Excerpt - from Supervisions

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  Table of Contents  
     
  Dust to Dust................................................................................
The Kitchen Table.........................................................................
Chill Winds...................................................................................
Soaking......................................................................................
The Dream..................................................................................
The Journal.................................................................................
The Morning After.........................................................................
The Invitation..............................................................................
The Lecture.................................................................................
The Crux.....................................................................................
The Challenge..............................................................................
There but For the Grace of God Go I................................................
The Party...................................................................................
In the Dark.................................................................................
The Homecoming..........................................................................
Conversations..............................................................................
The Dream of Being Us..................................................................
The Lesson.................................................................................
Friendship...................................................................................
The Cabin...................................................................................
SuperVisions................................................................................
“Not all those who wander are lost…”...............................................
Flame of Love...............................................................................
Reflections...................................................................................
Afterword....................................................................................
Acknowledgments..........................................................................

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Dust to Dust

      The taxi had not even left the airport before she leaned forward and told the driver she wanted to make a stop along the way.
      “Of course I’ll pay you to wait,” she said. “I won’t be long.”

***

      Jake was sitting quietly on the old stone bench near the grave of his boyhood friend when he noticed the taxi driving slowly up the road. No sooner had it stopped than the passenger stepped out, leaving the door open behind her. Jake could not help but watch as she walked briskly up the path in the direction of a well-manicured grave marked with a modest headstone. He would have turned back to his own solemn vigil were it not for the fact that when the woman took her first step onto the soft grass, the high heel of her red shoe plunged deep into the ground, breaking her stride and nearly tripping her. His attention now fully engaged, he watched with fascination as she righted herself, seemingly unfazed, and in one swift move stripped off her shoes and carried them with her to the grave…

***

      Later that day, sitting in the chair that looked out over her garden, she took a sip of wine and examined the muddied shoe in her hand. A wry smile flitted across her face, and then she reached for the phone.
      “Hello Anne,” came the friendly voice of her mentor. “How was the conference?”
      “I would say my presentation went very well, and what I saw of London was quite wonderful.”
      “Well congratulations then, it sounds like it was a success.”
      “I imagine so Margot, but…” she hesitated.
      “Yes?”
      “Well, it’s almost embarrassing to say, on the last night of the conference, I slept with the director.”
      “Oh dear, yes I see. Old patterns certainly die hard.”
      “Indeed.”

 

The Kitchen Table 

      The journal lay open on the old kitchen table between them. Her fury unbridled now, jaw fixed in defiance, her large hazel eyes shooting angry daggers at her mother, fingers clawing through the tangles of her long brown hair—she should have known, she should have known better. What had made her think the progress she had been making in therapy—the tiny insights and the techniques she had only recently learned—could stand up against the age-old fortress of her mother’s denials, rebukes, and defenses?
      Only a short time before she stood poised at the entrance of the old house, the home of her birth, waiting for her mother to unlock the heavy wooden door. She was Anita Burrows; she was an adult; she was confident and strong—she was no longer a victim like her poor brother. She was ready now, and she was eager to confront her mother and the demons that had haunted her since childhood. But within five minutes of feeling her mother’s icy greeting at the door and smelling the familiar scents of the old house—heavy food and furniture polish—she forgot everything—her tools, her intent, her newfound self.
      “Have you ever seen this before?” she accused her mother, pushing the little brown book closer to her.
      “Never,” Grace shot back. “How do you even know it’s Ronny’s?”
       “Just read it. Just pick it up and read it,” she demanded and watched her mother’s eyes narrow as she scanned a page, then grow wide as she read further. She saw her mother’s posture stiffen, her mouth open as if she was about to say something, then clamp shut as she all but dropped the journal back onto the table between them like she was ridding herself of something unclean.
      Anita looked down at the journal; she felt her heart beating in her temples; she knew she was losing it. “I cannot believe you insisted that Ronny continue to be tutored by that sick degenerate,” she heard herself shriek, and she beat her fists on the table, overturning her coffee cup—the spreading dark stain creeping along the table toward the precious journal. Anita grabbed it up and clasped it tightly against her chest as her mother feverishly tried to blot up the liquid with paper napkins from the yellow plastic holder on the table.
      “Now look what you’ve done—for the love of Christ control yourself!” Grace yelled while reaching for another napkin. “Will you never learn to leave well enough alone?”
      “Well enough alone? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Didn’t you read this?” Anita shot back, waving the journal at her mother, who sat staunchly defiant, her face set in an expression of stalwart self-righteousness, her teeth clenched tight in denial behind pale loveless lips.
      “I really had no idea it was happening,” she said while averting her eyes from her daughter’s fiery stare, “and frankly, I still don’t know whether it was. He was only a boy; perhaps he was making it up.”

      



      “Making it up! You still can’t admit it, can you? You read it! Here, read it again.” Anita slammed the journal down on the table in front of her mother and, pointing to the words, read aloud, ‘He is my mentor; he is my confessor… he is evil.’ How could you think he was making it all up?”     
      “He was only a boy,” her mother repeated and stared back at Anita. In the intensity of that moment, Anita was able to see, clearly see perhaps for the first time, the truth behind the expression on her mother’s face: the eyes that saw only what the mind wanted her to see and the mouth locked by lips that would admit to nothing save the mind’s attempts to turn fault intoaccusation. It revealed all that was wrong and perverted about the Catholic Church—how the fertile ground of its hypocrisy could nurture and protect child molesters and abusers within its ranks.
       Anita’s anger and sense of betrayal were beyond all bounds; she was on her feet and pacing now—inflated with rage she felt ten feet tall—a ten-foot-tall twenty-two-year-old adult regressed to an eight-year-old child. Totally out of control, her hips crashed against the old wooden table, shoving it to within inches of where her mother sat bracing herself against her rampage.
       “That is quite enough!” Grace shouted at her daughter, her voice loud and shrill with a mixture of fear and anger. But Anita did not hear a word of it; blinded by her own frenzy, she had been transformed into a giant wild creature writhing in hatred against everything in her sight. The perfectly stacked dishes behind the cabinet’s glass doors, another symbol of her mother’s control and repression, further stoked the raging fire within her, and when her wild stare rested momentarily on the carved cross that hung in shadows on the wall above the sink, she saw a malevolent darkness radiating from it—like death—mocking her anger and shrieking its damnation.
       “Shit!” she screamed when she saw the dishtowels neatly folded on the countertop, remembering how her mother always folded the dirty side under so no one could see. “How long are you going to keep folding those damn towels so no one can see the dirt?” she yelled.
       “Don’t swear, and sit down!” her mother yelled back, attempting to regain some control over the situation while she continued to grip the old wooden table, but her admonishment went unheard against the roaring tempest her daughter had become. “Look at yourself,” she continued to fight back. “Is this what you’ve been learning from that Godless psychology you practice? You would be better off going to church every day to beg forgiveness for your own sins.”
       Anita thought she was going crazy—serpents writhed inside her belly; she was a caged tiger. She imagined herself smashing plates, coffee cups, the furniture itself, and pulling that damn cross down off the wall. “Damn the Church and damn the hypocrisy!” she cried out loud.
       “Anita! Calm yourself and listen to me. I do know the truth! Your brother got in with the wrong sort. He was experimenting with drugs. We know that now. There isn’t a day goes by I don’t pray for his soul…”

   



         “Pray for his soul? Why in hell would you have to pray for his soul? As if he were to blame! And for God’s sake don’t talk to me about his soul. Do you think you can see his soul? Nobody can see his soul. Why don’t you pray he just becomes invisible? Then nobody will see; nobody will remember. Just like your damn dishtowels!”    
      Grace looked over at the towels. She really had no idea what her daughter was talking about.
       “He was just an innocent boy!” Anita continued to shriek while glaring at her mother with a fury that offered no escape. But her mother’s defenses were set in denial—she would not give in.
       “It appears I need to be praying for your soul too,” she shot back. “Your brother was mixed up. No doubt the drugs made him believe things that weren’t true. His suicide is a mortal sin, and I must pray to the good Lord to release him from the retribution…”
       Anita never heard the end of her mother’s sentence. She covered her ears and started screaming as loudly as she could, “Don’t, don’t, don’t—don’t tell me he is the one who sinned—who pushed him to it? Who? Oh, of course not the good Monsignor Aleksy, defender of the faith and servant of God, envoy of Jesus Christ Himself! Not that lecherous asshole!”
       “Anita! That is more than enough!” proclaimed her mother as she rose imperiously from the table. “I will not tolerate such blasphemy. Take this infernal journal,” she commanded while throwing it at her daughter, “take it and burn it and NEVER speak of this to me again.”
       Anita imagined herself grabbing the knife off the counter and plunging it into her mother’s chest. Instead, she scooped up her brother’s journal and bolted from the kitchen. She wanted to run and never stop.
       As she turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs, she nearly toppled her father, who had just come through the front door. He looked down on her pale, tearstained face in alarm.
       “Nita? What?” he said, though he knew without her saying anything that she and her mother had been fighting again.
       Anita threw her arms around him and started sobbing. He gently embraced her.
       “You had another argument, didn’t you?” Her body wracked with sobs, but she managed to nod.
       “It was about Ronny, Daddy. She’s blaming the whole thing on him! I hate her! I hate Father Aleksy and his whole damn Church.
Oh Daddy…”
       Her father did what he had done so many times before—cradled her head in his hands and sweetly caressed the hair away from her face.
       “Oh Daddy,” she repeated and looked up into his eyes—those incredible eyes with their deep pain so beautifully arched with love. So incredible, they had always been like balm for her, soothing the pain of all her hurts and disappointments.



And even now, in the throes of her deepest agony, she could feel the anger beginning to wash away, the heaving sobs subsiding. She felt dizzy, but quieter. He could always do this for her, but this time as she looked at his face she saw—she felt—something more, something different that deeply disturbed her, something in his eyes she had never seen before.
       “What is it, Daddy? Tell me,” she quietly implored. But he remained silent, stroking her face, tears beginning to well in his eyes. Anita felt herself going cold as the chill of fear possessed her.
       “Daddy? Please…”
His heart was pounding. How could he tell his beloved daughter what he had just learned? Somehow, he would find a way to prepare her; but now was not the moment to add more pain to her already overflowing cup.
      “Only that it hurts to see you so upset… and of course, it reminds me of Ronny,” he replied, averting his eyes.
      She searched his face for a clue, but whatever she had seen, or thought she had seen, was gone.
      “Daddy, why won’t she admit it—that Ronny was abused by Father Aleksy? She has to know he was and is just trying to hide it from everyone—like her damn dishtowels!”
      Her father looked at her with a blank stare; then his eyes lit up—he hated those hypocrite towels too—and he started to shake with laughter. So did Anita, releasing what her tears could not.

 


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