Brother Lucius pleaded his case across the breakfast table, as he had on every day for the past week. “Brother Lapis, we should be good neighbors. Why won’t you do the service for the poor Chinese gentleman? He is suffering.”
“He’s right, Lapis. Just a little exorcism,” Brother Sevas urged from his place on Brother Lapis’s left. “A little chalk on the floor, a little chanting and arm waving, a little sprinkle sprinkle with the holy water. Just do the show if the rite makes you squeamish. We should maintain good relations with our neighbors, even if one of them runs an opium parlor.”
Lapis scowled. “If it’s such a simple matter to fake an exorcism, then why don’t you do it?”
“Because, Lapis,” Sevas pointed at him with his dirty fork. “You look like an exorcist.”
“Come come, old boy, you can’t have a play without the proper cast. You’re perfect for the part.”
“And Father Moonwall has trained you in the rite,” Lucius said, who was, in no small way, in awe of Lapis for being entrusted with what Lucius considered dark knowledge.
Lapis stabbed at the food on his breakfast plate. “The only ghosts in that place are a result of Mr. Lee spending all his time breathing in the smoke his sorry inmates produce. Or indulging in it himself. He is obviously brain addled.”
Sevas made a small gesture for Lucius to try again while Lapis was looking down at his plate.
“But Brother Lapis,” Lucius started again in his most earnest manner. “What harm could it do?”
Lapis looked suspiciously to his left, recalling the unmistakable odor Brother Sevas had had on his person when he had come to breakfast on the first morning after the long Fast had ended.
“Did he put you up to this?” Lapis inquired of Lucius. Sevas, whose full attention had been on his food, looked up with theatrical innocence.
Lucius swallowed and shook his head, lying not being his best skill. “You do look like an exorcist,” he pleaded.
Lapis looked again at Brother Sevas, who was nodding in agreement with what Lucius had just said. What exactly was an exorcist supposed to look like?
“I’ll think about it,” Lapis said at last.