The Long Drop Cafe - Mocha
The Long Drop CafÃ© adjoined a brooding, Gothic cathedral with a bell tower that soared like an ominous finger pointing to the damnation awaiting those who snubbed the holy indulgences for sale on the collection plate.Â Daily, the clanging bells rang loudly to warn of the hell fire burning for all who hid from the tongue-lashing lurking in the confessional.
The adjacent, former bishop’s rectory had long ago been converted into The Long Drop CafÃ©. Â It, too, had a steeple â€“ like a gallows with trap door and a long drop into Hades for those clergy who committed the lethal sin of frequenting heathen coffee emporia.Â But although the cafÃ© appointed by God was ecumenical, Protestants and other disciples of Satan had been thin on the ground even in the hey day of the holy cafÃ©.Â In those heady times there was always a sprinkling of plain clothes nuns and monks guarding against the unfrocked, frog marching them unceremoniously out of the establishment.Â In a loving sortÂ of way.Â And there had been unmarked priests to mingle with mental notebooks at the ready to record the sins of all the clientele, for later comparison with the sins extracted during the inquisition of the confessional.
Now, The Long Drop CafÃ© had a freshly painted Closing Down Sale sign nailed to the front door by some angry, dissatisfied Luther.Â It confused Saint Nicholas, for he’d been certain that this emporium of passionate holiness had shut its doors some years before.Â Obviously, he was wrong, and not for the first time, nor the last.Â But this time he could be excused, for it was a long time since he’d ridden to this city which was a sister to the urban jungle that he knew as home.Â Nevertheless, he hadÂ obviously been wrong about the cafÃ©.Â As a penance for forgiveness, the saint ambled into the den of unabashed bigotry â€“ though in all truth, lured in by the Closing Down Sale‘s false promise of discounted skinny flat whites.Â Miss Priscilla Smyth-Brown had taught the rewards of being frugal.
Alas, the saint’s favourite brew had been consigned to purgatory, and everything else to hell.Â Except for mugs of cloying mocha.Â These were on special, at the discounted price of confessing all to the bishop and mother superior who were discretely holding hands in a gloomy corner of the defunct cafÃ©.
Clutching his lukewarm mug of mocha, the saint trudged over to where four suspicious eyes watched his every approaching step – as if the doom of hell was steadily advancing towards them.Â They greeted this harbinger of perdition with frosty smiles.
“Not a bad drop,” remarked Saint Nicholas, waving his mug of foul brew.Â He wasn’t really lying through his teeth as do many a herald of salvation.Â The mocha wasn’t bad, just plain revolting.Â “Though it’s not all that hot,” he observed truthfully.
The bishop and mother superior blanched at the mention of heat, for such invoked the burning pit and thus dampened the glow of ardour.Â A paradox of which the saint was blissfully unaware.
“It’s a pity the place is closing down,” remarked the saint.Â He took another sip of mocha as a penance for sins he’d never knowingly committed.Â “But I might have an idea or three that could save the place,” he added as a throw-away thought.
“Then perhaps you’d best sit down,” answered the bishop, for the salvation of cash flow was the bottom line not to be ignored.Â He momentarily waited for the supplicant to speak.Â But loathe to let any golden opportunity slip through his greased fingers, he impatiently urged: “What ideas?”
Saint Nicholas sat down, and took another long sip.Â His mind had suddenly gone blank â€“ hit, perhaps, by a caffeine-chocolate overdose.Â Absent mindedly, he took another sip.
“Your ideas, child!” urged mother superior, who herself never needed urging.
The saint smiled.Â It had been a long time since anyone had called him that, though being child-like came naturally.Â And dreaminess was an intrinsic attribute of holiness.
“Ideas?” he asked in a bemused voice.
The bishop rolled his eyes at the half-wit before him.Â “About saving the cafÃ©!” he prompted impatiently.Â “The cafÃ©, my son!” he repeated, almost choking on the last two words.
Saint Nicholas blinked in surprise, then stared hard at the bishop.Â Was this man of the cloth confessing some dark secret that his own mother had never told him?Â Was this ill-tempered man acknowledging him as his son?Â And why did fate spring these unpleasant surprises in the most unlikely of places and at the most strangest of times?Â For the life of him, he couldn’t understand it.
“Father?” he said, hoping for clarity.
“Yes, my son?”
The saint was appalled.Â Here was the bishop brazenly confessing and confirming that he, Nicholas, was the fruit of a forbidden union.Â Revealing that he, Nicholas, was a bastard.Â And with the bishop being a supposed man of God, he obviously had no reason to lie about his own fall from grace, and thus about the saint’s mother falling pregnant.
The saint scowled â€“ why couldn’t this man of the cloth have kept his clothes on?Â And why hadn’t his mother confessed this dark secret â€“ as a good son, he would have tried to understand?Â Not that he could now, but he might have then.Â Besides, all have the right to know that they are bastards.Â Now it was much too late to ask his mother, for she’d taken up residence with God.Â Or so he had always thought.Â But perhaps not!Â Instead of being in the heavenly penthouse, she might be in the basement â€“ a much hotter place.
He just had to know her celestial whereabouts.Â The circumstances of her liaison with this blackguard fornicator across the table could clarify whether she was playing the harp or hurling fiery pitchforks.Â Yet the unabashed scoundrel shamelessly groping mother superior was hardly going to go into details while fixated on caressing the thigh jutting out of the penguin suit.Â A bad habit!Â But there was more than one way to skin a bishop with an appetite for mothers.
Of course, Saint Nicholas was not casting judgments willy-nilly.Â The holy never do, mostly.Â Only sometimes, under extreme provocation.Â When in the heat of righteous battle, one might say.Â And even then restricted to bishop fornicators who habitually seduce the virgin mothers of the godly, so to speak.
So the saint spoke: “Father!” he said, spitting out the word as one might thrust a knife into a carcass for boning.Â He thumped his mug of mocha on the table.Â “About the seven deadly sins.”
The bishop’s mouth fell open.Â Was the half-wit going to suggest that they save the cafÃ© by turning it into a den of iniquity?
“Father â€¦ mother,” continued Saint Nicholas, choking on the words, “I understand about the sins of pride, wrath, envy, gluttony, avarice and sloth.Â But the deadly sin of lust I find somewhat perplexing.”
Mother superior, an expert on lust, brushed away the bishop’s hand squeezing her thigh.Â She didn’t want to be distracted from grasping anything new.
“Lust?” the bishop said incredulously.Â Was this fool going to suggest that they turn the cafÃ© into a brothel?Â “Lust, you say?”
“Yes, lust!” Saint Nicholas said firmly.Â This wasn’t the time for beating around the bush, though the predilections of Madam Lash probably had a place in the wider scheme of things.Â “The deadly sin of lust!Â What have you got to say about it?Â You know, ‘When Eve spanned, Adam delved.’Â That sort of thing.”
“No!” the bishop said angrily, ignoring mother superior’s hand squeezing his knee.Â He was outraged by the suggestion that they convert The Long Drop CafÃ© into a whorehouse.Â “Such is sinful and out of the question.Â I won’t hear anymore of it!”
It was clear to Saint Nicholas that the swine of a bishop was running away.Â Or in belated denial.Â How dare he refuse to explain that he was a bastard!
“Have you sinned, child?” asked mother superior, for lust was a special interest of hers and she wanted to get a firm grip on the matter in hand.
“Me?” Saint Nicholas said mortified.Â What was the trollop suggesting?Â Had she taken leave of her senses?Â He didn’t go around forcing himself on innocent mothers.Â “Certainly not!” he retorted.Â The very idea of it!Â “One does not sin!” he said emphatically.Â “Never!”
“I’m pleased to hear it,” said the bishop, relieved that the half-wit had seen the error of his ways and was withdrawing his outrageous suggestion.Â “I agree!Â One does not sin.Â And other than for the small sin of forgetfulness, I have never sinned!” he added for good measure, in case Upstairs was listening.Â He shook his head.Â “During all of my fifty years serving in the missions in Africa, I was never tempted by the trembling bare breasts â€¦ by those firm, young breasts heaving and swaying in the fertility dances â€¦ nor by those big, turgid nipples.”Â He stopped to take a lusty swig of rum-laced mocha.Â “Ah, those were the days,” he added with a nostalgic sigh.
Simple arithmetic revealed to Saint Nicholas that this godly man was in Africa a year before he himself was born.Â His mother was still a virgin, and playing the harp in the penthouse.Â With the vexation now out of the way, saving the cafÃ© from closure suddenly flashed across his mind.
“Why not have a fund-raising event to keep The Long Drop CafÃ© going?” suggested the saint.Â “Something to draw the crowds!”
“What would you suggest, my child?” asked mother superior, placing the bishop’s hand on her knee.Â “A clothes stall perhaps?”
Saint Nicholas nodded at the reverend mother’s astute suggestion.Â For he had the washing machine bursting with t-shirts, and could donate a wide variety.Â But he had forgotten to remove them before setting out on his marathon trip from home.Â He could only hope that Saint Jude had stumbled upon them.Â He mentally berated himself for leaving the damp clothes mouldering in the machine.
“Wet T-shirts!” he muttered in dismay.
“What a splendid idea!” exclaimed mother superior.Â “A wet T-shirt competition!”Â The image of her strutting her stuff in front of panting seminarians and lusty young priests flashed through her mind.Â “If done in a tasteful way,” she added demurely, fluttering her eyelids.
The bishop was instantly converted by the thought of pouring water over nubile Sister Virginia â€“ who might be whetted into flaunting her innocence, and thus baring the error of her ways.Â With an excited squeeze of the hand, he and mother superior both vanished, much to the astonishment of the saint.Â Not that they had gone far.Â They instantly re-appeared in the cathedral, where the bishop was soon delivering a fervent sermon.Â It was an inspired outpouring from the pulpit on the virtues of wet T-shirt competitions.Â The congregation of fellow travelers, instantly assembled, were wildly enthusiastic.Â It was the first time in centuries they had a way to alleviate the crushing boredom of purgatory.
For his part, Saint Nicholas trudged away to find a telephone box to ring Saint Jude.Â But the tediousness of re-washing and hanging out his T-shirts – if still needs be â€“ would probably prove to be another lost cause.Â For Saint Nicholas, all domestic chores were in such category and but one step up from hell.
Tales from the Divine Drop Cafes