1. SHOW US WHAT YOU’VE GOT
Anyone who did not want to see Father Bingham suffer greatly was discouraged from coming. They would only get in the way, as one of the fathers said during their meeting at the Comstock Firehall, Home of Ladder 9. “It would be better if you stayed behind and watched your Law and Order reruns on TBS,” the father, one of the concerned had said to the congregation of townies. “We’re bringing out his blood. And we’re bleeding him emptier than an Aloe Vera bottle at a leper colony.”
Everyone who attended the meeting was in. There were no voices of reason, although a few of the anonymous folk in attendance had wished secretly somebody (anybody) had spoken up.
No one did.
Because Father Bingham had done them all wrong. Not one of the families in the man’s congregation had gone unscathed nor untarnished by his concealed advances. His light, lingering touches and his tight, squinty blue “altar boy forever” eyes. It tore many of them clean through the fabric of their being to know they’ve all brought their sins to him and asked him for forgiveness, this man of the cloth who would later on that evening be not only begging for their forgiveness but for his own miserable, stinking life. They would not relent. Ask any one of the parents and townies in attendance at that secret town meeting and they would all profess themselves good Catholics. God-fearing Catholics of the old caliber.
Ask any one of them and they would tell you even God would have wanted it to happen just this way. The New Testament is interwoven with numerous instances where Christ invites the little children near to him. He wished to guard them from the fearful prospectors in their midst.
This would be why, the father, the speaker (and some will later name as ringleader) closed their exclusive meeting by leading the group in both The Lord’s Prayer and Glory Be To God. Then, he raised his eyes and looked out across the heads of them all and said, “Show what you’ve brought with you. Hold them up! Show your neighbor what you’ve brought to avenge our children, people!”
A soft murmur rippled across the group of people and built to something louder and more contentious. Mr Burton held up a carving knife, Mrs Burton a garden-trowel. Andrea Townsend, a small single-mother who’d only moved to Comstock six months before to avoid an abusive husband across the continent, touted a large tire iron in the air. Mr. and Mrs. Kretzky stood up in place, brandishing two spears that had been hockey sticks two day ago until they were dismantled and sharpened to a needle-point. Peter Hilton and his common-law wife, Sabrina Hadley, held up a ball-pein hammer and cloth hammer, respectively. The ringleader smiled, tallying what he saw in his head: 3 fondue forks, 2 meat cleavers, 1 baseball bat, 1 nail gun, and surprisingly, the most popular item of all, gardening shears. He did not have to think for very long about what their owners hoped to do to Father Bingham with them. And he wasn’t shocked nor appalled that the parents and neighbors had brought such a variety of bludgeoning tools of violence with them.
He’d told them to vary their weapon of choice, and to try to limit the scope of variety to things that would commonly be lying around a household.
Nothing that hinted at murder.
“Let’s get to work,” he told them.
It was 9:30 at night.
Excerpt from “Broken Birds” by Peter Molnar-COMING SOON!