Crankwood Chapter 6

Chapter 5 Pastor and Curate an Introduction

“ I’m as open to the charms of sophistry as the next man,” opined the Pastor, whilst seating himself in his favourite calf leather armchair and liberally stuffing his pipe, packing it down with the bone hilt of a small blunt knife. “ Leaving aside the tenets of faith of course”.
His companion and apparently avid listener was Curate Simpkins, a rather sallow and insignificant young man of some twenty five years. Hanging on Reverend McBride’s every word, he sat mouth open and extremely small cup of milky liquid perched on his lap.
‘The tenets of faith’, what was that? the curate, aware, not for the first time that he was out of his depth. Aware that to say anything, anything at all would be to damn himself to the deepest halls of embarrassment hell.
As was normal therefore, he contented himself with what he thought was a sage nodding of the head.
McBride, of course was not looking, he never did, but the curate consoled himself with the idea that the esteemed Pastor did value his informed opinion, he had been invited. Whilst the Pastor’s unseeing gaze rested on the far meadows of self -congratulation.
These two were opposites in many ways. McBride the jowly, red faced apparently hedonistic clegyman straight from a Victorian novel. Large in more ways than one, gigantic boozers nose seamed with obligatory broken veins, huge almost bald head that seemed to burst out of the neck of his well made but increasingly too small cassock. Deep of voice and piggy of eye. A style of speech that was acted, forced and mannered. That affected most of what would be expected. A lugubrious and frequently sated life that celebrated all and restricted nothing in its search of pleasure.
Whereas the Reverend Simkins when compared, was the aesetic sad stick insect with obligatory sallow and dark complextion, widows peak and pale complexion bearing a remarkable likeness to illustrations of a famous Consulting Detective. Sculpted high features that seemed to be collected in the bottom of a long face. Giving our erstwhile cleric a look of perpetual gloom that seemed particulalry apropos to his calling. Thin everything, lips, of course but also nostril, nose, eye and hair. Giving a casual observer an overwhelming impression of a single charcoal black line. And Uriel Simpkins cultivated only casual observances, of his demeanor at least.
In fact the only thing these two, the disparate and the aestic had in common was the church and the style of dress such a vocation found obligatory.
Needless to say only one had a strict vocation, the other had found a comfortable little niche in which to stable his increasingly rich and dissolute appetites.

A moment of quiet contemplation then before a rude banging on apparently the front door brought Simpkins clumsily and cup rockingly to his feet and to the Pastor a look of beetroot outrage, followed quickly by a gargantuan bellow that fair rocked poor Simpkins back on his heels.
“ Mrs Boydell, knidly find out who that is and tell them we don’t want any!”
“It might be important”; Simpkins ventured and instantly regretted. Pastor McBride rounded on him as a bull on a bullfighter, a terrier on a rat.
“Important, my little boy priest! What do you know of important?” Little flecks of spittle punctuated this across the front of the Pastors tight black pearl-buttoned coat. “Important is what I say it is in this location, not some beggarly disturber of peace or some moth-eaten, shiny cassocked simpleton!” Say what you like about the esteemed, (by himself) Pastor but he did have a way with language.
Simpkins shrank into himself at this last remark some small worm of dispute seething in his breast. Say also what you like about Uriel Simpkins, Dr.Theo (Hons) (CB) he did not argue, for long anyway, and audibly with his superiors.
What happened in the privacy of his breast was another matter. He followed his superior out.

" Its Tommy from ‘pumphouse" said the housekeeper, looking through the window. A Mrs Muriel Boydell. Thin, turkey necked and just as garrulous, normally. In this instance rather put out by the Pastors unchristian rudeness. ’Should expect it by now’ she thought hard at Rev Simpkins who judging by the look on his face, understood every word she was thinking.
“Oh, well that’s alright then, isn’t it Simpkins?” said the Pastor holding out apparently innocent patronising hands in supplication.
‘Die and go to a hell full of shit’, thought the curate aware that he was himself acting in a most unchristian manner but feeling justified in the deepest recesses of his tainted soul,nonetheless.
“No need for that” returned Mrs Boydell, frightening the curate as a mind reader. “Yer might well find that what ol Tom has to say is important” fixing the Pastor with a basilisk stare.
An unsatisfied “Hrumph” was gained in return.
“We are not going to discover any nuggets of wisdom this personage has to divulge standing here waiting, are we Mrs Boydell? If you would care to open the door and ask then I would be more than grateful.”
“An there’s not need for that kind o’ talk either”. Mrs Boydell was not a woman to be trifled with. which was why she was working at the Rectory for a man like the Pastor. ‘Personage indeed,’ she thought whilst opening the door. ’I’ll give him personage’.
“Well, Tom, what do yer want now?” Pushing her face beyond the door and raising her voice in an attempt to intimidate by proxy. “Come on, speak up” Say what you like about Mrs Boydell but she was a seasoned bully. Particularly since she lost Mr Boydell of lung sickness two years ago come February now. She failed to see why she should suffer anyone gladly, fools or no, young or old.
" Its yon lad" said Tom " Ee ad a look at yon body in’t cold room, as ee shouldn’t. Wi towd im both me an Albert, but ee’d ave none an ad fer see fer imsel, o’course. An now ee’ taken badly. Can’t do nowt wee im".
" Of course you will have to attempt a translation" said McBride. “Or perhaps you can make yourself a little more useful Simpkins and assist Mrs Boydell in whatever is concerning this gentleman so tremendously”.
‘Oh you understand all right’, thought Simpkins. ‘You know what he says. You just don’t want to get your hands dirty. Soon enough to get involved with the dead when they are decently coffined. And of course this being a suicide you need not get involved at all or only in the most peripheral manner. Beyond the pale. Of course I will deal with it and of course I know which boy we are talking about. Just as you do ,you sanctimonious appendage’.
All this disappeared into Simpkins conscious without a trace of rebellion appearing anywhere on the calm mill pond of his face. A little tightening around the eyes that doubtless would be ascribed to fear, fear of superior, fear of death in its most violent form. Fear of making a mistake.
“Has the Doctor been called? asked Simpkins of Tom who replied in the affirmative. “Then give me a moment to get my coat and I’ll be with you.”
All this to a voluble and unecessary sigh of relief from the Pastor. For whom the event was now over and forgotten and who returned as quickly as he may to pipe and meadows of congratulation. After all his was the only opinion that mattered in this hole.

Crankwood Chapter 6


Joined January 2008

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Pastor & Curate An Introduction

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