[A bit of whimsy. My fingers were itching to produce a short story, which they hadn’t done in some time. Considering the season, I decided to “give in.” -- FWP]
Father Michael Keane, pastor of St. Gregory the Great parish in Manhattan, had completed the distribution of the Eucharist and was returning to the celebrant’s chair for the interval of contemplation before the concluding rites when the commotion broke out.
“Bread and wine transformed into the body and blood of a dead man, to be eaten by living men! What blasphemous nonsense you Christians profess!”
The roar shattered the serenity of the congregation. Every communicant turned to seek the offender.
He stood at the rear of the nave, arms akimbo. He was large, swarthy of complexion, and wore a sneer of absolute derision. To his sides were four others of similar size and demeanor.
Mike descended from the altar dais and made his way toward them.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “this is a house of prayer where all are welcome, but upon conditions. No matter what you might think of our faith, we expect to be left in peace to practice it.”
The leader’s sneer became wider. “Your faith is nonsense. A three headed God, a man who was born of woman claiming to be divine, claiming his flesh to be food that will grant eternal life, then dying on a cross and returning to life? No one in his right mind could possibly believe it. And you,” he said with a wave of dismissal, “claiming the power to transform bread into his flesh and wine into his blood! What sort of supernatural creature would that make you?”
He folded his arms over his chest and laughed in contempt.
“What? You don’t think we have supernatural creatures in New York?”
Mike turned toward the new voice and watched as a tall, buxom young woman in a beige skirt suit and high heels approached. She strode up to his side, positioned herself beside him, and produced a pleasant smile.
Mike said “Ah, Miss—”
The young woman held up a monitory hand. “Very nice sermon, Father,” she murmured. “People need to hear less about tragedies and atrocities and more about miracles.” She turned to face the disruptors.
“Muslims, I assume?”
The leader awarded her a crooked smile.
“So what brings you to Sunday Mass at Saint Gregory’s?”
“Our amusement,” the leader said, “and your obvious need for an education.”
“I see,” she said. “Well, now that you’ve disrupted our ceremony and insulted our faith, would you be so kind as to depart?”
“I think not,” the leader said. His leer required no interpretation. “Unless you can provide us appropriate compensation for our...educational services.”
“Oh,” the young woman said. She undid the buttons of her suit jacket. “I think that can be arranged.”
The melee that followed was over almost before Mike could blink. When all five of the intruders lay groaning, the young woman dragged each of them through the vestibule of the church and tossed them into the gutter without obvious effort. After she had disposed of all five, she rebuttoned her suit jacket, said “Sorry about the ruckus, Father,” and gestured toward the altar. “I think you can resume now.”
Mike shook himself and made his way back to the front of the nave.
“My brothers and sisters in Christ,” he intoned, “do you think that will settle the question of whether there are still miracles?”
“Well,” came a voice from the back, “it sure as hell settles whether or not New York has any supernatural creatures!”
The congregants erupted in laughter. They turned to face their deliverer, who was still standing at the back of the nave, and awarded her a deafening round of applause.
Christine D’Alessandro blushed and curtsied.