This scene has turned out longer than I expected.
Despite the length of this post (85 lines),
I'll have to continue this scene another week.
"Ah," the Father said, and nodded.
"You speak of the recent murders, no?
Ghastly things they are – horrors
That plague an unbelieving world,
Terrors the faithful pray will pass them by.
A good man should be troubled, Dietrich;
Death, especially violent death,
Is not the kind of thing we should wish on
The worst of men – although, it must be said,
An evil man's demise can sometimes be
God's blessing to the rest of us."
"But do you believe in werewolves?"
Dietrich persisted. "Could such a horror
Roam the darkness of God's creation?
Could such a horror possess a man
And turn him into a murdering beast?"
Father Benedict squinted quizzically; then,
Choosing his words with care, he said:
"After a fashion, I suppose.
Even among the vilest heathen,
Tales are told of the hounds of hell
Pursuing wicked men to their final doom.
With eyes blazing in fiery judgment
They track the ungodly and drag them, screaming,
Down to eternal flames of torment –
Down to the Devil they chose to serve
So faithfully during life." He paused
And, with a slight smile, asked, "So, Dietrich…
Am I to assume you fear a werewolf
Stalks the woods around our little village?"
"Not only do I fear this thing," he said,
"I fear that I myself might be the beast."
The Father almost laughed… but then,
Seeing Dietrich's shaking hands and
Panicked look, he stopped. With a heavy sigh
He reached across to steady Dietrich's
Shaking hands and said, "In such a case,
I doubt that even wine is strong enough.
This seems the place for brandy."
He raised an eyebrow, gave a knowing wink,
And as the slightest glimmer of a smile
Crossed Dietrich's face, he rose and walked
Across the tiny room. He turned,
Lifted a finger to his pursed lips, and
Flashed a conspiratorial smile;
Then reached behind the pallet and
Retrieved a bottle of brandy.
"I only keep it for medicinal purposes,
Don't you know," he said.
Returning to the table, he tossed
The remnants of their tea and poured
Them both a healthy dose.
Then, with a hearty "To your health"
They gently clinked the teacups.
After a savored sip, the Father said,
"You're not a man to surrender reason easily.
Many's the time when superstition
Threatened to overwhelm this parish
And yours was the voice that steadied
This flock with calm and stable tones.
Often when hysteria strikes,
The cleric's voice of reason carries
Little weight with the people –
He's supposed to say those things, you understand.
It took no more than your support
To give my words an anchor they would trust.
I find it hard to fathom why
This man, this strong oak firmly rooted
In reality, should now be frightened
By some ancient bogeyman."
Dietrich rose to go, ashamed. "Forgive me,
Father. I was wrong to bother you with this."
Once again the Father smiled. "Sit, Dietrich.
Even the strongest man at some time
Finds his faith in crisis. You fear the wolf –
Then let us see if we can slay
This creature's threat and set you free.
'Come, let us reason, saith the Lord,'
The holy book says. Let us do so now.
Let us suppose this thing you fear
Might possibly be true, and let
The eyes of reason search it out;
The Lord shall be the judge.
Now tell me, my friend:
What makes you fear the beast within?"