“Pastor, I’m so embarrassed that little Jimmy has been misbehaving as he has. In fact, his father and I are so embarrassed, we’ve decided to move to another city to start over again. We’ll let you know what city, and we’ll be sure to keep in touch.”
“Pastor, we don’t know what to say except that we are so very sorry for Jimmy’s terrible behavior. You can be sure that he’s already gotten the spanking of his life, and when we get home, he’ll be getting another one just to make sure he understood the first.”
“Pastor, Jimmy sure is a rascal, isn’t he? Takes after his father. Still, we are so sorry for what he’s done and when we get home, he’s going to be in big trouble, that’s for sure.”
“Oh, Pastor, are you sure it was just Jimmy? You know, that Tackleton kid is a troublemaker, too. Have you talked to the Tackleton’s, yet? I’ll bet little Tackleton was involved. We’ll ask Jimmy. And we’ll ask Jimmy to write sentences tonight. How about 100? I mean, it was just a small fire… and it didn’t spread to the rest of the school, right?”
(Via email): “You know, Pastor, I don’t think we’ll be able to meet tonight. Jimmy has soccer, and besides, he said he didn’t do it. He’s a pretty good kid and so as far as we’re concerned, that’s that. And by the way, sorry he’s had to miss midweek Catechesis so many times the past few months. That probably makes it so that he can’t be confirmed, right? We’ll try harder next year. But not to worry, we’ll finish up this year’s class. His traveling team schedule is coming to an end pretty soon and he’ll be back, for sure – as long as they don’t make it into the State finals. Then it’ll be a few more weeks. Go Team!”
(Via text): “Who the hell do you think you are saying that my little Jimmy is misbehaving in school?! Can’t his teacher keep control of the class?! And by the way, he came home today and told me that you said he probably wouldn’t be getting confirmed this year! What the hell is that?! There are thirty-two sessions in all and he’s only missed fourteen! And we didn’t think he really needed to be there on Sundays since we thought he was getting enough ‘church’ from the class. Why can’t you take a couple of weekends to get him caught up?! But not this weekend because we’ll be outta town.”
I turn off my phone and set it on the mantle for the night. Too much has happened already, and the sample of the Ledaig 10-year-old is there, only inches away. The recessed lighting bends to a glisten through its golden broth.
I want it. No, I think I need it.
It is but a moment and the peat is strong in my nose – as a lit cigar and a flicker of tiny embers, the ash falls into the tray.
It does let me go, but at first is hesitant to loosen its lengthy grasp, instead choosing to whisper into my ear (and therefore my mind) fleeting memories of a seasoned steak and the popping fog from its grease fire. Perfectly singed and ready to consume.
I want another sip before I type my response. No. I’d better not respond by text. I’ll call instead. Yeah, a call would be better.
The Ledaig 10-year-old, while it is a dram which reminds me of the inferno into which our society is most certainly descending, it is a much kindlier companion along the downward way than so many of those who are holding the hands of the little ones.