Hammerport

March 9, 2008

The Weeping Maw (3 of 11)

Thread: Mission

‘I’ll be there Friday night, Neville. Not this evening, I’m afraid. Been a long day,’ Tom said into the mobile. He played with the chunky silver buttons on the old black and white, his “secret” pulpit TV, stroking without depressing. He crouched low within the pulpit, hidden from the absent congregation.

Neville’s unplaceable accent remained unconvinced. ‘But Tommy, we got-ta no one here covering right, ya? Tonight, no soup run. That’s what we facing.’

Tom’s gaze smacked into one of the pillars of the church and followed it upwards as it sprayed out across the ceiling. Christian forms like cherubs and angels rode the waves of the spray. The cherubs and angels were discoloured with dust.

‘I feel bad for you, Neville, really I do, but it’s been a long day.’ Tom was uncomfortable because it had been a quiet day with barely a visitor, but he was under the weather, maybe with a virus. The virus was probably attacking his nervous system from his temples, because that’s where the pain was. He rubbed one temple with his free hand, it didn’t make any difference.

‘Oh-kay, Tommy. I just want you to know I tried. Can’t do it alone, ya? Phoebe, she also down with plague she say. Phoebe always down with the plague, I say. It’s oh-kay Tommy. Ta-ta.’

‘I know, I know, Neville. Don’t want to let the team down. I’ll make sure I’m available Friday as usual.’

BBC1 was showing some documentary about the homeless, but it was 7pm so it was probably populist and easy to follow and hence do no real good. It was either going to paint the homeless as evil, scrounging criminal types or people who can do no wrong and are just victims of terrible circumstances out of their control. He wasn’t going to wait to find out; there was no middle ground with these television people.

Neville closed the call so Tom laid the mobile to rest. If Tom had persevered and helped out with the soup kitchen he knew he’d be in terrible shape tomorrow. He wanted to be in peak condition for the talk he was hosting in the church at lunchtime; there was a good turn out for certain speakers and Dr. Moore was always a favourite.

He switched over to BBC2. The picture rolled; he gave the box a knowing tap. He’d have to throw away Old Faithful soon. Apparently everything was going digital. There was no room for an old black and white these days, the world was so rich and vibrant and full of colour. Believing in black and white, good and evil, was also fairly outdated.

‘Oh no,’ he mumbled to himself. Some silly American drama about well-dressed and clean-cut superheroes. Absolutely not, tish tosh. Americans were a bouncy and vivacious lot and Tom loved their vitality, but their predilection for vanity and narcissism would be their undoing.

ITV, adverts. Channel 4 wasn’t even going to get a chance because all they showed was Big Brother as far as he could tell. As he didn’t get digital, there was only one option left: Five. Fingers crossed. He pushed in the clunky silver button for Five and hidden springs snapped into place, grunting under load.

A short news bulletin was on.

A five-year old boy, afflicted with a threatening heart defect was found a heart transplant at the last minute. Without the transplant, it was likely he would have perished in the near future. It was a miracle. But, wondered Tom, the donating boy was probably not so keen on the miracle. Tom found it a terribly one-sided article. Miracles don’t come free. Like the markets many of his patrons played in, the world of miracles was a zero-sum game.

He had no love of the insufferable television people. Interesting events were held at the Church all the time and some of them came along once. ‘We’ve finished all our questions for the piece but need to do a little bit more for a few noddy shots, yeah?’ What on earth was a noddy shot?

The piece about the church was never shown. More important headlines about hearsay, rumour and celebrity had probably pushed the piece out. Or maybe it was the Archbishop of Canterbury; always sneaking off with the limelight whenever anyone had to say something interesting to say about the downtrodden and the meek. Then he wondered if he had made a mistake and considered that they were not people from the news but, rather, documentary people. He didn’t recall what they said they were filming for.

There was then some news about the body of a woman being found in an abandoned house in West London. She had already been identified as Michelle North, an American tourist who had not returned to the US when expected a month ago. A picture of her was shown on the screen. The police were asking for any information people might have about the case. They were saying it was murder but instead of discussing details, the news bulletin switched to pictures of her parents, caught in blurry video footage from American news channels.

Her mother wept openly and without restraint under the heat of emotional, knee-jerk cameras; her father pretended he had more iron strength but his eyes nurtured a glare of distrust. Rabbits desperate to cross the road, followed by vicious headlights.

‘How do you feel, Mrs. North?’

‘Mr. North! How is your wife feeling?’

‘Is it true that she was strangled? We heard she was strangled. Can you comment?’

‘Do you think London, England is a dangerous place now, Mrs. North?’

Tom looked down at the wooden boards, scratched and pock-marked. Something trembled at the back of his throat. ‘Oh, dear Mizzy,’ he said, as tears seeped out. ‘Poor, poor girl.’

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1955

2 Responses to “The Weeping Maw (3 of 11)”

  1. Jennifer wrote on 11-Mar-2008 @ 1132:

    “Some silly American drama about well-dressed and clean-cut superheroes”

    Now, now. Put the handbag away…

    πŸ™‚

    I had to read this piece about three times! It’s just like Psycho. You get engrossed with Janet Leigh’s dilemma only to realise it’s not about her…

    Great stuff

    Jen
    x

  2. Jennifer wrote on 11-Mar-2008 @ 1132:

    “Some silly American drama about well-dressed and clean-cut superheroes”

    Now, now. Put the handbag away…

    πŸ™‚

    I had to read this piece about three times! It’s just like Psycho. You get engrossed with Janet Leigh’s dilemma only to realise it’s not about her…

    Great stuff

    Jen
    x

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