Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Word Carrier: Anticipation

by Walt Staples -

“Okay, Bede, what’s the problem?”

The young manuscript looked up from the potato he was peeling. “Pardon?”

Brother Trout, the abbey’s cook, stood hands on hips, one of which still held a ladle. “You’re paying far too much attention to your duties. Normally you’d be bored out of your mind stuck here on kitchen duty. Now, what’s eating you, my son?”

Bede looked back down at the potato and peeler. “I’m sorry, Brother. I was just thinking about what it’ll be like out there.”

The Corpulent friar set the ladle back in the stock pot and wiped his large scarred hands. “Nothing wrong with that, boy. Every manuscript wonders about that.”

Bede began peeling again. “I just wish I knew where I’m headed. Which church I’ll be the Bible for.”

Brother Trout chuckled. “Yes, and there’s a seminarian on Assisi wondering the very same thing. Which church he’ll be pastor of, once he’s ordained, and what his Bible is going to be like.”

“Where is Assisi at the moment, Brother?”

The friar was silent as he did the calculations in his head. He pointed upward and just to the right of the hanging rack of pots. “About there, Bede. They’ll be transiting the plane of the ecliptic sometime around Michaelmas.”

The manuscript gestured in the direction of the asteroid with the peeler. “You were at the Abbey of Francis; what’s it like?”

The cook leaned against the counter and folded his hands within the sleeves of his brown habit. “Not all that different from here actually. Gravity’s a bit less because of the slower spin. That‘s why retired religious are sent there when they’re unable to get around.”

“What else?”

“Well, the Jesuits have their observatory there because it gets them up out of the dust and gunk down on the plane.” He thought a moment. “I was there the same time Father Patrice was there. Me a novice and him a seminarian—“

He was interrupted by the arrival of Hubert, chief of the abbey’s cats. The tiger tabby walked over and laid a deceased rat at Brother Trout’s feet and sat back in expectation. The human beamed at him. “Very good, Hubert! Thou art truly the master of the hunt.” He leaned over rubbed the cat’s head and back. The resulting purr was diesel-like. As he straightened, he spoke to Bede, “Would you please dispose of the spoiler of grain while I give Hubert his reward? And mind you, wash those hands when you’re finished, young sir.”

Bede grinned and went for the cleaning equipment. As he used the tongs to drop the rat in the recycler, he thought about what it would be like to be a Bible out on his own. Probably a mining camp somewhere on the backside of beyond. Or one of the underwater habitats. Or—he paused as he washed his hands—space! He and his priest on a roving mission, going from spacecraft to spacecraft as requested.

“Someone looks like the kitten who got into the cream pitcher.” Brother Trout broke his train of thought.

“Sorry, Brother. Woolgathering.”

The cook smiled at him. “As long as it wasn’t a near occasion of sin, I shan’t worry about it. Now.” He pointed at the stool on which Bede had been perched. “Potatoes.”

The manuscript grinned and sat down. Picking up a potato and the peeler, he said, “Yes, Brother.”

1 comment:

  1. Nice! I like Bede's personality--his commitment and sense of duty as a manuscript are prominent, but he still has a visionary side, a side that's not afraid to dream and imagine big and exciting things.