Fiction: Martyr

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Martyrs Statue

Martyrs Statue (Photo credit: jiangkeren)

Carlo was waiting at the ninth hole with his business partner and his parish priest when a boy came out from the clubhouse with a slip of paper. “Allison?” asked James, seeing his expression, while Father O’Keefe circled his ball, trying to puzzle a clean shot out of the worst setup the longtime trio had ever seen.

Carlo nodded. Was it so much to ask her to leave him alone for the length of a golf game? “She wants me to invite you both to dinner.”

The hesitation was so slight, he might have imagined it. Then the big man smiled and pulled out a silk handkerchief to mop his dripping face. “Your wife’s the best cook I know. I’m not about to turn that down.”

Carlo managed a weak smile. “Wonderful.”

Fr. O’Keefe muttered suddenly; both men turned to him. “That’s a Hail Mary shot if I ever saw one,” called James.

The priest spared them a withering glance. “Oh, ye of little faith!”

“There’s no way you’re getting clear of that tree in one shot.”

O’Keefe, who had returned to his shot, swiveled back. “So sure of yourself! You’re a betting man, James. If I hit this shot, you come to church Sunday.”

James laughed and folded his arms. “So…how’s she doing, anyway?” he murmured. “Since…you know.”

“Since Jeremy died, you mean.” Carlo liked and respected his partner, but the man’s discomfort had been on full display ever since the Army brought the news of his son’s death. But Carlo reined in his irritation, allowing only a twitch in his jaw that could be interpreted as grief instead of anger. “She’s fine,” he lied. “Much better now.”

Actually, she barely left the house. She was so needy he sometimes considered making up a vineyard emergency just to get a breath of fresh air. He hadn’t, because she had been right about him: Jeremy’s entire life, Carlo’s focus had been vines and wines, not family. His regret on that account could not be articulated. So he tolerated her demands, her long-suffering resentment, and her perpetual sense of wounded, victimization.

But that didn’t mean he had to like it.

A club swooshed and contacted the ball with a satisfying clink. Carlo and James shaded their eyes against the bright sun and watched Father O’Keefe’s shot arc gracefully into the air, splitting the gap between two branches on its way to a soft, two-bounce landing on the green.

James whistled. “That was one in a million, Father.”

The priest smiled smugly. “A little help from the Communion of Saints never goes awry. Look what a prayer from a martyr or two can do!”

James laughed. “Nice try, Father. You’re not getting me in the pew just because you had a lucky shot.” He slapped the other man on the arm and went for his bag.

Martyr, thought Carlo. Yes, that was the perfect word. He shared his bed every night with a martyr.

*

Returning today to Carlo & Alison, whose story I’m exploring from different angles as I try to figure out a structure and plot for it. Other pieces in the series (unconnected snippets, not a coherent narrative):

In The Mist

Heartbreak

Makeover

Magic Hour

Dinner With David

writing prompt

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8 thoughts on “Fiction: Martyr

  1. Wow Kathleen, way to bring it this week! I love how layered this is. There is so much going on between not only the people on the green but those not seen. It was tragic and poignant and still had threads of dark humor. Nicely done!

  2. You pack a lot in here – not just grief but all the complications that go with it, in addition to the action that’s right in front of us. Great work!

    • That’s an interesting comment. I was actually more worried about how Carlo was going to come across in this bit–whether he’d feel unsympathetic. As this story shapes up in my head (none of it’s on paper yet, really), I’m seeing a lot of fault on both sides of this relationship. It’ll make it very real, but tough to write too.

  3. I think your insight in the male psyche is really great. Men do process grief differently in many cases, and while Carlos is tougher with himself and comes across as dismissive, it reveals something very practical self-aware in him.

  4. Love where you went with this. I heard a story from Jeff Dunham. Man goes to play golf with a buddy who recently got divorced. When Man gets home, his wife gives him the third degree: How’s your friend, I mean how’s he doing? Is he adjusting well? Is he seeing anyone? And Man replied: I don’t know, we played golf.
    Wife: You played with him for 4 hrs and you didn’t ask him?
    Man: Uh, no. It was golf.

    So not really the same thing, but that’s what it reminded me of.

    You did a brilliant job with the subtle details. The scene is vibrant and vivid, and a very smooth read. Well done!

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