After a big night William considers a change . . .
“So, give us the news, Bill. Was she some socialite back east you left behind with a broken heart?” Haviland asked always edging too close—close enough to see the dried spittle at the corners of his yellow smile and the dandruff in the coarse dark hairs of his eyebrows.
William said nothing for a moment. “No, just a friend of the family—a cousin—from Englewood.”
“Ah, Englewood, it always sounds so green and luxurious when you talk about it,” Haviland said. “You’re lucky for the culturing you got—art and all that truck.”
“Yes, well . . .”
“I thought certain that you must have sparked her sometime, the way she gushed seein’ you,” Haviland said, his glassy eyes always looking for an angle.
William looked up from his drink, momentarily excited by his friend’s interpretation of Thankful’s behavior but remembered what had happened this afternoon. “No, that’s just her way with people. All people. But she’s nice though.”
“That lieutenant seemed impressed with her this morning. He’s trying her on, I’d say,” Haviland said, waiting for reaction.
“She’s leaving soon. But . . . well, she’s had some trouble. Listen, Haviland, I’ve got to go now. I’m awful wrecked.”
Haviland laughed. “You were some wild son-of-a-bitch last night—see you later, then?”
William hesitated. “Jay, what exactly did we get up to last night?”
“The usual, I reckon,” Haviland replied, hoisting himself up on to one of the bar stools.
“Did I seem to have more money or anything?”
“Why? Did you get paid?” Haviland asked like a cat regarding his mouse.
“No, it’s that my cousin, she’s lost a heap of money and thinks . . .” he said more than he wanted to.
Haviland got close. “Listen, Bill, I wasn’t gonna ask how you got all that cash . . . two hundred dollars is a lot.”
“How’d you know it was two hundred?”
Haviland hesitated, but then laughed and shook his finger at William. “Why, you told me last night. You were blind drunk here and talking up a storm.”
“But, Robinson said I didn’t pay him.”
“I couldn’t tell you if you did or didn’t. You don’t remember a thing, do you?” Haviland probed. “I keep tellin’ you to watch out—someone will land you in deep shit one day.”
“I couldn’t have drunk up that much and Madeline was huffed at me for paying her only a few coins.”
“You don’t remember anything? Bill, that ain’t good.” Haviland looked concerned. “You don’t remember racin’ the greaser with your pony?”
“Spect he’s gone now—some rider he was and you bein’ so drunk and all . . . I’d say you lost yer shirt.”
“I remember putting Sophie to bed at the stables.”
“You sent me to go fetch her again.”
William said nothing. He never took a horse after drinking—ever.
“Come, Bill, have a little hair of the dog.”
“No, I’ve got to go see Sophie.” William jammed his hands deep in his pockets. He licked his parched lips. “I have to get control of things, somehow,” he thought. He walked toward the stables, but the Catholic Church, with its open doors and dark, cool interior, called to him. He took a seat along the back wall and leaned his head against the adobe.
Hours later the Spanish accented priest Father Diaz nudged William awake. “Son, I’m closing shop.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to camp out here,” William said, pushing his greased hair off his face and behind his ears.
“Well, you have to leave now.”
William stood and looked around a minute. “Sir—I mean father or reverend or whatever—I was considering the priesthood.”
The priest laughed. “Are you a Catholic?”
“No, but I’m sure I could learn the basics—don’t you want more people to join up?”
“Why suddenly do you think of the priesthood? This is a small settlement, Bill Weldon. I know what you get up to every night. Are you ready to confess your sins and renounce that sort of living?”
“What’s renounce mean?” William asked. “And if you know my faults why do I have to say them? But if you want me to, I guess I could.”
“Do you feel sorry for your behavior?” the priest asked with an indulgent smile.
“Sometimes, I guess, but it’s hard—I think if I’m a priest then—“
“Son, I don’t think you’re ready for the priesthood. It’s not a hiding place from your lustful nature.” The priest snuffed a candle.
“Well then, what’s it for? What else can you priests do but pray and hope for Indian converts and the end of the world? I think I could do that. I don’t seem much good at anything else. Maybe I have a calling for it.”
The priest shook his head at William in his rough clothes. “Bill, the priestly garments would hardly fit you and there’s a lot of study—theology and that sort of thing. You need some real intelligence.”
“Numbers get mixed up in my head is all—are there lots of figures and geometry in knowing God for Catholics?” William asked with an edge.
“I didn’t mean to insult you. Becoming a priest—or just a Catholic, for that matter—is no small thing. That’s all I was getting at. It takes commitment and all I’ve seen you commit to since arriving is that rascal, Jay Haviland, and the girls in the whorehouse.”
“I’m not committed to Jay Haviland! We go on larks together, that’s all and he doesn’t mind my lack of brains.”
“Of course not. It benefits him that you are so—let’s say generous.”
“He watches out for me when I . . .”
“When you drink too much, then he spends your money. He’s no good, son, and it’s the laugh of the town that you don’t see it. Listen, consider giving up the drinking and the women before visiting me again with foolish notions.”
William stalked off for home, remembered Sophie and went to the stables.
Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw, his sister Thankful and William Weldon’s misadventures when you buy the book today!
“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review
“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”
4 responses to “Fiction: The Priesthood”
Poor William is gullible to everyone’s chicanery, even his own. If only he weren’t so naive that he can’t see it. And Haviland is proving to be quite a snake, a man with two sides to his nature and neither of them noble or honest.
In The House on Tenafly Road when he’s a kid he falls off a horse and suffers a brain injury. What’s left of the injury is mostly in his mind (pardon the pun). It’s that he’s been coddled because of his parents’ guilt and lacks the confidence in his own gut feelings. He’d rather give his power to others at this point (that’s what he’s used to. Thanks for reading as always!
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Of course the story is so interesting because William is so easily taken in. I’m rooting for him.
Ach – meant to add: Very well written scene, Adrienne.
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