Parable

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
REAL LIFE
Marion first behaved strangely, sheltering, six weeks after her mother died.

photo by Lucas Davies on Unsplash

Submitted: May 06, 2019

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Submitted: May 06, 2019

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Parable

Hello, how are you? Have you been alright? On those lonely nights? Hey, how you feeling?

Marion first behaved strangely, sheltering, six weeks after her mother died. At night she would leave her bedsit above the baker’s in Haughton High Street, walk to the local refectory, and sleep rough on a recycled black plastic bench. Using leaves for sheets, twigs for blankets, earth for pillows. Come dawn, come sunrise, come breakfast time, Marion would dust herself down, shake herself off and start all over again.

Have you been alright?  

Marion, 25, single, old maid, old before her time, dowdy and dull to all men, worked the early shift at the local supermarket pleased for the company since her mother died. And how her mum-controlled Cinderella: beating her up for being so young, sending her to the cubby hole under the stairs for being so forward, offing her to bed without supper for asking silly questions.

And how she missed her mother since she slipped the dose of sleeping tablets into her tea. How she needed to shelter the poor, the needy, the filthy and the starving, as repentance for her sins.

On those lonely nights?

Marion behaved strangely, sheltering, six weeks after her mother died. At night she went to the park, found a tramp, took him to her little hovel above the baker’s, told him to be quiet, lest The Devil, Breda, the Landlord, should find him, lying on her sofa bed, partially undressed.

Hey, how you feeling?

Marion had copper hair, cobalt cheeks, cracked lips, crooked teeth, round studs, and a wooden crucifix slung around her pole neck. She was religiously insane. Marion had an easy-care soft cotton jersey tea shirt selection: light lavender, tea rose, bright green, or ecru – the colour her face blanched after she slayed her mum, cut her into tiny pieces, kneaded clumps of her hairy flesh into the flower border, and set her on fire, at sunset. Marion Filbert still heard her voice.

Okay, so no-ones answering?

She rented a bedsit with a grimy kitchenette, greasy stove, mouldy shower cubicle, single bed, sofa bed and collapsed chest of drawers. And in those drawers, she kept her mother’s ashes for earliest disposal, sealed in a black vase gilded with red roses, her mother’s two chunky diamond rings, five pairs of big pants and two old bras by Damara mail.

Hello, how are you?

And so, it came to pass that she found Luke sleeping rough in carrier bags on Aigburth Green, on a rainy Saturday night in March. And Marion, who deceived her victims into thinking she was a Good Samaritan, took pity on him, took him in to her bedsit. And took him onto her sofa bed where he slept soundly, opposite her, fully-dressed in his new black sweater, drainpipe blue-jeans and olive-green ankle socks.

Have you been alright?

And, at midnight, when the bedsit was coal-dark, Marion stood over the vagrant, clasping a bloody great kitchen knife, preparing to sacrifice him to her perverse, imaginary gods.  Luke, 19, homeless, unemployed, stretched, yawned, ached, and looked up into her dark face and…

On those lonely nights?

‘I made you coffee,’ she said, standing over him in her white petticoat.

He slouched on the sofa, gesturing for her to hand him the red mug; its inscription read:

STAY CALM! SOMEONE UP THERE LOVES YOU!

‘Oh, yeah, thanks,’ he grinned.

Marion had no shame, she pulled her petticoat over her head, showing off her fanfare of dark chocolate moles, spattered human pebbledash on her creamy skin. She reached for her pure comfort summer highlights maxi briefs, sliding them up her lean legs. He sipped his coffee and watched.

Hey, how you feeling?

‘Did you sleep okay, Luke?’ she asked.

‘Yeah, best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages, thanks.’

‘Luke?’

‘Yeah?’

Marion cupped her breasts into her tea rose bra. ‘Tell me last night meant something to you.’

‘Last night meant something to me,’ he scoffed.

‘Don’t be such a child, you know what I mean! I’ll wash your mouth out with soap and water!’

‘Go on then, try me!’

‘Do you really mean it?’

Hello, how are you?

‘Yeah, course I do!’ he yelled, slurping his coffee, ‘Mm that’s good. Pass me my fags, will you?’

She pulled on a clean green easy-care jersey t-shirt and said, ‘No, you’ll set the place on fire.’

‘Pretty please?’

‘No!’

Marion’s mint green linen-rich skirt exaggerated her swollen ankles, she blushed as she saw him watching, stooped to slip on her bronze leather, touch-fasten, cousin deair sandals with the durable soles and removable insoles. Luke had never seen a woman dress so cheaply, so dated.  

‘You look nice Marion,’ he remarked.

‘Thanks, you just made my week.’

Have you been alright?

‘Where are you off to then at this time of the morning?’

She flushed, stammering a little, ‘Church, I go to church every Sunday.’

‘Cool,’ he lied, ‘What are you doing in Church?’

‘Reading.’

He stared into her fierce black eyes, ‘What do you mean, reading?’

‘I’m giving today’s reading, to the congregation,’ she said.

‘Oh, yeah, what’s that about?’

‘It’s about the temptation of Christ, Luke. The Lord moves in mysterious ways, doesn’t he?’

He reached for her, put his hand behind her head and stroked her wavy hair, pulling her towards him. They kissed. She gently pushed him away.

On those lonely nights?

‘I have to go’ she blew, ‘I’ll be late for Church. There’s bacon, sausages and eggs in the fridge, help yourself to breakfast before you go.’

‘Will I see you again?’

‘Probably not.’

Hey, how you feeling?

‘Here, take this, for your lunch.’ She offered Luke a £10 note.

‘I couldn’t possibly…’ £50 perhaps, not £10!

‘Well then, take good care of yourself, Luke, stay out of mischief. Thanks, then, for last night.’

‘Yeah, thanks, you’re a real star.’

‘You take care, you hear?’

‘I will, bye then Luke.’

He smirked, ‘Bye then Marion.’

*****

She entered the little parish church of St Agnes in Aigburth and joined the congregation in the sacred holding of hands. Her god-fearing best friends, Mark and Kimberley, arose from a pew at the back of the church to greet her. Secretly she referred to them as her two disciples, such was the intensity of their fawning over her.

‘Peace be with you, Marion,’ Mark said, his eyes sparking with tears of joy.

She placed her soft hands around his to comfort him, ‘And with you, Mark’

‘Peace be with you, Marion!’ Kimberley cried.

‘Oh, and with you, Kimberley,’ she said, ‘And with you!’

‘We are so looking forward to your reading today,’ they chimed.

Feeling overwhelmed, Marion quickly turned away and strode down the aisle to the pulpit.

‘Peace be with you,’ said the strange girl with freckles, in the red leather mini skirt and vest.

‘And with you, Mary.’

She made her way as far as the front pew. He was there. Waiting for her. The man with the odd beaver hairstyle and crazy eyes. He reached out and squeezed her hand tightly, just long enough to give her discomfort. ‘Peace be with You, Marion!’ He leered, a mouthful of rotting, black teeth.

Oh, my God! she stressed, he knows my name! ‘And with you, Hannibal,’ she stammered as she pulled her hand free.

Marion was relieved to feel the warm hands of Reverend Iain Smyth embrace her. He read her face, the quizzical look, spoke quickly, ‘Peace be with You, Child,’ he said, his face all puce.

‘Child? I am not your Child?’

‘Ah, Mrs Mulgrew!’ he said, turning away hastily from Marion, ‘Peace be with You!’

‘And with you Vicar!’

Marion stared down at the little boy slumped in the wheelchair at the far end of the front pew, his sad head lolled to one side, drool and spittle oozing from his cracked lips, the thick purple tongue hanging out of the right side of his mouth. Why was he still alive? What was the point? The point was that his mother loved him with all her heart, unlike Marion’s old maid who was so cruel to her daughter.

‘Peace be with you, Sam,’ she said quietly.

The boy’s mother looked her straight in the face. ‘Thank you,’ she said.

Marion looked up at The Cross on the altar, genuflected, bowed her head, then made her way to the pulpit where she set down a sheaf of typed A4 sheets of paper for the reading. She went and sat next to the strange girl in the third pew.

Excluding the Vicar and Mr Baxter the Organist, there were nine worshippers in the congregation, she counted, only nine! The rest of the parish worshipped the new material gods: IT, cars, houses, holidays and Sunday shopping, she mused.

Marion lay down a tussock, knelt, clasped her hands together, closed her eyes and prayed:

‘Please Lord, give me the strength to carry on my good work till I meet you in Heaven. Amen.’

She glanced sideways at the strange girl, also kneeling in prayer. Her red leather mini skirt had ridden up her legs, exposing her bare, freckled thighs. Some people had no sense of dignity or respect.

The Vicar read the Notices, then everyone, except the little boy, stood up and sang the first hymn: ‘To Be A Pilgrim’.

‘Please be seated!’ Smyth cried afterwards, nodding at Marion.

The church fell silent as she stepped up into the pulpit, and read:

‘Luke Chapter 4, the temptation of Christ.’

She paused, then:

‘And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days, he did eat nothing; and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

And the devil said unto him: If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made into bread. (Marion paused at that point while somebody in the congregation coughed loudly)

And Jesus answered him saying: It is written: That man shall not live by every word of God.

And the devil, taking him up high into a high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him: All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them; for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I shall give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all will be thine.

And Jesus answered and said unto him: Get thee behind me Satan; for it is written: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve…’

‘And Jesus answering said unto him: It is said: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him…’

*****

And so, it came to pass that, even as Marion was reading the parable of the temptation of Christ to the tiny parish congregation, Luke ransacked her bedsit until he found her mother’s chunky diamond rings. A petty thief, he knew a thing or two about jewellery. Each ring was crusted with diamonds, each ring could easily be ‘lost’ on the black jewellery market, for £5,000 each.

He took the rings in his fist, went to the kitchenette, and treated himself to a fine breakfast of fried eggs, grilled rashers of back bacon, and prime pork sausages, served up with lashings of HP sauce. Then, he smiled, ironically, at the bloody great kitchen knife which she had held over his throat in the dark that night, and left her life forever.

And when Marion returned to her bedsit, lying on the Formica kitchen work surface she found a note:

GET YOURSELF A CHEAP SAFE, YEAH? BEFORE SOME CLOWN NICKS THEM?... LUKE xxx

And two diamonds rings…

Okay, so no-ones answering… Really?


© Copyright 2019 HJFURL. All rights reserved.

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