Sunday, February 18, 2007

Exorcism: the Waiting

Marcus pulls his car into a spot in the mostly-deserted lot behind the Cannon House Office Building. "Her office is on the fourth floor," he says to Father Seamus. "You don't have any guns or knives in that bag, do you Father? We'll never get 'em past the guard."

"No," replies Father Seamus, "the only real weapon I have is the Archbishop's false teeth, as I was tellin' ya.

The rain continues to fall as the two men trudge along the sidewalk, up the steps, and into a rear door, often used by members and staff. Their shoes squeak as they walk across the terrazzo floor in the dim hallway; they present themselves to the guard. Marcus pulls out a laminated ID card with his picture. The card is strung on a lanyard and Marcus hangs it around his neck.

"Hello, Marcus," says the guard, "You've been around a lot lately."

"Um, yes I guess I have. You know what say: Behind every successful woman is a man. That's me!"

"Who's your sidekick, a man of the cloth I see."

"He's a constituent of Congresswoman Bachmann's. This is Reverend O'Connor. Just write 'Revered O'Connor' there where he's pointing on the log."

The guard offers a pen and shows Father Seamus where to write his name. He writes "Reverend O'Connor" awkwardly and scribbly. "Do you vouch for this fella, Marcus?" asks the guard. Marcus nods, and the guard continues, "I'll still have to look in that leather bag."

"Are you sure you need to do that, my son?" asks Father Seamus.


Reluctantly, Father Seamus undoes the clasp holding the bag shut and hands over the small leather valise. The guard peers in, and then he reaches in for the false teeth. "I have to ask. These are very unusual false teeth. Since you still have your teeth, and these look like they could be used to cut somebody, tell me what these are for."

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Be careful with those! They're a family heirloom," says Father Seamus.

"OK," replies the guard, "but maybe I ought to just hold these until you leave."

"'Ah, but they have special sentimental value to this poor priest. I'd be bereft without 'em. Do I look like a terrorist, son?"

"No, I guess not. You may keep them. Marcus, I don't think Congresswoman Bachmann is in right now."

"She isn't, but we're expecting her a little later."

"All right. I'll see you two later. I'm here all night."

Marcus and the little priest take their leave and head up to Michele's office. When they get there, Marcus opens the door to reveal an empty ante room. Empty, except for the straight jacket, shackles, and jug of water that Marcus had managed to get by the guard earlier in the evening.

"Perfect!" exclaims Father Seamus. "This is about as safe an environment as we could ask for. Are ye prepared for the room to go really hot or cold, Marcus?"

"I wore my warmest coat and I brought a hat and gloves."

"Good. Now you're ready to be my assistant, aren't you Marcus?"

"What? Assistant? I didn't know you needed an assistant. I'm not sure I can do that."

"You have to. I can't do it all by myself. Especially the rough stuff."

"Rough stuff?"

"Sure. Like getting her into the straight jacket and shackles. That kind of stuff. I may need you to take a spell of the prayin', too. Think of it as you first act as a new Catholic. Startin' off pretty high falutin' if you ask me."

"Well, okay," says Marcus, uncertainly. "I guess I can."

"That's the spirit," assures Father Seamus. "Now, I'll hide behind the door to push it shut and lock it when Michele comes in. That's when you need to be ready. It's almost eleven now. We'd better get ready."

Father Seamus crouches beside the door where he will be concealed when it is opened. Marcus switches off the light. They wait several minutes. Nothing. Marcus is breathing noisily in the dark. "Be calm, my son," says Father Seamus.

"Why did you have me sign in the way I did?" asks Father Seamus.

"Because if you wrote Father Seamus, Michele will be instantly wary if she checks the sign in list when she comes."

"Ah, good thinking, my son."

"Father, do you really think this will work?" asks an anxious Marcus.

"Piece of cake," replies the priest. "That is if she comes at all."

"Oh, she will. She was invited to a Daughters of the American Revolution confab tonight. But I told Michele that we need to air some things, and she agreed to come after."

"I didn't know your wife was DAR."

"Oh, she's not. But she travels in the same circles."

"Oh feck! The DAR is mostly a bunch of stuffy Prods!" And now whispering, Father Seamus continues, "Steady now Marcus. I hear a key in the door."

There is the scraping of a key turning in the lock, and the door swings open.

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