Father Tom and Marilyn
“Father Tom, it’s time to get up,” Jane called, while she happily washed the pots used for cooking breakfast. Soon, Father Tom came thumping down the stairs. He wasn’t cranky, or anything like that, but a man of his size thumped wherever he went.
“Morning Jane,” he said, mid-yawn, enjoying an energetic stretch. Father Tom was a great stretcher. He arched his back and stuck out his substantial tummy, before crouching down like a sumo wrestler. Not fished yet, he did a three hundred and sixty degree turn on his way up, sending a box of cornflakes flying off the kitchen table.
“Oh God, Father what will we do with you!” Jane scolded, even though she was fifteen years younger than the priest, she often felt like his mother.
“Sorry Jane,” he said, starting to pick up the spilled cereal. Jane shushed him away with a tea towel, cleaning up the mess herself.
“Leave that Father, God knows what you’ll break next.” In reality, she enjoyed the fact he was a bit clumsy, it made her feel needed. Father Tom lowered himself into a chair, scratching through his fluffy black beard. Jane had offered to trim it before, but the only person he would let near him with a scissors, was Marco at the local barbers. His hair was getting long, nearly reaching his collar, Father Tom would soon be needing his bi-annual visit to Marco.
He poured a cup of tea from the pot and flipped open the paper, as Jane dished up sausages and bacon for him. Father Tom mumbled a constant stream of nonsense, “Hum”, “Would you believe it”, “For the love of God”, “Holy Mother”. The stories could be about anything in the world, she could never guess whether they were happy or sad tales, from listening to his noises.
“By the hockey, Jane, will you look at this,” he said, shoving the paper across the table at her. Jane read the article Father Tom was pointing out, with his big man fingers. It said ‘An exhibition of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia would be going on display in Dublin, including some never before seen photos of her and John F Kennedy’.
“I’d love to go see that,” said Father Tom, shovelling sausages into his mouth, washing them down with buckets of sweet tea.
“Why don’t you go? It’s only two weeks away. You can book tickets in that music shop in town,” Jane said.
“Do you know, I just might do that,” Father Tom said, with a little smile. “I hope they have that white dress, from the photo.”
“Which dress is that, Father?” asked Jane.
“You know, the famous one. When she stood on the air vent and the wind blew up her skirt showing her – em,” he said, stopping mid-sentence and going a little red.
“Father Tom, you should be ashamed of yourself,” Jane chided, making him go even redder. She couldn’t stop the corners of her mouth twitching upwards in a smile.
“Ah! Would you go way out of that,” he said, flapping his hand at her, and going back to read the rest of the paper.
A couple of days later, Father Tom was walking past the music shop and decided to get the tickets on the spur of the moment. He entered the shop and was greeted by long racks of CD’s. The walls were adorned with dozens of wild posters, and one whole side of the shop was filled with video games. Behind the counter was a bored looking girl, in her twenties. Her hair was bright red, like a traffic cone, and she had a big steel hook stuck through her nose.
“God all mighty, that looks sore,” said Tom. “Do you need to see a doctor?”
“Are you trying to be funny?” she sneered.
“Not at all,” he said, unzipping his jacket. When she got a glimpse of his dog collar, her attitude softened like magic.
“Oh, sorry, Father,” she said. “It’s only a piercing,” she added, unscrewing the lethal-looking fashion accessory.
“Whatever will you young people think of next?” he asked. “I was told you can get tickets, for shows happening in Dublin?”
“You sure can, Father. Who were you going to see?” the girl asked, punching keys on the computer.
“I wanted to see Marilyn Monroe, next week,” he said, leaning on the counter, coming very close to knocking over a revolving rack of headphones. The girl searched on the computer for a while before saying, “I can’t see anything for that name, Father, are you sure you have it right?”
“Certain my dear,” he said.
“The only thing that’s even close, is Marilyn Manson, in the O2 next Friday,” she said.
“That the one,” said Father Tom, thinking they must be using her married name or something. The flame haired girl tapped a few more keys, and looked at the priest with concern. “Father, are you sure this is right? This stuff is a bit sexy,” she said
“Between you and me,” said the priest, leaning closer, “I always thought so, myself, but what is the harm in it?” She looked shocked, but in a good way.
“All I can say is, fair play to you, Father. What seats do you want?” she asked.
“I wasn’t planning on sitting. I thought I’d walk around, and make sure I saw everything,” said Father Tom.
“The only standing tickets left are in the mosh pit,” she said.
“Where is the mosh pit?” he asked.
“Right at the front,” she said.
“Sounds like just the spot for me,” said Father Tom, smiling. The girls eyebrows arched so high, they nearly vanished into the thatch of red hair.
“Do you want two tickets?” she asked.
“Ah no, one will do. I am sure I’ll meet someone nice there, to keep me company,” said Father Tom. The red haired girl took payment, and handed over the ticket.
“I must say, I admire priests not afraid to get in touch with modern culture” she said with a big smile, waving him out of the shop.
On the morning of the show, Jane drove Father Tom to the train station. From her bag, she pulled a tartan flask of tea and a Tupperwear box of ham sandwiches. “Take these with you, Father, the prices on the train are scandalous, and they only use cheap old ham anyway,” she said.
“Jane, what would I ever do without you,” he said, giving her a massive bear hug. She vanished in his trunk-like arms, when he let her go, she was blushing from top to toe.
She gave him a playful slap on the chest, “Father! Stop it will yea, people will talk,” she said, embarrassed. He smiled back at her, noticing the train pulling into the station. He tucked the containers under his arm and jumped aboard.
He felt like a kid on a school trip. Father Tom loved being a priest, but sometimes he missed being just “Tom”. Today was like a holiday back to himself, back to a time when he sat in musty old movie theatres, watching Marilyn on the silver screen. Tom wondered if he would get to touch something that was actually hers, imagine that. Father Tom passed the journey by daydreaming, and remembering more innocent times. He felt like he’d only sat down, when the train pulled into Huston station. When Father Tom wandered out of the station, hemmed in by hundreds of other commuters, he found a row of taxis waiting near the gate. Father Tom got into the backseat of the first one he came to.
“Where to,” the driver asked, without looking over his shoulder.
“The O2,” said Father Tom, with happy authority. At this, the driver turned in his seat.
“I didn’t think that would be your kind of thing, Father. Are you protesting or something?” he asked.
“Goodness no, I am a big fan,” said Father Tom. “Do you know about the show?”
“I’ve spent all day bringing people to it. All kinds of people,” the cabbie said, pulling into the late evening traffic. The driver spent the rest of the ride shaking his head, tutting and mumbling. “What is the world coming to?” he mumbled under his breath.
The taxi pulled up outside a huge building on the quay. There was a lot of barriers and rubbish lying around the street, but the crowd going inside didn’t seem to be that big. There were a lot of young people for sure, and some were wearing the wildest clothes. It was amazing what passed for fashion these days. Tom got out of the taxi, and there was music coming from the huge building. Father Tom thought there was a great party atmosphere about the place. At the door, several men in bright yellow vests with “Security” across the back, were lounging around, so Father Tom walked up to one of them and presented his ticket.
“You’re a bit late, Father,” said the man, tearing off the ticket stub. The man insisted Father Tom open the flask of tea, he even sniffed it, as well as looking in the sandwich box. They were taking this security thing very seriously. Perhaps there had been a bomb threat. The security man studied the ticket, then with a little smirk and said, “In the mosh pit, father? Are you doing research on the other side?”
“I didn’t want to miss anything, and I like being able to walk around,” said Father Tom, not liking being subjected to this interrogation one bit. “Which way do I go?”
“I’ll take you down there, the show is just about to start,” said the man in the vest.
Father Tom found himself walking down a long aisle, bordered on both sides by thousands of people. There was so many wild costumes, it was like a fancy dress party at Halloween. He couldn’t get over some of the get-ups. As Father Tom was escorted through the crowd, he was smiled at, high fives were given, and they even cheered him, at one stage. He had to admit he was feeling a little bit like a celebrity.
“Great idea, man, wish I had thought of it,” said one guy, patting him on the back as he passed. Half the man’s face was black, the other half red, and his hair was spiked. By now, it was occurring to Tom, that something had gone very wrong with his tickets.
“This is your section, Father. Good luck!” shouted the security man in his ear, as he opened a crush barrier for him to enter.
Father Tom was surrounded by a solid mass of humanity, dressed in the wildest costumes, the ones that were dressed at all. In front of him on the massive stage, was a huge statue of a woman, in white suspenders, bra and knickers, but also wearing a bunny rabbit’s head, of all things. Father Tom was on the verge of leaving when a black haired girl came crashing into him, knocking him flat on his back. She landed right on top of him, face to face.
“Oh, hi,” she said. “Great costume.”
“Hi,” said Father Tom. “Why do you all think I’m in fancy dress?” Her eyes widened, cracking her thick black eyeliner.
“Feck off! You are actually a priest,” she said, pushing herself up on her elbows to get a better look at him.
“Yes I am. My name is Tom, nice to meet you,” he said, holding out his hand. She took it, and shook it with a huge smile.
“My name is Sandy, Father, nice to meet you too.” She got to her feet, helping Father Tom to his.
“Are those sandwiches?” she asked, pointing at the box. Father Tom offered to share a sandwich, which she devoured with gusto.
“Cheers, Father, I have the munchies bad,” she said, blowing bread crumbs out of her mouth as she talked. Father Tom took a good look at the girl. She was wearing platform boots, laced all the way up to her thighs. Next came tiny black leather shorts, and her upper body was stuffed into a black and red corset, which could only contain half her bosom. Her pretty little face was painted powder white, with thick black eyeliner, all topped off with a mane of long black hair. Father Tom thought she looked rather well, actually.
Just then a thunderous roar came from the crowd, as a band appeared on stage. Sandy grabbed Father Tom’s hand and shouted in his ear, “Come dance with me, Father.” He only hesitated for a second, before disappearing into the moving throng of humanity, hand in hand with a busty stranger.
As luck would have it, the same taxi driver picked up Father Tom, after the concert. He smiled as the priest got in the car and asked, “How was Marilyn, Father?”
Leaning forward, Father Tom said earnestly, “She sure has let herself go.”