A haha among the trumpets

We had a visit from the vicar, an extraordinary creature called Wilfred. The upper portion of his head is shaved bald. The lower slopes sport a fox-brown beard the size and shape of a trowel blade. Between the two a tobacco-browned mouth emits low Tartarean tones. He wore civilian clothing, for which he immediately apologised in the most insidious way.

“Apols for the gear,” he rumbled. “No tutu today, ha ha.” This last may resemble a laugh in print, but the reality emerged as two independently articulated syllables, neither pocked even glancingly with mirth. His eyes too are dead. 

“Tutu?” I managed, sideswiped too viciously to discourage what I dimly suspected was imminent.

“Seriously,” he said. He made his seriousness present to as many of the senses as possible by exhaling rowdily through his nose, gripping my arm so hard his thumb sank into the flesh, flopping uninvited into the Sheraton wingback, and exuding somehow a sudden aroma of skinned carrots. “I am collecting some money, I’m afraid. Not in a canister, ha ha.”

“Ha ha,” I mouthed helplessly along.

“It’s for the church,” he said. “We’ve had some nail pops in the narthex. It seems we shall be forced to replace the stud.”

I thrust a twenty at him to forestall further quotation. By the time I had flicked through the near-infinity of quips about churchmen replacing studs and lit on the mieux mot, alas, he had packed up his tent and flown. I will save it for a future encounter. If I know vicars and their narthices, and I think I do, I shall see Mr Wilfred again. 

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