By sean mcnulty
Father Masterson always woke with wood for the fire when there was no fire and he was loath to chop it with the others around; but he did.
Then he got up and had a big stretch. The rest of them were still asleep. The whiskey had hit them all hard. But no problem for a big man like him. Some livers die, some don’t.
Dolores’s motor wasn’t running and she was floating anonymously in the cold placid sea.
Littlewood was out for the count on the cabin floor; Masterson stepped over the collapsed lump and briefly considered, seeing as their Captain was currently incapacitated, going up to the cockpit to have a go at the wheel himself. He hadn’t driven a single contraption since 1940. Then, it was a Vincent Comet motorbike that belonged to a fellow student at Maynooth when he was completing his Sacred Theology Licentiate – oh, didn’t he thoroughly bake the lazy roads of Kildare on that thing – alas, what a sad wolf he was who remained to this day unlicensed to drive yet licensed, though not without contest, to theologise. He decided it was best not to try his hands at boating. The bicycle did the trick.
He noticed the top of the coffin was dislodged slightly as though recently opened.
Masterson wouldn’t allow the notion of phantom appearances normally, but for a short time, it came into his head, a very short time, and then, like a proper theologian, he remembered.
And a flashback of the previous evening occurred. And it was as follows:
‘Go on, suck on it,’ he advised the younger priest.
Stinson and Masterson were at the stern, wobbling more from drink than the rumbling current beneath their feet. It was the middle of the night, for sure, but no record of time. Fog and darkness surrounded them.
Masterson’s eyes were flamed up with vanilla extract and cough suppressant rounded off with copious slugs of whiskey. Stinson should have known better, but he took the cigarette from him anyway and had a smoke of it.
It was fine, thought the angel-faced one, not knowing quite how to inhale. What was all the fuss about?
‘Take it in, you blasted fool.’
‘I am...I am. There’s talk these days they can kill you. I want to go easy.’
‘Let’s have a look,’ said Masterson. He was staring tenaciously at Mrs. Juhl who lay behind them, sheltered and peaceful in eternal slumber. Stinson turned his attention to the coffin and was struck by how much it resembled the box of matches in his hand.