Action At The Mission

A crying woman holding her head in her hand with an imposed picture of a woman in a sunburst.

Introductions

Brother Pablo placed his hand over the cup and twisted it counterclockwise as if he were trying to unscrew the vessel from the table. He never knew what to do with his hands after he finished crossing himself. And, of course, he made the sign of the cross after the tearful young lady confessed to killing two men.

Well, it hadn’t been an actual confession, more like an admission. She had more to tell. “How are you called, Miss?”

“Esther May. I didn’t think I’d get out of the mountains alive, Father—”

“Brother.”

“—C.J. was shot. He took the fever and run off, there was a scalp hunter and Indians …” Esther May sobbed onto her arm again.

Called To Serve

Pablo gazed around the windowless room, his view passing over the delirious man on the cot. It seemed like he spent more time in here than the sanctuary.

Driven by a deep desire to have a personal relationship with the Almighty, Pablo joined the priesthood. He saw himself as the next St. Francis of Assisi, dispensing wisdom with a benevolence that drew even timid animals to his feet.

God laughed at that and gave Pablo the full dose of poverty that St. Francis endured. He was poor, his mission was poor, and he continually divided up what little he had among the poorer still.

Then the woman thrust all that money into his hands.

“Excuse me, Esther May, but when your husband recovers, he will most certainly want this money back.”

“Not my husband.” Esther May’s sleeves were wet from wiping away tears and her runny nose. She had nothing left but the bottom of her shirt to use as a towel.

The return of Roberto with fry bread and beans enabled a remedy to her problem. Brother Pablo instructed the boy to leave the food on the table and fetch a cloth.

“Hurry!” Pablo yelled sending Roberto’s feet flying.

Now, Then …

Brother Pablo returned to his questions. “You were saying this man, Seegee was it? is not your husband?”

Esther May wiped her nose by pushing the palm of her hand straight up against it then rubbed her hand on her pants leg.

“No. I’m going to Arizona.”

Pablo pressed his lips together, sighed, and downed his cup of wine.

“Please, Miss Esther May. Concentrate and stay on the discussion.”

He got a nod in return.

“Good. Is the money his?”

Esther May dragged in a long, ragged breath and sat straighter. “No. He doesn’t know about it. The money’s yours. I don’t want it.”

“Don’t you think—”

Medical Aid For C.J.

“Where’s the patient?” a newcomer blurted from the doorway. Julio had returned with the red-faced, rheumy-eyed doctor carrying a flour sack containing his medical kit.

Brother Pablo pointed, the doctor lurched to the cot, began an examination and arrived at a conclusion.

“He’s hurt.”

Pablo took in the occupants of the little room: a wounded patient tended by an unsteady man of medicine, a barely coherent woman who was rapidly ruining the patch of cloth originally designated for a quilt, and two boys who hung around the mission hoping for a meal or a copper.

Pablo called the ten-year-old over. “Julio, did you get the whiskey?”

What is Brother Pablo’s interest in the whiskey? Leave a comment now.

Can whiskey be used as an antiseptic or it the idea another old movie hip-shot? Here’s one amusing article.

To read the series click on the down arrow in the Archive list, start with Tales Old Roy Told and work up.

Writing Fiction is published on Wednesdays.

Thank a veteran. The time to do so is precious.

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