©2000 by Hesse Carrington

     Much to Maytock’s disappointment, the chapel at Mount St. Benedict hadn’t been an outstanding architectural find.  She had expected elaborate stained-glass windows depicting St. Teresa clutching her breast in ecstasy – eyes half-closed, head tilted slightly backward, her expression, one of absolute surrender to God – or Blessed Anne-Marie cloistered in humility as a flock of African children gathered around her.  The chapel had no high wooden arches.  No murals or frescos or mosaics.  Simple, exceedingly simple in structure – a rectangular room filled with pews, a wooden table, somewhat defective, one leg being a half-inch shorter than the rest, was the substitute altar.  The stations of the cross, not to be over-critical, were not of the best craftsmanship – Jesus appeared deformed.  Had Maytock not known her history, she would have thought him a mutant – lips thin and contorted, eyes green and icy, the left side of his face hung loosely as if he were paralyzed.  Of all the artist monstrosities, the statues appalled Maytock the most.  They looked like ghoulish plastercine idols.  Mary’s livid face terrified Maytock.  She stared at the Virgin’s pallid complexion.  The statue was a disastrous copy of Michelangelo’s Pieta.  It reminded Maytock of Chaac Mool.  Mary’s skin appeared porous and spongy.  Horrified, Maytock imagined God becoming angry because the factories and office buildings touched the rim of Heaven instead of Church steeples.  Would God in his wrath send a second flood? And if He did and the statue of Mary got wet, would she grow mossy and slimy, all bearded in mildew like Chaac Mool?  Would she like Chaac Mool come alive and feed on the blood of drained fowls and the viscera of slaughtered cats?  Would God keep His promise?  Maytock’s mind raced in a frenzy of wild imaginings.

     Much disgusted by the pathetic Pieta, she turned her focus to her mother.  She was kneeling at the front of the chapel, hands clasped together in reverent prayer.  Although Maytock saw only the back of her mother, she could envision the grief-stricken visage of her mother – her lips trembling while mumbling softly, “Maytock isn’t like that!  She just isn’t!  Why my child, God?”  Tears flooded her mother’s eyes.  Her breast heaved grievously.
 Maytock stared, her eyes unshifting from the kneeling woman who prayed passionately for the deliverance of her daughter’s soul.

     In her breast, Maytock felt the guilt of a thousand sins, heavy and burdensome.  In the background, the church bells beckoned the sinners mournfully.  Who was it that rang the bell, she wondered.  Was it Judas Iscariot yanking the rope of faith, screaming in the belfry, “Come to prayer, you damned fools!  Come!  Do you wish to be like me, the cut-throat I am, betrayer of the faith?”

     Had Maytock betrayed the faith in loving Azoon?  Did it matter that Azoon was a girl?  Honor thy mother and thy father. The commandment tolled in her soul, resonating like the bell.  Judas jumped up and down pulling the rope, his robe flying wildly, the purse of silvers jingling on his belt reminding him of his deed.  The priests chanted in the dark desolate monasteries Sed libera nos a malo.  Had Maytock submitted to evil? 

     On a grassy hillside, Moses knelt with the tablets upraised to God, and the stone bled crimson pearls.  Moses glared at Maytock: Honor thy mother, you vile child of base spirit!

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