FATHER PATRICK, All Saints Church, pt. IV
part IV, Father Patrick
It was minus five degrees without the wind chill factor as Father Patrick and his white, rusted panel van with the red decal lettered words reading, "All Saints Church," slid into the public library parking lot. More snow and cold weather were expected later that afternoon. Father Patrick looked up at the ominous, greying clouds. He shimmied his seventy-two year-old weathered body out of the driver’s seat of the "All Saints Church" van. Father Patrick slipped on the icy chunk pieces glued to the public library parking lot.
Father Patrick and Sister Mary had run the soup kitchen in Grand Forks, North Dakota for over ten years. Grand Forks, North Dakota is commonly linked with East Grand Forks, Minnesota. Together the border towns make up what is called, Greater Grand Forks. Either way, it was just a frozen spot on planet earth. The soup kitchen and "All Saints Church" had closed it's doors the year before last, the money to fund it cut first in Grand Fork’s town budget. Although, he and Sister Mary had separated and moved on to different parishes, they came back, and planned to come back every January first with money they had saved. Father Patrick and Sister Mary were committed to the hungry and homeless of Grand Forks. Both had made a vow to come every January until Grand Forks opened up another soup kitchen to shelter the people of the streets. Some were rescued by the police and shipped to Fargo. But, there were always a few stragglers who could evade the cops, or showed up at the bus stop with no fare out.
Father Patrick stood watching the dirt filled, broken fingernails flip through the pages of a "Nancy Drew Mysteries" chapter book; two eyes, peeking through long, straggly, greasy brown strands of hair.
"You can’t stay here. There’s a storm coming, expected to drop a ton of snow. I ain’t got much, but I got food and a roof to put over your head. You’ll freeze outside, tonight. So, if you wanna survive, you best make the decision to come with me."
"Don’t you got a woman at home to warm your toes at night, old man?" Barb asked, her upper lip curling as she looked the old man over. Barb could see the librarian over the old man’s shoulder as she pretended not to listen. "Besides, you don’t look like you got enough money to afford me."
"The police cruiser will be following us out of here, so don’t try grabbing the steering wheel, or any other maneuver to try and overtake me. Jail is worse, and you know it. You still got a chance if you’re free. It’s your choice," said Father Patrick, turning on his heel. He nodded to the librarian as he headed for the exit.
"He’s a man of the cloth," said the old fart librarian through her snooty mouth.
"I’ve done plenty of them, " answered Barb, enjoying the fear in the snooty fart’s eyes. "Ya know, gave ‘em sex."
Barb grabbed her satchel that held a pair of dirty jeans and two flannel shirts she had stolen. She laughed at the librarian’s expression as she slammed the "Nancy Drew Mysteries" chapter book shut. She took off for the exit. The denim coat she wrapped around her chest wasn’t going to help her in this town. She didn’t know if she’d withstand the bitter cold until nightfall when she could make her way back and break in for the night. Barb had gotten pretty good at breaking and entering, so a building could be shelter for more than one night, before the regulars noticed her. Then she was on to the next neighborhood, casing the buildings as she walked.
The strip of lights on the roof of the black car weren’t lit, but Barb noticed them as soon as she pushed the door open. Her grey, steely eyes were full of fear as they darted around the almost vacant library parking lot. She saw the burly old man with the winter cap, equipped with ear muffs getting into a white, rusted van.
Barb took a deep breathe of frigid air and forced her frozen feet inside the pink converse hi-tops she had stolen out of someone’s backyard to mover her forward. She slipped several times as she dashed to the van with, "All Saints Church" written in blaring red on both door panels, praying she’d reach it before it left the parking lot.
As they pulled out of the lot, the old man nodded at the police cruiser.