A Short Story –
* Warning: This story depicts a Catholic fetish scene and I mean absolutely no disrespect by it, but rather seek to celebrate it.
Nicholas Bailey shoved his hands in his leather jacket and walked down the beachside sidewalk, passing workers on their way home. Harried families fought foot traffic with lovestruck couples presently too enthralled with each other to hear the tired cries and frustrated sighs of their futures. The din of one-sided cell phone conversations clashed against the call of street vendors, each raising its volume as they struggled to be heard over the other.
Shutting his eyes, wishing it were that easy to shut it all out, Nicholas turned the corner and stared at his destination.
For a person who knew where to look, Donovan’s was built like a veritable magic box, with trap doors and hidden hatches everywhere. There were an obscene amount of ways to secret into and out of this den of decadence disguised as just another trendy downtown club.
There was always the front; the shined steel and tinted glass face at the foot of the deceptively large brick building, that hinted at the writhing, undulating bodies barely veiled behind it as pulsating rhythms poured seductive out into the night like a siren’s song.
Then there was the exclusive back way, reserved for the highly exclusive and highly elite—those who held those keys were the ones with the most to hide and the most to lose. They were the ones whose business-suited exteriors hid more exciting centers, slowly revealed as they mazed their way through the labyrinthine offices that shared their homes and hallways with the increasingly infamous club. Clandestine comfort through corporate covers.
But still too were all the side entrances, doors that were often hidden, marked only by a lone smoker standing sentry or a lounging barfly leaning against black brick, allowing only the authorized and approved attendance.
Those were the doors that, for three years now, Nicholas had preferred. The shadowed passageways in darkened alleys where few deigned to notice and fewer dared to frequent. It offered cover and comfort of a different sort. In his usual costume of dark jeans and dark jacket, it lent Nicholas an invisible anonymity he appreciated. Especially in the past few months, since word about the club and the eccentric clientèle it catered to had spread across the local media waves just in time for splashy seasonal sweeps.
Last night, Nicholas had seen yet another report about protest groups of the devoutly faithful who had posted themselves at Donovan’s front and rear entrances to vehemently preach against not only the club’s members, but the businesses that allowed this hedonistic haven to flourish. An abomination, a blond woman in a snow white sweater with pretty, serious eyes, had said into the reporter’s microphone, to allow such an affront to goodness and decency to stand.
Nicholas knew he had to be careful. Had to avoid the cameras and reporters and protesters flanking the main ways. Hand hovering over the stiff, crisp white of his collar, hidden beneath the flipped up, ludicrously popped lapels of his leather jacket, Father Nicholas Bailey knew no one would—no one could—ever understand.
Nicholas wasn’t at all that sure he understood.
Nodding to Gabe, the tall, beefy doorman on duty, Nicholas flashed his membership pass—a simple strip of laminated cardboard with nothing but a bar code that Gabe scanned before letting him inside the unassuming north side door the doorman had been leaning up against while he smoked. “Ho ho ho,” the terse man greeted with an acknowledging nod and a puff of his ever-present cigarette. Nicholas nodded back and entered.
Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke? Nicholas thought, the passage hanging in the air before him, swirling as it wafted, woven within the cloud Gabe’s cigarette and breath had left. Draw me, Donovan’s—its soft swaying music and shadows—beckoned, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee.
In the dimly lit hallways, Nicholas could hear the music throbbing from the dance floor in the club proper through the strangely plain walls. He touched the stone-gray walls and imagined that he could feel the pounding beat against his fingers, could feel the heated twist of gyrating bodies against his hand.
Moving down the cave-like hallways, he headed further back, driven and drawn as if called by name. Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest. He let the curves and turns in the walls lead him as he made the familiar pilgrimage back. As he walked, the sounds of the music muted, replaced by a strangely soothing cacophony of muffled murmurs, soft sighs, and sharp gasps.
He closed his eyes, sightlessly sure of his way. Instead, he concentrated on the sounds surrounding him. In one hallway, people recited poetry, their voices low and breathy as their words stroked over the senses. He couldn’t hear well enough to distinguish the words, but the cadence and tone were enough to carry him on his way. Another was nothing but guttural grunts and groans, the sound of flesh pounding against flesh in a struggle that sounded at least as lusty and primal as it was fierce. Yet another was completely silent except for the slightest shuffle and a stifled sigh.
With a sigh of his own, Nicholas turned his final corner and stopped in front of a door. A rather ordinary looking one. Not really different from the others around it, if it weren’t for the air of formal serenity and faint organ music that seemed to drift around it.
Opening the door, the scent of incense—the pungent, piney scent of frankincense—assaulted him. The dim, candlelit room was small, about the size of a classroom, with old, creaking pews lined in a vee around a tall table draped like an altar set atop a small, elevated stage at the head of the room. Poinsettias and pine wreaths hung everywhere as classical hymns and carols played reverently over the speakers at the front of the room.
For a moment, Father Nicholas stood still at the mouth of the mock chapel. He shouldn’t like this room. Should hate it and the offense its gaudy, fetishized face made of his faith.
He was a priest, for goodness sake!
But, as he made his way down the aisle of pews, his fingers brushing the mistletoe’s pointed prickle, he felt a weight lift from his shoulders.
Read Part Two Here