What Will Hell Be Like? (Unedited) Poem by Kurt Philip Behm

What Will Hell Be Like? (Unedited)

There was a loud KNOCK on the rectory's back door.

Father Frank Kerin had been sitting at the rectory's kitchen table reading the newspaper. He was a young priest having just finished seminary only last June. It was a late August Sunday afternoon, and he had just come back from visiting the sick at the local hospital. He was totally engrossed in the sports section of the paper when he heard it again.

This time the knocking was louder and more persistent. The housekeeper did not work Sundays, and Father Frank was alone in the big house.

He got up and walked through the kitchen to the enclosed back porch where the door was located. Looking through the venetian blinds he could see that the person knocking was a woman. As he opened the outer door, he could also see that she was quite large, appeared to be in her mid-sixties, and she was holding something rolled up in her right hand. She had a menacing look on her face and Father Frank thought to himself … I hope she doesn't hit me with that.

Father Frank opened the screen door and greeted the woman. She said: 'My name is Florence Atterbury and I'm looking for Father Greenlee.' Father Frank then introduced himself: 'Hello Madam, my name is Father Frank Kerin and I'm new to the parish. I just graduated from Seminary in Cincinnati Ohio and have only been in Rosemont (Pa.) for a few short weeks. Father Greenlee is out for the day, is there anything I can help you with? '

The woman stood in the doorway for a long silent moment looking down at the floor. When she finally did look up at Father Frank, she said: 'Father, I think I'd like to sit down.' Father Frank escorted the woman back into the kitchen and sat her down at the table. He then asked her if she would like something to drink. Mrs. Atterbury said: 'No thank you' and laid the newspaper she was carrying out on the kitchen table.

It was opened to section C, and the lead article was about the abuses of drinking and smoking in America. The editor was linking both with many of the maladies that plagued our country and was trying to connect the effects of drinking and smoking to lives of total ruin and debauchery. There were pictures in the article of men in Philadelphia's bowery, and women in a local nightclub, with cigarettes between their fingers and a cocktail in their other hand.

The caption underneath said, ‘The Beginnings Of A Dead End Life.'

Mrs. Atterbury said she was livid and upset over the fundraiser that the church had just held in the school auditorium. Beer and wine had been served, and men — and some women —were seen smoking outside the front doors where the event was taking place. She also said, that 'anyone with half a brain knows that once you start smoking it leads to alcohol and then most likely to harder drugs and possibly even to a life of crime. Your life is ultimately ruined and beyond saving and you are eventually condemned to a life outside the Church.'

The good woman went on for over ninety minutes lamenting the ramifications that a life involving tobacco and alcohol would entail. She also said that she was 'going to put her foot down with Father Greenlee about future events at the parish and that no alcohol should ever be served.' When Father Frank explained to Mrs. Atterbury that there was wine at the Last Supper, and it was turned into the blood of Christ, she just said: 'Father, really, that was just for God himself and the Apostles. You don't really think that applies to the rest of us, do you? ' Father Frank took one more shot at explaining to her the story of the Wedding Feast Of Cana, but again, it fell on deaf ears.

Mrs. Atterbury finally got up and as she left she pointed her big index finger right at the middle of Father Frank's chest.

'Father, you mind my words, this smoking and drinking are going to undo all the good work my women's auxiliary has done for the past twenty years. If it continues to go unchecked, it will spread through our elementary school and ruin every child in it. It only takes one bad apple you know …'

As Mrs. Atterbury walked out the back door, Father Frank thanked her for coming. He then walked slowly back into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door. After taking out a bottle of Budweiser he sat down, lit up a Chesterfield, and leaned back in his chair. He just couldn't help but wonder …

What Was Hell Going To Be Like?

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