Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The bicycle ride back to the rectory was no where near as pleasant as the ride over to the Sheriff's home. The temperature had risen several degrees, traffic was much heavier, and Fr. Kevin was in an unusually foul mood. It was not like him to take things as personal as he took the Sheriff's rudeness and lack of concern over Marco's murder. As he pedaled along, he tried praying over the matter, and by the time he rolled into the rectory driveway, he felt a mite better.
Not wanting to spend the whole day in a worthless funk, he decided he'd get back to tackling the mess in the church's garage. Over the past month, he had straightened the lower half of the building, but the storage room on top looked as it hadn't been touched in 20 years. Changing out of his black "priest" suit, and putting on his shorts and an old t-shirt from his seminary days, he got to work.
The storage room was filthy, hot and windowless, towering junk stacked almost to the ceiling. Giving a quick look around, he almost turned and fled back to the air conditioned comfort of the rectory parlor, but decided the hard physical work would take his mind off the crap floating around in his head. Bloody bodies...little midgets...and annoying neighbors would disappear in the exertion of pushing, sweeping and moving. And hell, maybe he could even sell some of this junk at a garage sale. With empty pews, today's collection was terribly sparse, and the extra cash might soon be a necessity. He chuckled at the reaction the townspeople would have, seeing the church's bits and pieces spread on tables across the driveway, with those little sticky price tags attached.
In the far corner of the room was a stack of old cardboard boxes marked "church accounts". Figuring he should probably take a look through them before they hit the dumpster, he pulled up a chair, and began flipping through the piles of paperwork and account ledgers. The totals listed for past Sunday collections raised his eyebrows. Apparently the people of Holy Family had been exceedingly generous in years past. At first, Fr. O'Kenney felt awful, thinking that maybe the decrease in their weekly offerings had something to do with his arrival. But as he checked further, he realized that the decreased amounts began about 11 months ago, and he had only arrived at this parish about four.
Going through the receipts from the CPA, he noticed that the amounts listed for taxes had gone up substantially, and the money collected from the parishioners had decreased. There was no further information given, and although he had never have been very good at math, Kevin thought the whole thing rather odd. Marking the boxes "SAVE", he pushed them to the side to worry about later. Maybe when he took the Eucharist to that McKreedy woman, she could explain the ledgers to him, as they were stamped with her initials.
The room was shaping up, and he was about half way finished, when he heard footsteps coming up the stairs next to the storage room. He mentally prayed that it would be someone pleasant, as he had his fill of crabby, obnoxious people today. Wondering why God seemed to be deaf to his pleas, he watched Irwin Teller stomp his way into the small room..
"Whatcha doin', Father"
"I'm cleaning out the storage room, Irwin"
"Because it's full of junk and dirt"
"Because probably no one has cleaned it out in a long while."
"Probably because they forgot about all the stuff up here. People don't know what to do with things they're not using, so they store it somewhere until they forget about it."
Changing topics as he was known to do, Irwin chatted on. "Father O'Kenney, why ya wearn' shorts? You look silly."
"I'm wearing shorts, Irwin, because it's hot and dirty up here. I don't want to ruin my good clothes. And why do you think they look silly?"
"I dunna know. Just that you don't look much like a priest right now. Plus, you should be wearing sandals or gym shoes with shorts...not pinchy, brown dress shoes. Looks dumb. And where did you get that old t-shirt? Why does it say St. Mary's? You should have one with Spiderman on it, like mine. Way more cool."
Not wanting to get into a long discussion about his fashion sense, his lack of it, or anything else for that matter, Fr. Kevin, suggested, "Irwin, why don't you go collect some bugs on the church lawn."
"Can't Father. The crime scene tape is still up. You told me not to go there the other day. Remember that ..when we found that cool murder stuff?"
"We're not sure it's 'murder stuff' Irwin. Don't go telling people that."
"It might be...you said yourself it might be. Too bad it didn't have blood or guts on it. That would have been major cool."
Looking for a way to rid himself of his unwanted visitor, the clever priest suggested, "Hey...I got an idea! Why don't you go look for bugs in the little garden between the church and the rectory?"
"You mean it Father O'Kenney? Alright! That other old guy priest never let me dig there. Said I ruined his petunias. This will be awesome cool! Thanks Father!" And off he trotted, out of Kevin's hair.
Turning up his new ipod, Father Kevin got back to work, jamming along to his favorite tunes from Blue Oyster Cult. He was just getting back into a rhythm...sweep, dump, stack...when he heard the boy's thumping feet climb back up the stairs.
"Father...Father O'Kenney...this church is full of treasures! Look at the cool stuff I found today in the little garden out back!'
Fr. Kevin turned, and could only stare in horror at the items Irwin lined up the on the storage room floor...a tiny wooden chair, an even tinier wooden bowl and spoon, tops to several acorns...and one slightly used roach clip.