Monday, 29 June 2009
Family Secrets 2
Pat and Mary Reagan were outwardly proud and privately relieved when their youngest, Barry, joined a religious community. Barry was never likely to follow his brothers into the family firm. His first attempt at hod-carrying had ended in tears (his) and a broken foot (his father’s). He suffered from asthma and vertigo, so his Uncle Tom’s scaffolding firm was equally denied him.
He was not one for a drink or a bet, and on family occasions would be found with the women, listening to them bemoan the moral standing of friends and neighbours. Barry sat quietly by, eyes sparkling, taking in every nuance of the feminine pecking order.
The women set him up with Maureen from the post office. A large girl with thick wavy hair and no obvious impairments, she watched him weep inaudibly in the bus shelter on the way home from their first date, and consigned him, loudly, to the role of Village Nancy.
Barry finally secured a part time position in the Chemists, where he dutifully doled out mouthwash, haemorrhoid cream and sanitary wear to the small community. The younger women objected to his whey-faced involvement in their intimate requirements, but the elder forbore with him, such a nice boy, if a worry to his mother.
Finally the parish priest, Father Nigel, arranged for Barry to become a lay brother at a small religious community in the back country. It would give him a purpose and keep him out of trouble, Father Nigel opined.
“My own son a bride of Christ,” grumbled Pat Reagan over a pint of porter, as Barry was shipped out to his vocation.
“Bride of Father Nigel, more like,” muttered his brother, Tom. “Still, good luck to him.”
Barry had kept Maureen out of the family; they could afford to be charitable.