by Mark Ulyseas
From The Seductive Avatars of Maya – Anthology of Dystopian Lives – book available HERE
“Come on wake up, our father is coming at 5 and it’s already 4…come on Helen”, pleads Nina.
“Getting up…getting up…who is our father…your father…a pimp…” replies Helen in a drowsy voice as she stretches and then slowly gets up and sits with her head in her hands on the side of the bed.
“Not a pimp…our father is our family priest; he drops in once a month to meet us girls for a drink and a chat. Sometimes he blesses us and our homes if we ask him to,” says Nina.
“Aaahhh…God this hangover… shouldn’t have had those tequila shots…”
Nina pulls Helen to the bathroom and pushes her in…
A while later both girls are dressed. Nina in an ankle length black skirt and a crème coloured blouse with her long black hair neatly tied up in a bunch…and Helen in an old fashioned midi that stops just below her knees, a pink top and her short dark brown hair neatly combed.
The flat is one large room…the centre piece being the double poster bed with drapes…on the left are two sofas and on the right is a small table in the corner with Mother Mary’s picture, a door to the bathroom, a cupboard and a tiny open kitchen with a small round table and four chairs. The walls are bare except for a crucifix on the wall.
A loud rumbling voice heralds our father…giggles and shouts from the girls on the first floor as he slowly climbs the stairs to their flat.
Our father enters and hugs Nina. He is wearing a white cassock. His hands are that of a working man’s…large and calloused…his face, red and sweaty and breath like a steam engine…
“Hello my child how have you been?”
“Pulling along, father…father this is Helen, she’s staying with me till she gets on her feet”, says Nina
“Come here Helen…”
Helen hesitantly walks up to our father and he embraces her.
“Everyone calls you our father but what is your name”
“Father Christopher I am called…I know Nina’s mother since she was a young lady working at the government hospital…”
They sit down at the table and Nina serves them bacon sandwiches and whisky…actually Father has the whisky and the girls, tea.
And after Father knocks back two shots he utters a loud aaahhhh and then puts his hand on Nina’s shoulder…”I have come here today because I need to talk…” he says with an urgency in his voice.
“You need money to buy food for the homeless?” asks Nina
“Yes, but there is something else…I want to share with you”
Nina reaches for a rusty tea tin from a shelf, opens it, removes crumpled notes and hands them to Father.
“Keep this… business has been good”.
“Thank you Nina and God bless you”.
“Now what is it that you want to tell me?” asks Nina expectantly.
He looks at her earnest face and then to Helen and thinks to himself…these young girls are surviving, not begging or stealing but selling their own bodies to eat…they carry themselves with such dignity…he had some inherited family property he thinks he should give Nina…but she would wonder why….hummm…should I tell her the truth? The truth? Who said that truth was rarely pure and never simple? No…No, I shouldn’t think like this…
“Nina I have a small property, inherited, which I would like to give you…you can sell it and get enough money so that you can leave this line of work…”
She looks at him and then reaches out and hugs him…”Father…I would call you Papa if you were my father…how can I?”
“Of course you can Nina”, says Helen, “This is super…think about it at least…you can get out of this flat and I can then have it all to myself…hahahaha”
“No…don’t be daft…I can’t…it can be put to better use…my life is nearly over with this disease…it’s just a matter of time…No…I prefer giving joy to those lonely men. ..making their lives liveable.”
“Pour me another, please”.
Helen gets up and pours our father another shot.
“I think I better be going…thank you for the donation…there is a family with two small children living under a bridge…I will buy food and drop it by on my way back…drunk too much”.
“Hold on…I will call Tom to take you back. He is our private taxi,” says Helen.
“I better start walking down…come here…” he beckons to the girls as he stands up. Nina instantly kneels before him, Helen hesitantly follows. Father blesses them and anoints them with holy oil that he always carries with him in a small bottle. “I will continue to pray for you and now for your friend Helen. And please think about my offer of the property. And thank you for the donation. Peace be always with you.”
The girls lean over the balcony and watch his large figure slowly go down the stairs.
I should have told her, Father Christopher thinks himself. I should have told her about my meeting with her mother in the hospital so many years ago. Both were young and in love. Except that he had taken his vows and that’s why they couldn’t get married when she became pregnant. He is her papa. He will always her papa.
“Forgive me Father for I have sinned”, mutters Father Christopher under his breath as Tom opens the door of the taxi for him.
Helen looks at Nina and says, “Why didn’t you take our father’s offer?” Why?”
“Stop it…don’t push it… don’t push it…”, shouts Nina.
“I am sorry Nina, please tell me”, replies Helen gently.
“…Because our father is my papa. MY papa! Mummy told me when I was sixteen but made me promise never to tell him because he is in the service of a higher power. I cannot let him know that I am his daughter. I can only love him,” she cries out and buries her head in Helen’s lap.
Helen whispers, “Come on my dear friend let us not cry, let us light a candle and pray for our father for today is the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.”© Mark Ulyseas, August 04, 2013