The God Squad

The God Squad by Paddy Doyle

Book: The God Squad by Paddy Doyle Read Free Book Online
Authors: Paddy Doyle
kitchen. My uncle rose from his chair and told her that he would call some day and take me to the shops. Then he wished me good luck and left. She walked to the hall door with him and waved as he drove away from the front of the house.
    ‘Now,’ she said as she came back into the room, ‘I think it is time for bed, but before that we will say our night prayers. I’m sure you say yours every night in the School.’
    ‘I do,’ I answered. She opened the drawer of one of the cabinets and took out a black Rosary beads. She held the crucifix in her hand, looked at it and blessed herself, pressing it to her forehead, her breast and each of hershoulders. She moved a chair from under the table and used it for support as she knelt on the carpeted floor. Once I was kneeling she began the Rosary.
    ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Thou, O Lord, will open my lips.’ She looked crossly at me when I didn’t answer.
    ‘Do you know the Rosary at all?’ she snapped.
    ‘I know the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory be to the Father,’ I replied.
    ‘And my tongue shall announce His praise,’ she answered herself before starting into the Five Joyful Mysteries – the Resurrection, the Ascension and so on. Ten Hail Marys for each, sandwiched between an Our Father and a Glory be to the Father. She said the first half of each prayer and I the second. At first I was nervous and my voice trembled but I became more confident as I went along.
    After the Rosary she led me up the softly-carpeted stairs to the bedroom. It was spotlessly clean and sparsely furnished with just a single bed and a two-drawer wooden dresser. There was a silver-framed picture of the Blessed Virgin on the wall.
    ‘You better go to the bathroom,’ she said, pushing open one of the doors that led off the small landing.
    ‘Wash yourself and be sure to go to the toilet.’ When I came out she was waiting in my room. There was a man’s shirt on my bed which she told me to wear to bed. I began to undress by taking off my jumper and shirt. I was just going to drop my trousers when she said: ‘Wait! Put on this first.’ She held the shirt over my head and told me I must be modest always. I got into bed, immediately noticing the softness of the mattress and the freshness of the sheets and pillow cover. My aunt left the door open, and the landing light on. In the next room I heard her moving about, opening and shutting presses and drawers. When I heardher door open I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep. She stood looking into my room before turning to go to the bathroom, leaving the door open after her. I could see her long grey hair brushed straight down almost to her waist. Her back was stooped and her pale skin contrasted sharply with the dark colour of her dressing gown. When she emerged from the bathroom she was carrying a glass of water with her false teeth in it. Her appearance frightened me, particularly her sunken cheeks, and I prayed that I could go back to the other boys. I slept fitfully that night, aware that the person I was staying with fitted my idea of a banshee. As I tried to sleep I had the very real feeling that I had been in the house before and that this woman had been a part of my earlier life.
    Outside the rain beat against the window. I looked towards the curtains and watched them swell slightly in the breeze that pierced the gaps in the window. My aunt coughed, a feeble rattling cough. I turned around in my bed, then turned the pillow. Its coolness relaxed me and I drifted into sleep.
    The morning sun shone into the room through a gap in the curtains. Birds whistled and chirped. I wanted to get up but I felt it would be the wrong thing to do. I was used to being told when to get up so I decided to stay in bed until I was called. Eventually she called my name from the bottom of the stairs. As I dressed, strange smells and sounds attracted my attention. Sizzling and a kind of spitting. It was only

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