawn, a good half a dozen dusky maidens clad in grass skirts and coconut unmentionables fell into the room.
“We are coming for more,” called one, whilst
“The good god with a huge appendage is merciful,” squealed a second, and
“I am filled with desire,” trembled a third.
And the whole sounded more like “We are coming, for the good god with a huge appendage is filled with desire”, which made both clergymen cough with disbelief.
“See what I am suffering,” moaned the Bishop, tears in his eyes.
“You brought it on yourself,” was all Wanda Slowbottom could say as she struggled with an unreachable strap above the small of her back.
“All I wanted was to convert them,” wept the Bishop, the Very Reverend Cedric Goldfish. “I wanted them to see the beauties of creation and the glory of our lord. I wanted them to prostrate themselves before the Father in praise with sweet hymns on their virginal lips and prayers in their hearts…”
“But instead we converted him,” giggled the tallest of the adorable beauties, swinging her hips so that the movement of her grass skirt made the bishop gasp.
“All he wants is our flesh,” agreed a second, a well-bosomed flighty lass with the sweetest smile ever seen.
“And so we’ve come after him, to teach him a lesson,” smirked a third angel.
“A lesson?” queried the Reverend Pariah, still struggling with his trousers. “And what lesson might that be?” he added, almost absently.
“That less is more and nothing is everything,” laughed the tall adorable beauty. “He has tasted the wine of our Paradise, and it has turned his head. Now he must return to his texts and his vestments and remember the nothing that is everything…”
“In fanciful dreams and savage memories,” grinned another.
“Until the day he dies,” mourned a third.
“Help me, lord, please help me…” moaned the Bishop.
But no help came, just a drip of blood from the light fitting above his head.
©Peter Rogerson 03.10.14

Talking of Girls

2 Oct

TALKING OF GIRLS

 photo grass_skirt_green_zps092c97f3.jpgThere’s no more beautiful environment than a sunny day on a South Sea Island, the sort that hardly ever exist in the real world but are all around in certain genres of fiction where naughty men fulfil naughty dreams.
And on such a splendid island the Very Reverend Cedric Goldfish sat in a chair crafted from palm fronds and sighed as sometimes three, sometimes four and occasionally five semi-naked native girls, each as beautiful as the day, wafted him with fans crafted from the same kind of palm fronds as he was sitting on.
“That’s the way to do it, you sultry maidens,” he boomed, “give me more of your munificence and I’ll tell you more…”
“Of what, sweet Master?” cooed one deliciously proportioned goddess.
“I’ll tell you of the beginning of things… of the first man and the first woman and a beautiful garden,” he began, just as you’d expect a Bishop to begin any kind of conversation with nubile young delights.
“And the Fall?” frowned another maiden, her dark eyes ravishing and her brow slightly frowning. “You’ll even mention the Fall?” she repeated.
He sighed. “There are no gardens here, just nature in the raw,” he murmured, indicating the surrounding island landscape with the wave of one hand. “It would be wrong to speak of gardens, not here, not in this Paradise.”
“Or wicked women being disobedient when it comes to fruit?” suggested a third wafting angel. “We have heard such tales and see them for what they are…” she added. “They are fiction, all of them, gossipy fragments designed to eat into our minds and make us feel the guilt we haven’t earned.”
“You? Guilt?” he almost exploded. “There is no guilt here! Just love.”
“Not quite,” murmured one with a nod and a wink.
“We are here for sex,” whispered the first. “That first woman, the one you daren’t name, wasn’t she in that garden for sex too? Wasn’t that the gift that drove her spirit? The sun shining in the evening, low and red in the sky, the tequila at her elbow in a crystal glass and the shadow of her brave man falling on her, naked as she and just as beautiful…”
“You might find him beautiful, but I certainly wouldn’t!” snorted the Very Reverend Cedric Goldfish. “I’m a real man and can’t see any beauty in other men,” he added, not wanting to upset any of the maidens as they duskily fanned him with gigantic fronds fallen from the surrounding palms.
“You mean you’re not gay?” smiled another maiden, swivelling her hips until he felt a stirring in his groin.
“I’m a man of God,” conceded the Bishop.
“Then why not remove your uniform?” suggested a lively lass with bronzed skin and a twinkle in her eyes. “Remove your shirt and trews and take off that daft hat of yours! Join in, man, join in! For on this island we need neither god nor preacher though we may need a clown, and it seems you are dressed for that part!”
“All right,” murmured the Bishop, and he pulled his surplice over his head, followed by a jumper and a shirt, a tie and a cummerbund. Then with theatrical hesitance, he dropped his trousers. Dark grey, they were, and woollen, and they created the very image of a charcoal pool at his feet.
“What pretty boxer-shorts,” grinned one maiden, and she reached out and felt their silkiness. “And how soft to the touch,” she purred.
“This island is perfection,” sighed the Bishop, almost excited and sitting back down on his living chair and sighing deeply. “And to think … I came all this way to teach you of a better life.”
“By your own reckoning there is no better life,” giggled three of the girls together, and seeing that his chest was bare and his legs over-pale, they draped themselves on him.
“But I came to recruit you…” he blubbered.
“And instead we are recruiting you,” sighed a tall girl with the longest tresses of gleaming hair that he had ever seen. “We are drawing you into our Paradise… you must stay here for ever, and you can take each of us if we are willing, each and every one of us, and do whatsoever you please with us, for we are greatly skilled in many ways…”
“What ways?” he demanded.
“The ways of love…” they cooed.
“I would … I would ….” he whispered. “I would go to the ends of the Earth with you and take all of you by your many hands, would exhaust myself on the sands of your beaches, one after another of you until I don’t know whether I’m coming or going…”
“Coming. You’d hardly be going,” smiled the tall girl.
“Going? But where to?” he asked.
“Back to the lands of darkness and doubt. Back to where your vestments and your bibles rule your life.” she purred.
“Away from Paradise,” sang the others.
“I need,” he wept.
“You need?” they asked.
“Please … I need … I really need….”
“What?” they chorused.
“A glass of wine and some fish and chips,” he wept.
© Peter Rogerson 02.10.14

Talking of Faith

1 Oct

TALKING OF FAITH

bishop photo: Fantasy Chess Bishop FCBishop.jpgJodish Pariah was at the end of his tether. Nothing was going right for him, and now the Bishop was calling.
He hated the Bishop – or the Great Critic on Legs, as he called him privately when nobody was around to hear what amounted to blasphemy.
There had been rumours about the Bishop, The Very Reverend Cedric Goldfish. His eminence had been reported to be In Doubt.
“I’m not at all sure that anything’s been proved,” he had said to a Sun reported, and being a Sun reporter that worthy journalist had elaborated the quote to “I just don’t believe a word of the claptrap”
And that potential disbeliever was due to call on Jodish at any moment.
“I can take one of several roads,” Pariah told himself. “I can clap his Eminence on the back and tell him I’ve been thinking along those lines for as long as I can remember and it’s only the parishioners that keep my shoulder to the grindstone and my sermons straight.”
He struggled with a weasel in his cardiovascular system. “But that wouldn’t do,” he muttered, shaking his head, “I’ve been taught all my life that the good book is, indeed, good, and I’ve mentally ignored the bits that are of dubious merit, like the verses advocating the beating of slaves and wives and the stoning of sons to death. I know bits and pieces of horrifically cruel advice are in there, but I look upon them as normal for the age in which they were composed. It was necessary to stone disobedient sons, once upon a time. And wives who failed to please their husbands were beaten quite severely back then, I believe. But times have changed and it’s no longer acceptable, so I ignore those bits.”
“Or I can suggest that His Eminence takes a break. A break would do him good. Why, I could quite fancy a break myself but my church is well nigh empty these days and the offertory plate almost always provides lean pickings. Not enough for a holiday, I fear. But the Bishop – he could take himself off to a tropical island where there are grass-skirted wenches ever-ready to suck him dry (metaphorically, of course) and barmen inventing ever more intoxicating cocktails… he could go there, all right. His stipend is probably enormous, and I’ve heard he’s got quite an interesting sideline in smuggled tobacco products. But me: I’m stuck here, and if were to take a break it would have to be no more than a weekend in a grotty caravan near the beach at Skeggy… not the sort of place his Eminence would think of going to and certainly nowhere near grass skirts.”
He looked up at the clock on the wall and almost wept. The Bishop would be here any moment and he was far from prepared for the visit. His old friend Gringol Barnacle had stayed over-night and there were things that needed clearing away. Gringol was a great companion, a good chap, but he couldn’t half bleed if you stabbed him, and he, Jodish, had been forced into stabbing him around midnight when the dratted man just wanted to talk and talk and talk. That would have been all right, but his conversation tended to run along a single one-way track, blaming the established church for the many restrictions he felt society placed on his numerous amorous relationships. So he had stabbed the man. It wasn’t the first time and it certainly wouldn’t be the last, but it did shut him up for a while whilst he bled.
There was a chiming from the doorbell, and he groaned.
This would be the Bishop, all doubts and tears and frustration.
He opened the door.
The first thing he saw was the mitre. It was one mighty great headpiece and for a moment Jodish fancied he saw, in the colourful get-up, the shadow of long ago and far away, of witch-doctory and sorcery and all manner of magical things.
“I fancy a cup of Earl Grey boomed the Bishop, forcing his way through the door, pushing Jodish to one side.
“Your Highness,” burbled the Reverend Jodish Pariah, “do come in, I’ll have the kettle on in a trice.”
The Bishop settled in the best chair in the front room, the only one without annoying springs almost poking through thinning fabric. Jodish made him a cup of tea and as he had no Earl Grey he sprinkled a few herbs in the tea-pot hoping the Bishop wouldn’t notice.
“Is there a great something in the air, your Eminence?” he asked, meaninglessly.
The Bishop grinned at him. He had a gold-toothed grin, one that in many another man would have looked lascivious.
“I want you to be the first to know,” he boomed, “that I’m off to a south-seas island where native girls dance their lives away and alcohol bubbles in every stream! And I’m not coming back! I need to spend the remainder of my days teaching the natives all about our Lord and all that nonsense! The native girls, of course. The native lads are too busy creating fascinating new cocktails, I’m afraid.”
Jodish looked at him, eyes open wide, unable to think of anything to say.
A drop of crimson blood dripped through the light fitting in the middle of the room, and landed on his thinning carpet.
© Peter Rogerson 01.10.14