Didn’t know if he was a retard or a drunk. He would lurch around Gaelic Park during game days, grinning like an idiot, dribbling onto his filthy cassock. First time I saw him it was a shock. And then his name, which had a funny sound to it: Father McMenamin. The drunk priest, the embarrassment to the whole community. Happily staggering onto the field, being gently ushered off again, scolded as one would a child: now, now, father, mustn’t go there. The shame of it all. An affliction from God. The shepherd, the authority, the man of the cloth as moron, bum, joke. The meaner ones would buy him drinks and make fun of him. Give us your blessing, Father. Forgive me my sins, Father, and I’ll give you a glass. McMenamin forgave them all, wondering where he was. Somewhere far from home it seemed, searching for grace in the darkness of the Bronx.
Reprinted from Boy Drinkers © 2007 by Terence Winch, by permission of Hanging Loose Press.