Confessional (novel excerpt) pt1
Because a little self promotion never did anyone any harm...
Here's a piece of my novel I submitted for review a couple of months back, alas long since vanished into the thread void.
Father Tyer picked his way through sea of threadbare beds and mattresses and their even more threadbare occupants. His long flowing white robe pulled up nearly to his knees lest the garment’s gold embroidered hem brushed against the layer of inground dirt and filth that coated the hard wooden floor.
His guide, a scrawny half-caste boy, who had introduced himself by some barely pronounceable islander name, but had then added that most folks round here just called him Charles, had no such problems navigating this, the realm of the sick and infirm. His dark skin and grubby clothing rendering him nearly invisible in the smoky half light, the youth ducked and weaved his way through the maze cramped rooms and narrow corridors, pausing all too infrequently to allow Tyer to catch up.
Dozens of pairs of eyes followed his progress. Some angry and resentful, others probing and curious that one such has himself, a pillar of the church, should be here in this place. A few didn’t see anything at all as sight was not a given amongst the hospitals occupants. Still, those who were able would sit up and tilt their heads in the direction of the priest’s echoing footfalls. The sightless gaze of their eyes either swathed in bandages or glazed over grey with blindness, prickled the hairs on the back of Tyers neck.
‘Trough here, sah’ the boy said, his strong south sea accent slurring the words.
The priest nodded his thanks and stepped through the doorway.
The man was dead. That was the first impression.
He lay in the bed, naked, torso covered by a light brown sheet speckled with crimson, his skin a gruesome mess of red welts, dark bruises, clotted blood and other assorted juices. The rhythmic rise and fall of his chest was so slight it was almost invisible. Now that, Tyer thought, looks like a man who has been beaten to within an inch of his life, perhaps even further.
‘He’s better than he looks’ said a voice.
Father Tyer, thankful for the distraction, looked away, turning his head to face the speaker, but finding no-one. ‘I… I should certainly hope so’ he replied, still scanning the room for the voices owner.
‘But how rude of me’ the other man said, and now Tyer saw him, kneeling next to the bed dabbing the injured mans forehead with a damp cloth, his mop of long dark hair obscuring his features. ‘You know of me but not, I think, by my face, name of Jonathan’ He replaced the cloth in the bucket next to him, and stood up ‘Forgive me if I do not extend a hand to greet you, mine is not the most savoury of occupations you understand, ahhh yes I see you do. And you brother would be…’
‘Of course. And this’, Jonathan motioned to the man on the bed ‘is Brother Anderson.’
‘Oh…’ Tyer froze and looked away.
‘I assume you did receive my letter?’ Jonathan said, his eyes following Tyers darting counterparts ‘Of course you did’ he continued, answering his own question ‘how foolish of me to ask, else you wouldn’t be here’ their eyes met for instant ‘Did you wish to say something Tyer’
‘Yes’ said Tyer avoiding his gaze ‘but could we talk somewhere else? Somewhere private?’
Jonathan looked around the small cramped room. Apart from themselves and comatose Anderson it was empty. ‘Certainly’ he shot Tyer a curious glance ‘This way’
Charles was still waiting in the corridor slouched against a wall, his fingers drumming tunelessly against its uneven wooden surface. Jonathan coughed meaningfully. The youth instantly straightened up.
‘Myself and Father Tyer here have some business to discuss. We may be some time. Would you be so good as to keep any eye on Father Anderson for me? There is a cloth in the bucket next to the bed. I’m sure you know what to do.’
The youth quickly vanished through the door. The two men continued in silence.
Presently they passed a young woman fending off an imaginary attacker in her nightmare-laced sleep, their silence mingling with her screams and the doctors soothing words. Tyer noticed Jonathan shift slightly in her direction, his speed slowing to a shuffle until they turned into a corridor deserted save for the ever-present aromas of soap, bile and blood.
To be continued....
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