The question now was where to borrow the money to cover the check—and other checks he’d be writing in short order to the convalescent home and the IRS. Grady was the first person Tim thought of asking, but Grady was notoriously broke. Not in debt of course, but pretty nearly always broke. Even so, Tim decided to go see him, because Grady, being unafraid of his own housekeeper, kept whiskey in the rectory, and Tim badly needed a real drink.
When he arrived at Grady’s study he found Barry Forman lounging there. Grady, who seemed glad of the interruption, stood up to greet Tim. Barry stood too, as Grady reminded him that Tim had been a fellow seminarian.
“Of course. How could I forget Father Tim?”
“Barry, nice to see you. In person, that is.”
“Sit down,” Grady said. “Have a drink.”
“Just what I had in mind, actually. Thank you.”
“Barry’s fund-raising for his organization, but I’ve explained that if I had any ‘funds’ I’ve got my own priorities.”
“Me too,” Tim said, pouring himself a generous tot.
“Grady acts as if I were trying to pick his personal pocket,” Barry said. “Not at all! What I’m proposing is that he raise money from his congregation. He’d be raising not just money, but the consciousness of his flock. The holy father himself has been very clear about this. He wants the American Church in visible conformity with Rome’s stand on the sanctity of life.”
Tim was enjoying the sensation of whiskey sliding down his throat, and consequently his expression was magnanimous. Encouraged, Barry smiled. “Perhaps,” he said, “I could interest you in our program?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Tim said. “My parish is constituted of people of an age to already be in conformity, as you call it, with the holy father’s encyclical.”
Barry nodded. “Yeah, I heard they’d stuck you over at Holy Redeemer.”
“Widows require the sacraments too.”
“Indeed,” Barry said. “Oh, certainly. No offense meant.”
“None taken,” Tim said, pouring himself another drink. He’d drunk the first one straight off—like Uncle Joseph.
Grady stood up. “Barry, I can’t thank you enough for stopping in—it’s been grand. But actually I’m Tim’s confessor, and we had an appointment, so I’ll just walk you out.”
When Grady returned, he shut the door and said, “What were you thinking, chugalugging hooch in front of Barry?”
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”
“I can see that. What’s wrong?”
“I’ve got real trouble, Grady. Money trouble.”
“Don’t sweat it, I can let you have 50 until the first.”
“Thank you, but I’m afraid that wouldn’t help.”
“Every little bit helps.”
“Past a certain point, actually, no it doesn’t.”
“Have you got a gambling habit, Tim?” This was what Grady had been afraid of.
“Nothing like that.” The drink had loosened Tim’s tongue, and he found himself confiding the whole sad story. While Tim talked, Grady tipped his chair back and gazed at the ceiling. At the end of Tim’s recitation, he brought his chair back with a thump. “Jesus, Tim! Did you really think your mother’s stay in that home was free?”