The Father and the Son

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
a twisted look at one young mans loss of faith.

Submitted: June 11, 2012

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Submitted: June 11, 2012



The Father and the Son by Michael Keeney






Growing up in a church is like being an indoor cat.  You’re too sheltered.  You don’t learn anything about the real world; it’s just a nice view out of a closed window.  The sisters would tell me, a life without God is like a candle without the flame, it’s like driving without a steering wheel.  The sisters would say living without our Lord is like “Hell without the fire,” something is just missing from it.  When you’re raised in a church, everything is a psalm or a verse, a prayer or a hymn.  It’s all just grasping at straws. 

The sisters never taught me about sex or drugs.  They never told me about love, or despair.  All I knew growing up was, abstain until marriage.  The greatest love of all is the Lord, and I would never need drugs as long as He was by my side. 

Well I’m sorry to say, it doesn’t work like that. 

God doesn’t swoop down from the clouds every time you need a hand.  Praying is just optimism gone awry.  We worship and we pray, we kneel and ask forgiveness, and yet, there is no response.

Everyone is looking for enlightenment.  No one wants to accept that this is it.  This is life as we know it and it doesn’t get any better than this.  You live, you work, you die.  Period.  If there’s something else out there, something bigger than ourselves, then there must be something better waiting. 

I was allowed to roam most of the land by myself.  My room was terribly small, so I was always out wandering around.  Scattered along the walkway from the church to the convent, cherry blossoms lined the stone walkway.  Most days after super, I would lie in the grass at the top of the hill for thirty minutes, until the church bells would ring and the sun would set behind the tallest steeple.  I was not allowed out after dark and Father Murphy would want me to check in at the same time every night.  A different sister would walk out of Father Murphy’s study every time I stopped by.  Fixing the bottom of their skirts, white stains set in to most of their habits, with their index finger and thumb wiping the corners of their mouth, saying, “Father Murphy doesn’t wish to be bothered.”

Abstain until marriage.

The sisters would walk away and I would go in anyway.  Father Murphy would sit behind his desk, in his big brown leather desk chair, with his feet on his desk and a cigarette in his hand.  The window behind him open.  He would rock back and forth in his chair, taking drags off his cigarette with a big shit eating grin on his face. 

During my last night on the grounds, the day before I left on my 18th birthday, I went to see Father Murphy.  Past all the pews, and the alter, through the winding hallways, past the rectory, Sister Sarah was walking out of the study.  Fixing her dress, wiping the dried crust of Father Murphy off of her lips, she said, “Father Murphy is busy now Malachi, and doesn’t wish to be bothered.”  She rubbed the fresh white stain on her shoulder into the black cloth and licked her thumb clean.  “You’ll have to come back later,” she said, and walked off. 

As always, I opened his study door and walked in.  Father Murphy, behind his desk, with his cigarette half gone, his pants still undone, and a pile of white powder cut up in front of him, he looks up at me and says, “Come in my son, and join me.” 

The only drug thou shalt ever need is the Lord our God, for one can get no higher than heaven. 

He drags his cigarette again and inhales slowly.  Father Murphy, holding the smoke in, leans back in his chair, closes his eyes and exhales. 

The sisters never told me about being hypocritical.  But that would be redundant. 

In his brown leather chair, he leans forward putting his elbows on his desk and closing his hands together over his mouth he opens his eyes.  “There’s no better time to start than the future,” he says, and puts his head down and his nose in the white powder.


It’s a pretty big slap in the face when you find out there’s a lot better ways to get high than just heaven. 

I’m sitting down at the chair across from his desk.  Father Murphy, he lifts his head up and tilts it back like he has a bloody nose.  He gives another big sniff and says, “All that you’ve learned here won’t mean a thing out there.  We are all born into sin, except for you Malachi,” he said.  “You were born out of sin, out of evil and hate.  You were raised in the light of God, and with that you shall go forth and do great things.”  He licks his pinky and dabs it in the powder in front of him.  “You are the messenger, Malachi.”  He rubs his pinky around his gums and licks his teeth.  I’m sure these are the drugs talking.  He tells me, “You will spread the word, and I know you will make us proud.  With what you shall lose, you will gain so much more.”  He’s breaking up the powder with a razor and pushing a line of it in my direction.  “You’ve been like a son to me,” he said.  “Even though I’m no father figure,” and he laughs.  “In any sense of the word.” 

The church burned to the ground the next night, on my 18th birthday.  Only three hours after I had left.  I read about it in the newspaper the next day, and never went back.  Most of the sisters died in the fire.  Father Murphy’s remains were found incinerated at the altar.  The medical examiner would later conclude his cause of death to be a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. 

What can I say?  Suicide runs in the family. 

On my last night, Father Murphy gave me his giant black leather bound bible and told me, “All you will need is in this book.”  He said, “Everything I could not teach you is inside of it.  The sisters wouldn’t understand, which is why this book has been in your possession since you were a child.  Only now is it truly yours.”  He broke up another line in front of me and handed me the rolled up bill.  “Now sniff, my son.”

Sniff.  And I’m already in heaven. 

He never gave me the key, so I had to jimmy the lock open with a screwdriver.  When I popped the leather strap loose for the first time, I hesitated.  This book has been around me for my entire life, and I’ve never opened it.  It was locked in the safe under the stained glass Jesus every night, and I never knew why.  The way Father Murphy took care of it, it might as well have been the first bible ever written, the actual Holy Bible. 

But it’s always the little things that let you down.  I popped off the strap of leather, placed my hand on the solid gold cross, closed my eyes and took a deep breath.  This was a big deal for me.  I swung the front cover open, eyes still closed and placed my hand on the pages.  Only, it wasn’t pages I was touching.  Something cold, and metal was laying heavy in the center of the book.  When I opened my eyes, I saw the book, Father Murphy’s sacred bible, hollowed out.  Stacks of money lined the bottom, with different plastic baggies rolled up along the corners, the cold heavy metal in the center, a gun.  A nice nickel plated snub nose .357, with a white pearl handle, already loaded.

 A note was left under the gun that read, “Malachi, spread the word.”

© Copyright 2019 michael keeney. All rights reserved.

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