Today editor and author Lincoln Crisler delivers another bouncing baby anthology, THAT HOODOO, VOODOO THAT YOU DO: A DARK RITUALS ANTHOLOGY with the help of Angelic Knight/Ragnarok Publications, the same fine folks who’ll be bringing you my novella collection WITH SWORD AND PISTOL this August.
The book has a great lineup (and an excellent cover by Shawn King and Joe Martin) –
“Sa fè lontan / Long Time, No See” by Sarah Hans
“Young Girls Are Coming to Ajo” by Ken Goldman
“Into the Mirror Black” by Tim Marquitz
“Severed” by Brandon Ford
“Afflicted” by A.J. Brown
“A Little Bit of Soul” by Craig Cook
“Coughs and Sneezes” by James K. Isaac
“Secret Suicide” by Amy Braun
“Wounds” by Greg Chapman
“Sturm und Drang” by Jeff C. Carter
“Shades of Hades” by E.J. Alexander
“For Love” by DJ Tyrer
“Gingerbread Man” by Rose Strickman
“Johnny Two Places” by Mark Mellon
“The Seed” by N.X. Sharps
“Late Payment” by Jake Elliot
“Masquerade” by C.A. Rowland
“Lessons from a Victory Garden” by Jason Andrew
“The Projectionist” by Timothy Baker
“The Right Hand Man” by J.S. Reinhardt
“Paper Craft” by Leigh Saunders
For my own offering, THY JUST PUNISHMENTS, I reached back into my own Roman Catholic upbringing for a tale of murder and (I hope) laughs.
It’s inspired by a throwaway line by Ward Bond in THE QUIET MAN (“I’ll read yer name in the Mass!”) which refers to the old belief that reading the name of a live person in the requiem for the dead portion of the Mass will result in their untimely death.
I was an altar boy in a Polish parish, and for this story, recalled a lot of the various draconian sisters, slightly inebriated priests, and disapproving old parishioners I have known.
THY JUST PUNISHMENTS concerns the matter of South Boston pastor Father Tim O’Herlihey, a bitter old racehorse aficionado who feeds his gambling addiction by regularly enacting a dark and blasphemous ritual under the noses of his parishioners, reading the names provided to him by a contract killer for the Southie Irish mob and then splitting the profit with him when the victims wind up dead. But when the neighboring parish closes for renovations a crotchety old lady named Mary Ladhe starts paying peculiarly close attention to his doings, and Father Tim finds himself matching wits with a lady of the Old Country, of the Old Magic….
Here’s an excerpt.
Twenty bucks later he had a black rooster in the kitty carrier and was on his way back to the church.
The sun had gone down and Eladio had locked up the church, but Father Tim had his keys.
He locked the door behind him, went into the sacristy, and changed into his vestments, taking the old red iron knife that had been his great uncle’s from the lock box at the bottom of his closet. He took the carrier out to the altar and lit the candles.
He laid out the chalice, missal, and the black corporal, and began the orate fratres.
“Orate, fratres, ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem.”
The greatest injustice to the Roman rite had been the Vatican’s abandonment of Latin. His uncle had always told him that old words had power, and English diluted that power.
He had loved the old Latin mass since his boyhood, and as an altar boy had not confined himself to the responses, but memorized even the priest’s words. Indeed, he had imagined himself not a mere server, but a kind of acolyte in the sacred traditions, a boy-priest on a mystic path. He sometimes fancied in his most blasphemous moments that the opulent house of God with its marble floors and golden accoutrements was his own throne room.
Then once during a particularly early mass, he had mistakenly dashed the silver paten against the edge of the altar and the Holy Eucharist had fallen to the floor. Just a clumsy, daydreaming boy’s mistake, but the entire congregation had let out a collective gasp that had colored his cheeks and ears.
The disapproving scowl of Father John as he stooped over to retrieve the Host by hand had solidified his embarrassment, and to make matters worse, Sister Doligosa had slapped him in the sacristy when he’d returned to change out of his cassock after mass.
“You serve like a cowboy,” the wrinkled old woman had scolded.
He’d been eleven, and run from the church with stinging tears.
He’d been something of a bad boy after that, smoking, profaning, drinking, fleeing wholly from the church in frustrated anger. He had decided that in that moment of innocent clumsiness, he’d been afforded a glimpse at the true nature of so-called believers; that they put more stock in pomp and ritual than in the true love of God.
Yet his dear mother had been worried at his turn around, and sent him off to spend time with his great Uncle Patrick, a priest himself from the old country, though of a decidedly different kind than any he’d ever met before or since.
Uncle Patrick had seen the anger in the boy, and one day coaxed the story of why he’d all but abandoned his faith.
To Tim’s surprise, Uncle Patrick had said;
“It’s entirely right you are, Tim. The world is populated wholly by dumb bleating sheep with no understanding whatsoever of the power of the Mass. The Mass is nothing less than magic, Tim. Magic passed down to us from the agents of the gods. And through it,” he said, touching the side of his red nose and winking one sky blue eye, “those with the knowing can bend the will of the angels to our own purpose.”
Tim recited the sursum coda, sang the trisanctus and the hosanna, and then unlocked the carrier and took out the twitching black cockerel.
Now, with relish, he lifted the clucking chicken high with the iron knife and recited the consecration, the ultimate blasphemy, naming the fowl the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
The knife was a relic of the Old Religion, Uncle Patrick had said, given to a monk named Finnian by one of the legendary Tuatha De, the magic folk of Old Ireland, Tuan mac Cairill. The story was that the monk had sought out Tuan and preached the Gospel to him. Tuan had told the monk of his own gods, and that the monk Finnian had realized the folly of Christianity, and pledged himself to Tuan’s instruction. Tuan, knowing that Christ had conquered his people, saw an opportunity to keep their memory alive and strike at the Church from within. He bestowed Finnian with the sacred sacrificial knife, and the monk became the first of a secret line of priests who paid lip service to Christ but honored the old gods, and perverted the Mass to their ends whenever they could.
And so Tim had become the latest of that ancient line.
He passed the sacred knife of Tuan beneath the beak of the rooster and lets its blood piddle into the chalice.
When it was drained, he raised the brimming cup of blood and the dead animal carcass again to the empty church and proclaimed;
“Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti in unitate Spiritus Sancti omnis honor et gloria per omnia saecula saeculorum.”
He recited the rest of the rite of transubstantiation, broke the chicken’s neck symbolically, and laid it on the paten.
Then, he recited in Gaelic the age old curse;
“Michael O’Bannon –
No butter be on your milk nor on your ducks a web
May your child not walk and your cow be flayed
And may the flame be bigger and wider
Which will go through your soul
Than the Connemara mountains
If they were a-fire.”
He raised the cup to his lips and downed the warm iron-tasting blood.
That night, as ever, he roasted and ate the chicken.
I’m very proud of this story and hope enjoy it.
It can be gotten here –
Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo!