I agreed. All families have secrets. But why, so many years later, did the boy do this?
She shrugged. “He became friends with a young priest from Newfoundland. They talked a lot. Then rumours started. Probably related to the scandals over there, where he was from. You know the way that people are. I know the rumours bothered Danny. I think he felt, somehow, threatened by them.”
“Where do you think the rumours came from?”
“It’s anybody’s guess.” She was silent then. “I guess that’s all there is to say. I thought you should know, for your own peace of mind.”
“Thank you,” I said. “That’s a big secret to carry around … you and Jessie.”
She smiled. “I’m sure you know all about the burden of big secrets.”
“Once, you mentioned a place in the Dominican Republic.”
“Yes,” she said.
“Maybe I’ll take you up on that.”
“Just say the word.”
I hesitated. “Maybe you’ll come too.”
“Maybe. And then again.”
“Then again what?”
She placed a cool hand on my cheek. “I make a poor substitute. I learned that, long ago, the hard way.”
“Substitute for what?” I said weakly.
“I think you know.”
I could only nod, silently.
“I’ll drop off the keys to Puerto Plata, and the name of the woman who takes care of it for me.”
Danny Ban was crossing the parking lot at the mall in town when he spotted me. I hoped he wouldn’t. There was too much to explain. Too much to suppress. But he was moving slowly in my direction, using two canes now.
“Hey,” he said. “I was half expecting to get a call Sunday morning. Then they prayed for poor Willie at Mass. I figured you’d be too busy for boating.”
“One of these days,” I said.
“I hear you’re going away for a while.”
“Yes. I was just picking up a few supplies.”
“I’ll be gone at least a month.” I told him that I had a lot to think about. Maybe it was time for a major change of direction in my life.
“That’d be a shame,” he said.
“Nothing is decided.”
“You’ll be back, though?”
“Don’t worry about the boat. I’ll look after her for you. I’ve got good memories with that boat.”
I thanked him.
His face was suddenly very sad. “What do you think goes through their minds?” he asked.
“We can never know. We can only assume. That there was a moment at the end … some kind of peace.”
He nodded. “It’s a shame, you going. Priesthood needs more down-to-earth people like yourself.”
“I’m serious,” he said. “People say that.”
“No matter what else I’ll be, I’ll still be a priest. You know what they say: once a priest, always a priest.”
“But you know what I mean. I’m not talking about … theoretical.”
“You can think of me the same as now. I don’t plan to change much.”
“Just don’t call me Father anymore.”
“That’ll be hard,” he said. “I’m kind of old-fashioned that way.” And he suddenly gathered both canes in his large left hand and extended his right for a farewell handshake. “Just in case I don’t run into you again.”
Impulsively, I stepped forward and put both arms around his sagging shoulders, and my head alongside his where he wouldn’t see my eyes.
I remember standing like that for a long time, hanging on to his great weakened frame as he gently patted my back, the way you would a frightened child.
And I remember the people going about their weekend shopping and glancing uneasily at two grown men hugging in a parking lot. Wondering what might be going on.
I’m grateful to many friends and colleagues for feedback and advice as this story evolved. I owe special thanks to my agents, Don Sedgwick and Shaun Bradley, for sticking with the project for several years, and especially to Don, who read the manuscript and offered valuable criticism through many drafts. My wife, Carol Off, gave crucial encouragement and guidance throughout the process, and our friend Scott Sellers of Random House of Canada saw merit in the nearly final project when even I was dubious. My editor and publisher, Anne Collins, brought to the story the tender insights and editorial discipline it needed to transcend my many literary weaknesses.
is the co-host of
the fifth estate
and the winner of nine Gemini Awards for broadcast journalism. His bestselling first novel,
The Long Stretch
, was nominated for a CBA Libris Award; his boyhood memoir,
Causeway: A Passage from Innocence
, was a
Globe and Mail
Best Book of 2006, and won the Edna Staebler Award for Non-Fiction and the Evelyn Richardson Prize.
A NOTE ABOUT THE TYPE
The Bishop’s Man
is set in Janson, a misnamed typeface designed in or about 1690 by Nicholas Kis, a Hungarian in Amsterdam. In 1919 the original matrices became the property of the Stempel Foundry in Frankfurt, Germany. Janson is an old-style book face of excellent clarity and sharpness, featuring concave and splayed serifs, and a marked contrast between thick and thin strokes.
Copyright © 2009 Linden MacIntyre. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
Published by arrangement with Random House Canada, an imprint of the Knopf Random Canada Publishing Group, which is a division of Random House of Canada Limited.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The bishop’s man : a novel / by Linden MacIntyre.
eISBN : 978-1-582-43699-9
1. Clergy—Fiction. 2. Catholic Church—Clergy—Fiction. 3. Catholic Church—
Corrupt practices—Fiction. I. Title.
1919 Fifth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
Distributed by Publishers Group West