|Mary genuflected nicely, remembering how she
had been taught. She even managed a penitent glare at the priest,
though she felt no shame. Father Johnson did a good job, the
"amens" and the hymns were right on time, his timing,
still, was flawless.
Of course she knew better, Father Johnson - now nearly seventy years old and frail - was not always so.
In his prime he had acted as many Godsends to the Catholic community of Hampton. He was a teacher, a priest, and indeed a beacon of light to the troubled youth of the town, who sought his advice and absolution from their myriad, though predictable sins and transgressions.
As he reached the benediction, Mary began to sweat. What if she was to burn in Hell? Still, some things are beyond any benediction. Keeping her demeanor, she allowed herself an inner smile. "The Lord helps those who help themselves," that was what Father Johnson had told her on the third occasion she had sought his help in her continuing adolescent decline into evil.
Evil, being the pastimes of succumbing to the peer pressures, of ignoring schoolwork, smoking cigarettes (which she detested) and , (heaven forbid) talking to boys.
She felt a twang of regret as the priest the miracle which happened every Sunday. "This is my body, this is my blood." Mary nearly cried out as this priest quaffed the symbolic "blood," which she knew was juice (grape, " from concentrate " for reference). She nearly yelled " stop ," but her lips remained closed.
Father Johnson resumed the mass but found himself unable to focus on the congregation. Instead, he felt himself reeling. He noticed he was sweating, he couldn't catch his breath. He paused, trying to steady himself. The last thing Father Johnson ever saw was his white hands clutching the lectern for support.
Mary, along with her parents, dutifully attended the priests' funeral. Though she did not cry, she felt deeply the old mans passing .
She remembered his flushed countenance, at their " religious instruction." She remembered his musty breath as he pinned her to the desk. She remembered many, many things.
But most of all she remembered the "blood of Christ," the miracle that happened every Sunday. Inwardly smiling, she thought about the grape juice "blood of Christ." No one would have ever guessed that "Christs' blood" could contain arsenic.
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