“Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.” Revelation 9:1
Father Cuthbert Brown genuflected, crossed himself twice, bowed before the altar, checked his grandfather’s Half Hunter pocket watch, and walked to the strongbox in the choir vestry. He turned the dial, looking about him, until reassuring clicks sprang open the cast iron door. He reached inside, took out a sheaf papers tied with red ribbon, fifty Eastern Caribbean dollars, and an unmarked hessian bag. He looked behind him, not that he expected anyone. He hadn’t opened the Anglican Cathedral to the sinners of St. Vincent, seeking salvation in that mouldering monument to colonialist ideals. Only he had a key. He felt it in his pocket and recalled day the Archbishop had given it to him, his first day, and recited the verse from Matthew 16:19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
Cuthbert Brown, the man, the priest, the bishop, had always tried to do just that until the previous day when Agatha had asked him about England, and strongboxed memories resurfaced. He picked up the bundle, looked about him and headed up the nave aisle to the burr oak double door, for the first time neither genuflecting nor bowing before either altar. He opened the door, looked about him, locked it, and stood statuesque with the sealed portal behind him.
Pastor Cleeve Robert Evans covered his sewing machine, took off his glasses, and rubbed his eyes with calloused, bleeding, hands. He struggled to straighten from his eternal hunch over the machine, stood up, looking at the suits about him. Nothing new – all made do and mended. He walked to the front door, noting the time 12:37, and watched as Scrampie ran up the street, in the opposite direction to the Cathedral. He had slung Father Brown’s suit over a low, mossy wall, and was sprinting, looking back every ten strides. Cleeve Evans put his glasses back on and walked up to where Scrampie had dropped the suit, thirty yards from the shop. The shop’s front door open, a light breeze ruffling the serried suited ranks. He ignored the suit, instead he gazed ahead of him at Scrampie who turned again, caught Cleeve Evans’s eye and put in a concerted burst until he turned into Subba Row. Cleeve watched him watching him, saw him turn, then turned himself to pick up the suit, and walked towards the cathedral. He wanted to talk to Father Brown about his last sermon and its references to St. Matthew’s Passion. They were meeting for dominoes and strong rum later that night down Calliaqua. They could talk then. He needed to take him his suit. A car sped past him; a blue Ford Anglia. The driver’s focus was elsewhere, as he almost clipped Cleeve. He stumbled, his knee gave way, and Father Brown’s suit fell to the ground before him.