The Vicar’s Lent

It was the thirty eighth day of Lent, and the Rev Simon Abernathy was beginning to regret his life choices.

He didn’t know why he wanted to be crucified in a Passion Play, but somehow he did. Luckily the rest of the PCC had voted against it.

John had suggested a bake sale, but Simon felt it was a bit too nice to do during Lent, he wanted to do something hardcore.

And so the PCC decided to compromise by flagellating themselves throughout Lent. Which they did. Some even had to do it on their birthday.

Simon had realised early on that it was a stupid thing to do, but continued to whip himself anyway.

Feeling that the whole thing was his fault, Simon wanted to apologise formally to the others, and to reward them and himself in some way.

So he decided to have them round for a meal at the Vicarage.

Once everyone was sat round the table, Simon officially began the proceedings.

“I most sincerely apologise for what I’ve put you through this past month,” Simon announced. “I just don’t know what I was thinking.”

“To be honest the fault is all ours, for not having the courage to disagree with you,” John said.

“I should have just gone with your bake sale,” Simon said. “But, I guess I was just hellbent on suffering as Christ suffered.”

“It’s ok,” John said.

“To be honest I’ve never felt more alive,” Robert added.

“Really?” Simon asked.

“Yes,” Robert replied.

“Ok,” Simon said. “Well, anyway, as a way of saying sorry, I’ve invited you all here on the night Jesus and his disciples had one last supper together before Jesus was crucified, for a meal of our own.”

“Except no one will betray you tonight,” John said.

“Or deny you three times,” Dave added.

“Well, I would hope so,” Simon said. “Anyway, without further a due. Bon appetite.”

With that, the PCC ate their meal.

One the first course was finished, John stood up.

“I’ve got to go now, Simon. I have work to do at home in order to get the pub ready to re open on the twelfth.”

“Aren’t you going to stay for dessert?” Simon asked.

“I would if I could. Be I simply have too much work to do.” John responded. “Thank you for the meal anyway, bye.”

Simon and the rest of the PCC bade John goodbye, and he left the room.

“Right, time for dessert.” Simon said, before taking away everyone’s plates and getting dessert ready.

As he ate his Trifle, Simon felt that there was something oddly familiar about John leaving the meal early.

When he realised, he shuddered, then put the thought to the back of his mind whilst he continued his Trifle.

When the meal ended, Simon bade goodbye to the rest of the PCC as they left the Vicarage.

John then emerged from the darkness.

“Hello, Simon,” he said.

“John. I thought you had work to do at home.” Simon said.

“It was a small white lie,” John said, before walking closer to Simon and kissing him on the cheek. “All will become clear soon.”

Just then, Simon was blinded by the headlights of a jet black Mercedes Benz, which parked outside the Vicarage.

Several men in back Cardinal robes got out of the car. The driver had a bald head and a black beard and looked very sinister.

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition,” the Chief Inquisitor said. But there was no need to introduce himself, as Simon already knew who they were.

So, Simon thought, it was John who was disclosing what was discussed in Village Council meetings to the Vatican.

Simon looked at John. “John, would you betray me with a kiss?”

John did not respond. He stared at Simon as Simon was placed in the back of the car and driven away.

“Where are you taking me?” Simon asked.

“Rome,” one of the Inquisition responded.

“Shouldn’t I pack first?” Simon asked.

“There’s no need,” the man responded.

Simon looked out of the window, and saw Dave talking to another of the Inquisition.

“Do you know Reverend Abernathy?” Asked the Inquisitor.

“No, not really,” Dave responded.

“But you came out of the Vicarage just now?” The Inquisitor responded.

“I’ll go anywhere with free food,” Dave said. “I don’t know the guy at all.”

“So, just to clarify, you don’t know this man?” The Inquisitor asked.

“No.” Dave said.

“Very well, thank you for your time,” the Inquisitor said, before getting back in the car.

“He didn’t know him.” The Inquisitor said.

Simon looked at Dave and John as the car drove out of Lower Strangling, ready to go to the airport.

Then the alarm clock buzzed.

Simon sat up in bed. It was all a dream.

Not only that, it was only Tuesday. Maundy Thursday was still two days away.

Relieved, Simon got up and had a shower.

After the shower, he whipped himself the required thirty six times, then had breakfast.

Simon then went outside and went on his morning constitutional.

On the way, he spotted John, and walked over to him.

“John,” Simon said.

“Morning, Simon,” John said.

“I know you have been telling the Spanish Inquisition about me wanted to take down the statue of the Virgin Mary from the Botanic Garden.”

“What? No I haven’t.” John replied.

“There’s no need to deny it. I forgive you.” Simon said.

“But I haven’t. Why would I do something like that?” John said.

“It doesn’t matter. All I wanted to say was that I forgive you, I am sorry, and I’ve decided to keep the statue where it is. I don’t know what you’re planning to do, but there’s no need to do it.”

“Ok….” John said, confused.

“Great, glad that’s sorted.” Simon said. “By the way, I’m having the PCC round for a meal on Thursday to say sorry for making you all flagellate yourselves during Lent.”

“Is that particularly wise, considering what day it is?” John asked.

“I don’t care. Just put 7pm down in your diary.” Simon said.

“Very well,” John said.

“Great, enjoy your day,” Simon said.

“And yours,” John said.

The two men bade each other goodbye and went down opposite ends of the road.

Simon walked in the bright sunlight, making a mental note to be kinder to himself next Lent.

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