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cueballFather Sullivan gnawed his wrists like a puppy. He punched his knee ten times, felt nothing. He went form mirror to mirror, tracking the scent of himself. This room, his home, had forgotten him, as missionaries must be forgotten.

In his lap he held the chain from the dumbwaiter. The links were rectangular. He cleaned them with his handkerchief before slipping the chain around his neck. It couldn’t be this banal. Where was the enormity of it?

Death by fire, death by drowning, death by falling, death by gunfire, death by sudden blows…

Cool fatherly death as Tolstoy taught it, warm motherly death the way the Irish loved it, death by pratfall, design or pride, stylish suicide with brandy and a revolver…

Sullivan, indoctrinated with heroism and stumblebum idealism, could imagine all of them vividly, movieize each death in his nerves. Not till now, though, had he felt the true tug of suicide. Catholics, just like everybody else, spent most of their time in despair, but what could be more distasteful than a dead priest?

The chain clanked on the pipe; he tried to silence it.

Once, when he was seventeen, in the surf off Rockaway, he’d hooked a bluefish out of a frenzied feeding school. It was a twelve-pounder, a holy fighter that ran him up and down the beach, ferociously fast, vengeful, like the Fish alive now in his stomach, his chest, his thighs, his throat: voracious, claiming— at last— the fisherman’s life for his forage. He’d never felt  so wanted.
— Tom McDonough, from Virgin With Child (1981)

This moment in Brooklyn literature was brought to you by Mrs. Manicotti (ASC), formerly of Mill Street in Red Hook. If her life was a movie, she’d be Lee Marvin and Patrick Dorismond, a former altar boy at Bishop Loughlin High School, would be alive and prosperous. Rudolph Giuliani, also a Bishop Loughlin alum, is dead and scorned, set ablaze a Coney Island funeral pyre made of timber from the Thunderbolt rollercoaster. Afterwards we all eat hot dogs.

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