Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘monastery’

Being Painted

A missing excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

As many students have attested, one of the skills Master Toshiba was known for was her incredible ability to remain as still as a rock and blend into her surroundings like a chameleon. She could sit stand or lie in the same position for days, barely breathing, and seemingly unaware of her body, due to her deep states of concentration (or sleep). One incidence that exemplified this trait was when the monastery was being painted.

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Several men and women from the village were hired to paint the outside of the monastery and the surrounding wall. They mixed their paints and began on a Monday morning. By Wednesday late afternoon they were halfway done. When they stopped for lunch, Sister Sitadown asked them if they’d seen Master Toshiba, as she’d been missing for two days. The workers replied that they hadn’t seen her and thought The Master was out of town.

“No,” Sister Sitadown said. “She had no other engagements. She told Sister Craven that she was going to the garden to sit and that was the last we’ve seen of her.”

“Would you like us to help look for her,” the painter’s asked?

“Yes, please,” replied the worried Sister.

Everyone began searching the grounds and calling out for Master Toshiba, using all the names she was known by. “Master Toshiba!” “Abbott Tova!” “Mistress Tarantino!” “Master Tarantino!” “Mistress Tova!” “Abbess!” “Master!” “Mistress!” “Sister!” “Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba!” “Hey, Lady!”

One of the painters was walking close to the outer wall. He put his foot on the wall and lifted himself up to look over to the other side.

“Yeoh!!!” someone hollered. The wall moved and the painter fell to the ground. “What are you doing?” a voice bellowed. “You kicked me in the shin!”

It was then that the painter recognized Master Toshiba, as she stepped away from the wall. She’d been painted over in the same color as the wall.

“I’m sorry Master,” the painter replied. “I didn’t see you.”

“How could you not see me?”

“Well,” the painter replied. “Look at yourself.”

Master Toshiba glanced down at her clothes and lifted her hands in front of her face. She looked at the wall and started laughing. The painter laughed with her. They began laughing so loudly that the others came running to see what was so funny. Sister Sitadown arrived.

“So, there you are. We’ve been looking all over for you.”

“Well,” Master Toshiba grinned. “Here I am.” She held up her painted hands and everyone laughed again.

“Next time,” Sister Sitadown said. “We’ll have to attach a flag to your head.”

“A flag, or some bells around my neck, like a cow, so you’ll always know where I’ve wondered off to,” Master Toshiba added.

More illusionary tales at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Saint Catherine’s Baby

Excerpt from short story collection Saint Catherine’s Baby.

The moist air, surrounding the 16th century creation planted its wet kisses upon the cold stone walls, which slid luxuriously down its weathered face. The creeping ivy, chlorophyll pulsing through its dark green leaves, caressed the soft hearty moss. New generations of recently born shoots sprouted from the elder ivy’s fingertips, seeking their lone paths in the cracks of St. Catherine’s monastery.

The religious encampment had been built on the storm infested Western coast of Ireland; its founders seemingly intent on locating the most masochistic environment possible to beat their souls into sublime submission.

The last residing nun, Sister Rose Marie, had died a blessedly sudden and peaceful death at two in the afternoon, on an unusually balmy Easter Sunday, in the year of Our Lord 1968. She and a faithful supporter, Mrs. Bernadette O’Brien, mother of Walter O’Brien, had been on their knees praying in the chapel when it appeared that the good sister had a heart attack and keeled over quietly onto the floor.

“Her hands was frozen in prayer, they was,” Mrs. O’Brien had religiously repeated for years thereafter. “She had the smile of an angel.”

***

Shawn and Marcy didn’t give a witch’s ass about the history of St. Catherine’s. They’d been driving randomly from county to county, looking frequently in their rear view mirror; expecting nothing but trouble.

They’d discovered St. Catherine’s while returning from an off-the-road farm, where a farmer had given them a couple gallons of petrol from his broken down tractor. While carrying the fuel back in a couple of plastic milk containers, they accidentally turned right, instead of left to their energy starved car.

“’Tis this way,” Shawn said with assurance.

“’Tis not,” Marcy insisted. “Was that way.”

Shawn frowned, shaking his head impatiently.

“Remember that rock, why don’t ya?!” Marcy pointed at a large chipped boulder to her left.

“I’m a going this way. You coming or not?” He started walking without waiting for her answer.

She trudged after him, complaining to the gravel below her feet, “An idiot, he is.”

When they rounded the bend that brought St. Catherine’s into sight, Marcy gasped.

“Jesus!” Shawn exclaimed,

“It must be ancient.” Marcy stumbled forward.

“Think they be any dragons?” Shawn teased.

They pushed hard upon a rusty-hinged, thick wooden door. It cracked open. The wind played with itself in the center of the courtyard, rising, turning, diving and suddenly taking flight. Calls of “Anyone home?” were absorbed into the stones like water in a dry sponge.

“Why’d they build such hideous things?” Marcy whispered, as they walked into a shadowy, stale room, her dirty black hair stranded on her shoulders.

“They must’ve been tilted.”

“A bunch of bloody lunatics!” Marcy scowled.

“Absolutely,” Shawn agreed, his bushy red hair, freckles and twice broken nose, nodding obediently.

Marcy had on a long coat to cover her thin, full-length skirt. She hated skirts, but couldn’t tolerate much else these days. “I can’t wait to get back into some jeans,” she said, looking down at her swollen belly. “Without this coat I’d have frozen my tits off by now.”

“Look at these windows!” Shawn said, “They’re small enough for dwarfs.”

Marcy pulled open a door to some side rooms that contained a single wooden platform for a bed in each small musty enclosure.

Shawn looked in over her shoulder. “What a dreary thing.”

“They was some awful poor brothers this lot.”

“Didn’t know there was anyone with less than we.”

“Och, but they chose it, didn’t they?”

After further investigation they returned to the trail and found their car. They parked close to the rocky path leading down to the sea’s edge and hauled their belongings back to the monastery, into the warmest, best protected room they’d found; the chapel.

They had enough food for a couple of weeks, groceries they’d picked up in County Clare, using a stolen credit card they’d lifted upon leaving Dublin. They could drive back when they needed, go to another store or town and use a different card. They thought about switching the car, but figured they had a little more time before it was reported missing.

As darkness fell, they zipped their sleeping bags together, put them on the torn carpet by the altar and tried to get some rest. It didn’t help that Marcy had to pee again and again. There was no indoor plumbing. It seemed as if she’d just snuggled in and gotten all warm and toasty like, when nature urgently called. The freezing wind coming off the Atlantic screamed over her head as she rushed to and from the outhouse. CONTINUED

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