1851. Memory lapse
© Bruce Goodman 17 June 2020
Vernon was the head organist at a notable cathedral in a major city. (It’s no use trying to guess where it was because this is fiction). Vernon couldn’t remember how many sermons he had endured.|
During the sermon Vernon used to pop out onto the tower balcony for a quick cigarette. He could easily duck out because he was in the organ loft high above the clergy and congregation. He looked way down on them and his disappearance would not be noticed from below.
He could vaguely hear the preacher from the tower balcony. Sometimes, if the preacher droned on, Vernon could have several cigarettes. Being the only one ever to use the balcony (it was blocked to tourists) Vernon had an old plum jam tin where he chucked his butts. It was a large tin, and in the eleven years of being the head organist he had emptied it only three times. As he said to his wife, “It shows you how many sermons I’ve endured.”
On this particular Sunday (it being a notable feast day) the visiting preacher was particularly wordy. Vernon was hearing for the third time that “perdition awaits those who don’t agree” when he realized he had accidentally locked himself out on the cathedral tower balcony.
This was the very weekend that his wife had gone to visit her elderly mother in another city quite distant from the cathedral city. His disappearance would not be noticed.
What a shemozzles! No one could hear him call out and he’d locked the door from the church up into the organ loft, so no one could dash up to find out why he wasn’t intoning the hymns on the organ. Nor was it one of those Sundays when the choir was there.
The visiting clergyman used his initiative, and in the event of not having an organist simply intoned the opening words of each hymn and the congregation took it up without accompaniment.
The service was over. Everyone went home, except for Vernon high in the tower locked out on the little balcony.
The day turned into afternoon; the afternoon to evening; the evening to night. It was starting to get cold; very cold. Vernon had wet his pants. He was out of cigarettes. Have you ever tried to break down a centuries-old iron door on an ancient gothic cathedral? And then it started to rain. He would die of the cold before he starved to death.
That was when Vernon remembered his cell phone.
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