It was early on Saturday afternoon when a loud banging on the vicarage door disturbed the peaceful household on the Reverend Dictate’s day off. Sacrilege!
‘I hope this is important,’ he chuntered, as he answered the door before the second barrage of banging permanently damaged the hinges. On the doorstep he found the Verger, looking frantic, droplets of sweat on his brow.
‘Oh Vicar, thank goodness you’re in! You really must come over to the church. A terrible situation has developed.’ He spoke rapidly, wiping his brow several times.
‘It’s my day off, Harold. You know that,’ he said firmly. He had promised his wife he would be strict on the only day she got to spend time with him.
‘I know Vicar, but you are the only one who can control these women. I’ve tried to resolve the issue for forty minutes now, and it’s just escalating.’
‘Well, they are dedicated to their flowers. I’ll give them that,’ he thought. ‘I’ll just nip over, and whatever the situation is – colour clash with the flowers, no doubt – it’ll be sorted quickly. Veronica won’t even know I’ve been over’.
‘OK, Harold, they do love their flowers, don’t they?’ he said putting on his shoes.
‘If only it were the flowers, Vicar’, he replied, with a look of despair.
With a sigh, the Vicar accompanied Harold to the church, attempting to keep up with the Verger’s power walk. Upon entering, he was soon surrounded by wailing women, who showed clear signs of relief that he was now among them. The Reverend became quite concerned about the catastrophe about to be unveiled. It clearly wasn’t a ‘flower’ issue.
Beryl, head of the Flower Committee, addressed the Vicar. ‘It’s simply disastrous, Reverend. There’ll be no flowers for Sunday, and the services will have to be cancelled.’
‘Whatever’s happened?’ he replied, becoming concerned as he remembered the Archdeacon’s visit to the Eleven o’clock. Before Beryl could answer, a loud clattering came from the worship area. Burglars? A figure the Vicar recognised was stumbling around in the semi-darkness, and he pulled on the church door to enter. The Verger pulled at his sleeve.
‘It’s locked, Vicar.’
‘I see that Harold, thank you!’
‘Beryl, why is my curate locked in the church?’
Beryl looked sternly at the Vicar.
‘You don’t understand the seriousness of the situation, Reverend. There is a PREDATOR in the church!’
‘And who is the predator – the curate?’ The Vicar looked to the Verger for an explanation.
‘Meredith saw a mouse, Vicar.’ …
Jessie B. Benjamin
Next instalment – Four Men and a Mouse (!)