Peter Maloney has previously published a book of poems and short stories and The Devil Wore Glasses is his second novel.
After five years of boarding school experiences in
on, old son. You’ve had your run,
Banshee croaked her tune.
time to go, this fact you know,
rising of the moon.
cannot do the shriek and howl,
throat is burning raw,
hang on tight, our time is right,
must uphold the law.
could have thought, I would have caught
dreaded Asian flu,
was that trip, the sinking ship,
storms on cue.
submerged, but soon emerged,
deep within the wreck;
on their way, with naught to say,
stories ‘neath the deck.
here, I’m there, I’m everywhere,
busy as a bee;
planes and rockets, mines, plug sockets,
hear a wail, that’s me.
take care, now don’t you dare
listen to OLD NICK.
smile, beguile, rewards a pile,
soul to take, his trick.
out there now, don’t ask me how,
places dark and scary.
mind to win, yes, that’s the sin;
wants you, Dan and Mary.
time is up; you’ve drained your cup.
fight me, you can’t win.
guide you where there is no care,
pain, no gain, no sin.
memory bank becomes a blank,
are exceptions, rare.
stay there halled until you’re called
join another lair.
( Part Sample)
the native canoe rounded the last bend in the slow-moving river, Father Michael
Donovan could almost taste the adrenalin coursing through his body, as he sat
upright, two large suitcases lashed tightly together at his feet. The steady
strokes of the two strong paddlers, sweat glistening in the afternoon sun as
their muscles rippled beneath tightly-drawn ebony skin, seemed to pick up the
tempo as the signs of human habitation appeared ahead at the river’s edge.
tracks from the brown water’s edge lead upwards into the dense foliage of the
surrounding jungle. Three canoes, similar in design and size to the one the
priest was travelling in, lay side by side, pulled well up on the muddy bank,
their paddle handles showing above the sides of the solidly-constructed hull of
seasoned bark and wound jungle hemp bindings.
last, he thought, journey’s end. Many years of study in the holy
college and monasteries of
your beliefs and spread them amongst the pagan souls of the African continent,
Father. Your vocation, given by God, calls upon you to instruct these neglected
people in the ways of the Almighty. A noble calling indeed, as was His during
His short life on this earth. Go forth and save souls, my son. Make us proud of
those inspiring words still ringing in his ears, Father Michael was eager to
establish himself amongst the residents of this far-flung African village, where
word had it, pagan rituals were still practiced.
‘Once I bring the holy truth amongst them, showing the way to the
heavenly kingdom that awaits all believers, then my life’s work on this
troubled earth will be rewarded beyond human measure.’
The young priest heard distant
drumbeats carry through the still, humid air, spreading their mysterious message
deep through the jungle. A strange silence descended from above as birds ceased
their shrill cries, and monkeys fell curiously aware as they gazed down with
large, suspicious eyes from their lofty perches amongst the dense overhanging
tree branches at the possibly-threatening sight gliding soundlessly over the
water beneath them.
Michael noticed an eerie quiet creep over the two paddlers, who, up till this
time had called out a rhythmic song to blend with the timing of their paddle
canoe was expertly guided to the shore edge beneath the pathway leading upwards,
where all was still, except for the lapping of the disturbed waters of the
river. No welcoming party waited to greet this strange visitor, dressed in
black, with white skin and blue eyes.
paddler quickly untied the two cases and stood them, side by side, at the
river’s edge. The priest left the canoe, stretched his lanky muscular frame,
and turned to thank the guides, who by now had the canoe turned about, and
without a glance in his direction, paddled strongly back down the river to their
own village, fourteen miles south, where the priest, hours before, had been
delivered onto a makeshift airport runway.
much older fellow priest, Father Connors, still speaking with the lilting brogue
of the west coast of
hopefully offered the hospitality of his humble abode, a stopover for the day
and night. Of course the older priest longed for all the latest news from the
other world of their church, yet with an understanding nod accepted the new
arrival’s decision not to tarry further.
Michael thanked him, but chose to continue his journey to his assigned patch,
eager to join his parish and get settled in to apply his fervent zeal to his
anticipated missionary project, challenging though it may surely turn out to be.
knew that his guides had been well paid for his passage, so with a farewell
wave, he turned and gazed upwards at the muddy pathway ahead, strangely aware of
unseen eyes watching his every move.
Hello. Anybody there?”
boyish giggle escaped from the surrounding bushes, only to be stilled by the
gruff warning of an adult, well-concealed, somewhere above him.
drums must have been the natives’ bush telegraph announcing his arrival, so
where was the welcoming party? The priest knew that out of protocol, his first
duty was to make his presence known to the village chief, so picking up one of
his heavy bags, and using his free hand to steady himself, he climbed up the
muddy pathway to the level ground above.
the bag, he slid down and repeated the job of carrying the second bag upwards,
also. Panting from his efforts at the top of the pathway, he, to his amazement,
discovered that the first bag was nowhere to be seen.
he took in his surroundings, a large, cleared area where up to thirty huts stood
in a semicircle facing the river, he noted that each hut, or tembe in the
local Bantu language, was constructed of river mud, topped off with layers of
large leaves cut from jungle palm trees, forming a roof secured firmly in place
with expertly interwoven hemp binding. This roof, overhanging the stout walls,
provided necessary outdoor shade from the burning sun.
from above, a young, naked boy swooped down from an overhanging branch and
snatched his black hat off his head, dancing brazenly across the open space in
front of him, the hat jammed firmly on the boy’s curly head. This cheeky act
caused the surprised priest to burst forth with peals of laughter, which in
turn, brought suppressed giggles, then loud laughter from all sides of the
clearing. Cracks in the palpable tension surrounding his arrival in this village
were now appearing, to his intense relief.
appeared from around each hut; young, naked children ran giggling towards their
new visitor, stopping and staring shyly, each pushing and shoving ever closer to
the delighted man, who had shown a strong sense of understanding child play; a
promising sign. Father Michael reached down and collected one young girl from
the pushing crowd into his strong arms, and with a whoop of sheer delight,
tossed her high in the air, catching her safely, as she screeched with pleasure
at this game.
smiling broadly, eagerly reached both arms upwards for a repeat performance, as
did twenty or more other young, eager, naked boys and girls.
the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not!” Father Michael was
delighted, and his laughing, handsome face mirrored his intense pleasure at this
unexpected turn of events.
closely surrounded by the shyly giggling throng of children, he grabbed his
second bag and confidently strode through into the centre of the clearing,
placing it on the ground beside him, and with arms folded, stared about him,
waiting. The villagers slowly retreated to the edge of the clearing, whispering
quietly to each other as the anxious mothers gathered their excited children
around them, watching closely.
did not have long to wait; a hush fell over the gathered throng as a tall,
well-built native, adorned in impressively colourful plumage emerged from the
largest hut and approached, carrying easily an intimidating assagi, or
spear in his right hand. Stopping in front of the priest, the chief of the
village brought his painted face within inches of this visitor and silently
stared deeply into his eyes for what seemed to the now nervous white man
standing alone in the centre of his future, an eternity. No job interview could
have been as intense.
Michael, realising that he was being tested for whatever qualities the chief
deemed most important, returned the stare without flinching. Finally, after what
seemed an age, the tall, bare-chested man, his face and arms proudly displaying
the tattoos and scars symbolic of his high office, stepped back, turned slowly
to face his followers, then raised both arms high above his head, calling out
loudly words in the Taal dialect, a language as yet unknown to the young priest,
that brought forth cheering and wild dancing from the previously tense
Michael had passed the test, winning acceptance from the village leader. Now his
pounding heart steadied and a thrill of sheer joy filled his being.
happened in quick succession. The chief strode majestically back to his hut
without a backward glance. An old woman, her dried breasts resting against her
thin, bony ribs, beckoned eagerly with her stick for the priest to follow her.
This he did, holding his second bag securely by his side.
led him to a hut at the far end of the clearing. Sitting proudly in the centre
of the freshly-swept floor was his other missing bag. Many dried animal skins
covered the mud floor, especially in one corner, where he guessed the space was
intended as his sleeping area.
the old woman turned to leave, she screamed angrily at the gathering of young,
curious eyes staring in through the hut opening. Swinging her stick, they
quickly scattered, allowing Father Michael the privacy he needed to unpack,
change out of his sweat-sodden, black suit into shorts and an impressive sweat
top which displayed the handsome and all-forgiving face of the Lord of Heaven.
informal attire was more suitable to the humid climate he shared with his newly
acquired congregation, and finally falling onto his knees, he gave thanks to his
adored Master in Heaven. His mission had begun.
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