Good Friday

Them Catholics sure know how to make themselves miserable, let me tell you. I know, ’cause I used to work with one. Fred Murphy, that was his name, he used to work down in the supply cage, only decent guy in the whole department. Everybody on the shop floor knew to go to Freddy if you needed something, ’cause he’d actually listen to you and do whatever he could to help. Maybe he couldn’t always fix your problem, but he’d go to bat for you every time. I never knew anybody who didn’t like Freddy, except maybe the old fart who used to run the supply cage like it was his kingdom and we were the serfs. Anyway, ol’ Fred was a good guy.

Now we were all second shifters back then, including Fred, and somehow or other we started up a Friday morning bowling league. Might have been Mel Gordon’s idea, he was a pretty good bowler before his heart attack. The rest of us were just in it for a good time, you know? Couple of beers, some greasy food, who cared about the score? It was a great way to unwind before the last shift of the week, and you knew the weekend was on the other side. Fred was kind of a quiet guy, not pushy at all, and it took awhile before someone thought to ask him to join our league, since it was all guys from the floor. But once he joined us, he never missed a Friday, not so long as the league lasted. Read More

Altar Boys Gone Wild

There was that moment of silence just before Mass began, when the altar boys stood with lit candles behind the priest in a narrow hallway to one side of the altar, concealed from the congregation by a brick partition. I always felt a twinge of nervousness akin to waiting backstage before making a theatrical appearance, for in seconds we were to walk in procession along a side aisle to the back of the church, take a right past the baptismal font, and solemnly traverse the center aisle. After ascending some steps and placing our candles on either side of the altar, we would simultaneously bow beneath the crucifix and then take our seats on either side of throne-like chair that accommodated the priest.

As self-conscious adolescents, we were well aware of the potential for public embarrassment that was offered by participating in the ritual. All eyes were upon us, and were we to trip over our cassocks or drop a wine cruet, it would not go unnoticed. So there was always a bit of tension as we waited in the wings, just the sort of mildly anxious anticipation that inspires one to create a healthy distraction. That is the only explanation I have for why I smiled at Alberto, yanked out a hair from the top of my head, and placed it in the flame of my candle. Read More

Three Days Of Darkness


“Take that, Satan’s minion!” cried Moe.


Three Days of Darkness!


            “Good grief!” exclaimed Moe Hardee as he perused the latest Parish Post.  He ran his fingers through his blonde hair and cast a worried glance toward his brother, Hank.  “It says here that Padre Pio has prophesied Three Days of Darkness!”

            “Gee,” remarked Hank, dark-haired and one year older than seventeen-year-old Moe, “that will sure put a crimp in our boating plans!”  Hank and Moe were the sons of famous detective Denton Hardee, and they had been looking forward to a weekend expedition on Bartlett Bay with their Mayport High chums.  “Read me the details.”

            “Well, according to Padre Pio, an enormous cross in the sky will signal the imminence of three days of darkness, during which the sun will not shine and demons will run loose throughout the streets.”

            “Holy moly!” reacted Hank, whose customary reserve and lack of impulsiveness had been rattled by the startling news. Read More

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