The inquisition had come and gone, but Croggley Steinfast was happy. His new insurance business had garnered just enough faith to deter the inquisition as they knocked on the church door, although the smell of charred flesh would take a while to dissipate. All was good at St Judy’s of the Immaculate Complexion. Until that client turned up.
Morris Smail had been trying to take out a policy every day since Croggley had opened the doors. Croggley had refused him because the guy was just too weird to deal with. He had this unfounded notion that he was a descendant of Zeus, primarily because of his affinity with lightning. When Croggley had asked for a demonstration Morris had been less than forthcoming at first, insisting that he was still developing his heathen smiting powers and wasn’t quite on the same level as his supposed ancestor. Croggley later learned that this alleged affinity was actually the uncanny ability to receive pretty harsh static shocks from metal objects.
Croggley was really quite fed up with Morris and had refused him entry on his last 3 visits for fear that his general weirdness might start to damage the church. Last thing Croggley needed was to shell out for a new confession booth because this guy had mistaken it for a wash room. Today, however, he was too slow at bolting the church doors and Morris swept in uninvited.
Physically Morris Smail resembled one of those harmless old men you often see on an allotment, the stereotypical grandfather. Mentally he was more like the mad homeless people who sidle up to you at bus stops, asking you to watch their invisible dog while they hunt the Dreaded Batvipers of Khoom in a nearby trash can.
‘Mr Steinfast, if I can just have a moment of your time!’ Morris snorted.
Croggley shuddered at the sound of his voice. ‘No.’
‘Please. I really need to take out some insurance, it’s really important!’
Croggley wheeled to face Morris as menacingly as he could. He stared at him with his best fire-and-brimstone expression. Morris did look genuinely nervous. Croggley’s expression softened briefly, then he remembered how much he hated this man.
‘Get out of my church you horrid little troll.’ he spat nastily, a gravelly undercurrent punctuating each word.
Morris’s eyes teared up. He was going to cry, and that was a very bad thing. Crying in a church tends to anger the saints. The saints (except for St Lucien the Torturer) had spent their lives trying to stop people from crying, reshaping the world into a happier, fluffier place. If someone cried in a church they believed it to be just as bad as spitting in Jesus’s drink at the last supper then turning up to gloat about it as he was hanging on the cross (an act accomplished by the exiled St Neil). They tended to overlook weddings, largely because they would also cry at them, but any other occurrence was fair game. And it was always the clergyman’s fault. Every single time.
In an effort to avoid the Wrath of the Canonised, Croggley did the only thing he could. Summoning up all his might he kicked Morris square in the chest, forcing him out of the church and sending him tumbling down the stairs outside.
Morris landed with a sickeningly wet crunch on the pavement. Croggley looked down at him from on high, slightly worried that he may have killed yet another parishioner. After what felt like an eternity Morris began to stir. Croggley breathed a sigh of relief and turned to go back inside.
‘Help me!’ Morris called from below, his hip making an audible snap as he tried to get up.
‘The Lord helps those who help themselves!’ Croggley called back cheerfully.
‘That’s not funny!’