Chapter 4. A very busy man of Madera

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(The story until now: Rogelio Cortez, an immigrant from Mexico, has bought his first car, with disastrous results.)

Father Bob was the busiest man in Madera. A Catholic priest, he headed up St. Jerome Parish, which with more than 6,000 members was by far the biggest church in the city. Although he had assistant priests, many of them Spanish-speaking, he personally officiated and preached at about a half dozen Masses a week, along with everything else he did, which meant that by Monday he was tired.

On Mondays, he wanted nothing more than to say the early-morning Mass to the usually small number that attended, and kick back for the rest of the day. Maybe he would read, maybe watch sports on television, or a movie in the evening. Sometimes he would go out of town, up in the hills where he could hike, stop and smoke his pipe.

He tended to like to get away when he smoked so that somebody from his congregation wouldn’t see him and go home and write the bishop about it. Not that he would be in trouble. The bishop, himself, was a notorious smoker, mainly unfiltered Camels, but not many knew about it. Nor did many know about the martinis the bishop liked to sip when he was out of town or in the privacy of his home with the shades drawn...

 

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