Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.
Priests on acid.
Over the summer, Father Sousa got deep into hallucinogenic drugs. Mostly mushrooms and really high end LSD. “God Is Alive and Magic Is Afoot,” he’d say.
He’d construct stone alters behind the rectory; an overlap of Celtic Pagan stuff and early Christian methods. He’d build campfires. He skipped the acoustic guitars, altogether, and set up his speakers on the porch. Lots of Grateful Dead, King Crimson, a weird record by Buffy Sainte-Marie, John Fahey, Miles Davis.
Father Sousa seemed to be preparing for The End. You’d hear about cats dropping out, moving north to live in trailers or tents and to grow their own food. Maine. Quebec. Alaska. Nova Scotia. One guy insisted you could get electricity on your hands, and it would ‘stain’ like black walnut juice. If you turned on a blender, or opened up the fridge… ‘Be careful, don’t get it on ya…’
Father Sousa’s end seemed less specific. That is, his idea of an end. He was awaiting a collision, like an asteroid hitting the earth. He was way into When World’s Collide, that George Pal flick. He owned a 16mm print and would show it on Saturday nights in the youth center.
Perhaps he was waiting for ideas to collide. He and his college friend from Boston, who was big deal Scientologist, would always grab breakfast at the green diner; talk human potential; talk about Jesus setting his mind completely free, somehow; finding a combination of words and deeds and thoughts that, in the blink of an eye, bumped him forward on the evolutionary scale. 100,000 years ahead of schedule.
He was eyeballing everything. Listening to Alan Watts, Incredible String Band and The Beatles. Reading John Birch Society pamphlets about water fluoridation. If it was out, he was on it. Didn’t matter what. For a few weeks, he actually began exploring the process of ‘reading between the lines’ as a physical act, examining copies of The Boston Globe with a ruler and compass – determining if, indeed, superficially unconnected words could lead to a universal reaction among the unsuspecting. Pavlov stuff. William S Burroughs stuff. Manchurian Candidate. Heavy code paranoia. People have buttons. You just have to learn how to press them.
His sister started spending more time in our neck of the woods. It was impossible to tell what their relationship was. He avoided her. She protected him. His manic episodes, which most people saw as an emblem of brilliance, were a great big skull and crossbones on a pirate ship for her.
He left in October. Right before Halloween. Maybe that was for the best; Father Sousa would have probably found the pagan celebrations and orange plastic masks overwhelming. His sister took him back to Pennsylvania in what must have been an excruciating automobile ride.
The new guy, Father Crumb, who actually turned out to be pretty cool, asked us to help clean out the rectory before he moved him.
That’s when we found all the drawings and the charts and the magazines and stuff.