Small Mercies (Friday Fictioneers, August 2013)

Copyright Claire Fuller

I wrote a ‘banker’ first thing this morning for this week’s Friday Fictioneers Challenge, in the hope I’d get better inspiration later today.Β  I didn’t, and since we’re on the river and about to move out of range of the network, it’s this or nothing, I’m afraid.Β  😦 

‘Attendance a hundred percent up on last week’, observed Father Simeon with pleasure.Β  And better still, both were sitting in the same pew, sparing him the exertion of swivelling his head from one side of the church to the other.

Inspired, he preached robustly, before descending from the pulpit to greet his flock.

As he seized the hand of the woman nearest the aisle, she toppled sideways, stone-dead and probably, he deduced, had been so afflicted since last Sunday.

The other parishioner screamed.

Father Simeon raised a silent prayer of thanksgiving before turning his attention to her.

β€œThe Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” he said, β€œWelcome.”

About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Friday Fictioneers, Just Sayin' and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

91 Responses to Small Mercies (Friday Fictioneers, August 2013)

  1. Oh, that was dry and wonderful, darling. The vicar’s attitude is just hilarious to me. And when I read and re-read this, it occurs to me that the newcomer wasn’t there the week previous, and so, Father Simeon might just have been preaching to a dead woman the previous week, which I find terribly droll as well. There’s so much going on here, I just love it.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Rotten – Friday Fictioneers | Being the Memoirs of Helena Hann-Basquiat, Dilettante.

  3. misskzebra says:

    This definitely made me chuckle! I’m glad you didn’t change it!

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  4. howanxious says:

    Dark humor… I love it. I knew something was fishy here. πŸ˜€

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  5. kz says:

    ohmygod, i couldn’t stop myself from giggling. i feel so sorry for that church. haha gotta love Father Simeon’s dedication. love the story ^^

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  6. elmowrites says:

    I loved your banker, Sandra. A solid story with a great sense of humour behind it. The only thing was, I would have liked it to be immediately clear that the dead parishioner was the original one – maybe calling her the Regular, instead of just the one nearest the aisle, or something similar. Also, semantics, but if she’s nearest the aisle, didn’t the new parishioner notice when he climbed over the corpse?

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    • Sandra says:

      I take your first point, Jen and will think about it. Re the second, all the pews I’ve come across (not that I’m a ‘regular’ or even an ‘expert’ in any sense of the word :)) have an entrance at both ends. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

      • elmowrites says:

        Oh ok. If the newcomer entered from the other end, that’s fine. To be honest, it didn’t pop out at me on the first reading, only when I was trying to explain my other point. And on that note, I do realize that once you tell us she’d been there since last week, it’s clear which is which.
        I LOVED the last line. Thanks for your thoughts on mine too.

        Like

  7. James Mender says:

    Heh. Second story for this prompt I’ve read, second creepy priest tale I’ve read. Something about that photo is bringing out the dark ones, I think. Nicely played.

    Like

  8. JKBradley says:

    The show must go on!

    Excellent.

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  9. Linda Vernon says:

    Haha! Sandra. Hey maybe attendance was up by 50 percent because she was only 50 percent dead last week. Either way, I loved this!! πŸ˜€

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  10. neenslewy says:

    Helena may have been taking the mickey ^^^ but she sounded British ‘new language of the youth’ – spot on!

    I loved this tale. However I think I interpreted something far darker. Like the Father was doing something that killed off the flock (why would he? Having only just gained 50% attendance) I prefer Helena’s interpretation that the week before he was possibly preaching to a dead parishioner.

    I like his attitude. A definite believer and nothing dark or sinister at all… or is it?

    Like

  11. Adam Ickes says:

    I love it. The humor is thick and pungent- like the stench of a stinky sock, which I happen to not love by the way. I for one am glad you didn’t come up with another idea and rob me of a good laugh.

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  12. Sandra, this really brought laughter to me. And imagine how quickly the percentage can change. There is a slight risk they will be down 100 percent next week. But the upside is that he can preach about whatever he wants with closed eyes.
    Tack sΓ₯ mycket
    BjΓΆrn

    Like

  13. Joe Owens says:

    We we are named the Fictioneers, not the mathematicians. That kind of stuff can easily trick you up. I love how he is so cheeky about the change in his congregation size.

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  14. Dear Sandra,

    I’d say that’s one lifeless congregation to not notice one of their members had been deceased for a week. Love the dark humor. Maybe they need a little lightning from Doug’s story.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Like

  15. Now that’s eerie! I’m not going to make attendance rise another hundred per cent next week!

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  16. rckjones says:

    Oh dear! This was hilarious! I’m a fan of dark humor. Good luck to the parishoners – all two of ’em!

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  17. Ye Pirate says:

    Maybe…..however, legendary first paragraph, and you have only 100 words after all, and here it’s packed. A deluded narrator indeed.

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  18. HI Sandra,
    You have no reason to have reservations about this one. It’s devilishly clever, right from the start. Reminds me of an old joke. They had to cancel the parade of virgins. One was sick and the other one didn’t want to march alone! Ron

    Like

  19. Now there is a man who can roll with the punches. He seems even more optimistic than the guy in my story last week. I like it. πŸ™‚

    Like

  20. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    What an absolute pleasure to read your story this week. I laughed and laughed with each succeeding sentence. This was one of your best ever, and that’s saying a lot.

    Enjoy the internet free ether of the canals in late summer. How I envy you. I’ll be picking up those bicycles post haste.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks for reading Doug, glad you enjoyed it! πŸ™‚ Just watching the mist rise off the river, lovely. Those bicycles are waiting for your tlc. πŸ™‚

      Like

  21. pattisj says:

    Great story, Sandra, that made the perfect ending. On the river–Enjoy!

    Like

  22. Shainbird says:

    Love this Sandra, Father Simeon’s faith can’t be shaken πŸ™‚

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  23. yarnspinnerr says:

    You sure have a great imagination. Kudos πŸ™‚

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  24. mtdecker says:

    That was totally unexpected, well done. I can’t help but think: maybe he should check the church more often.

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  25. Wanderer says:

    Very funny! You sprung the ending on us so well that I had to re-read to make sure I caught it. Great story!

    Like

  26. Mike says:

    I loved this. It made me smile. Mind you it’s having a terrible impact on his attendance percentages!

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  27. But it’s still funny, even if you did just consider it a ‘banker’! You have exceedingly high expectations of yourself!

    Like

  28. Carrie says:

    that guy is definitely a “glass half full” personality!

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  29. claireful says:

    Brilliantly funny story Sandra, and I suspect that this is the way of the village churches up and down the country. If this is your banker, I think you should just write these each week. Only one minor minor picky point. If the ‘live’ parishioner were a man, it would make it clear at the end which she / her you’re talking about.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Ah! I didn’t see that might lead to confusion. But I’m not sure how a man would express his horror – I’ve got the woman screaming… Thanks for reading Claire, great photo.

      Like

  30. Golly, Sandra, your imagination never ceases to amaze me! This was absolutely a work of high comedy, worthy of Monty Python. Funny from the get-go and never stopping. Hooray!

    Like

  31. unspywriter says:

    Every one is making me LOL this morning! Poor priest; his joy gets dashed so quickly, but he kept calm and moved on. πŸ˜‰

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/necessary-sacrifices/

    Like

  32. erinleary says:

    Ok, this one gives you the new title of “Queen of the Macabre”. Really well done. I almost screamed with the new guy.

    Like

  33. Father Simeon has some work to do! Not sure if this is funny, tragic or spooky. Possibly all three. A good read.

    Like

  34. Honie Briggs says:

    Sandra, you’re on the river so you may not see this comment, but I love your “banker”. You know just how to give me a chuckle. This one certainly did. Very funny.

    Like

  35. JackieP says:

    Bored to death takes on a whole new meaning with the priest. hahahah! Sorry, had to do that. Great story. πŸ™‚

    Like

  36. Jacey Faye says:

    This has given me the giggles, too — he’s certainly an optimistic one, this priest! Loved it. πŸ™‚

    Like

  37. I enjoyed this banker, Sandra! I bet this priest burns a lot of incense in his church. Hee hee.

    Like

  38. I loved your story but I have to admit the exchange between you and Helena was just as entertaining.

    Like

  39. benmc47 says:

    I think I’d have preferred it without the priest’s mini-sermon at the end (somehow missed it on the first read through), just being satisfied with the “welcome” – but very nice job.

    Like

  40. Sarah Ann says:

    I don’t know why you had any doubts about this. I was laughing at the word ‘both’ and it only got better. Having read version 1 in my email before clicking through to comment, I have to say I’d missed the mathematical error and the original made complete sense to me.

    Like

  41. Great ending. Didn’t even see that coming.

    Like

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