Patience and Fortitude with Father Mulrooney - A Craven Danger Mystery
May 20, 1948
“This is a funny place to hear my confession, Father. I feel a little exposed.”
“This is the perfect place, Craven. The crack of dawn always brings a renewed vitality to this monstrosity of a city I love so much. The church is making me feel a little gloomy lately. If I had my way I’d put a sunroof over the confession booth, but the monsignor don’t want to hear any more of my suggestions. So let’s keep this confessional outing to ourselves.”
Father Mulroney and Craven Danger were seated on the top step of the New York Public Library.
“I thought if we sat here between Patience and Fortitude, and had a little chat, it would do us both some good.”
“Patience and Fortitude?”
“Those gargantuan lions to the right and left of us. Ain’t they grand? They got their names from Mayor LaGuardia back in the 30’s. He thought patience and fortitude were just what New Yorker’s needed to survive the great depression. That’s Fortitude to your left.”
“What’s a Fortitude?”
“Courage in the face of adversity.”
“Why do I see a lecture walking in the front door, and my unheard confession being kicked to the cellar?”
“I’ve never been one for subtleties, Craven. I figure whatever you wanted to talk about today would have something to do with you not facing your fears.”
“I face my fears just fine. Don’t you worry about that. You remember that mouse that took up residence in the condiment drawer of my desk?”
“You mean the one you pulverized with the telephone receiver?”
“Yeah, I hated doing it, but I really needed that mustard. It was a liverwurst on rye kind of day, and that mouse wasn’t giving up the mustard for nothing. It was either reach for the receiver, or my trusty .38. But I have so many bullet holes in that desk from previous attempts, it now looks like I’m sitting at the world’s biggest pencil holder. So, I went with a mighty whack!”
“How they stormed the beaches at Normandy without you, Craven, is beyond me. But that’s not the kind of fear I mean.“
“I’m talking about the fear of success. The fear that keeps you from moving forward in your chosen field. Because once you succeed, a lot is expected of you. More responsibility on your shoulders. More clients, bigger office, junior assistants to do the leg work, not to mention all the dough you and Betty would rake in. Then you two marry, buy a house, and have loads of kids. The kids grow up and move out. You two get old. You retire, move to Florida, play bingo, and die with a wrinkly suntan. What a life you could be having! Just think of how much you’re missing out on because of the chances you never took.”
“What, Craven? Have I said too much?”
“Would you believe it, Father. A cockroach just crawled into my shoe.”
“I give up! I tell you what. You go tap dance down fifth Avenue and I’ll sit hear with Patience, and contemplate the sum total of my own life so far.”
I tried it your way, dear lord. You said I got the calling because I had the patience of a saint. Do you remember that? But the last of my patience is now stomping his foot in wet cement, and it’s scaring the early morning tourists.
I no longer have it in me to counsel folks on their feeble attempts at salvation. I toss them a couple of Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s and they gobbles them down like so many empty calories. Then they come back a week later complaining of hunger pains. Why couldn’t you have just made me a cow? At least I’d know I had something substantial to offer. This faith business is too feeble-minded.
So, if you don’t mind, Lord, I’ll be very patient, and minding my own business, for the next two weeks in the company of a lake, a fishing pole, and a bottle of Ireland’s best.
Until next time. Amen.
Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons:https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?sort=relevance&search=%28NEW_Y...(NEW_YORK_PUBLIC_LIBRARY)_(2987740376).jpg