September 28, 2006

The Promise in the Cellar (2 of 12)

Thread: Mission

Of course, such a bright voice could only belong to the rector. Mizzy opened her eyes to confirm her guess. Yup.

He wore a black dress with buttons forming a line down the middle, a dog collar, and a small cross. He was built slightly better than she thought a man of God was likely to be. She also noticed a pair of luminous yellow trainers peeking out from beneath the dress, which could not possibly be part of the orthodox vestments. In his late twenties, he had a good head of blonde hair, but combined with piercing blue eyes, he seemed to possess something of an Aryan semblance. His smile was comforting.

Mizzy was uncomfortable with the black get-up; her local preacher had always dressed in a suit, like a businessman, a Godly entrepreneur who had once said, “You’re fired, you’re going to Hell, son.” Black might look good on the right woman at a party. In a church on a man? Get thee to a tailor and quick sharp honey. There was too much dependence on ritual and spectacle and not enough spirituality; why all these barriers between her and God? Couldn’t someone just give her a straight answer and tell her if God had given her a vision of importance?

“Hello pastor,” Mizzy said to the man.

“Pastor? Oh, please, dear, call me Tom,” the man in black said. It was a refined accent, distant from that Londoner trash, although it did sound condescending.

“Hello… Tom,” she repeated, less than enthusiastically although she offered him a free smile, with no strings attached.

Tom frowned, he obviously wasn’t taken in. “What brings you here, little lady? You seem unhappy.”

“Well that’s a bit of an assump–”

Tom blurted out, “Oh you’re an American! How wonderful. We do get a few Americans in here every now and then.” Realising he had interrupted her, the rector held a palm out and said, “I’m sorry, you were saying?”

Mizzy closed her eyes. “You know what? I am unhappy. You got me, well done, sir.”

“How formal.”

“Well fine, I’ll call you vicar.”

“Why don’t you call me, Tom, dear?”

“Why are you calling me dear, Tom?”

“Well, I guess I just don’t know your name. What’s your name?”

“Why do you wear a dress?”

“It’s not a dress, dear, it’s called a cassock. I know it’s not modern style, but I prefer it. Your name?”


“What a delightful name, how American!” He put his hands together with a slap.

Mizzy was disconcerted by Tom’s emphasis on her American roots. No doubt if she said that she drove a car he would say, oh as an American you must drive on the right-hand side of the road. Maybe he might ask if she had a gun like all Americans have. If he did and she had, then she might use it.

“Does that really sound American? Mizzy? It’s what my friends call me because they think Michelle is a bit too formal. I mean if I had any friends these days, they would call me Mizzy. I think two friends is just a statistical anomaly. Doesn’t really demonstrate friends, right? It just means there are two people who are unluckily intertwined with your life. ”

“Well, Mizzy, what’s up? That is, if not having enough friends with statistical significance isn’t the problem.” Then he added in a crude attempt at an American accent, calmly, “Wassup, girl?” Mizzy could see he was just trying to be open and friendly but he was actually just trying her patience.

She shifted her butt on the pew, finding it hard and uncomfortable. She glanced around for a cushion but none were in evidence. “Oh I used to have friends,” she said slightly distracted, “but I can’t help blaming God for making things turn out this way. Who else would you blame for dreams of stigmata?”

Mizzy thought that once the horse has bolted, there is no point closing the barn doors. When the horse has subsequently given a newspaper interview about how cruel an owner you’ve been and won compensation from you in court, you might as well sell the god damn barn or burn it down for the insurance money. Mizzy could never keep her mouth shut these days, so as she had started to tell Tom her worries, she might as well carry through and tell him the whole story. Yet again, she was telling a random stranger everything. She just couldn’t help herself.

Fortunately for her, Tom was a man of the Church and had to listen to her story. Unfortunately for Tom, he was a man of the Church and had to listen to her story.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2058

September 23, 2006

The Promise in the Cellar (1 of 12)

Thread: Mission

Mizzy stared up at St. Benedict’s Church, knowing she appeared to be an American tourist in London to see the sights. She was unhappy with that label. People didn’t attempt to think that maybe she had come here to find something and she was almost out of her savings and down to her last loan now.

She would have to leave soon without any sign of the truth that had been calling to her. Her friends had challenged that it was probably just a wrong number and she should hang up the receiver and get on with the rest of her life. She didn’t have many friends anymore. Although she might have started out with Phoebe, Monica, Rachel, Chandler and even Ross, she was now just Joey, clinging on to the dying embers of fame with a humourless spin-off series.

Space in the City was a scarce commodity and so instead of billowing out horizontally, the white church reached up vertically, resembling a rocket with a bell tower instead of a space module. She sniggered, thinking that the stone rocket church might be able to launch into heaven and meet the Man himself. Or maybe it was a divine warhead, primed and ready to bomb the hell out of the non-believers.

Latin inscriptions above the door boasted divinity that the common man would not be able to comprehend and need the guidance of a priest to mediate with. Gargoyles roosted at irregular points all the way to the top, some grinning as if they were about swoop down and devour the brains of some unsuspecting American tourist, others impassive and menacing; she didn’t want to know what those ones were thinking about doing to her. She didn’t understand why holy places were so practised in the art of demonic sculpture.

It was mid-afternoon and there was no one inside that she could see. She stepped into its interior tentatively, glancing around just in case it was not a real church after all, perhaps just a historical cash cow that charged $5 a pop for a whiff of authentic musty air. She corrected herself, thinking that in London it would be £5, far too much money given the exchange rate. For £5 she would have expected a Disneyland amusement to be incorporated in the price of the entrance fare. Perhaps the rocket church concealed the Holy Hydroslide, in which you could experience the terror of slipping from Heaven to Hell.

The inside was larger than its outside dimensions had led her to believe. Countless rows of empty, wooden pews occupied its expansive volume. Solid, black pillars separated a dull, uninspiring marble floor from a tall ceiling which, to her disappointment, was not adorned with a fresco. A gargantuan organ squatted at the rear, with pipes that lurched out of his hind like the spines of some dinosaur. The spines had a brilliant lustre suggesting the organ was seldom used, lonesome and choirless. Narrow, rough hewn doors flanked the organ, leading to private destinations that the fold were not permitted to go; one of them probably lead to the gaudy pulpit that dominated the interior.

The pulpit was a platform with a shiny, golden frame that resembled the upturned ribcage of some animal and a brightly coloured tapestry was draped over one side of it. She couldn’t make the tapestry out; figures in movement, perhaps a cross was in there somewhere. The pulpit was higher than she would have liked and deduced that the congregation, if it existed, must suffer from a higher-than-national-average number of neck complaints.

Mizzy sat down, despite her fears that she might be charged £5. Outside there were City workers rushing to and fro between offices, projects and Important Meetings. Outside there were taxis and ostentatious cars bustling from one place to another frantic to arrive at destinations with the minimum of collateral damage. Here was the calm and the silence, a cloistered space that held the gift of the reflective moment. The only intrusion was a soft, inquisitive breeze, breathing upon her exposed skin. Peace.

She shut her eyes to contemplate. The troubles she had leapt from. The compass she was seeking. The sadness that was trapped in her eyes. Hello how are you today.

A voice, burdened with excessive joy, boomed over her. “Hello I said, how are you today?”

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1717

September 12, 2006


Thread: Uncategorized

YOU sculpt my wings so i can fly from you
with loving violence and caring torture
living in the shadow of your word
and its barbed-wire binding

MY perfect configuration for sin
forces me to survive on tattered moments
floating amongst your jigsaw pieces
on a seductive teleological sea

THUS: each time i rise to flight
i drown in the fearful silhouette of your word
and with familiar resignation i slow, i stop,
beneath the cold breath of your counterfeit love,
to taste the sweat of your knuckles anew

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2100

September 10, 2006

Mere Conjecture

Thread: Equation

God thanked Earl for the handkerchief and padded at the bloody cuts on his face. Removing his Chicago Cubs baseball cap, he reached up to his hair and probed around with cautious fingers for dampness.

“Whoa, you’re gonna bruise up pretty good,” Earl said. “As much as I believe in turnin’ the other cheek, I still don’t think I could be as cool-headed about it. Like a cucumber, sir, that’s what you are.”

Finding a painful laceration at the back of his head, God folded the handkerchief and pressed it against the gash. Slouching, God looked up at Earl and said, “Earl, when you are close enough to enjoy the beauty of the river, you can’t be offended when the spray catches your eye. It’s not discipline, it is what it is.”

“Well, sir, I know you’re God an’ all, but I’m not exactly sure I’d be able to call it a bit of spray in the eye. Don’t you have any sorta regrets? Something you feel you shoulda done but you didn’t?”

Although Earl felt stupid for asking the question as soon as the words broke loose from his mouth, they extracted neither derision nor laughter from his companion. They provoked an atmosphere of troubled gloom. A tense silence seemed to expand and fill every nook and cranny of the old shed. The superficial injuries that God had sustained no longer seemed so superficial; Earl thought they now looked painful and inflamed. Not for the first time, Earl wanted to know what was going on inside the mind of God. Respect stayed his tongue.

Eventually, the gloom was broken and God smiled. Instead of a genuine answer to Earl’s question, God offered a flippant response with a wicked glint in his eye, still holding the handkerchief against the back of his head. “I regret,” he said, sniffing with divine comic timing, “not having a baby girl.”

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1734