As I lay on floor with my forehead pressed against the cold marble, death came upon me. There would be no physical pain in my ritualistic death, only abundant humility as I surrendered my life. After several long silent moments, I slowly arose: my orders, to be fully alive in Christ’s mission. My life as an ordained priest had begun. The sacrament of Holy Orders was complete.
Before joining the priesthood, I loved dating women. I never had any trouble attracting women. My friends used to joke about it and called me the “babe magnet.” I loved to get into fights when a bully targeted someone as fresh meat. I enjoyed doing things other men do, but my desire to join the priesthood slowly grew into an obsession. As far as I can remember, it was just something I wanted to do. I can’t rationalize it or explain it. The more I fought it, dismissed it, or tried to distract myself from the pull of this farfetched calling, the more I became drawn to it. My other great love was Wing Chun kung fu. It started with episodes of the Green Hornet. I didn’t much care for the main character, but his sidekick, Kato, was the star of the show as far as I was concerned. He was a kind of crazy social justice hero. My love for the fighting arts has managed to coexist with my obsession for the priesthood.
Eventually, I gave in and applied to join the order of Franciscan friars. I guess it was my interest in St. Francis of Assisi which started to eat away at my longing to be a regular guy. The more I learned about this man, the more I was fascinated with the choices he made and how he lived his life. If he were alive today, we would think he was crazy, a mentally ill bum on the street with no possessions, yet he would lack for nothing. By today’s standard Francis was a loon, trading a life as a playboy for a life of poverty and complete surrender to Christ. No doubt he would be heavily medicated by well meaning health professionals.
Second thoughts? I had my share at first. Without much of a father figure in my life, and my two main role models being Kato and St. Francis of Assisi, I did have a few doubts about my purpose on this planet. Eventually, that gave way to resolution and peace in knowing the path of faith I had chosen to follow. It would start in earnest after receiving the Bishop’s blessing at the end of the ordination ceremony. The only problem: the type of priesthood I thought I chose was not the type of priesthood chosen for me. I would start to suspect something was wrong the moment I stepped out of the church as a fully ordained priest.
It was a crisp, clear fall day. The sun was high in the noon-day sky. As I stepped out onto the sidewalk after descending the steps of St. John the Divine in upper Manhattan, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me as they adjusted to the brightness. Passing several people on my way to the friary, I noticed dark blotches on their faces. I rubbed my eyes and dismissed it as my brain’s way of dealing with the transition from low light to the bright outdoors.
Fr. Albert, Fr Ed, and Fr. Wayne were with me. We had taken our vows alongside each other, newly anointed men of God. We walked several blocks to Ray’s Pizza for our celebration lunch. The dark blotches continued to appear. I was getting a little nervous about the persistent problem in my vision.
I turned to my companions as we neared the pizzeria. “Have any of you noticed dark blotches on the faces of some folks?” I signaled by glancing and nodding my head in the direction of the approaching couple. We all looked at the lady and man as they walked past. The couple smiled and so did we in a gesture of greeting. I turned again to my companions. “Well?”
Fr. Ed, shrugged. “I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. They looked like a nice couple.”
I then looked at Fr. Albert and Fr. Wayne. “Did either of you notice anything, dark blotches on the man’s face?
Fr. Albert and Fr. Wayne shook their heads.
“Maybe you are seeing spots, which might indicate an issue with your eyes,” said Fr. Albert.
“Perhaps you’re right. I’m overdue for an eye exam.”
We arrived at the pizzeria and took our seats. As we looked at the menu, a waiter came to our table. “Can I get you something to drink?”
When I looked up from my menu, I recoiled against my seat.
Upon noticing my reaction, Fr. Wayne asked, “Are you all right, Oliver? What’s the matter?”
My eyes were fixed on the waiter’s demonic face. It looked like a cross between a goat and a snake. As I continued to look at it, the demon face turned into a human face, then back to a demon face. It faded in out from demon to human and back. For an instant I felt the same way I did on my fifth birthday when my aunt and uncle came to visit. My uncle did not look like my uncle: he looked like a monster. His demonic face terrified me causing me to freeze with fear. He approached and I backed up against the wall. When he touched my face I went into a semi-comatose state. I remember hearing my mother’s voice in the distance and waking up after my uncle had left. I never felt such fear as that again, until today.
“Any of you notice anything unusual about our waiter?” I asked as I struggled to maintain my composure.
The demon waiter glanced at each of the priest, then looked at me wearing a contorted smile, revealing black gums and yellow teeth.
“Oliver, what’s this all about? I don’t see anything unusual. Are you seeing spots again?” Asked Fr. Wayne.
“Sorry to ruin your lunch. I’m feeling kind of sick. Can we just leave?”
After we arrived at the friary, I went to my room, prayed, took a nap, and awoke to a knock on my door.
Fr. Wayne let himself in. “Fr. Manuel wants to see you.”
Fr. Manuel is our provincial in charge of all the new priests. “Sit down, Oliver,” he said, as he put a book on a bookcase and walked to take a seat behind his large mahogany desk.”
I sat down and waited for him to take his seat. As he was about to sit, he froze, looked at me with a blank expression, eyes opened wide. I noticed a knife point protruding from the middle of his chest as blood began to drip slowly from its point. I bolted out of my chair and noticed the dark figure standing behind Fr. Manuel. It poked its head out from behind the provincial, smiled, and let the body fall to the ground. As the body fell, the demonic creature pulled the knife out and set it on the desk. It took the provincial’s seat and motioned with its claw-like hand for me to take my seat.
I glanced at the door and noticed two more demonic creatures standing by it. Leaving the room was not an option. I took my seat and looked at the creature sitting before me.
It placed each hand on the desk and leaned forward. “I know you can see us, priest.”
“Who are you?” I asked trying not to let my fear show.
“We are the rightful heirs to this world. The world your god has abandoned. You can end up like him.” It pointed to Fr. Manuel’s body as it picked up the bloody dagger. “Or, you can join us and live a life of pleasure and satisfaction.” As it said this, the demon turned into a naked woman with large breast which it rested on the top of the table. The two demons by the door also turned into nude women: each took a seat beside me. They sat on the edge of their chairs, spread their legs, and extended their arms, inviting me for an extended cuddle.
I bolted out of my seat and ran out of the provincial’s office. On my way, I bumped into Fr. Wayne and Fr. Albert causing Wayne to fall and Albert to be pushed against the wall.
“Oliver! What’s going on?” shouted Fr. Albert.
Once outside, I continued to run. I looked back but did not see any demons pursuing me. “Perhaps I imagined the whole thing.” As I rounded the corner near the pizzeria, I slowed down and settled into a brisk walk, that’s when I noticed everyone on the street looking at me, no one was moving. They either had black blotches on their faces or demonic heads, all were turned in my direction.