Chapter 3

Written by: Ray Stone

Joshua Snipes, or Josh as he privileged me like his friends to call him, was an unusual man in many ways. As we settled down in front of his wood fire, the glow from the grate highlighted his weather-beaten face and red cheeks. Age had marked him but not with sallow cheeks or sullen looks like the poor. His was a face at peace which displayed a somewhat wise and educated look.  

Our shadows stretched across the small parlor and climbed the grubby lath and plaster wall behind us. A shock of long white hair fell over his shoulders. I watched as smoke from his pipe drifted above his head and through the gray smokey whisps, two bright twinkling eyes peered at me intently, as though he were looking into my very soul.

“You be asking about your Mater, and I note you nay mention your Pater. Why is that?” 

He leaned forward as I straightened at the mere mention of my father. His large rough hand rested on my knee, the mass of wiry black hair on its back raised in profusion.

“Josh, you must know that my father was hanged for my mother’s killing, but if that is not the truth, I fear the guilt I am feeling for growing up thinking him to be evil.”

Josh patted my knee. “Guilt is an emotion that will linger unless you conquer it. I know thee to be an honest and God fearing man so thank the Lord for the good news that your Pater was innocent and died for a good reason and that your Mater lived.”

“I don’t understand…”

The old man held up a hand. I had not noticed until then that he wore a short beard that covered and curled under his chin. The hair below his lower lip was tinged yellow with the years of pipe smoking.

“I knew your Mater well enough from the day she arrived at our church and a more civil and caring woman I have never met.”

Confused and afraid that I might hear something that was unthinkable, I held my silence with bated breath.

“Of course, I knew nothing of her talk with Father Droon until much later but from the first we knew not to waggle tongues but keep our own company. Your Mater I met the day after her arrival, and she was immediately taken into the hearts of all. She nursed those who needed most care and worked day and night with us in the hospital.”

I scarce believed what I was hearing. 

“A nurse…my mother a nurse? But what of my father? None of what you say is making sense to me. Did Father Droon know my father was to try for her murder?”

“Nay, young sir. Our Order knew nothing at first - not until much later.”

“Your Order?” My first impressions of Josh were correct. He did not fit the glove of a gravedigger.”

“I was a priest until I loved your Mater.”

Comments

This chapter takes me back through the centuries into the room where I became a fly on the wall.