The Priest in the Crowd (a story)

The Priest in the Crowd

Something made him take a walk after services. Even though it was his usual way to go directly home and eat the roast that his housekeeper had toiled over all morning. He was often hungry and tired and wanted nothing more than to eat and have a nap after services.

But he had this…. itch he couldn’t explain. So he walked. And let his feet guide him.

Past a pub he knew from the occasional drink with friends.

Past a restaurant he took his elderly parents to for a treat meal now and then.

Past a clinic where he volunteered as a clerk since they treated people without papers or money for their care.

And past a strip bar some of his members were really upset about and wanted his help to shut down. He chose not to get involved in their efforts. He was pretty sure there were bigger fish to fry in the fight against evils in the world.

He knew he was getting closer when he heard some tires squeal, shots, screams and a crowd rushing toward the scene. He ran toward the crowd, cassock flapping around his legs.

A car raced by him and he saw the lads in the front seat. They looked scared, even more than he was. If they did it, why would they be scared though?

It seemed like forever, but finally he was kneeling by the body of the person who was shot. And praying over him. Even though he knew it was too late.

When he finished the prayer, he looked up and saw something he recognized, even though he’d never seen one in real life. Just pictures of artists’ imaginings. But he knew exactly what it was. And it knew him as well. The being smiled at the priest. As if glad he was there to perform the rites.

A shiver went down the priest’s back. The being didn’t just know him as a priest. As they exchanged looks, the being showed him flashes of his life. Moments even he had forgotten. Hadn’t thought of in ages. Moments he’d rather have never thought of again.

The priest bowed his head in regret and fear. Then he looked up and saw the being smiling. Like he had one over on the priest.

That did it. The priest stood in righteous anger. He lifted his cross to admonish the being. But before he could articulate one word, the being was gone.

In such a narrow window of time that the police had yet to arrive. The crowd didn’t seem to realize anything untoward had occurred. It looked like all that had happened was the priest had said a prayer, then having finished regained his feet.

But the priest knew. The being knew.

And in that second, the priest became aware of his new calling.

Later that afternoon, he was on the phone to his bishop. He wanted to know how to become an exorcist. To no longer be just one of the crowd.

The being and he had a date in the future. And both intended to be ready for it.

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