Father Tim had sat through confession waiting for the juicy bits much as, when he was a kid, he’d sat through some ropey BBC Sunday evening costume drama hoping for the flash of a bit of tit. Although the hip flask of rum had dimmed the glare of the self-pity that he’d had to endure, it was really only the lurid details of the sinners’ sordid shenanigans that blew his cassock up these days.
The hot August evening had long since waned and Father Tim was outside St.Martin’s locking up as a shoeless Mad Mack shambled toward the church looking like a duffed-up Worzel Gummidge and sporting a split lip, bloody feet and a torn AC/DC t-shirt. Now, even on his best days, Mack wasn’t exactly what you would call a handsome man and looking at at him bathed in the light from the stained glass windows Father Tim once again doubted whether the Good Lord had, indeed, created Mad Mack in His image.
‘I need to confess something,’ said Mack, spitting and spraying blood.
‘Mortal or venal,’ said Father Tim.
‘Venal, I think,’ said Mack.
They went inside and Tim nodded toward the confessional, laying down a path of paper towels.
‘Walk on this son, it’s a right pain in the whotsit getting blood from mahogany,’ said Father Tim.
‘I feel a bit like Kwai Chang Cain,’ said Mack, chuckling.
‘Sharpish,’ said Father Tim, looking at his watch. ‘Antiques Roadshow’s on in a minute.’
‘Bless me Father, for I have sinned,’ said Mad Mack. ‘It’s as been five weeks since my last confession.’
‘Go on,’ said Tim, leaning his head against the lattice grid and closing his eyes.
‘Well, it all started when I went up north,’ said Mack.
‘Aaah,’ said Father Tim, nodding. ‘The north. Where up north exactly? Birmingham? Sheffield?’
‘Oh, no. The real north,’ said Mack. ‘Newcastle. You know, mushy peas, blackpudding, peas pudding, fishy-wishy-fuckin-dishy.’
Tim coughed. ‘Language.’
‘Sorry,’ said Mack, crossing himself. ‘Anyway, Frank sent me to collect some dosh from this wannabee Champions League whiz-kid who owed him a fortune from back in the day and, using my well known negotiation techniques...’ He tapped the cold Glock under his arm. ‘Everything went tickety boo. I collected the money and my usual souvenir.’
Father Tim, who was familiar with Mad Mack’s method’s, instinctively tugged on his ear lobe.
‘Then, I booked myself into a Travellers Inn for the night, knocked back a few pints of Newcastle Brown, had a few spliffs and slept the sleep of the just. But the next day, on the A1 (M), just outside Leeds - and I really effing hate Leeds, by the way -the car breaks down. Of course, it’s a ringer - one of those mish-mash jobs from Anarchy Al - and I’m up poo creek without a paddle. I can’t exactly call the AA - well, not that AA - and I don’t want to run the risk of being spotted by the filth. So, I pick up my bag of tracks and set off on shanks’ pony.
‘Two hours later, there I am, trudging along the motorway sweating like Gary Glitter in a orphanage, with a throat like a nun’s knickers, trying to hitch a lift when this big flash camper van thing pulls up. It looks just like the one in that Tintin Quarantino film. You know the one about the vampires?’
‘Oh yes, of course,’ yawned Father Tim, taking out his Nokia and starting a game of Snake.
‘But I get in and, behind the wheel, there’s this big, red-faced Scouser who introduces himself as Eddy Hill and poking her head from the back is this well-fit Latino-looking bird, who he says is his wife, Luba.’
Father Tim leaned forward, concentrating on getting the top score on his phone game.
‘So,’ continued Mack, ‘He puts on a bit of music - Roundabout by Yes, classic -and passes over a bit of happy talc and, before you know, we’re chatting away andhave a right old chinwag. Just outside Milton Keynes, Luba shouts that lunch is ready and we pull up at a lay-by near them concrete friggin’ cows.
‘Now, when I get in the back, Luba’s laying flat on her back, legs akimbo on a zebra-striped bed and she’s all done up in sussies and that, like Joan Collins in ‘The Bitch’. I look over at Eddy, who says: ‘Go on lad, fill yer boots!’ So, I pulls off my shoes and socks and, before I know it, she’s on her knees doing Come Blow Your Horn.
‘Well, I’m on me way to shootin’ my load when I spies Eddy and he’s got a camcorder on his shoulder. And then it dawns on me. This is one of those Dogging things I’ve read about in the Sunday Sport. You know what Dogging is Father?’
‘I know,’ said Father Tim, distracted from his phone game. ‘Dogging is a euphemism for engaging in sexual acts in a semi-public place or watching others doing so. A lot of these activities appear on the Internet, on ‘You Tube’ and the like.’
‘Spot on,’ said Mad Mack. ‘Now, normally I wouldn’t give a shite but if this ends up on ‘You Tube’ and Frank finds out - well, the poo really will hit the fan.
‘So, I told Eddy to put the camera down but he says: ‘No, get stuck in there, lad.’ So we argue a bit and scuffle a bit more and then him and her push me out of the back of the van and drive off. And they take my bag, my gun, the ear and the money with them. And me Nike’s.
‘Frig knows what’ll happen if they go to the police...’
‘Exactly how much money are we talking about here, Mack?’ said Father Tim.
‘About fifty grand but it’s the coppers I’m worried about. I’ve been caught on Candid Camera like Beadle’s still about, God rest his soul. Anyway, the thing is, I was hoping you’d absolve me off my sins before I go and tell Frank. And maybe put in a good word for me?’
Father Tim shrugged. ‘Have you told anyone else about this?’
‘Not a dicky bird,’ said Mad Mack.
Father Tim nodded.
‘Dominus noster Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo ab omni vinculo excommunicationis...’ said Father Tim.
If Mad Mack was shocked when he saw the shining barrel of a Glock 29 pointing at him through the lattice grid, he was unable to react before Father Tim muttered: ‘Sic transit Gloria friggin’ Gaynor,’ and blasted Mack’s brains all over the confessional, producing a passable Jackson Pollock.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness, thought Father Tim, as he scraped the blood from his dog collar. It was a good job Antiques Roadshow was a repeat.
BIO: Paul Brazill was born in Hartlepool, England a town famous for hanging a monkey, and is now on the lam in Bydgoszcz, Poland (South of Hel) He has had stories in (or coming up in) A Twist Of Noir, Beat To A Pulp, Flasshots, Powder Burn Flash, Six Sentences and, the book 6S2V. He can be found stalking at ‘You would say that, wouldn’t you?’.