Crackpots, Crooks, and Cowboys
Book Two of a Stratham Town Father Andrew Trilogy
Copyright © 2017 by Gerald Lopez
AS SOON AS HE got past the, still under construction, front entrance of the hospital, Father Andrew ran into Tate. The uniformed police officer walked up to Father Andrew and shook his hand.
“How are you this fine day, Father Andrew?” Tate said.
“I’m doing well, thank you, Tate. You’re not here on official business, are you?”
“No, Sir,” Tate said, then lifted the large, white takeout bag that he held. “The champ asked if I’d bring him a pulled pork sandwich from Piggy’s Place.”
“How is Christian doing?” Father Andrew said. “I was just on my way to see him.”
“Then come along and see for yourself,” Tate said.
Father Andrew and Tate waved to Tulah who was working the front desk and she smiled at them.
Christian was sitting up in bed when Tate and Father Andrew entered his room.
“Oh my God!” Christian said. “Do I smell food from Piggy’s Place?”
“You did ask for a pulled pork sandwich, didn’t you?” Tate said.
“Yeah,” Christian said. “But I was just being a lil bitch about it. I didn’t think you’d really get me the sandwich.” He turned to Father Andrew. “Hi, Father.”
“Hi, how are you feeling, Christian?”
“I’m ready to get out of here and go back to school,” Christian said. “The longer I stay in here, the more work I have to make up. And I don’t want to be left behind and miss graduating with my class—no matter how screwed up that class has turned out to be.”
“So, do you want your sandwich or not, Champ?” Tate said. “Because I’d have no problem eating mine and yours.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Christian said. “Throw mine on my tray. My mouth is watering just smelling that food.”
Tate opened the bag and removed a Styrofoam food container from it that he then placed on Tate’s tray.
“Did you notice Tate didn’t offer to give you my sandwich if I didn’t want it, Father?” Christian said. “Tate’s nice but a bit piggy himself sometimes.”
“Ingrate,” Tate said, then he laughed as did Christian.
“You two have become fast friends I see,” Father Andrew said.
“Tate’s all traumatized and guilt-ridden because he found me with my cute ass all naked and up in the air,” Christian said. “Being a cold-hearted bastard, I’m taking advantage of him and having him do my bidding.”
“You are a bit of a bastard,” Tate said. “But you couldn’t take advantage of me if you tried. And I wasn’t traumatized over your naked ass—I’ve seen better. I was shook up a little because I thought you were dead. And you know I follow your football team.”
“You have a nerve lying in front of a priest,” Christian said, then giggled almost like a child rather than an eighteen-year-old. “You know you haven’t seen a better ass than mine.”
They all laughed at Christian’s comment and Christian opened his food container then looked at Father Andrew. “I can’t eat all this myself, Father Andrew. If you want some you can scoot on up here and share. The sandwich is already cut in half and there are homemade onion rings to go with it.”
“I’m very familiar with Piggy’s,” Father Andrew said. “They don’t skimp on meat. And if you’re serious, I’d be more than happy to share in your meal.”
“I never say anything I don’t mean,” Christian said. “Come on over here, Father.”
“Christian’s telling the truth about never saying anything he doesn’t mean,” Tate said. “That’s why he has to apologize so much to people.” He chuckled.
“Do you have time to eat with us, Tate?” Christian said.
“I do indeed,” Tate said, then sat in a chair in front of Christian’s bed. Next to it was a table he could put his food container on.
While Father Andrew situated himself next to Christian, Tate took his food container out of the bag.
“I’m so dumb, I forgot drinks,” Tate said. “Let me go grab us some sodas from the vending machine. Cokes all around?”
“That works for me,” Father Andrew said.
“Me too,” Christian said. “Yo, Tate, I know I owe you money for food, the doughnuts you got, and—”
“When you get out of here and after we do the gym challenge you can treat me to a meal and we’ll be even,” Tate said, as he headed toward the door.
“I’ll definitely do that, Chicken Legs,” Christian said.
Tate who was already out the door poked his head back into the room and replied. “I do not have chicken legs.” He exited again and Christian laughed.
“He’s really a decent guy,” Christian said to Father Andrew while the priest ate an onion ring. “Tate, my godfather, and my uncle have taken turns staying with me here. You know what—I heard them talking to me when I was in the coma. I just couldn’t reply.”
“How are you feeling about everything that’s happened?” Father Andrew said after wiping his mouth with a napkin that was one of several on the tray.”
“This may not make sense, Father, but I feel kind of numb. Like nothing really happened to me, even my broken arm isn’t too bad today. For having my head bashed with a pipe it doesn’t hurt much. Can you believe I didn’t even need stitches?”
“God was watching out for you that day,” Father Andrew said.
“I really do think he was,” Christian said. “It was as if I was being kept some place safe while I was in the coma. Not here on Earth, but kind of between Heaven and Earth—but not limbo. It felt like a place of healing.”
“Wow, that’s amazing,” Father Andrew said. “Oh, Father Dominic and Vince said to give you their regards.”
“They’re cool, that was nice of them,” Christian said, as he watched Father Andrew take a bite of his very full sandwich half. “Thank you for visiting me, Father. Is Father Dominic leaving the priesthood?”
“Yes,” Father Andrew said. “He and Hélène Moulette are getting married.”
“Don’t you ever get lonely, Father Andrew?” He scooted closer to Father Andrew.
“Not really,” Father Andrew said. “I have my job and I always thought of Jesus as my best friend who I could talk to when I needed someone.”
“Yeah, but what about physical things?”
“Speaking of physical things, Christian,” Father Andrew said, attempting to change the conversation. “Before Tate comes back I wanted to ask how you feel about having been sexually assaulted.”
“I embarrassed you, Father, I’m sorry,” Christian said. “You’re really, really handsome, you know.”
“Thank you,” Father Andrew said. “And you’re very, very young.”
“I’m legal,” Christian said. “Would I stand a chance with you if we were the last two people on the planet?”
“If we were the last two, yes,” Father Andrew said. “But we’re not. Eat your food, Christian.”
“Sorry, again. The whole sex assault thing has stayed in my mind and made me think about sex of course. I’m kind of confused by it all.”
“How so?” Father Andrew said.
“Well, I don’t remember it since I was already out cold. To be honest, I’d been with a couple guys before and done all that—and,” he got flustered and ate an onion ring.
“And what, Christian?” Father Andrew said.
“It was Morgan,” Christian said. “I haven’t said nice things about him in the past, but I always thought he was really good-looking and… well, maybe I would’ve wanted to do it with him anyway. Does that mean I deserved what happened or that I’m just a big ole’ slut?”
“No, it doesn’t mean that, dummy,” Tate said, entering the room with soda cans, two of which he put down on Christian’s tray. “You couldn’t give your consent so it was rape plain and simple.”
“But it wasn’t so plain and simple,” Christian said. “Morgan is mentally unstable. He didn’t even realize what he was doing.”
“He realized it,” Father Andrew said. “He just didn’t know it was you, Christian, and he felt really bad about that fact.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Christian said. “Like he didn’t think I was good enough to screw or something except when he was looney tunes out of his mind!”
“Christian, calm yourself,” Father Andrew said.
“We don’t know what Morgan was thinking exactly,” Tate said. “That’s why he’s in a mental asylum. He probably didn’t like the idea of hurting someone who went to school with his brother. Don’t make it something it’s not. You were assaulted, not out on a date.”
“But I don’t even remember it,” Christian said, then took a bite of his sandwich.
“That doesn’t matter,” Tate said. “You weren’t given the chance to say yes or no in that situation. Even if you are a horn dog you still have the right to refuse someone.”
“I feel like I just want to fuck everyone to get my… my—” Christian said.
“To get your what?” Father Andrew said. “Tell us, Christian.”
“My power back,” Christian said. “He took my power and left me helpless and alone.” He turned to Father Andrew and cried.
“Oh, Champ,” Tate said and walked up to Christian’s other side, sat beside him and hugged him. “The one thing you’re not is alone—believe me.”
A short time later after Christian had stopped crying, they all sat back full from their meals. Tate had stayed on the bed at Christian’s left side while Father Andrew was on Christian’s right.
“I want to see Morgan,” Christian said. “Make it happen, Tate.”
“The hell I will,” Tate said.
“I need to know if he’s really sorry about what he did,” Christian said.
“No,” Tate said. “At least not until you’ve had some counseling and the counselor says it’s okay.”
“I’ll go with that,” Christian said. “But it won’t be on my permanent record, will it? When I go for a job interview they won’t see that I had mental counseling and think I’m crazy.”
“I don’t think it works that way, Champ,” Tate said. “For now just take things one day at a time.”
“Okay,” Christian said. “Thanks for being there for me, Tate, you too Father Andrew. Can we forget the earlier thing too, Father?”
“Already forgotten,” Father Andrew said.
Tate laughed loudly. “Oh, Lord, Champ, you didn’t.” He looked at Christian’s face and laughed again. “You did. Man, you do have a nerve, I’ll give you that much.”
“Don’t embarrass him,” Father Andrew said.
“Heck, everyone has a crush on you, Father,” Tate said. “The girls, the gay boys. Christian just… well, he’s definitely got a set of steel balls on him.”
Christian covered his face with his hands, embarrassed.
“Tate,” Father Andrew said.
“Christian, I’m an ass,” Tate said. “I’d do Father Andrew myself if given half the chance, okay, bud. You’re more of a man than me if you actually went for it.” He gave a hand salute to Christian who was looking at him. “Heck, try going on a date with Vince when all he has on his mind is the good priest here.”
“Everybody likes Vince too,” Christian said. “I don’t see what the big deal with him is anyway. He’s a blond, albeit a strawberry one—I’m blond. Father Andrew is more attractive in my book. Heck, even you’re more attractive, Tate.”
“Geez, thanks for that,” Tate said.
“You do have those chicken legs,” Christian said.
“Christian, where have your parents been all the time you’ve been here?” Father Andrew said.
“That would be the million dollar question,” Tate said. “They should’ve been here with their son.”
“They’ve been in Savannah visiting my older brother Doug and his family. Doug’s a fireman and has two small kids. The kids are really cute.”
“And your parents were too busy with Douggie boy to come visit you,” Tate said. “That really pisses me off!”
“Did someone mention us and pissing in the same sentence?” Mathis Tyson said.