The Pellegrine

Soul Lark

Book VI
Magi at Work

Chapter 3
The Testimony

© The author reserves all rights to this work.


This story is of an adult nature. It is not intended for minors nor for those whose law in their land forbids them to read this material.
This story is entirely fictional. Any resemblance to actual people is purely coincidental and unintentional.

NB: Words found between asterisks (*) refer to words exchanged in psychic or telepathic communication.

Date: 9 January 2674, Friday

The three boys were joking and teasing each other when Father Tarsius walked into his office. The ‘comfy chairs’ as the youngsters called them were to the left of the door. There was, in addition to the chairs, an oval shaped coffee table and small serving table in the corner. Under the table, Father Tarsius kept a cool box for keeping packs of lemonade. Sometimes he left a jug of juice on the serving table instead.

“I see that you’re full of joy and full of my lemonade. Please make sure you don’t spill any of the drink on the floor. If you do, you’d have to clean up before you leave.”

“Yes Father!” chorused the three.

“You know we’re careful,” said Max.

“Yes, Father. Have we ever spilled anything?” asked Lenny.

“I seem to remember some tomato juice a while back …” said Father Tarsius.

“I wasn’t here,” protested Reggie. “I’m always careful!”

“True,” said Father Tarsius, nodding. “I remember Max wanted to use it to simulate blood and then my rug looked as if I had murdered someone in my office.” Father Tarsius was referring the white rug that was under the coffee table. In the two years that it had been situated there, it had lost its pristine white colour and was a little darker.

“It was an accident!” whined Max.

“Yeah,” joined in Lenny. “We didn’t see the stain.”

Father Tarsius just shook his head. “I could’ve banned you from the office but I didn’t. It was expensive to clean the rug.”

“Is that why we don’t have tomato juice anymore?” asked Reggie.

“That was the first and last time I served anyone tomato juice here. Now, if you’ve finished, you should be getting home. I don’t want to get phone calls from your parents to say that you’ve gotten back late from choir practice.”

“Yes Father!” chorused the three again. The three got up and moved towards the door.

“Lenny?” called Father Tarsius. He thought that Lenny had wanted to stay back for confession. He was about to tell him to come back another time when Lenny said to his friends, “Later guys.”

When the other two boys had left, Father Tarsius instructed, “Could you close the door, please?”

Lenny closed the door and turned to see Father Tarsius bent over looking for something. The priest was at the other end of the office where there was a set of cupboards lining the wall. Lenny had seen what was in the cupboards. It was filled with music scores for the choir and the little sprinklers and things that priests use for their rituals. Lenny looked at the priest’s behind and thought it was the most beautiful thing he had seen. Suddenly Father Tarsius straightened up, turned around and said, “Well, I can’t find the stole and so we’ll have to do without it.” What Lenny didn’t know was that Father Tarsius had caught Lenny’s projected thoughts.

Father Tarsius moved to his left. His desk faced the door and there were a couple of chairs on the opposite side of his desk. Father Tarsius moved to behind his desk and sat down in his chair. “Why don’t we sit down?” he said and pointed to the one of the seats at the other side of his desk. “We can then celebrate the forgiveness of God.” As he sat this, he tried to look more comfortable by leaning back on his chair. He had one of those office chairs with a long and wide back that could tilt a little if the one leaned back.

Lenny didn’t sit down. He only saw Father Tarsius leaning into his chair as an invitation to become closer. He walked over to Father Tarsius’ side of the desk.

“What do you think you’re doing?” asked Father Tarsius.

“Accepting your invitation,” said Lenny shyly.

“I did no such thing!” said Father Tarsius trying to get up.

“Don’t lie to me, Father. It’s a sin to lie,” said Lenny seductively. “I know you want me just as much as I want you.” Lenny then sat down on Father Tarsius’ lap.

“No, Lenny! Get off! You’re too old for this,” said Father Tarsius, trying to remain calm. “When you were younger, old Father Jones could support you but you’re fourteen. You’re far too heavy. Furthermore, you should act your age like …” Father Tarsius did not have the time to finish. Lenny placed his hand on his crotch. The sudden contact caused a slight reaction.

“See, I knew you liked me,” said Lenny.

Father Tarsius pushed Lenny out with all the force he could muster without hurting the boy.

“That’s enough!” he half-shouted. His tone of voice was serious and he sounded a little angry. “Leonard Omistan. What’s gotten into you?”

Lenny stared at the priest in shock. He had not expected the priest to act this way. He thought that the friendly priest wanted to be intimate with him. He suddenly realised that it was not the case. He broke down and cried.

“Lenny,” said Father Tarsius in a gentler voice. “I didn’t mean to scare you but what you did wasn’t right. I like you but not in that way.”

“I … I’m … sorry …” Lenny sobbed.

“This was just something childish,” said Father Tarsius. “I know that God forgives you and that I forgive you too. Just think before you act, okay?”

Lenny looked up at the priest he had just thrown himself to. Father Tarsius did not wear a face of anger but one of concern. He nodded his head and said, “I’d like to make my confession, please.”

“Just sit on the other side of the desk and we’ll celebrate God’s mercy together,” said Father Tarsius motioning Lenny towards the opposite side of the desk.

Lenny sat down and said, “Give me your blessing Father, I’ve sinned.”

Father Tarsius made the sign of the cross, “The Lord blesses you and loves you. Please tell the Good Lord in what way you have failed in his love.”

“I’ve been thinking very naughty thoughts about a priest, namely you. I’ve masturbated twice in the past week and you were always in my fantasies. And just now, I took advantage of your friendliness and …” Lenny trailed off.

Father Tarsius took a deep breath and said, “I know. Look, Lenny, you’d need to talk to someone about what happened. It could be just a simple thing of admiration mixed with teenage hormones or it could be something deeper.”

“Couldn’t I just talk to you?” Lenny asked.

“As much as I know that you’d be comfortable with me, I can’t counsel you,” said the priest gently. “What happened just now involved me and I don’t think it’s wise for me to be your counselor. You need to see someone else. Why don’t you talk to Mrs. Schwartz in school? I’m sure she’ll be able to help or find someone who can.”

“But I just can’t say this to anyone. You’re the first to know of my secret,” replied Lenny anxiously.

Father Tarsius’ voice was gentle but firm. “Lenny, you need to talk about this with someone else.”

Lenny’s face was pale. “You won’t tell my parents, will you? My father will kill me if he finds out that I …”

“I’m bound by the seal of confession to keep everything you say a secret,” reassured Father Tarsius. “However, I’m not the one who can help you. You’d need to seek someone else’s help.”

Lenny became silent. Father Tarsius paused for a while. When Lenny did not react, he decided to say the formula of absolution, “… I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Then Father Tarsius placed his right hand on Lenny’s head and said a private prayer. He then said aloud, “God loves you; Lenny, remember that. Go in peace.”

The voice from Lenny was one of extreme sorrow. “Thank you Father.” Lenny then turned and walked out of the office. He kept his emotions and his thoughts in check as he exited the church compound without looking back.

‡ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ‡

Date: 19 January 2674, Monday

Lenny finished his story and looked at Father Tarsius. He saw Father Tarsius frowning. He could not see anger or distress at all in Father Tarsius. He saw only concern in the priest’s eyes.

The prosecutor was aghast in horror. She saw her case disintegrate in front of her. She composed herself and said, “My Lord, the prosecution would like a short recess to consider this latest development.”

The judge looked at the prosecutor but did not answer her. He turned to Lenny and asked, “Son, are you sure what you’ve said is the truth?”

“Yes,” replied Lenny, trying to be brave.

The judge’s voice continued to be gentle, “You weren’t forced to make this statement, were you?”

Lenny took a deep breath. “I know I shouldn’t have lied to my parents and the police but I did. I told the truth just now.”

“But you know that you’ve broken the law by making a false accusation. I wish to understand why you did so. Could you tell me?”

“I was very angry with Father Tarsius,” said Lenny calmly. “He’d refused to help me. I went home and tried to remain calm but I couldn’t. The more I thought about it, the more I was more disturbed and the more upset I became with Father Tarsius. I told him my deepest, darkest secret and he refused to help me. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to make him pay for rejecting me. My father noticed that I was very listless and asked me during dinner what happened. I had thought of turning the story around when I left the church so I just told my father that Father Tarsius had touched me in the crotch.”

Mrs. Omistan started sobbing. Kean looked at Mr. Omistan and felt a lot of anger from him.

“What made you change your mind?” asked the judge.

“I realised last night that I was making things worse than they were. Father Tarsius really cared for me. He kept silent because he was protecting me. He was willing to go into rehab for me. However, I couldn’t understand why he rejected me. Then last night, I suddenly came to the answer. I realised that he didn’t want to make things worse than before. If he’d accepted to be my counselor, he might not be as fair as he wanted. After all, I molested him and offended him. I realised that he wanted to be totally fair. He didn’t want any bad feelings that he might have to cause him to give the wrong advice. When I realised that, I knew I couldn’t keep lying.”

“Master Omistan, you’re a brave young man. It would seem to me that you’ve seen the error of your ways. However, you’ve committed a grave crime. You’ve made a false accusation against an innocent man. Your accusation has cost him his reputation and credubility. Justice demands that you make restitution.” Turning to the prosecutor, the judge said, “Ms. Betram, I’d like you to consider dropping all charges against the Reverend Tarsius Gould.”

“Perhaps he was coerced …” suggested the prosecutor.

“The young man has answered very well. Although he was not without fear, it is evident that he has decided to stick to his testimony. That being the case, there isn’t a case for the prosecution.” The judge’s tone showed that his decision was final.

Ms. Betram said, “In view of the testimony of the alleged victim, the prosecution asks the court dismiss the case.”

Father Tarsius raised his hand as the prosecutor was speaking. Mr. Sands noticed this and pushed down his hand. Mr. Sands was speaking in low tones with the priest when the judge asked, “Yes, Mr. Sands?”

“My client would like to say something, if it pleases the court,” replied the defending barrister.

The judge narrowed his eyes and looked at the priest. “I’ll give the Reverend a few minutes.”

Father Tarsius stood up and said, “I beg the court’s indulgence. I’d like to speak on Lenny’s behalf. He’s just a fourteen year old boy who’s confused. He needs a chance to work out his feelings. I humbly ask the court to consider counselling over rehabilitation. I also humbly ask that what this young man had bravely shared with the court not be made public knowledge. The media will inevitably cause more harm than good to his life.”

The judge nodded his head and said, “I know that you speak from compassion and sometimes those who deal with the law can forget what compassion is all about.” As he said this, the judge turned to the prosecutor and gave her a look. Then he turned back to the priest and continued, “I agree with you that this youth needs help and that the media will probably have a field day with all that he has said. They have an uncanny ability to twist simple facts into juicy bits of gossip. However, I trust that you aren’t presuming to tell me what my job is,” said the judge.

“Never, my Lord,” replied Father Tarsius, looking down.

With that the judge went deep into thought for a few moments. Then he looked at the jury and said, “Dear members of the jury. It’s very apparent that there’s no case any more against the Reverend Tarsius Gould. The alleged victim has confessed to lying to the police but he had stated the truth, as far as I can ascertain. However, I’m inclined to concur with the Reverend Tarsius Gould’s view that Leonard Omistan’s testimony be kept from the media. I’m going to impose a strict media restriction over what has been said in this court. During the next nine months, if there’s a media leak over this case, it will be considered a case of contempt. I’ll personally take action against the person or persons involved. I know we can’t stop media speculation but if anyone in this court, jury and court officials included, were to sell information to the press, the law can enact very heavy penalties over this breach of trust.”

The judge then activated his appointment book and looked at it for a while. He looked up again and said, “This court is to stand in recess until tomorrow morning at eight. Members of the jury, I would like you to return to the sequestered accomodations for my verdict tomorrow. Officer, could you escort them out?”

The prosecutor stood up, “My Lord, this is highly irregular.”

“Of course it is irregular,” answered the judge deliberately. Addressing the people directly in front of him, the judge said, “Mr. Sands, Ms. Betram, Reverend Gould and young Mr. Omistan. I’d like to meet you immediately in my chambers.” Then he banged his gavel and proclaimed, “This court stands in recess!”

¤ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ¤

The judge sat in his chambers without his wig and his robes. He looked first at Father Tarsius and Mr. Sands. Then he looked at Ms. Betram who seemed to be fuming mad. Last of all, he looked at the fearful face of Lenny the teenager. Unbeknowst to him, Jorg and Master Martin were also present but invisible.

“I called this conference because there’re some unfinished business and I don’t want to drag this on for too long,” said the judge. The prosecutor opened her mouth to speak but the judge glared at her and put his hand up to silence her. It worked. “All of you know that I will dismiss this case tomorrow, but I’d like to handle the situation of Mr. Omistan’s lie immediately instead of putting off to another day. This would be done tomorrow. I want to know how Mr. Omistan would plead to the charge of false accusation.”

“I’ll plead guilty, my Lord,” replied Lenny meekly.

“I trust you won’t change your mind tomorrow,” said the judge. Turning to the prosecutor, who was bursting to speak, the judge continued, “Ms. Betram. I know … I know … this is highly irregular. You’ve said it already! It’s irregular but not illegal. You’ll find procedural law to be on my side. I want the youth’s charge to be filed as soon as possible so that it’ll be ready for trial tomorrow. Could that be done?”

“Yes. Certainly, my Lord,” came the short reply. Strangely, the woman had little else to say.

“Good. Mr. Sands, I’d like you to advise Mr. Omistan, if he has no objections?” said the judge whilst looking at Lenny.

“None, my Lord,” said Lenny quietly.

“You can choose another, provided you can get another barrister by tomorrow. If you do get another, the situation might just become more complicated and things might not be settled tomorrow. If I were you, I’d just let Mr. Sands do the all the work. I’m placing you under house arrest. This means that you’d be escorted home and be under guard until you appear in court tomorrow.”

“Yes sir,” replied the teenager.

“Reverend Gould, I fear that you’d have to spend one more night in remand,” said the elderly judge.

“I don’t mind, the solitude does help in prayer.”

“A strange way of putting it,” said the judge. “It’s settled then. I’ll see you tomorrow in court.”

The party left the judge’s chambers.

¤ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ¤

When he was left alone in his cell, Timothy Addems, or Father Tarsius Gould, received some guests. His family, Kean and Jorg congregated in the small cell. They were speaking in whispers.

“I’m glad that this matter has been sorted out,” said Pearl, his mother.

“Yes,” said Doug. “You’re now in the clear.”

“I worry about what’s going to happen to Lenny,” said Tim.

Christine gave a sigh. “It’s just like you to look out for somebody else. Would you like me to have a peep at his home?”

“Would you? I’m more worried about how his parents, especially his father, would react. He’s a nice man but is very stubborn. I hope …”

“No problem,” said Master Martin. He turned to his younger sister and said, “Olly, get to the Omistans.”

Olivia scowled. “I hate it when you give orders like that. Even my superior does it more politely than that.”

Master Martin received a stare from his parents. “Sorry, Olly. I’m just so used to give orders in the school,” he said sincerely.

“I accept your apology this time, Mart. The next time, you may have to report me for insubordination,” said Olivia with a grin.

“If only I had the same look when I’m sorry, I would’ve escaped many of Olly’s naggings,” said Tim.

The whole family laughed.

“SSSShhhh!” gasped Kean. “We kept a visual shield but not an audio one. If anyone hears us laugh like that …” The Addems gave an expression of mock horror. Their expressions were so similar that Kean and Jorg had to smile.

§ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ §

Date: 25 January 2674, Sunday

Master Martin brought Kean back to the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua to resume his training. After quite an interesting time at the basilica, they returned to their base in New Lebanon.

“Kean, you did well today. You were able to filter out projected thoughts quite fast. You understand the purpose of the exercise, don’t you?”

“Yes, filtering aids the process of psychic searching. With the exercises we’ve been doing before our little adventure, I find that I’m able to filter out thoughts faster now.”

Master Martin Nodded. “Yes, your speed was good. You may have a very high capacity in terms of psychic energy, but the capacity is useless without the proper concentration. Your focus and concentration was good. Continue with the exercises and you’ll be able to filter out projected thoughts within a split second.”

“Master Martin, may I ask about your family?” Kean broached hesitatingly.

Master Martin smiled. To make up for the time lost for helping out Timothy, Master Martin had put Kean back into his mental and psychic exercises almost immediately after returning. They had returned to their training base in New Lebanon and Kean was allowed a night of rest. The very next morning, Kean had to arise early to start his training.

“Yes you may,” Master Martin replied. “My parents are doing well. Tim has been reinstated into his parish but he had asked for a transfer so that members of the congregation might not feel awkward.”

“You mean the Omistans? Surely he wouldn’t have any ill-feelings for them?”

“One of the effects of such an accusation is that the parish becomes divided. The memory of what happened is still etched in people’s minds. Some would have taken the Omistans’ side and others would have insisted on Tim’s innocence. There were others who were undecided. Tim felt that his presence would have been an obstacle for reconciliation. Those who hadn’t been on his side, like the Omistans and that boy, Reginald Hollison, would have been ostracised in one way or another. Tim’s presence would serve as a reminder of that nasty incident.”

“Surely, Tim would be able to effect reconciliation and forgiveness in the parish!” remarked Kean.

“Tim doesn’t think so. Perhaps he knows the people better than we do. He said that the people are still hurting. Being in the parish would just keep reminding them of the hurt. So he’ll be staying in the parish for just a week. By now, he’d probably have announced that he’s being transferred to the missions by reading a letter from the Cardinal in charge of missions. He told me that he was going to make the parish promise not to dig out the past and its hurts. He hoped to convince his congregation that his transfer was not in reaction to the civil case.”

“Isn’t that lying?” asked Kean.

“Tim didn’t lie. He acted almost immediately after Lenny left his office. He had read Lenny’s thoughts. He didn’t want to warn the Archbishop because it might raise too many questions. He knew that there were several outcomes. The worse and most probably was that he would be sent for rehabilitation. However, if Lenny didn’t do what he was thinking, Tim would still need to leave the parish for Lenny’s good but he couldn’t do so without the Archbishop’s permission. So, to prepare for that possibility, he called up a friend he knew in Rome. The friend agreed to get the transfer approved the minute the Archbishop’s permission was given. After the case was over, Tim went to the Archbishop and asked for a transfer. The Archbishop was reluctant but he understood Tim’s reasons.”

“Didn’t the Archbishop get suspicious when the transfer came so fast?” asked Kean.

“Not really,” replied Master Martin. “According to Tim, there was a need for priests in the place he had requested for. Furthermore, the Cardinal was impressed with Tim’s disposition during an interview he had with a reporter…”

“I thought the judge imposed a media freeze?”

“Precisely,” grinned Master Martin. “Tim handled the reporter very well and that impressed the Cardinal so much that there was no problems with the transfer.”

“What did he say?” asked Kean.

“Several reporters had tried to ask him for an interview. He had turned them down flat. Then he spotted one media company trying to do a live interview. He grabbed the opportunity to do something positive. After giving very precise answers that kept him within the law, Tim changed the interview into a short sermon on human dignity and asked the audience not to lap up all that the media fed them. I don’t know if he was successful in convincing the masses but that interview impressed the Cardinal.”

“So, where is he transferred to?”

“He wanted somewhere outside Earth. He figured Mars or Jupiter but he found himself on Uranus,” replied Master Martin.

“Really? That’s where I’ll be heading when I finish my training here. It’ll be good to see him again. What about the boy and his family?”

“According to Tim, Lenny has been sent for professional counselling. His sentence was to do community service. Taking up the recommendation of the judge, his family’s going for family counselling. Mr. Omistan came to see Tim the day he returned to the parish. He was very apologetic. Tim was very tactful. He made peace with the man and the man made peace with his priest.”

“You must be very proud of your brother,” remarked Kean.

Master Martin looked up a little and said, “I’d always thought that he could provide a greater help by remaining in the rescue corps. Now, I’m not too sure. He’s doing very good work that not even magi powers could achieve. Yes,” Master Martin looked back at Kean. “I am very proud of my older brother. He’s one of a kind.” Then, Master Martin gave a grin and said, “Enough of family talk. We need to start in the last leg of your training.”

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