Prayer Preyer


Fifty years of obstacles have kept Jerry Curtis from locating Father Lockhart. Now, he’s found the priest and is determined to take his revenge for the crime committed against him all those years ago.

A tall, bulky man in dark clothing stood at the end of the pedestrian bridge spanning the Roosevelt Boulevard underpass and studied Blessed Sacrament Elementary School on the opposite side of the street. In front of the school stood a large sign bragging about how much money the school saved taxpayers yearly by educating children off the public payroll. The man wondered why the sign didn’t include how much the city got robbed by the loss of real estate taxes from the waste of such a large property. Over five decades ago, when he was little Jerry Curtis, he’d crossed this bridge every weekday on his way to school; crossed it every Sunday on his way to nine-o’clock Mass; crossed it now and then on his way to visit school friends; and crossed it far too many times on his way to visit Father Lockhart. He crossed it of late to circle the block taken up by this parochial stone monster and look for weak points. School; convent behind it; rectory tucked into the grounds on the right—how often he’d been there; and double-decker churches on the far right edge of the property. Lush grass, grand trees, and a spacious schoolyard in back filled out the immense block. The view hadn’t changed much except for the iron rail fence surrounding the entire property. A half century before a welcoming air exuded from the buildings—all of them. Now they needed protection. Or perhaps the outside world received the protection. If the purpose of the fence was to keep the world away, it would fail. Jerry’d found the weak spot he’d sought in a dark area near the schoolyard where a cement block brought the top of the fence three feet nearer. Old as he was, sick as he was, he could scale the fence if the need arose.

Once back in circulation, he’d located Father Lockhart through Facebook. Blessed Sacrament parish had its own page. Jerry joined the page and took to praising the priest he loathed. He expressed his hope the priest still lived, saying he hoped to visit him and repay him for everything he’d done. Jerry enjoyed using the word “repay."

A response from someone named Kaitlin said the priest could be reached at Our Lady of the Angels Home, a New Jersey retirement community for priests. When Jerry called Our Lady of the Angels, the person who answered said she’d never heard of a Father Lockhart. Jerry posted his disappointment on Facebook, and two weeks later a different respondent, Helen C, claimed Father Lockhart had returned to his first parish, Blessed Sacrament in Philadelphia. Searching the church’s website finally brought certainty. Jerry found the roster of priests assigned to conduct Sunday masses. A chill crept up Jerry’s back as he read the schedule. Seven o’clock mass—Father Lockhart.  Jerry attended the service, and there stood Father Lockhart in his priestly robes, easily recognizable even under the mask of fifty-plus years of aging. First thing the next day, Jerry visited a real estate agent, and soon his walks around the property began.


You may also like...