The next morning, they docked at Rocky Point, and it was indeed a rocky point that jutted out into the sea like a stony gray elbow. There was a tall white lighthouse and a small harbor, and an odd quaint village that rested neatly at the crest of a steep hill.
“I’ll be at the general store gathering my sundries and such,” Pierre Moose said, and he pointed. “You should find the padre at the big red church. I’ll meet you back here when you’re ready. Good luck with figuring out who and what you are.”
“Thanks. I’ll see you later.”
BumBuna O’Brien made his way up the hill and into the town. He saw the steeple of the red church and it pierced the sky like a holy needle threading clouds. He went to the door and pulled but it was locked. There was an old woman nearby sweeping the walk. She was hunched over and dressed in a sweater and had a purple kerchief over her head. She stopped and looked at him.
“Church is only open on Sunday,” she said with a tired, gnarled voice.
“I need to see the preacher; Reverend Abrams I believe. It’s rather urgent. Do you know where I could find him?”
The old lady pointed with a crooked arm.
“Out back there at the house. That’s where he lives. Not sure if he’s awake yet though. He’s a nightcrawler. Takes to drinking, too. But I suppose he’s the best we can get around here.”
“Thanks. I’ll see if he’s in.”
BumBuna O’Brien made his way around to the rear of the church and there sat an old white house, crooked and quaint, with a nice yard and a little stone fountain with a statue of some bearded saint pouring the water from a jug. He went to the door and knocked. Someone stirred inside. He knocked again.
“Hello?” he called through the door. “I need to speak with a minister.”
The door suddenly jerked open and there stood a pot-bellied man; unshaven, unruly, droopy in the eyes and jowls.
“Yes? Who are you?”
“My name is BumBuna O’Brien. Pierre Moose said you may be able to help me.”
“Pierre Moose? I don’t know anyone named Pierre Moose. It sounds made up. What did you need?”
“I need to speak to you about a spiritual matter, I think. It’s quite important to me.”
“All right, hold on. Let me at least put some clothes on,” the preacher grumbled.
He closed the door and BumBuna O’Brien sat down on the stoop and waited. He listened as the holy statue dribbled the water into the small pool. The sound made him suddenly realize he had to relieve himself. The door finally opened, and the preacher, now properly dressed in black with white collar, invited him in.
“Could I use your bathroom?” BumBuna O’Brien immediately asked.
“Well, I suppose. It’s down the hall there, on the left. Please excuse the mess. My cleaning woman has gotten lazy in her old age.”
BumBuna O’Brien relieved himself in a dirty toilet, flushed, and then came back out. The preacher was sitting at the kitchen table eating toast and sipping coffee.
“I hope you don’t mind if I eat my breakfast while we talk. Would you like some coffee?”
“No. Thank you. Do you have any carrot juice?”
The preacher eyed him strangely. “No. I’m afraid I don’t, but why don’t you tell me what you’re so concerned about.”
“Well, I fear I’m severely delusional. That’s what Pierre says. But I think he may be right. I’m afraid I just don’t know who I really am.”
“That’s not so unusual. Many people are unsure of who they really are.”
“But tell me. When you look at me, what do you see?”
The preacher sipped at his coffee and glared at BumBuna O’Brien over the rim of his cup.
“I see someone I’ve never met before. I see a stranger in my house.”
“I mean physically. What do you see?”
“I’m not sure I follow.”
“Am I a man?”
The preacher hesitated and looked at him strangely.
“Of course, you’re a man. Some sort of man. I don’t really see what you’re getting at.”
“I’ve lived my entire life thinking I was a rabbit.”
“A rabbit? If this is some sort of joke, well, then I’d rather not be a part of it.”
“So, I don’t look like a rabbit to you?”
“No. Of course not. That’s preposterous.”
“I really thought I was a rabbit.”
“Son, perhaps you should be seeking counsel from a psychiatrist, not a preacher.”
“You think I’m crazy?”
“No. But perhaps your friend was correct in his diagnosis of severely delusional.”
“Isn’t there anything you can do to help me?”
“What do you expect me to do?”
“Make me feel better about it. Can’t you heal me or work a miracle or at least pray for me?”
The preacher took one last crunch of toast and final gulp of coffee, and then looked at him square in the eye.
“A man is born. A man lives life. Then a man dies. You are a flesh and blood man. Don’t doubt that. I will pray for you, but I encourage you to seek the advice of a medical doctor. There are many medications available to those with such afflictions of the mind that you seem to be in possession of.”
“Pills? You want me to take pills? I came here for cleansing of the heart and spirit. I came here for a sense of peace and understanding, and this is what you give me? That I should take pills?”
“Please understand. I have limitations in what I can do. I’m not God himself. You came to me for advice and that is my advice. You need to be under a doctor’s care. Now, if you don’t mind, I have some things I must get done today. I wish you well.”
The preacher stood and went to the door and held it open. BumBuna O’Brien got up and walked out. The door closed behind him with a slam. He heard the lock slide into its casing. He went to the holy man statue and ran his hand over the stone. It was cool to the touch. He pushed on it. It wobbled. He pushed again, harder, and the statue fell. The bearded saint broke at the neck. His head rolled, then stopped. The holy face looked directly up at BumBuna O’Brien, gently smiling. Then the stone lips began to move.
“Aren’t you going to put me back together?”
BumBuna O’Brien froze. His heart started pounding hard within his chest.
“Don’t just stand there. Help me!” it said.
BumBuna O’Brien carefully leaned over the stone head and looked at it. The face was alive and human to him. He rubbed at his eyes and slapped himself.
“I must be going fucking insane!” he yelled out.
It was then that the boozy padre opened the door and stuck his head out.
“Hey!” he yelled. “What are you doing out there? Get out of here!”
Reverend Abrams stepped out from the house completely and that’s when he saw that the beloved statue was broken.
“Why did you do that!?”
BumBuna O’Brien looked back at him. “It was an accident. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t lie to me, brother. I was watching you from the window. You deliberately knocked it over. That’s vandalism and I’m calling the constable.”
The reverend hurried inside to ring the law and BumBuna O’Brien panicked.
“Shit! Shit! Shit! What do I do?”
“Run you fool,” the stone head said. “But wait! Take me with you.”
BumBuna O’Brien snatched the head up in his hands and it looked even creepier close up.
“What about your body?”
“There’s no time, and it would be much too heavy. I’d rather just be a head than lying dead somewhere in a pile of stones. Now let’s go!”
BumBuna O’Brien ran and ran and ran until he could run no more. When he was near the dock, he saw Pierre Moose there loading sacks into the little boat. He rushed to meet him.
“Come on! We need to get out of here,” BumBuna O’Brien yelled.
Pierre looked up, confused. “What’s wrong?”
“I’ll explain it later, but right now we need to go.”
“All right then. Well, get in, and what the hell is that?”
“It’s a head. Come on! Row!”
Pierre took his place and stroked the oars as hard as he could. “There’s a storm coming in. Things might get a bit rough out here. But don’t worry. I’ve done this countless times.”
The water was choppy, and the bobbing motion of the small boat was churning BumBuna O’Brien’s stomach like an old timer humping butter. He put his head over the side and spewed into the sea. Pierre rowed like a madman and there was no sign of the law at the shore and BumBuna O’Brien felt better about that. He set the stone head down on the bottom of the boat and held his head in his hands. Pierre thought he was crying.
“What’s wrong with you?”
BumBuna O’Brien looked up and tears were flying out of his face like Niagara Falls.
“I don’t know. I just got really scared back there. That preacher was no help at all. He was actually kind of mean.”
“Well, then I’m sorry I suggested him. I was just trying to help.”
“It’s not your fault. I’m just fucking deranged.”
“It’s all right now. We’ll be to the island soon and you can rest. You just need to calm down.”
“I’m not good at calming down. My nerves are on fire.”
“Are you going to tell me about the head?”
BumBuna O’Brien looked down at it as it gently rolled about at the bottom of the boat. The eyes were closed. The face was still, like stone should be.
“It spoke to me.”
“That’s impossible. It’s made of stone. If it’s true, make it talk now.”
BumBuna O’Brien picked it up and stared straight into the face. There was nothing. It was just stone as it always had been.
“Hello? Where did you go. It’s okay, this is my friend.”
The eyes suddenly became human again and opened. The jaw twitched. The lips fumbled to speak.
“Where are we?” it said.
“We’re on a little boat heading to an island in the middle of nowhere. This is Pierre.”
The face stretched to look at the lean, gray man rowing the boat.
“Hello. Thank you for letting me ride along.”
“That’s incredible,” Pierre said. “How can it be? Stone does not speak.”
“He’s a holy stone,” BumBuna O’Brien said.
“I am Saint Pedro, the patron saint of migrant workers and loose Latino women. I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“I never heard of a Saint Pedro,” Pierre said. “I think he’s bluffing. This is some kind of evil spell or curse. I think you should throw it over the side.”
“No!” the head of Saint Pedro protested. “Please don’t do that. I’m not a bad saint. I just do bad things.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” said Pierre.
“I mean, I am the imperfect saint. I am the sinful saint. I’m the most human of all saints. You’ll be able to relate to me.”
“Will you be mean to us?” BumBuna O’Brien asked.
“Of course not. Not on purpose anyways.”
“That’s not very reassuring,” Pierre said. “I think we should restrain him until we can be sure he’s not going to do us in.”
“How?” BumBuna O’Brien wondered.
“Put him in that burlap sack there and tie it tight.”
“That seems a bit drastic,” BumBuna O’Brien said. “He hasn’t done anything so far.”
“Just the same, I’d rather be safe than sorry. Here, look. You can see the island now.”
BumBuna O’Brien put the head into the bag and synched it tight. Then he looked out at the horizon and there he saw a mammoth island of dark stone and deep green trees blooming in a rolling mist. The cold waves slapped against the cliffs. The sky above hovered like a bruised womb of fog and cloud. It was menacing to him, yet it breathed sanctuary.
TO BE CONTINUED. THIS WAS THE SECOND OF THREE PARTS.