A distant shrill from the steel mill permeated through the stained glass windows and into St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church. Father Bob walked from the altar and stood in the middle aisle. His spiritual aura rose the more he handed out communion to friends from his past. This reassignment by the Bishop to his hometown parish provided his one last chance at remaining a priest. He took slow, deep breaths to calm his anxiety. God called him to the priesthood, not the Bishop. He summoned the Holy Spirit. Warm radiance sparkled from his eyes once again, with that angelic gleam that could mesmerize. He looked up from the chalice, holding the body of Christ in his hand, and readied himself to focus on the soul behind the eyes of the faithful. A new set of glowing green eyes now locked onto his, sending him a sense of euphoria. He saw nothing else. That rapture quickly transformed into panic. Maria. His chest tightened. The lights inside of St. Anne’s Church flashed a brief ray of pain through his left eye. Maria held his gaze. Her shiny red lips flickered into a grin. She did not hold out her hands to receive the Eucharist. Instead, she leaned forward, licked the corner of her mouth and cocked her head back slipping out her tongue to receive communion. Hardly any Catholics held onto that tradition. Even the nuns received communion with their hands, cupping them together and lifting them in front as if holding water. In the “old days” only a priest’s hands could touch the consecrated Host. Father Bob’s heart fluttered. His hand quivered as he moved the Eucharist closer to Maria’s tongue. “The Body of Christ,” he said. When he placed the wafer inside of her mouth, warm moisture brushed the side of his finger. A light breeze cooled the sweat on his forehead, and he yearned to let his finger linger at her lips. He ran his eyes down through her cleavage, her tight black skirt, all the way to her black knee boots. Quickly he brought his gaze back up to hers. She looked as delightful now as she did back in 1970. How could he still want her, after fourteen years? Now, she’d stolen the Holy Spirit from him, sucked the glow clean out of his eyes with a simple glance.
My novel, Broken Collar, is about a Catholic Priest who struggles with ego, spirituality and celibacy. Father Bob's past resurrects to challenge him at the new assignment in his hometown, a steel mill/coal mining community in the Appalachian foothills.