Sean Walsh

I live in Dublin, Ireland. Sometimes. Most times I live in my head, quite unaware of my surroundings – if you know what I mean… If you succeed in tracking Sean Walsh, please let me know, ok? I've been searching for him for years…

The Reckoning

Published on Thursday 10th October 2013 by Sean Walsh

(Work in Progress)

My script. Herewith relevant scenes,

snatches of dialogue, monologue… Insights…

*****

Storyline: a young priest, member of a religious

community, goes AWL…

*****

 In the cloister, behind closed doors, drawn curtains,

priests and brothers meet to discuss, confer,

conjecture, reckon… Shock absorbers.

*****

 A corridor. Community chanting in background…

Mark, the Prior, and Brother Declan, the sacristan…

 MARK: Yes, Declan?

DECLAN:  I’m sorry for calling you out of Choir, Father –

MARK:  What is it, Brother?

DECLAN: Well, like, Father Xavier’s down for to say the seven.
MARK:  I’m aware of that.
DECLAN:  It’s just that when I went to call him – well, he’s not in his room.
MARK:  Oh?
DECLAN:  ‘No answer when I rang him on the house phone. And when I went up, thinkin’ mebbe he was in a heavy sleep or, or even up before the time and, and –

MARK: Get to the point, Brother – please.
DECLAN:  His bed’s not slept in, Father.
MARK:  Hmmm. And no sign of him?

DECLAN:  None.
MARK:  Did you look around? The Library? Community Room?
DECLAN:  Empty.
MARK:  All right, then. I’ll stand in for him on the High Altar. ‘Better get a move on…
DECLAN: I’ll dress your chalice and Brother John will have the candles lighting.

MARK:  So… now we have a sleep-walker in the Community.

DECLAN:  Well, and if we have, Father Prior, is it in the nude or what he’s in, I’m wonderin’?..

MARK:  How do you mean?
DECLAN:  His habit, Father.  Xavier’s habit is hanging up on the back of his door…

 

*****

 

FATHERS HUGO AND JUSTIN:

 

JUSTIN: So… That’s the score…

HUGO: ‘Half time, anyway…

JUSTIN: Jesus… Jesus Christ…

HUGO:  Amen.

JUSTIN:  Oh-hh… And you! Letting me rabbit on…

HUGO:  Ah, God, Justin, I was only for the best! ‘Didn’t know what way to, to go about –

JUSTIN:  Okay. It’s okay… I, I understand. ‘Not easy for you to… It’s just – I don’t, I can’t believe… Oh-hh-hh. . . Jesus. Jesus wept…
HUGO: I, I know how you feel.

JUSTIN:  Do you? ‘Ever lose a brother – sudden death?
FINTAN:  No, but I –

JUSTIN:  He was brother to me, I to him. Almost blood you might say, the bond between us. Maybe stronger, for all I know…
HUGO:  Yeah, I was just saying to the –
JUSTIN:  I loved him, Hugo. . . What am I saying? I love him still. ‘Suppose I always will… no matter what… Well, anyway… God, I could do with a drink…
HUGO: ‘Makes two of us…

 

*****

 

SENAN:  Wha’?.. You mean?.. Ah, Jesus!

DECLAN:  Amen.
SENAN:  No! Oh, no…
DECLAN:  Please God, no.
SENAN:  No… ‘Can’t be… No!
DECLAN:  All we can do now is say the prayer.
SENAN:   Jesus, Mary and Holy Saint Joseph…

 

 *****

 

 FATHERS HUGO AND JUSTIN DRINKING….

 JUSTIN:  He was giving the hard stuff a lash, huh?

HUGO:  Maybe more than was good for him. But who am I to talk? I’m no angel…
JUSTIN:  So… he met her and they hit it off. One thing led to another…
HUGO:  That’s the story.

JUSTIN:  What’s she like? ‘Know anything about her?
HUGO:  ‘Met her once or twice. Good looking, yeah. Attractive.
JUSTIN:  But will she be good for him? Y’know, like – will she look after him?

HUGO:  That I couldn’t say. More than a bit on the wild side was my impression. And fond of the jar, you could see that. A glass in one hand, a fag in the other.
JUSTIN:  I’m beginning to get the picture… Religion?

HUGO:  Not much, from what I can gather. A strong, anti-clerical strain in the family.

JUSTIN:  Hmmm… So if Xavier came out?
HUGO:  Oh, I’d say they gave three cheers…
JUSTIN:  He was drinking with her, huh? Hotels, late nights – all that?

HUGO:  As long as she had the readies… Y’know, Justin, there’s a breed of female that are drawn to priests, religious. I dunno if you –

JUSTIN:  I do. Be God, don’t I! They crop up everywhere. And damned if they’d be bothered with an ordinary bloke. ‘Has to be someone – inaccessible.
HUGO:  Forbidden fruit.
JUSTIN:  Out to take you over, organise you.
HUGO:  Possessive.
JUSTIN:  Oh, if you let down your guard at all you’re finished… So you reckon she’s out of that stable?
HUGO:  ‘Got it in one.

 

*****

GILES… AN ELDER PRIEST… THINKS ALOUD:

 

Huh… Huh!.. Doesn’t surprise me… doesn’t surprise me… A pup! ‘Proper pup! ‘Would never do what he was told, never! Oh, a brat if ever there was one…

‘Carried it too far, the joking and the jeering!.. Made fun of me in front of the Community… at Recreation one night… ‘Could never forget the hurt! Unforgivable the way he went on – sent me up rotten!

Ah, I suppose I managed a smile at the time – the others thought it was hilarious – but underneath I was in a terrible tantrum… raging…

 

*****

 

 

A GROUP OF FRIARS – PRIESTS AND BROTHERS – IN CONCLAVE:

 

HUGO: So far. We haven’t put all the bits and pieces together yet.
SENAN: Grim. It’s looking grim.
JOHN:  Was there ever such a woeful jigsaw?
HUGO: It doesn’t sound great, no matter what face you put on it.
GEORGE:  Aye, and there’s a thing – what face are we going to put on it?
DECLAN:  How do you mean?
GEORGE:  The people. Out there. His regulars. What are we going to tell them?
HUGO:  Huh… Make up a story.
FINTAN:  We’d have to be all in on it.
JOHN:  Together. Stand our ground.
SENAN:  That’s it – a common front.
GEORGE:  It’ll leak for sure.
JOHN: And who’ll leak it? Tell me that!
GEORGE: Ochh! There’s them in the Community worse than any women.
SENAN:  He’s right, George’s right. God, you can’t change your shirt in here but someone knows about it out there.

HUGO:  In jig time.

FINTAN:  This is different. ‘Have to be different.

DECLAN:  How will we go about it, so?
HUGO:  It’ll be up to the Prior. ‘Call us together. The whole Community. No exception.
JOHN:  Y’mean – announce it?
FINTAN:  ‘Make it official, it’s the only way.
HUGO:  Then swear us to secrecy. Put us under oath if all comes to all.
GEORGE:  As sure as God there’ll be an objector – one o’ the younger ones’ll say it’s against the New Theology.
HUGO: The Prior won’t be asking them, he’ll be telling them.
SENAN:  Ho, ho! Good on you, Father! More like old times, that kinda talk!
JOHN: So – what’s the story?
HUGO: It’ll have to be good – foolproof.
FINTAN:  Make it simple. Stick to the basics.
GEORGE:  Aye, right. That way we won’t get tripped up.
HUGO:  Suppose… suppose we say he’s gone to England?
JOHN:  ‘Mightn’t be much of a lie…

GEORGE:  Make it an emergency. A sudden S.O.S. from some Bishop or other.
HUGO:  Yeah… Why not? One of his curates got sick – serious, like – and he wired us for a replacement.
DECLAN:  Will it stick?
SENAN:  We’ll make it stick.
FINTAN: ‘Have to work out the details. ‘Get the Catholic Directory for England and Wales… ‘Name of Diocese, Bishop… A curacy at the back of beyond…
HUGO:  Malachy gives a lot of Missions and Retreats over there. He’d surely be able to give us some gen, come up with a name and address.
SENAN:  That’s it!
JOHN:  And if the ould ones come to the Mass Office –

DECLAN:  They will, they will, nothing surer! –
JOHN:  Asking for him –
GEORGE:  Wanting to know where he’s gone –
SENAN:  We can give out a postal address and all!
GEORGE:  And if some of them write to him?
JOHN:  Ah, they hardly would.
DECLAN:  You never know, some might chance a few lines.

FINTAN:  Any letters could be kept, sent back to the Prior.
SENAN:  That’s it, then. Let ye do it in the name o’ God!..

 

 *****

 

GILES AGAIN (MONOLOGUE)

 

Xavier, huh?.. Not a bad preacher, to give him his due… ‘Could have been out with me many’s the time on missions and retreats if he played his cards right… ‘Would have shown him the ropes, marked his card… Ah, but he just sat there, looking at me as if I had two heads…

Well, he’s gone now, the Divil riding on his shoulder. Oh, many’s the man, many’s the man has turned away from the plough, gone after the fleshpots of Egypt – and lived to rue it… Oh, the folly of it!.. Bitter tears, bitter tears!..

 

 *****

 

REVERT TO THE FRATI IN CONCLAVE.

HUGO:  You’re very quiet there, Father Aidan?..
AIDAN:  Eh-hh… No, I was just thinking…
SENAN:  Oh yeah?..
AIDAN:  There is another way…
DECLAN:  Oh? And what might that be, Father?
AIDAN:  Tell the truth…

THEY EXCLAIM:

SENAN:  Ah, come on, Father!
JOHN:  What!?
GEORGE:  Will you have sense, man!
FINTAN:  Are you going soft in the head or what?
HUGO:  Tell the truth – and we still don’t know the half of it ourselves!
SENAN:   ‘Shock and scandalise half the neighbourhood!
DECLAN:  That’s it – scandal!
GEORGE:  To be avoided at all costs!

JOHN:  And no necessity for it –
GEORGE:  None in the wide world!..
AIDAN:  Are you – finished?
HUGO: Only if you are…
FINTAN:  ‘Might as well drop a bomb while you’re at it.
SENAN:  It’d be a scandal, Father, the like of, of –
GEORGE:  It’d see us all in our graves and still not be died down…
AIDAN:  I wonder…
HUGO:  Well, you can wonder away. I’m a good deal older than you, Aidan, and maybe a bit wiser, and I’m telling you here and now, it’d be the worst scandal to hit this Community ever – ever!
FINTAN:  And that’s saying something…
AlDAN:  Well, just – just suppose we tell it as it is? Give the true picture, as we know it, as much as we –
JOHN:  God. Dear God –
AIDAN:  Oh, they’d be hurt, the people who come to us. Many of them, doubtless. Hurt, let down, disappointed…
FINTAN:  You’re avoiding the term.
AIDAN:  Very well – scandalised… And then, then the reaction.

DECLAN:  What?
AIDAN:  In their charity, they would forgive him.
SENAN:  Huh…
JOHN:  ‘Don’t know about that –
AIDAN:  They would say, God love him, anyway, wherever he is, sure he’s only human after all…
GEORGE:  I wonder?..
AIDAN:  And if you don’t give them that, Brother George, you have a very poor regard for the people of God.
SENAN:  Well… I still say…
AIDAN:  But tell them a lie – or a tissue of lies – and if they catch you out, therewill be the real hurt, the greater scandal.
JOHN:  Hmmm…
AIDAN:  A scandal involving the whole Community, not just one…
GEORGE:  But that’s the whole idea! The cover up will be so exact in every detail –
AIDAN
Oh, dear God! Someone was telling me earlier to have sense. Well, I’m trying hard to use the wit God gave me – and it seems to me you have overlooked a vital factor in the equation.
DECLAN:  Sorry?

AIDAN:  The man himself. Xavier.
FINTAN:  What about him?
AIDAN:  How do you let him in on this splendid coverup?..
SENAN:  I’m still not with you?
AIDAN:  Why, he has only to write to a few friends – make a phone call or two – telling them where he is, and how…
JOHN:  God, yeah –
DECLAN:  ‘Never thought of –
GEORGE:  I suppose, aye.
AIDAN:  Oh, and while we’re at it, there’s just one other thing I reckon the people out there would do when they heard the news…
DECLAN:  Oh?..
GEORGE:  What’s that?
AIDAN:  They’d pray for him…
FINTAN:  Hmmmm…
SENAN:  I wonder?..
AIDAN:  Oh, yes they would. They’d go on their knees – many of them, anyway – and storm Heaven on his behalf…
HUGO: Yes. .. Yes.

DECLAN:  What?..
FINTAN:  He’s saying, Brother Declan, Aidan is saying that if we put out a cock-and-bull story, we’ll be denying Xavier the intercession of the Faithful…

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