Thursday, January 30, 2014

Two Stuffed Priests

  (Lima, Peru, 2014)

It was the night before last, the two priests came over. It was nine when they arrived, they drank their coffee real strong—thought that was all there was going to be, coffee and conversation; slanted dark ebony coffee, in the slender oval cup, and while each held it, like a soldier, the cake and the watermelon, and the coffee itself appeared to go sluggishly down their throats, along with the strawberries. And while they held it down, each a quarter of a large watermelon, and the smaller priest, with three pieces of fruitcake at his side, and the taller priest with his strawberries,  his tunic, pushed outward, I say tunic, although it was pants and shirt, and belt buckles. They were both middle aged men, both with bold lean faces, and gave us a surly good evening, in conversation: they, my wife and I.
       The taller one took a mouthful of watermelon, then he poured the rest of the coffee down, the watermelon splattered a tinge on the parched table, breathing in for a fading moment.  He shook his head, to the ultimate last drop of Starbuck’s coffee, “Salute,” I said, still having a drop in my cup, “Thanks,” he said, and it now was 10:30 p.m., he must have thought: now I must go to bed, having all that stuff in his stomach, because he started to stand and then all of us started to stand.
       “It’s too bad you got to go,” I said, noticing the shorter priest, didn’t eat but a bite of his three pieces of fruitcake, so I put it in a Starbuck’s bag, they’re real sturdy. And I asked if they wanted more fruit, not fruitcake, but fruit, “No, no,” they both said in harmony; parroting one another. Well they left, and their path began to descend, now in the shadow of night. The air was intense, filled with the day’s heat from the sun, some light from the arc lights, in the park, Cherry Park, right across the street from our house, and two heavy stomach filled priests, unimpeded; yet I wondered how they got so full, so quick—perhaps a misrepresentation on my behalf.
       Well, the next day my wife went to the church to visit the two priests, which is really the next turn of events in this story. The part I didn’t know.
       “I couldn’t sleep half the night,” said the smaller priest, and younger priest, “that coffee was so strong, too strong, and I never have coffee after 7:00 p.m.,” so my wife told me he said: evidently, lugging his stuffed stomach back and forth, from one room to another, unable to sleep, and perhaps too stuffed to sleep; he had actually eaten before he came to our home, he really couldn’t eat anymore but nonetheless, ate, for the sake of not having to throw it away: plus the watermelon was refreshing, and he carried the cake home, nibbled like a mouse on the edges of the fruitcake, while eating the watermelon.
       And the taller priest, he was full up to his eyeballs with food too I suppose, because my wife said: like to like, they both had dinner before coming over, only God and they know how much they suffered trying to get that last bite down at my house, wanting only coffee and getting more than what they thought they were going to get. But I must add: they were two courteous priests, and in my book that’s called carrying the cross, to the point of being over polite.

No: 1022 (1-7-2014)         
For Father Washington & Father Hebert