To announce and celebrate the release of my novel, The Violent Season, in paperback, I offer this excerpt from Chapter 2, “Soldiers of Christ.”
A paper copy of the book is available from the publisher, Unlimited Publishing, LLC, at http://www.unlimitedpublishing.com/gleason/. Soon to be available in paper from Amazon.
Father Peters came into the church from the sacristy still dressed in his alb and cincture. He gestured to one of the nuns.
“You’re Sister Agnes, are you not? You have the eighth grade at the school,” he asked?
“Yes, Father,” she responded.
“Sister, two of your boys, they were sitting in the second pew next to that negro boy, they were talking and carrying on during my entire sermon!”
Sister Agnes’ face reddened. “Oh… that is probably Joseph Simon and Michael Dwyer. We have more trouble with those two…”
“I want you to speak to them, Sister. Deal with them. They were most disrespectful. And, with Jesus right there on the altar in front of them! What have you been teaching these young hooligans for the last eight years?”
Sister Agnes’ face was now burning. “I shall take care of them, Father. Oh, yes, I shall!”
An hour later, Joey Simon and Mickey Dwyer finally emerged from the church onto Crescent Street. Under the close supervision of Sister Agnes Immaculata, they had spent an hour on their knees, on an unpadded kneeler in the side chapel, praying all fifteen decades of the Rosary, five decades for each of three, the “Joyous” the “Sorrowful” and the “Glorious” mysteries, a hundred fifty Hail Mary’s, fifteen Our Father’s, one Apostles Creed and an Act of Contrition thrown in for good measure.
Before releasing them, Sister Agnes had made both boys promise to go to confession the very next Saturday afternoon and confess to Fr. Peters that they had disrespected the Blessed Sacrament, the Mass, and him by talking and carrying on during his sermon. So, the boys could look forward all week to another thorough tongue lashing and another hour or so on their knees begging God for forgiveness.
The good news, as far as the boys were concerned, was that they didn’t have to take a beating from the nun. Sister Agnes rarely raised her hand to her students, but she had other more subtle ways of getting her point across, as the boys’ aching knees bore witness. Now, if they could figure some way of explaining to their parents why they were over an hour late getting back from church, they were home free.
“I never saw old Aggie Mac so pissed off! Her face was so red I thought she was going to explode,” said Joey.
“Christ! How am I going to explain this one to my Ma,” responded Mickey, “I was supposed to bring the rolls home from the bakery for my old man’s coffee.”
“Just tell her you were over my house,” said Joey, “I’m sure as hell going to tell my mom I was over yours. They never check anymore.”
“I just wish you wouldn’t pull that shit in church, Joe!” said Mickey. “We only got a couple more months of this shit and we’re sprung.”
“That’s a fine way to show your gratitude,” sniffed Joey, pretending to be insulted.
“Gratitude! What the fuck are you talking about? Gratitude for what? I just got reamed out by Aggie Mac, my knees hurt so bad I may never be able to walk right, and I got more of this shit to look forward to Saturday!”
“Ah, my child,” quipped Joey, “Had the good sister not kept you after church, you would have sought out the fair-haired and lovely Lori McShea right after mass. Then, right after having received the sinless and immaculate body of Christ, you would have filled your perverted and twisted guy-mind with sinful and lecherous thoughts. And, as the good sisters have often taught us, even to think such dirty things is in itself a mortal sin. So, this morning, I have saved my best friend’s soul from an eternity in hell. Or, at least from a bad case of blue ball.”
“You’ve got one twisted mind, Father Joe,” answered Mick, “One really twisted mind.”
“Come, my dear fellow soldier of Christ,” said Joey, grandly gesturing down Crescent Street, “There is no time for girls when we must dedicate ourselves even unto death to the holy crusade against the curse of Godless communism.”
This isn’t a “restaurant peeve” but to a boomer being called a dude is about as annoying as someone scraping fingernails down a blackboard.
It’s obnoxious because it’s overused and, knowing teenagers and twenty-somethings, overused because it’s obnoxious. I can only imagine what my darlin’ Aunt Mae would have thought of this… then again… I can’t imagine it at all.
Actually, after teaching high school for thirteen years, I’m pretty inured to this one. What still amazes me is that these days even girls can be called dudes.
I have tried to explain to students that in my day, sometime between the great dinosaur extinction and the invention of fire, a dude was an incompetent cowboy… the Bob Hope part in a western. It was never a complement.
Unfortunately, kids these days have no idea who Bob Hope was. Using that analogy was about as useful as explaining the use of the semicolon.
Besides, there are no more cowboy movies. Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Tonto in the Lone Ranger pretty much drove a wooden stake through the heart of that genre already mortally weakened by Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles… it’s twue… it’s twue.
In my neighborhood in New York City, we thought the Wild West was a land just beyond the Joisey swamps, and we only had a vague idea what a cow was, so the term was rarely heard. But, when we did use it, it was to describe the rich, snotty kid showing up for the first time at the Triple R and trying to snake Annette from Tim Considine in Spin and Marty – Yippee Yay, Yippee Yi, Yipee Yo – or Jimmy Stewart trying to explain the fine points of the law to Lee Marvin in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
“The Dude” was a part for which John Wayne would never be cast.
I was talking to a colleague, who teaches French, trying to figure out what the Gallic equivalent of a dude was. My French grandfather never got close to this one… he was still uncomfortable about tutoyer…
<< …tu dois utilizer le pronom tu seulement lorsque tu parles à ta petite amie ou à ton chien… oh oui… aussi à ton petit-fils… >>
My colleague and I finally agreed that the closest we could come in French to the American expression “dude” is <<un mec>>. Somehow that figures… the French equivalent of “Hey, Dude!” is <<mon mec>>… “my pimp.” Works for me!
If you don’t believe me, download Irma la Douce from Netflix, dude!
In my spinach days, “when I was green in judgment: hot in blood,” I spent my time tending bar and playing music – mostly for free beer and tips – I wasn’t all that good. But, getting the day started in the morning was at times a challenge. The following is how my INTJ-Systems-Oriented personality dealt with the problem of the dreaded “morning after.”
Morning Procedure (MP) 1 – “Getting Out of Bed” (V3.R2.7)
1. Consciously realize and accept the fact that you’re conscious
No… this is not a dream… it’s the start of another day… you have three choices at this point:
1) embrace it ==>
2) accept it ==>
3) close your eyes and go back to sleep <END>.
2. Stick your nose outside the blankets
If it feels cold, this is God’s subtle way of telling you two things: 1) it’s winter – cold, dark, and miserable; 2) God doesn’t want you stumbling around screwing up creation. Go back to sleep <END>.
If not, proceed to the next step ==>
- Do a systems check
- Wiggle toes then bend knees. Does everything seem to be functioning correctly? If not, you’re paralyzed… or you blew step one and are still asleep… give up the struggle and accept oblivion <END>.
- Does wiggling your toes and bending your knees cause considerable pain. If so, you’ve Rip Van Winkled and are now over sixty-five, on social security, and retired… go back to sleep; you have no place to go <END>.
3. Check your head. Does the slightest movement cause you excruciating pain? Is your tongue glued to the top of your mouth?
If so, you’re hung over; go back to sleep <END>.
If not, proceed to the next step ==>
- Environmental check… are you alone?
- If not, are you married?
If so, situation normal… proceed to the next step ==>
2. If not,
i. Try to remember who you were with last night. If this is a person you wouldn’t mind seeing in the full light of day, proceed to the next step ==>
ii. If not, are you in your own place
1)If so, lie completely still… don’t even breathe… until the other person gives up on you, or decides you’re not worth seeing in full daylight, and leaves ==>
2)If not, very, very quietly try to collect your clothes and shoes (remember to do a sock and underwear check under the bed). If detected, say one of the following
“Sorry… got an early meeting.”
“Sorry! I jog every morning at this time.”
“Sorry! The CDC doesn’t like me to be outside the isolation ward for more than eight hours.”
“Sorry, I got to get back to the prison before they do a bed check.”
Then flee… flee quickly before the other person reaches an adequate state of awareness to realize what a crock this all is <END>
- Slide your outside leg from under the covers and extend the attached foot and toes to the floor.
- Floor cold! (See Step 2 above.)
- Floor not there!
Try to remember your last memories of the night before… did rock climbing seem like a good idea at 2 A.M. after a few too many beers?
If so, the good news is, you survived… so far… don’t move… hope your cell phone still has a charge and the National Parks Service team that rescues you has a sense of humor <END>.
3. Step on a cat! Do you own a cat?
ii. No! Refer to the evasion procedure outlined in Step 4.b above.
4. Floor there, reasonably reachable, pleasantly warm, sans cat. Go to next step ==>
- Slide the inside leg out over the side of the bed until the attached foot finds its mate. This will cause the rest of the body to assume a sitting position on the side of the bed ==>
7. Second systems check (Refer to Step 3 above)
8. Assume a standing position.
1. Room spins and shakes. Are you in California?
i. No! – go back to bed; you’re still drunk <END>.
ii. Yes! – get under the bed until the room stops moving and something heavy falls on you; worry about how you got there later <END>.
2. Room is stable. Do you remember where the bathroom is?
i. If not, walk toward the light (make sure it’s not a window before you step through) <END>.
ii. If so, proceed to the bathroom and refer to Morning Procedure (MP) 2 – “The Three Morning S’s.” (V2.R3.5) <TERMINATE APPLICATION>
Pet Restaurant Peeves of an Aging Boomer in the Land of the Millennials: The Unexpected Day-Care Center.
Ever been out somewhere having a nice, pleasant meal, and a day-care center breaks out next to you. You know what I mean…
“Johnny! Stop that!”
Back to adult amusements, while child ignores parent, then…
“Johnny! Stop that!”
Back to adult amusements, while child ignores parent, then…
“Johnny! Stop that!”
Flash the vacuous “ain’t he cute” smile to the other patrons; child still ignoring parent… then…
“Johnny! Stop that!”
Repeat until every other adult in the place is ready to commit parenticide. Especially those who
- either arranged baby-sitters for their brood and are trying actually to enjoy an uninterrupted adult-to-adult experience; or
- have long ago sent their own little monsters off into their own lives and have maintained a good hundred-mile formal-visit-when-we-want-but-can’t-be-called-at-the-last minute-to-babysit buffer zone between themselves and the grand kids; or
- have had enough of little Johnny’s acting out in a public place and the narcissistically inept parenting skills of Little Johnny’s quasi-adult supervision.
I attribute parents turning restaurants into day-care centers on a couple of factors
1. The complete collapse of the baby-sitting industry due to the over-regulation of the workplace by the government, as in,
Did you withhold federal, state, social security and Medicare tax from the babysitter’s payment?
Did you have the babysitter fill out a Form I-9 establishing their immigration status?)
and the spread of the personal-injury lawyer plague;
2. The proliferation of parenting books that indicate if one were to ever to discipline the little darling, the child’s is on a straight line to a tower and a high-powered rifle, and it’s the parents’ fault;
3. The solipsism of Millennials, who seem actually to believe that whatever is acceptable in their world is acceptable in the entire known universe, which is of course their world; the rest of us are merely the audience and the laugh-track plays in their heads (which explains why they don’t seem to hear their kids acting up in public).
Now granted, you have to be a little careful with this. As far as their relationship to day-care centers, restaurants exist on a continuum from Chuck E. Cheese to the Pope’s private dining room. So, whereas a certain degree of parenting mayhem should be expected, and is certainly acceptable, in certain types of restaurants, in others it is not.
My darling wife and I occasionally like to go to the local Pizza Hut; they have a good deal on the salad bar and the red wine is palatable. This is also the place where a server offered me a straw with my wine.
But, hey! It’s Pizza Hut.
At the best of times, Pizza Hut is a day-care center on testosterone… not as bad as Chick E. Cheese, which I’m sure Dante would have placed in the lower levels of Hell as punishment for career DINKS.
But, hey! It’s Pizza Hut!
My wife and I go there because you can get salad bar, the soup de jour (which in Indiana is considered a soup flavor when the jours are in season), garlic bread and a couple of glasses of wine – with or without straws – for under thirty bucks with tip.
Are your ears ringing for the next twelve hours?
But, hey! It’s Pizza Hut.
Would we put up with Pizza-Hut level of family bedlam at our favorite restaurant in town, where the owner, a school trained chef from Bologna, prepares whatever suites her fancy and you’re not getting out of there for less than a yard and a half?
Hell, no! It isn’t Pizza Hut!
Yet, the other day, we were there enjoying Mama Ciao’s cuisine, but in the booth across from us we had a young couple with a new-born in a carry-in bassinette, who wailed through all five courses, while mama periodically shushed the little darlin’, and whose brother and sister, who looked to be no older than seven, squirmed, complained, kicked the table and refused to eat, while Daddy occasionally scolded and threatened between bites of his frito misto.
Eh! Stonat’! Questo non è Pizza Hut!
Now, before you accuse me of being a pedimist, let me state for the record that I don’t blame the kids at all; they’re just being kids. They’re bored out of their little, unsocialized minds and are punishing their parents for inflicting on them what they consider a horrible experience.
Unfortunately, the rest of us are caught in the blast radius, and modern parents seem unable to defuse the bomb.
At Pizza Hut prices, that’s fine. You get what you pay for as the philosopher says. It goes with the territory, like soda straws go with the wine.
Ma, mi’ donn’! Not in a place where red wine sparkles into crystal goblets; where warm, crusty bread soaks up first-press olive oil; where the ossoboca melts off the bone… and the cannoli… ah… the cannoli… but I digress.
Perhaps I should use an analogy my college philosophy professor used to help us thick-headed undergraduate kerns understand how we evaluate things.
Dirt? Is dirt ‘good’ or ‘bad’? It depends on the context. Dirt in your garden… that’s good. Dirt on your kitchen floor… not so much.
So what about kids.
Kids in the home… wonderful!
Kids in a crowded restaurant… not so much.
So here’s my offer!
If parents promise not to turn my favorite restaurant into a day-care center, I promise not to eat dinner in their nursery.
This weekend, a half-ton alligator battled over ten hours before finally bagging an entire Florida family, a record-breaking catch.
The fifteen-foot Al E. Gator, who prefers to be called Al and considers the term “gator” species-ist, caught the family in the drive-up line of a McDonalds along the Apalachicola River near the city of Bristol, Florida.
All Saturday afternoon the hard-pressed reptile wrangled the crew of Big-Mac biters near Bristol and finally brought the entire bunch to a check-in station at Chattahoochee State Park, where they weighed in at an incredible – even by Mickey D standards – 1,011.5 pounds, not counting their rusted-out Ford F-150 short-bed.
The gigantic family of McNugget munchers included Eileen Sideways; her husband and second cousin, Bob Sideways; her first cousin and uncle, Emmitt Radiation; and Ed Zup, who strangely seems to share no DNA with the others.
Al reports that he started his hunt Friday night after the local bars closed, a prime feeding time at the Golden Arches and, using a chocolate thick shake as bate, wound up battling this mammoth catch until late Saturday afternoon, before finally firing the fatal shots.
The gargantuan family is the largest ever to be bagged in the state of Florida, beating the former record by over 273 pounds.
Al’s feat may even surpass the record for world’s largest family, which was previously declared to be an 880-pound family of four bagged by a cougar in Texas at a Pizza Hut, according to the National Geographic Society.
The family was so enormous that when Florida Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries biologists attempted to weigh them, they broke the winch assembly designed to lift them.
Al says he’s exhausted by his ordeal, but he’s likely to get out there to hunt again. He isn’t after another record-breaking catch.
“Right now the fairest way for me to say it is that I’ll apply for a family permit again, but I can assure you, I have no desire to hook into anything like this again,” he said. “I truly don’t.”
Al refuses to accept any criticism for shooting the family. “It’s not like they’re an endangered species,” he insists. “They’re everywhere… and besides, if I don’t do my part to cull the herd, they’ll just overpopulate and starve.”
Al says he has no intention of eating the family because the high levels of saturated fat would be bad for his health. He will use their hides for a handbag with a matching pair of shoes and a wallet. Besides, despite popular rumor, they taste nothing like chicken.