Bringing in the sheaves.....

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
No-one ever seems to write satire these days, and taking the `micky' is something I have always wanted to do in a nice kind of way. Here is my first attempt at the game.

Submitted: December 28, 2011

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Submitted: December 28, 2011

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Archbishop Lovemore surfaced around seven-thirty.

Later than usual perhaps, but Mavis Trollop, his esteemed house

keeper come general factotum, had won at `Bingo' the

previous night, and had been a little over indulgent with her favours, while celebrating her good fortune.

Bending over the pile of bed-clothing, and attempting to

unravel either one of the Archbishop`s extremities was not a

wise thing to do while holding a tray of hot

coffee, and feeling a little indisposed at the same time.

Nature being what it is, took a hand in the accident, and

the cup and saucer, filled with the best of Brazil,

slithered off the polished surface of the tray, and poured

itself neatly somewhere in the region of the Archbishop`s

central intelligence department.

It was a rude awakening for Lovemore, who  cursed in  several foreign languages,  including Latin, for some four minutes, until Mavis, who had been struck dumb,suddenly caught on to the seriousness of the situation.

"Oh my Gawd!" she gasped,  somewhat irreverently.

"I `ope I ain`t ruined `yer Crown Jewels. `yer Grace!"

Lovemore flung back the bedclothes in one foul sweep,

grabbing his indisposition at the same time. "Don`t just

stand there girl, fetch a cold damp cloth for Heaven`s

sake, it might stop the swelling."

Mavis flew out of the bedroom muttering, "It`ll take more

than a damp cloth to do that."  When she returned  the

Archbishop was busy with a mirror,  examining the extent of his

injury. 

Mavis apologised profusely, "It were an accident

`yer Grace, honest, I hope I havn`t ruined `yer extra

curricula activities?"

Lovemore groaned, "What`s today?"

"Friday, `yer Grace."

"The date girl, the date?"  Yelled the Archbishop, handing

the cloth back for more reinforcements of cold water.

"Thirteenth, oh my Gawd, you best stay in bed, a start  like

this could easily get a girl pregnant"

"Hardly likely with a scalded scrotum child, now let me

get up, there`s a meeting of the Harvest Festival Committee

at nine, if I hurry, I might just be in time."

Lovemore`s first step onto the royal blue carpeting at his

feet brought about a scream of agony, "My toe, my big toe,

its..its.. aflame...I can`t bear to walk on it,

Mavis...Mavis...help!"

"What`s up?" she asked casually, handing him the wet cloth.

"My toe, the big one on the left, it`s excruciating, I

cannot bear to touch it."

Mavis smiled smugly, "Which one `yer Grace, this one here?"

Giving the toe a flick with her forefinger and thumb, sent

Lovemore screaming with pain. "Don`t do that you imbecile,

I`m doomed....I...I can`t walk....I`ll have to spend the rest of my

day  in bed!"

Mavis was without compassion, "Whatever`s wrong with that,

you spend the nights there don`t `yer?"

"I have a calling my child, remember that!"

"And a followin`, if I may remind you..... you followed me all

the way home, on that first night."

"Phone Dean Soulsby, tell him I am indisposed and need his

assistance, and Mavis....."

"Yes `yer Grace?"

"The Dean is not a ladies man!"

Mavis curtsied, “And I ain`t no lady, `yer Grace!”

 

Soulsby parked his car beneath the shade of a great yew

tree, just outside the Archbishop`s Palace, and walked

towards the front door.There had been a sense of urgency

in the young lady`s voice, and he was apprehensive

regarding the purpose of his visit.Ringing the doorbell,

he waited for a response, and was surprised to hear a

window open above him.  He turned and was delighted to see apretty young girl gazing down at him.

"Are you Dean Soulsby?"  she asked politely.

He nodded, "That`s right, Cecil to my friends."

The young lady placed a finger to her lips, and

whispered, "Come on up, his Grace is under the weather!"

Soulsby made his way up the marbled staircase to the upper

floor.Mavis explained the situation.

"He`s in the state bed-room with a throbbing big toe

and scalded crotch!"

"Good Heavens, are you sure?" ventured Soulsby more than

a little worried.

Mavis smiled, "I spilt hot coffee on his privates, first

thing this morning, then, when he tried to get up, he

couldn`t walk."

"Whatever happened?"

"Gout! betchya life that`s what it is, my old Dad had the

same  affliction, only he was a beer man."

"I`ll go and see what he wants," said Soulsby, opening the

bedroom door and peering inside.

Archbishop Lovemore feigned sleep, yet kept a weather eye

open for the Dean, who approached cautiously.

"Good Morning Your Grace,"  he said pleasantly, "And  how is your

throbbing crotch and scalded toe this morning?"

Lovemore came awake with a howl, "MY WHAT, SOULSBY?"

Dean Cecil took a step back, not wanting to get caught up

in the Archbishop`s wrath and foul breath.  "Your..er..

throbbing..er, toe perhaps?"

"That`s better." said Lovemore.

"Oh, I`m so glad Your Grace, so that just leave`s you with

a nagging crotch?"

"Forget about my crotch Soulsby, I am indisposed until the

swelling goes down, and it`s Harvest Festival Thanksgiving

coming up in a weeks time, you`ll have to help me."

Soulsby thought quickly, Harvest Festival was a dirty word

to him, from a bitter past experience.

"My duties in the Prison Services, Your Grace, I have a

full calender."

"Hang the Prison Services  Soulsby, we have a duty to our

Parishioners dammit, the poor, the weak, the destitute must

go and bring in the sheaves, or we`ll all be starving come

Winter-time!"

"...`Er yes Your Grace."

"Now in my trousers pocket, you`ll find a list of farmers

who may, or may not wish to subscribe, I want you to round

`em up Soulsby, we`ll take anything that`s marketable, and

if they`ll deliver, all the better."

"Anything?"  queried Soulsby, whose knowledge of the Festival

industry was definately minimal.

"Anything Cecil, just as long as it`s re-saleable, and we

get a fair return!"

The list of active farmers was longer than Soulsby had

expected, two pages of dedicated Christians, who worked

the land by the sweat of their brow, and the blisters on

their hands.....this  was going to be a tall order.

"This Farmer Shanksbury that heads the list, isn`t he the

one with the Jersey bull, Your Grace?" asked Soulsby,

remembering a previous incident.

"Yes that`s the one, you can`t get near him with a

barge-pole!" said Lovemore, lighting up a fresh cigar.

"Dear me!, he has a nasty temper, I suspect?"

Lovemore frowned, "Not him, he`s as docile as a kitten,

it`s the bull that has the temper, do your best dear boy,"

It was a bad start to the day, "Any suggestions?" he asked.

Lovemore blew a great cloud of suffocating smoke towards

the plaster cherub that appeared to be flying high above

his bedside. "Best take the bull by the horns Soulsby,

just as the good Lord asks of us all?"

 

Killing two birds with one stone, Soulsby decided to

pay New Horizons Correctional Institute  a visit

before driving into the countryside canvassing for farm produce.

Warden  Peabody  greeted him at the main gate.

"And what is the purpose of your visit

today, Reverend?"

Soulsby suddenly remembered the veggie patch that he saw

around the back of the Institute, perhaps a turnip or two,

the odd carrot, and some armfuls of comfrey might help

with the fruit and veggie section..

"I am collecting for our annual Harvest Festival, and

remembered seeing some very healthy looking comfrey at the

back of the building during my last visit, and I wondered

whether you might like to subscribe a little for a very

good cause?"

"Comfrey?"queried Peabody, who knew little about

horticulture.

"That`s right, it`s round the back, where the ablution

blocks are, there`s quite a lot."

"Why of course Your Reverence, take as much as you like!

To be quite honest, I thought that it was just a weed....

although the inmates seem to go for it in a big way, I`ll get

someone to cut it whenever you are ready for it!”

 

Soulsby`s car headed  towards Shanksbury Farm.

The morning had gone well so far, and Soulsby hummed a

tune as he drove through the Hertfordshire countryside,

in search of farm produce.

Farmyards were evil smelly places to Soulsby, for

despite his many years within the Rural Community of

Lower Woodbury, terms like `mucking out' muck-spreadin`,

`rutting and covering' `hedging and ditchin', were not

commensurate with sipping Ceylon tea with the  ladies of

the Women`s Guild, or gently patting a baby`s bottom at a

christening.

Shanksbury Farm was no exception to the rule, for the yard

was awash with a ripe smelling muck that seemed to extend

right up to the front door.A sow lay across his pathway

suckling a litter of piglets, and a mangy looking dog

lurked in the shadows, ready to pounce at any moment.

Somewhere a cow mooed, Soulsby winced.

Could perchance that cow be a massive bull?"  he thought,

remembering the Archbishops advice.

The mangy dog  suddenly took umbrage, and with its

hackles raised,  barked around Soulsby`s cassock and

ecclesiastical boots until Farmer Shanksbury came to

investigate the commotion.

"Mornin` `yer Reverence, you after `yer usual like?"

Soulsby was nonplussed, "My usual, and pray what is

that?"

Shanksbury laughed, and extending a dirty looking finger,  poked  Soulsby in the ribs.

"You don`t have to be `uppity' with me Reverend, a rumble in the barn never did no-one no harm, I`d be there myself if  it weren`t for my Alice, she`d nigh crucify me if she found me with another gal.”

"Good Heaven`s Mister Shanksbury, you don`t mean to tell

me that members of the clergy drive all this way for a..a....a

a...tumble in the hay?"

The twinkle in the Farmer`s eye confirmed Soulsby`s

suspicions, "Best ten bob`s worth around, I make more on

that they barn than I do on poultry!"

Soulsby was shocked, "Could you call your dog off, he`s

tearing the hem of my cassock to shreds!"

"That he`s a her `yer Grace, but I`ll be obliged if `yer

hold Cedric for a moment, while I fetch Daisy."

"Cedric, whois.....?"

Shanksbury disappeared for just a moment, then hauled the  cloven monster from its straw bound pen.

The  Jersey  Bullneededno introduction, its massive bulk and swinging testicles  filled the farmyard, and all in it scattered

in all directions in order to steer clear of the beast!  Chickens, ducks, pigeons and piglets scattered far and wide.

Closing his eyes, Soulsby grasped the animals tether.

"Mister......Shanks........dear God, let this creature

not run amok!"

"Won`t be a jiff," shouted Shanksbury, who promptly

disappeared around the corner of the barn, "Keep hold of his nose-

rope and `ang on fer `yer life!"

“But...but Mr. Shanksbury.....don`t leave me....”

The farmer scraped a cowpat off his Wellington boot and nodded,

“Gonna get Daisy `yer Grace, she be fair pawing  the ground

for young Cedric.” 

Grappling with Cedric, the Jersey bull, who stood a good

seventeen hands, and weighed a couple of tons, was the

kind of challenge that no ordinary member of the clergy

would attempt, unless he were a mite inebriated.  Soulsby

stood his ground, and grabbed the rope that was tied around

the ring set in Cedric`s snorting nostrils, and prayed..

The bull trembled, and drew back against its captor,

Witherstwitching,itsniffedthe morningair now

slightly laced  with Soulsby`s after-shave lotion.Then it gave

one tremendous bellow!The creature`s enormous head

reared, and fourteen inches of pink tongue slurped against

Soulsby`s pallid cheek..... then slurped again.

"F..F.F..Farmer Shanksbury," yelled Soulsby, as the warm

wet tongue slid beneath his clerical collar, "HELP!"

A look of rejection registered clearly on Daisy`s

brown and white face.  Ready, willing and waiting, as any

feminine member of the bovine family might be, she pawed

the ground around her feet in protest.

Shanksbury dropped Daisy`s tether and scratched his scrawny

chin.  "What the `ell have you done to Cedric?"  he

shouted.

"Can`t you call him off, Mister Shanksbury," yelled

Soulsby, completely overpowered by the bull`s amorous

attack, "He seems to have taken a liking to me and he`s

slobbered all over my  cassock.”

Then, quite out of the blue, Daisy mooed coyly, causing

Cedric`s head to turn.Downwind  of the amorous cow, another delicate, yet subtle perfume wafted on the morning breeze.

Inevitably, nature called!Head down, and horns almost touching the ground, Cedric charged towards Daisy, who fluttered her

eyelids and moved her rear section into position, hoping

for the best!

"Wham!"  The two met, locked, then fell apart.The union was complete.

Shanksbury gripped Soulsby`s hand "You can `ave wot you

like fer the Harvest Festival, Reverend,  just give me a

couple a`days warning, so that I can shut Cedric out of

harms way!"

Soulsby agreed, "I just don`t know what came over him?"

The farmer walked Soulsby to the car.  Sniffing suspiciously,

he asked casually.  "`Ere wot after shave are you using?"

The Dean thought for a while, it had been a  birthday present

from a maiden Aunt, "El Toro dos Santos." He stuttered

Shanksbury shook his head, "I thought so, that ruddy bull`s

as queer as a pork pie in a Synagogue!"

 

Archbishop Lovemore remained indisposed. 

Ably assisted by Novice Roger Frigwell to theHarvest Festival scene,  he surveyed the motley collection of skateboards, cycle innertubes, and frisby`s with a few misgivings.  There were offerings of fruit and veg, as well and Frigwell, true to  his style, had already helped himself to  a bunch of fine looking grapes.

Looking  at his watch and he shook his head

"Where is he....he should be back from Town with the evening papers by now?"

Lovemore helped himself to a Victoria plum, crunching into

its sweet soft centre, and savouring the juice.  "Hope he`s

brought my winnings, I`m thirty quid up, so far this week,

and I`m doing a doubles at Newmarket on Saturday!"

The sound of Soulsby`s footsteps echoed through the empty

cathedral.Flushed, and out of breath, Soulsby made his way towards the Lady Mary Font, and the pile of fruit and veg. 

Clearly he was agitated.  Wiping his brow with the arm of his cassock  began his confession.

"Chalky White wasn`t there so I had handed the betting slips over to this new chap that was standing there.”

Lovemore smiled,  “So?”

“Then he..he told me that he was a policeman!”

Lovemore exploded.“A What?

"P.p..p..policeman!"

Frigwell, who had been eating plums, swallowed the stone

and began to choke uncontrollably!

"Quick Soulsby, fetch some wine, the man`s choking!"

Dazed at his reception, Dean Soulsby`s mouth dropped,

"Wine, where`s it kept Your Grace?"

Springing  from the stone steps, the Archbishop hopped

some five yards to the tomb of an unknown Bishop, and

pushing the heavy stone slab to one side, he extracted a

carafe of red wine and handed it to Frigwell.

"How in the name of goodness did you know he was a

policeman?"  uttered Lovemore, taking a quick swig

himself.

Thinking back to the incident seemed to make things worse

for Soulsby, who could only remember the size of the man`s

boots. "He had very large flat feet?"

"Dammit Soulsby, what else,"

"He also wanted to know my address!"

Beside himself, Lovemore raised his eyes towards Heaven,

"Oh Lord, Brother Soulsby, thou hast better start

praying in real earnest to get out of this one!"

Soulsby attempted a smile, "I think not Your

Grace, you see, I gave him your address!"

Frigwell, now fully recovered, lit a  cigarette.

"Surely there`s no crime in a couple of

honest clergymen making a bet?"  he queried.

Lovemore retaliated, "I`m no ordinary clergyman Frigwell,

I`m the Archbishop of the County!"

Frigwell nonchalently blew smoke rings, "Hmm, you`re right about

that, but let`s face it....you`re not particularly honest"

At last, the joyous day arrived, Harvest Festival Sunday,

the one day in the year when men women and children give

thanks for the wonders of nature, and share in the

abundant gifts send by Gods Almighty Hand.Soulsby was

helping to stack the three bales of comfrey sent by the New

Horizons Correctional Institute, when Archbishop Lovemore

gave him the good news.

"Hope you don`t mind taking the service Cecil, I`ll never

be able to get up the steps to the pulpit with this foot

of mine!"

Soulsby dropped the bale neatly onto the lower step of the alter.

"But..but..I havn`t got anything prepared Your Grace, what

can I say?"

The Archbishop was busy sniffing at the bale, "Smells a bit

high if you ask me Soulsby, did you say it was comfrey?"

"`Er yes, from New Horizons!"

Lovemore sniffed again, "Something vaguely familiar about this lot,

but it escapes me at the present time, now about your

service."

Soulsby leaned closer to the Archbishop, hoping to glean

some knowledge of the ceremony. "Yes Your Grace?"

Lovemore  grasped a handful of comfrey and thrust it somewhere into the folds of his purple gown.

Smiling pleasantly, he whispered two words  "Good luck!"

When the congregation was assembled, and with a fair amount of trepidation, Soulsby mounted the stone  steps that led to the pulpit,  “All rise.”  he began.

"Let  us give thanks to the Lord and sing `All good things

around us, are  sent from Heaven above. Page 64 in  Ancient

and Modern, and Heaven knows what in the Songs of Praise

for Modern Living!"

The colourful service continued for most of the morning,

ending with the traditional Harvest Festival hymn,

`Bringing in the Sheaves'.The offeratory boxes were

filled to overflowing,  each was then duly emptied and passed

around for a second time, a novel idea from Novice Priest

Frigwell, who was reputed to be able to get blood from a

stone, were it absolutely essential.

At the end of the service, Soulsby stood beneath the

Gothic  arch, now  white,  and lacedwith pigeon droppings,  and  bade farewell  to  his enthusiastic congregation. He  shook  each

and every one`s hand in turn, men, women and children.

With  the  thinning of the crowd, a lone Chief Constable Grubble

walked slowly towards Soulsby, clearly he held something in his hand.

Grubble had held back for as long as possible, not

wishing to make an ugly scene on such a joyous occasion.  As a member of the Constabulary he had a duty to perform, one that might not go down well with the majority of worshippers present in the Cathedral.

Recognising the Constable, Soulsby  thrust both hands eagerly towards the Constable.

"May the good Lord Bless and comfort you Constable,"  he

said, smiling radiantly.

Grubble winced, then slipped a pair of hand-cuffs around

Soulsby`s slender wrist.

"Don`t look round `nor make a fuss `yer Reverence, `yer

under arrest for possessing and harvesting a `undred and ten pounds of Grade 3  Marijuana, and I`ll be obliged if you`ll come

along with me quietly like!"

Archbishop Lovemore attended the Police van as Soulsby

clambered in. "I knew I`d smelled that cloying smell

somewhere Cecil, but couldn`t put me finger on it!"

Remonstrating his innocence, Soulsby began to shout through

the grid of the window,

"They told me it was comfrey Your Grace, there  has been a dreadful mistake!"

Jumping in beside Soulsby,Grubble gave the order to the driver

of  the van.

“Police cells Clarence, and make it snappy.

"It seems you just can`t keep out of  trouble,

Your Grace, this little lot should get `yer a good five

years!

"Five years?"

"That`s right Sir, street value, some `undred thousand

quid!"

Soulsby sighed, once more, it seemed that his entire world

had just gone to `pot'!

 

END

 


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