Friday, October 20, 2017

After Mass

After Mass
Bobby Derie

Their was coffee and cigarettes in the fellowship hall. It reminded Mary eerily of a high-school cafeteria. A few of the newcomers sobbed, overcome by it all; and one or two old women comforted the those who looked fit to feint. She avoided it, happy to deal with clean-up and aftercare of the chapel.

The black candles were capped, smoking gently until they went out. The reverend took care of the altar, carrying the nude girl back into the couch in his office to recover, along with the Book. Mary and Elsbeth cleaned out the chalice and locked it away, along with the candlesticks, the dagger, and other implements.

The altar cloth was due for a wash - the Catholics didn't know how easy they had it with whites - so she carefully folded it up for the laundry. Elsbeth counted the collection, entered it into the account-book, and carefully filled out the deposit slip and sealed the envelope to take it to the bank.

There was the usual detritus of service to pick up - the kind of thing any crowd leaves behind. Pencil stubs, used tissues. This had been a High Mass, so today Mary had on her heavy gloves as she picked up used condoms, discarded clothing, spent blunts, the occasional pipe or needle, and a patch of bloody skin.

Once all the heavy solid materials were out of the way, she got out the hose. You had to pick them up, or they would clog the drain. She hummed an antihymn to herself as she sprayed away the blood and semen, watching them swirl together and gurgle away.

Elsbeth helped her dust the idol, and they shared a little kiss, swapping spit before polishing the inverted cross.


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