Crankwood Chapter 15 The Presbytary

The Presbytery looked empty, cold dead and lifeless. A strange couple meandered rockingly through the sulphur coloured and breezy darkness towards a front door that seemed equally dark and forbidding. Complete opposites, as if a tragic but darkly comic accident had brought them careening madly together. More Jack Spratt and his Grandmother than wife. Directly from a Georgian pamphlet on the dangers of loose living or a strong advertisement on gin drinking for a complete temperance society.
Nan was hanging with a degree of desperation onto the young curates arm. Having asked, demanded and then pleaded several times now for him to slow down.
“I’ve been bad on me pins for some time now and as I would niver stop a pig in a ginnel, I’d thank you to have some respect fer me age” Simpkins felt that this was less than the full truth but Nan’s legs did seem to have been distorted. They seemed put on sideways at the hip at right angles to the rest of her body, so, surmised the Priest, she probably did have some trouble walking.
For himself, he wondered directly. He was concerned rather than worried but concern also created speed and so Nan’s complaints were not without some justification. They had arrived eventually and far less speedy than Simpkins would have liked, at the presbytery, but to find what?
Simpkins searched for his latch key fastened to a chain deep in a trouser pocket under cassock and overcoat and not for the first time he wondered whether it was appropriate for him to be wearing trousers under his clerical attire. The hell with it he thought. It was just too damn cold.
“I agree” Nan surprisingly answered his unspoken comment. and then went out of her way to allay his obvious fears. “Nay, lad, there’s nowt special about me, its the way thy art fussin and whatnot over thy key that shows how cowd it is” Cowd must mean cold Simpkins imagined and added, to himself, nothing special about you, I think not, there is a lot different about you Madam landlady. He did not express this opinion, however, judging discretion the better part of suspicion at this stage.
He was fumbling with the key when suddenly the door was flung open and there stood a distraught and dishevelled Mrs Boydell.
“Ohh Reverend!” she pronounced in wavering voice as Nan and he entered the hallway. “Ooh I never, what a……” Nan quickly removed her overcoat and passing it to the Curate " Here don’t stand there dithering, make thysel useful." she interrupted, " Now Muriel you come int’td kitchen with yer and I bet you’ve got a warm fire and a pot brewin, or I’m no judge" Upon which she gathered the distraught housekeeper up into protective arms whilst giving the Curate a knowing and penetrating look. Directing upstairs with her head she billed and cooed Mrs Boydell towards the kitchen and a life saving cup of tea.
More than a little put out by what he perceived as a highhanded attitude Simpkins flung the coat over the bottom of the banister and attacked the carpeted stairs two at a time.
" Oh an make sure that bloody Doctor does his job" Nan shot over her shoulder from the kitchen door.
Simpkins attempted to swallow his ire as he entered the Pastors opulent boudoir on the first landing.
That said worthy was sitting up in his massive bed clothed in a voluminous white night gown that matched almost exactly the pasty pallor of his skin. His face was sunken and normally ruddy and broken veined cheeks were sallow and flaccid. The pastor’s wrists were bandaged giving Simpkins exquisite if brief food for thought. He had a large ice pack perched precariously on bald head and the Doctor was listening to heartbeat with an aged and tarnished stethoscope.
The same medical as attended Ashes earlier was humming and tutting to himself as he checked vital signs and for the moment Simpkins escaped professional notice.
The pastor chose that moment to open his eyes. Seeing Simpkins in the door way he violently pushed the Doctor aside knocking the same half moon glasses that Simpkins had seen him wearing earlier in the coldroom, off the Doctor’s face to clatter on the linoleum floor.
“Out! Out!! shouted Mcbride as he hauled his gargantuan bulk upwards, pushing the Doctor back further and leaving the stethoscope hanging obscenely from the front of his nightgown
“Get out, you benighted quack” the apparently much recovered Pastor shouted and then half turning on the bed, said "Simpkins, you get in here and close that damn door.

Crankwood Chapter 15 The Presbytary


Joined January 2008

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