Novel Preview: The Good Vicar
The dream disturbed him. Something about it was too real, too vivid. There was something that spoke to him in words he did not want to hear. It was like no dream he had had before, none matched the intensity with which this one had come.
He lay awake staring into the dark, the warm duvet pulled up to his chin. A quarter past twelve. He sighed. The rhythmic inhale-exhale of his wife soothed his disturbed spirit somewhat, but it was not enough. Things had been stirred up and they could not be restored by man alone, or woman, he quickly added.
A car’s lights briefly lit the room as it turned the corner and hummed off into the distance. This broke his mood and with a small sigh, he threw his legs out of the bed and fumble-shuffled for his slippers. His cotton pyjamas retained the warmth of the bed for a second before the cold night air began to take hold.
He paused at the bedroom door to grab his dressing gown and, while he tied the waist cord, he looked back at the bed. Marjory’s head lay peacefully on the pillow, her greying hair catching the dull light, giving it a halo-like effect. Her mouth was slightly open and he could still hear her soft breathing. He held the image in his mind wondering how he should, or if he could, tell her about the dream. It was after all just a dream he told himself.
With another small sigh he turned and walked out the bedroom, his slippered feet hissing quietly over the thick carpet. The stairs creaked nosily as he felt his way down them and he cursed each one silently for the disturbance his weight caused as he moved from one to the next.
In the kitchen he snapped on the light and blinked as the brightness invaded his eyes. After a few seconds of adjustment he plodded over to the kettle, checked that there was sufficient water, then flicked the switch. As the water chugged to life he got himself a mug, grabbed a teabag from the canister marked ‘Tea’, dropped this into the mug and threw in a spoon of sugar.
‘No, it cannot be,’ he mumbled to himself as he got the milk out of the fridge. ‘Not him, surely not him Lord.’ The kettle clicked off as the steam bubbled out. It threw his attention across the kitchen and suddenly his thoughts moved inward. ‘Not me Lord, surely…’
He left it hanging, too scared to continue. Tea. The hot water gurgled into the mug and he watched the inky brown stain spread outward from the bag. One second, two seconds, three seconds, then stab the bag with the spoon. Once, twice, then lift it out and wait for the dripping to stop before dropping it into the bin.
He didn’t want to face the dream, didn’t want it to be real, couldn’t let it be real. Tea. The cold milk spread quickly, turning the orange-brown liquid a dark cream colour and he stirred, taking comfort from the ting-ting-ting of the spoon against the side of the cup. Two final taps of the spoon on the rim.
Tea. It was ready. He couldn’t delay any more. The tea was ready. A smoky wisp of steam rose from the mug and he knew he must now face the dream.
Leaving the kitchen light on, he moved quietly down the passage and groped for the light switch in his study. The calmness of the room greeted him and the shelves of books that lined the wall immediately gave him comfort. He ran his fingers gently over the spines of one shelf, marvelling at the bumps and the knowledge hidden behind them.
The desk was a large, old oak one that had a green leather cover. It had been a present from his previous congregation when he had left nearly twenty years ago. They had been exceedingly generous he had thought back then.
He moved round the desk and eased himself into the armchair which sighed as it welcomed him into its softness. He loved his chair, it was so comfortable. He could think in it, it had that aura of calm about it.
And he needed to think now. He needed to think about the dream and decide what to do, or what not to do. He stretched over the desk and picked up the glasses case, snapped it open and took out his reading specs.
Then he took his Bible from the pile of books on his left. He stared for a moment at the faded cross on the cover where the embossed gold had worn away.
Is this necessary, he thought. Do I really need to check this or was it all just a dream? It had been far too intense to be just a dream, there had to be more to it, but, and this was a big but, these things never happened in this day and age, they only happened in biblical times.
The pause lengthened till his hand began to shake and he shuddered. He took a sip of tea, letting the hot, bittersweet liquid soothe him. Then he picked up the Bible and began paging through it.
Acts 9 v 10 – 12:
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision.
‘Yes Lord,’ he answered.
The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.’