evil in nature.

The smell caught Brendan Drummey off guard the moment the vocations director’s assistant showed him in. What he expected was that ancient heavenly aroma of dust, porous wood and damp; altar flowers and melted beeswax candles. All of it trapped in the hallowed air, musty and heavy, infused with fragrant smoky remnants from an incense burner. That welcome accompaniment with him there on the pews, penitent, where he had come to spend his evenings as of late.

What he got instead, to his chagrin, was that foul brackish malodor he had sought thus far to evade. Laden with ill intent, it had followed him right the way into the vocations director’s office; this supposed place of sanctity, this refuge. The longer he waited for the director to appear—shifty in his steel chair, circumspect—his mind played out all the ways in which this forthcoming encounter could go awry.

He flinched when the door to the office swung open.

“Ah, there you are,” said a grey-haired man of a meaty resonant voice borne deep within his chest. He wore a clerical shirt and collar with matching slacks. A hefty build to him, both tall and broad. “I’m Fr. Pádraig O’Callaghan, the vocations director. And you must be Brendan? My assistant said you wanted to see me.”

He marched over to his side of the desk and offered his hand. When Brendan reached out, hesitant, to shake it, the force of the director’s embrace pulled him off-balance. He had to use his other hand to steady himself on the desk for fear of falling onto it. The director took his seat, a quick glance to his wrist and the gold watch strapped to it.

“So, tell me…” the director laid both hands palms down on his desk; no doubt he spread his legs wide apart underneath it, “…why are you here?”

The foulness found its way into Brendan’s mouth. It soured his tongue with a funky metallic brine, creating a thick phlegm. “Why am I here? Yeah, eh—“ He stopped to clear his throat, to swallow down the rust and salt; a phantasmagoria of smut disgust followed. To go on now as planned, to lay it all out before the director and state the real reason why he was here—being that he wanted to spend the rest of his life solely in the company of men—would spell disaster. Now that his ability to state his case in a sober, reasonable manner had been supplanted, his ensuing spiel would degenerate into a sordid soliloquy at best; at worst, a pathetic and regretful tirade.

“I’m here because, eh…” he began, trying to clear his head, “…I want to be a priest. Honestly, that’s why I’m here. I, eh…I have found God.”

“Is that so?” If the director suspected something was up, vis-à-vis this rather ham-fisted response, it didn’t show. He remained every bit the composed man of cloth he purported to be. If anything, in fact, there was this glint of encouragement to the man’s gaze. An invitation for Brendan to continue, to elaborate.

What usually followed the smell, the taste, the sensations in his stomach, became apparent. It started—now as always—with a series of imperceptible ripples: down from his belly button and up and around from his buttocks. They gathered at his crotch to morph into a steady throb in synch with his quickened heartbeat.

He uncrossed his legs.

The throb grew heavy. It pulsed out from his testicles along the shaft of his penis right to the tip. His boxer shorts and trousers—a loose fitting pair of brown corduroys—accommodated the enlargement. It soon reached its zenith; spongy flesh flooded with oxygenated blood, to culminate in a protracted, painful erection. Lewd urges followed, tinged with a wayward aggressive aspect. His downright revulsion at this imposition was only heightened by the fear it might thwart his efforts. Determined, nay desperate to satisfy the director’s need for more, he soldiered on.

“Yeah, honestly it is so. I…eh, I…” Despite his attention focused primarily on the rash desire to wrench his penis into neutral, he managed to recall the pitch he often gave to himself at home in front of the bathroom mirror. A “just in case” recitation for a moment such as this. “…I have already completed the three ongoing components of discernment. Yeah? I prayed to the Holy Spirit, I gathered factual information on the choices open to me and, well, I understand God’s unique call for me, so now I want to make an application to the Archbishop to formally apply to become a seminarian.”

A great fat sigh followed.

“You missed one.”


“I said you missed one. The three ongoing components? You left the last one out.” The director shifted only slightly; his hands remained where they were. And his gaze never averted, never—not even for a moment—moved from Brendan.

“I eh…let me see now,” said Brendan, counting again with his fingers, unsure whether he could push all the obscene pornographic images aside to find the right words for the director. “I prayed to the Holy Spirit, I gathered factual information and I…I, well, you see, I—“

“Continued effort to seek confirmation outside yourself?” The director butted in to finish the sentence. He raised his right eyebrow in a rather pointed display of skepticism.

Brendan slumped back into his chair in mute resignation.

“Mr Drummey, please. You have just recited to me the ‘Becoming a Priest’ section of the Dublin Archdiocese website. You obviously tried to memorize it. Didn’t you?” He interlocked his fingers and leaned forward on his elbows. A formidable hulk of a man, confident in his dominion. “Look, I spoke with my assistant beforehand. He told me that you appeared—how should I say it?—perturbed. And I can only confirm that assessment. Not the disposition of a man who has welcomed God into his heart.”

“Is it not?”


Her name was Jennifer Byrne. Before her, there were Samantha Riordan and Mary Fitzgibbon. All three of them left their mark on him, but it was Jennifer who made up his mind. The recognition in and of himself that something had to be done, an alternative path had to be taken.

It happened at a house party earlier in the year, before the nights closed in, before he saw fit to seek solace on the pews. One of those post student-years affairs replete with finger food, wine, and background music. Men dressed in slacks and shirts, woman dressed in whatever they wanted, huddled in threes and fours; a side-plate in one hand, a glass in the other.

The invitation came by way of Larry Finnegan, his fellow Dubliner up-for-it colleague and friend. The one whom with he partook in that quintessential office banter which makes work life bearable. His place of work—a software developer’s office of a large multinational tech firm—was mostly male. So, whenever a female came by, the talk inevitably turned to that subject. This is how Brendan came to share with Larry his lack of luck with the opposite sex, hence the party invitation. There’ll be ladies in attendance, he assured Brendan, the good kind. Perhaps luck was the wrong word to use, but Brendan, when he spoke with Larry that day in the office, could not think of a better—or safer, for that matter—word to explain away the unfortunate issue he had with women. In the end, Larry’s encouragement won out against Brendan’s misgivings and he accepted the invitation.

At the party, Brendan’s olfactory senses detected Jennifer over at the buffet table, a sturdy oak affair stationed within the alcove of the living room’s bay window. She had pressed her squat, heavy body against it and leaned forward to fish out food for her side-plate. The altered stance caused the hemline of her sunflower inspired babydoll dress to ride up her thighs, whence his arousal came.

He squeezed the stem of his wine glass to the point that he heard it creak. A fruitless attempt to ward off the initial stirrings in his testicles; for, just like how it had begun with both Samantha and Mary, he was acutely aware of what would follow if he went over to her. A lipped curse to Larry—in full flow, entertaining some revelers with tales of rugby weekend hijinks—for having landed him in this predicament. The words should have known better sprang to mind.

His feet took a few tentative steps in her direction.

Luck really was the right word to describe how fortunate it was, for him as well as for both Samantha and Mary, that he managed to contain himself and leave before it went too far. And now, despite his attempts to the contrary, the urges inspired by the flow of blood to his groin insisted on giving it another go.

He arrived at the buffet table. The host had done a good job with its centerpiece: an avocado and kiwi platter. Slices of the former were tastefully fanned out around shaped cubes of the latter, all of it drizzled in oil, garnished with mint leaves. “Hey there. Whatcha doing?”

Her reply was nothing more than an unintelligible grunt, full focus on the spread laid out before them.

Other side dishes—Arab salad, sweet potato and feta rolls with a tangy tomato dip, samosa puffs and mushroom vol-au-vents—complimented the offering. The effort was slightly let down, however, by the presence of microwaved mini-pizzas. The bang of heated-up gorgonzola antagonized his already overloaded nostrils.

After a furtive sideways glance at him, the big red face on her, he noticed that her mouth was full of pizza. The sight of her torment—her cheeks puffed out, battling against gag reflexes—brought on a keen rip to the moment. His erection grew thick and heavy.

He placed his right hand on the small of her back.

“Come on, this way.”

He led her from the buffet table, out of the living room where most partygoers were congregated, to the hallway and into the downstairs toilet. She only finished the pizza—saliva sodden dough, cheese, tomato paste, black olive slices and oregano flakes—forcing the lot down into her stomach in a contorted reverse-belch, when he snapped shut the latch of the toilet room door.

Compliant and abashed, she muttered an apology for her piggishness. She began to say something else, something along the lines of inquisitiveness, bordering on resistance, when he took the side-plate from her and threw it with a crash into the wash hand basin. He sharked the reflection of himself in the vanity mirror. His lips were curled upwards in erotic agony. Crude perception usurped his conscience, forcing out all remnants of his otherwise self.

“It doesn’t fucking matter.” He grabbed the folds of her midriff, spun her ‘round. Down to his knees he went, the action made clumsy due to his erection disturbing his equilibrium, pulling him off balance. He reefed her babydoll dress up over her waist, pulled down her panties, then aimed his face, with precision, at the source.

Hi wedged his snout firmly in place, then pressed her arse cheeks inwards with both hands until the front of his face—from his forehead down to his chin and as far back as his ears—was completely enveloped.

A deep breath.


Then another.

That foul brackish malodor, its rust and salt, flowed down into his lungs, onwards to his stomach, his heaves in tandem with the throb in his penis. Despite her uttered protests and her slaps to his head, he maintained his crouched stance and his hand placement; and his determination to see this through to the end, whatever that may be. It was only when the slaps became sure-fire thumps, to the back of his head as well as to the toilet room door—revelers on the other side knocking, calling out her name—that he pulled back his face to reveal deep claw marks on both her arse cheeks, some of which had pierced her skin.