CHAPTER FOUR: MY FIRST HOLIES AND THE BUBONICS (PART TWO)

AN EARLY CHILDHOOD
The first part of Chapter 2 is here.
The second part of Chapter 2 is here.
The first part of Chapter 4 is here.
The continuation is below.
 
CHAPTER FOUR: MY FIRST HOLIES AND THE BUBONICS (PART TWO)

              All of this brings back memories of my First Holy Communion, which actually took place the following morning. And four months before, we had a practice run in school. And we all queued up like they do at Mass excepting that we weren’t in the Church, but were rather in the schoolhouse. And we each got a little white wafer with I.N.L.A. printed on it, excepting, without doubt, that it wasn’t blessed. And the teacher, Brother Christian Fucker, smashed his fist into little Tadhg Brennan’s already broken face before informing us: “Now, children, you can eat this blessed host because tisn’t blessed. When you’re making your Holy Communion in the not too distant future, the blessed host will be blessed.”


                So each of us got a wafer. Mine tasted like a wafer. But sure, I wondered what the blessed stuff would taste like when I got round to it. I thought maybe once the bread was blessed it would become flavoured with God’s divine menthol and the mint-flavour would be so potent that it would numb my entire head and my breath would be fresh for all eternity and I would be overcome by a super-awing, overwhelming feeling of well-being. But the blessed stuff tasted the exact same when I did finally get around to sampling it. And I felt cheated by the Church, not for the last time in my life.
                Anyway, after our practice run, Brother Christian Fucker intended for us to be made aware of the consequences of giving a filthy Confession. A filthy Confession was one where you didn’t tell all your sins. If you told a filthy Confession, you would end up in Hell.
                Brother Fucker lit a candle and placed it on his desk and he said to the children “Anyone who can hold his finger over this candle for an hour will get a shilling from me.”
                Nobody volunteered, and Brother Fucker said with a wry and satisfied smile “That’s what it’s like for anyone to burn in Hell for all eternity, only rather than for an hour, you’re burning for all eternity, and your entire body will be burning, and not just your finger.”
                Then I said:
                “I’ll do it for three shillings.”
                Everyone gasped.
                “FlanagaaAAAAN, you say that you’ll hold your finger over this candle for an hour for three shillings?” Brother Fucker reiterated.
                “That I will,” I said in response.
                So Brother Fucker withdrew three shillings from the purse hanging from his belt and placed them on his desk.
                “Come on then,” he sez, a sadistic glint in his eye.
                I walked up to the front of the room, held my finger out over the flame, and blew out the candle.
                There was silence in the class for a few moments, and then Brother Fucker’s teeth started grinding and he glared at me for an hour, teeth still grinding as we counted down the minutes until I had lasted the hour with my finger held over the unlit candle. When the hour was up, I snatched up the three shillings and made my way back to my desk.
                Suddenly, Brother Fucker picked Tadhg Brennan up by the hair, dragged him over to the boiler and whipped open the boiler door before throwing him in head first.
                Tadhg Brennan’s screams scared the life out of all of us, and Brother Fucker slammed the boiler door shut and roared “That’s what it’s like to burn in Hell for all eternity!”
                And Tadhg Brennan’s screaming stopped soon after.
                That sort of malicious behaviour was carried out by Brother Fucker for the rest of his teaching days, until he mysteriously wound up in prison, framed for murdering Tadhg Brennan. We knew the truth of the matter though.
                And we had another practice run for the Communion, this time in the church. But we didn’t have any practice wafers left. The Church – in their illbegotten wisdom – only allocate one blessedless practice blessed wafer host to each child of the parish. So Teacher had a hairbrush in his hand, and we queued up in the Church, down along the aisle and right out the door and under the four pseudo-peripteral Corinthian pilasters. And teacher stood at the altar and as each child came up, he’d say:
                “Body of Christ.”
                And you’d go
                “Amen.”
                And he’d tip your tongue with the brush handle and off you’d go, back to your seat among the pews. And it was my turn, and up I came, anxious as mad, heart half thumping out of me. So I stepped up to accept my practice prize of the Host, and Teacher said:
                “Body of Christ.”
                And I said:
                “Amen.”
                And I closed my eyes and opened my mouth ever so slightly, waited with bated breath for the hairbrush to tip my tongue…for a full minute. And then I heard the Church door quietly closing and I looked around and wasn’t the whole place completely empty except for myself? That practical joke taught me one of two valuable things; the first is that whenever somebody tells me there’s something on the tip of their tongue, I get a jealous pang in the bowels. Secondly, I always keep my eyes wide open now whenever I go up for the Communion. And the third thing of unique importance in this story is that the tipping of brush handles on the children’s tongues led to a virulent outbreak of leprosy which spread like a contagion throughout the Communion class, which was very unhygienic. It did bond the class because of the experience, so that was a positive thing, but twas no wonder the two of us bonded when it was only the two of us survived. Unfortunately, I picked up the leprosy – less serious though it was – because I tongue-kissed one of the girls who had had the brush tipped off her tongue. So I was an early bloomer when it came to the leprosy.

The end of this chapter is here.