In my youth I had a cultural shortcoming when it came to understanding the Catholic Catechism, supposedly a book of Christian instruction, that all good Catholics were required to memorize. I was the last of three children sired by my father and he was approaching fifty when I was conceived so he only had somewhat inferior sperm left. The little swimming guy that created me must have lost something in his swim or while still being housed by my father because I had trouble memorizing anything having to do with religion. The remnants of memory genes, religion wise, that little fella carried were on the weak side, to be blunt about it.
Because of that I did a thing in the seventh grade that if there are fires in hell to roast the wicked, I will be roasted on the spit of damnation forever. I never confessed this to the priest either, mainly because I wanted to avoid a bloodbath of my blood in the confessional.
I wasn’t doing real well in religious instruction that year. Fortunately, my teacher was a nun of about ninety named Sister Adeline. Her nickname was, “Hoppy”. She had this bum hip from falling out of a haymow in her youth so every time she walked there was this little catch in her step that made her appear to hop. The glitch in her gait may have jarred her mind in ways it wasn’t meant to be jarred so she didn’t remember some things any better than I did.
My friend Mike, who possessed a more scientific and engineering mind just like me, wasn’t doing any better in religious instruction than I was. On a Saturday night after evening devotions Mike and I decided, after having discussed our plan earlier, to break into the school and change our grades.
On the previous Friday Mike and I had volunteered to wash the tables and sweep the floors of the lunchroom. This was common behavior for us since we needed all the brownie points we could amass. During our foray into cleaning Mike climbed on one of the counters and loosened the lock on one of the ill-fitting windows. From the view the janitor had when he closed up the school for the night the window would appear to be locked.
Returning on Saturday night, well after dark, we used a hacksaw blade to slide the lock all the way open. Going up to the main floor we discovered we had a little problem. The classrooms were all locked.
In a bit of brilliant engineering the builder of the school put the hinge pins on the hall side of the door so all we had to do was remove the hinge pins and pull the door open from that end. We managed to pull the door off the hinges, and it hit the floor with a thud because it had fallen about half an inch. We’d solve that problem later.
On entering the room things started going right for us when we discovered that Sister Adeline’s desk was unlocked. In the bit of moonlight that came into the room we, after carefully noting their positions, we took out the grade book and a pencil and hustled off to the cloakroom. Mike had thought to bring a penlight and we used it to scan for our names. I changed my religion grade enough so I’d end up with a B- and Mike being greedier opted for a B since he was rewarded with a dollar for anything B or above. In the terms of the mid-1950s, that dollar amounted to twenty regular Hershey bars.
Mike and I replaced the grade book and pencil exactly where we had found it and slipped the drawer shut. Our only remaining problem was to get the door back in place. We discovered that sticks of chalk from the blackboard were thick enough to lift the door to the right height. We laid five pieces of chalk about six inches apart, slipped the door onto the rollers and rolled the door back in place and inserted the hinge pins. Mike snapped the cheap lock on the door, wiped the chalk dust off the floor with our hankies, and left the same way we came in. We were justifiable proud of what we had pulled off under the noses of the usually observant nuns. Our parents were happy that we had done so well in religious education. I still hide during lightning storms.
Arian is a short story contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News. Arian has written two full-length thrillers which have received critical and popular acclaim. Arian lives in Bruce, WI, with his charming wife, Arlene.Profile
The Sentinel & Rural News covers the news and events of Clark County and southern Taylor County, as well as regional news that affects those areas.