Three Stories featuring The Evil Mary Fran
- Why Church Poor Boxes Are Now Locked
We stood looking at the ancient heavy wooden box. “Cool,” said the Evil Mary Fran. “It ain’t even locked.”
“But I don’t think we should steal from the church.” I wasn’t sure who I was more afraid of, my religious aunt, who would have tears in her eyes but would still whip me with the belt, or a terrible curse from the sky roaring down on us like thunder.
“Look, it says Poor Box, right? And we’re poor, ain’t we?”
“I guess so.”
“So the money’s ours.” She opened the box, and we each greedily grabbed a fistful of wrinkled dollar bills. We stuffed them in our pockets, scooped up the change.
“Someone’s coming,” I whispered, terrified that a priest or, worse yet, a nun, would grab hold of us and whip our skinny bodies with sticks and belts. Mary Fran didn’t look the least bit concerned.
She put a finger to her lips. “We’ll sneak out the side door and go down the alley.”
We ran to her rickety wooden front porch, then counted the loot. I scored $7.43. Mary Fran did better, $9.75.
“I know where I’m going,” she said, greed glinting in her eyes. “Dairy Queen.”
“Look.” I found a tiny piece of folded paper among the bills. “It says, Dear God, I am sorry I have no money to feed the poor. I will give some when I get paid from working in the laundry.”
The Evil Mary Fran laughed. “Man, the bastards around here are so cheap.”
I looked at the note again. It looked just like my aunty’s neat Catholic school girl handwriting.
Photo Credit: “Antique Church Poor Box.” Worthpoint. https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/antique-church-donation-poor-box-wall-box
This story and many others can be found in my flash fiction/short story collection, “Nine Dead Dope Dealers and Other Stories.”
These stories are about people on the edge, struggling to survive: a hit man confessing to his son, a hijacker confronting a salmon fisherman and his teen-aged daughter in the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco weed dealers in the midst of the 1980s AIDS epidemic, pot growers on an Indian reservation confronting a patch pirate, small time crooks and con artists, ex-cons, juvenile hall denizens, two little girls breaking into the church Poor Box, kickball-playing bullies, a desperate young woman attempting to steal her kids back from their adoptive parents, a young man escaping an abusive past, teenage welfare-moms being hassled by the cops, a young girl protecting her brothers from a violent father, a broke widow befriending a young bartender in a laundromat, a single mom with a jailed boyfriend who steals from rich club-hopping party girls, a mysterious older woman picking up a young drifter at the New Orleans Greyhound Bus Station and a young boy searching for mythical large-headed creatures on Halloween night.