Father Paul had expected maybe five or six people to attend his lectures on St. Paramours. He got twenty-five Which was amazing. This was going to work. Over the next few weeks, he was giving peripatetic lectures on the cross-shape nave, the frescoes on the ceiling and of course the huge stained-glass window that dominated the building now known as St. Paramour. Hula-hula hallelujah! He felt, like he was the big fisherman.
But Father Paul missed Mrs. Molasses. She had promised to come to all of his classes. She had professed great interest in these lectures. As long as she could exercise her perambulatory capabilities to stretch her bad leg now and then—peripatetic or not—she was ‘down’ to tour the ‘heights’ of this particular outpost of Christianity with him. But so far, she hadn’t attended a single lecture.
As a young priest Father Paul had expected to be encouraged to toe the line in his first parish and nothing more. So, he was a little concerned when the Bishop asked to see his notes. Father Paul thought he was in deep shit (well, ‘trouble’). but no, the Bishop was totally into it: he suggested Father Paul might need a good ladder; with it, he could climb to the upper reaches of the Church, and see what was going on up there. According to the Bishop, there were supposed to be exotic alcoves that no one had seen since the church had been built over a hundred years ago. There were frescoes up there and sculptures that rivaled anything the Vatican had. Father Paul doubted this. One Caravaggio could go a long way. You would need a forger’s fortune to pay for such a long voyage, over wide waters without sound, and to get anything like a Michangelo out of Italy and on to a sailing ship you would need a get out of jail free card from the pope. He would be happy to find a hand carved rosery or an antique chalice somewhere in the hinterlands of St. Paramour. Finding the Holy Grail would be cool too.
So, to start, he decided to address the question: Why would anyone build a church with gargoyles that no one could see? Why would they put marble statues where you could only guess at who they represented? And to do that, he had to find said paintings and sculptures.
The Bishop had a frayed edition of ‘St. Paramour Misterioso.’ He gave it to Father Paul. It seemed there was a lot of arcane knowledge surrounding the [i]construction of the church which almost no one knew about. For example:
Around the time of the winter solstice, a single sprig of light finds its way past ‘the Gaudian wall’ (named after the legendary Antoni Gaudi?) the light enters the recesses that make up the hidden vestibules of the ‘floating world‘, (a reference to Japanese metaphysics?) A single stone shaped like an egg which was meant to fill the stained-glass windows with a powerful burst of its own light. A rainbow would form next, and finally a cross. Some even claim to see the figure of the Christ writhing in pain in the shadows. (But this is Christmas season. Not Easter.)
As Father Paul climbed up the wall he thought about the fall of man, the fall of the angels from grace and the fall of Adam and Eve—and, oh yes, the ladder.
The ladder slipped. Father Paul hadn’t secured it properly. He reached out and caught the railing; but his whole body swung free, dangling maybe 20 feet off the ground. There was nothing for him to do but fall; his fingers pressed into a crack in the wall and—he had to let go. Father Paul tried to yell; it came out a croak. He just could not hold out any farther—when, miracle of miracles, the ladder was placed beneath his legs and Mrs. Molasses spoke to him firmly, calmly like an Old Testament sage. Mrs. Molasses commanded and he obeyed. He had to get his feet on the ladder; don’t let go. Not yet.
They sat in one of the pews until Father Paul got his breath back. He was scared, Mrs. Molasses could tell. She let him lean against her breast. What luck that she had come into the church when she had, and it had been a complete coincidence. Mrs. Molasses had merely gone out ‘to exercise her constitutional rights’—to take a walk—and It had been pure luck that she happened to walk to the Church at exactly the right time. You couldn’t plan that if you tried.
But what in god’s name had he been doing, scaling the walls of the church? As Father Paul tried to come up with an explanation for this obvious dumb-head project—and one that did not mention the Bishop, he looked up at the railing that could have cost him his life. But what was he looking at up there? A door had swung open; it looked old and dark and dirty—cobwebs, failed wet plaster, plain filth. But it was a door into a space behind the interior wall. Father Paul knew that right away. He had to go back up there. And right now. He climbed back up; Mrs. Molasses steadied the ladder. Hey, look at this place. Stairs ran both up and down. He could hear mice or rats in the distance. Father Paul did not relish going up the stairs. So, he went down; it got very black once you got away from the door. Some of the stairs wobbled. He thought he heard a woman cry. There was an eerie silence between the inner wall of St. Paramour and he outer world. Something wicked this way comes.
 Parenetical remarks are presumed to be Father Paul’s