Liam stared at the new door. ‘Sean, where did the door come from?’
‘The Convent, and it cost me ten Euros.’
‘Give me a large one, Sean. Reverend Mother Concepta’s door, I thought it had been destroyed years ago,’ Liam reached back, grabbed the glass and downed the whiskey.
All eyes turned to the door. Jimmy hadn’t noticed it before now. When he spotted the ingrained shape normally associated with crucifixion, he walked over and examined it. ‘Solid Oak, but not Irish, and it’s definitely handmade. It has an unusual grain. I have never seen a grain like that before.’ He returned to his seat and posed a question to Liam, ‘Why are you scared of a lump of wood, you big sissy?’
‘Don’t mock me, Jimmy, and don’t anyone interrupt me. Pour me another whiskey, Sean.
‘In 1899, a young girl named Mary Jordan became a postulant at the convent. She being a devout girl was quickly accepted into the order. Four months before her final vows, a young man arrived and offered his services as a gardener. He was turned down. Day after day, he knocked on the front gate, until finally the Mother Concepta relented. He found favour with all the nuns, gardening, doing odd jobs. His attentions soon turned to Mary and they started to meet in secret.’
Liam paused and gathered his breath. Enthralled, the others sipped their drinks in silence.
‘Mary succumbed to temptation. No longer chaste, in her torment she told the Reverend Mother and begged for forgiveness. In her fondness for the girl and accepting that her remorse was genuine, Concepta decided that the child would be sent for adoption when it was born. Mary would then be allowed to take her vows. It was a rash decision, against the rules of her order, a bad judgement call that she would come to regret. Will I continue?’
‘Go on with the old wife’s tale and hurry up,’ Jimmy looked at his watch.
‘Sssh, Jimmy, let him finish,’ growled Sean as he sunk a very large brandy.
Lowering his voice, almost to a whisper, Liam continued the story. ‘The male child was born on the 6th of June 1900, the new millennium, and for some strange reason was kept at the convent and not handed up for adoption. Instead, Mary was sent home in disgrace and had no idea what had become of her child. The young gardener was also expelled from the convent.
On the 6th of June 1906, the 6th day of the 6th month of the 6th year of the century, the child walked into the Reverend Mothers study. Around his neck hung an upside-down crucifix and his red eyes glowed in the candlelight. She screamed in horror as he stood on his hands and moved towards her. His six inch tongue hurled obscenities, blaspheming, cursing Our Lord as hand over hand he closed in on the distraught Reverend Mother. Thinking she was doomed, she closed her eyes to the vile creature and said the Lord’s Prayer. The Holy Spirit guided her hand to the bottle of holy water on the desk. She twisted the lid and fervently prayed as she splashed the water in every direction.
It’s said, the shriek as its foul flesh burned was heard in Dublin. Agony gripped the beast and it flew into the door and was never seen again.’
Sean’s false teeth clattered and he could not take his eyes off the door. ‘Holy shit, you’re taking the piss, Liam.’
‘May the ground open and cast me into the bowels of hell. I know it to be true. So help me God, Mary Jordan was my great, great grandmother.’
‘Feck off,’ said Jimmy, ‘What book have you been reading? You have the shite scared out of Sean.’
‘I had to tell ye.’
‘Why?’ asked Father Brennan.
‘How else would Sean know that the door is hung upside-down?’ said Liam.