Feck was the blushing damson. Feek the bruised and butch one. Together they ripened as one fruit, conjoined, no one could come between them. Their bliss was slow cooked. Try as he might, the padre could not contain them.
A wise man visited the barracks. All the way from Quebec. He made a gift of several bulbs of garlic to Feek and Feck, expressing no interest in what the padre had to show him. The larger work. Those priceless illuminated manuscripts. The ribbons and garters.
Feek was delighted. Feck, no less enamoured. They stole the bulbs to bed that same night, the bunk which burned so bright. Such a creaking was never heard: penetrating the deepest pockets of the dormitory; puncturing the wound in Jesus's side.
The padre was furious. Their bunkmates merely intrigued.
In the morning it was found that the cross on the wall was rent. A great tear running the length of the sleeping Nazarene. A few nails just, preventing Our Saviour from climbing down off his lot.
The padre immediately denounced it as blasphemy. Feek and Feck as heretics.
So discharged, our pair had no choice but to haunt the waterfront as wharf rats, scratching what existence they might among the whores and pilots rudely coming and going, pawning all but the wise man's gift, itself a string grown soft and atrophied. And so, in time, was born a not so secret order.
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law."And, of course, the law was corrupt. In a little mosque west of the shore, a young woman was accused of inciting a fever in verse. A fever which smouldered. Erupted in flame, feeding on the word as law. Though no one saw her commit any such act, word quickly spread throughout the maze of streets and lanes. Dancing on the rooftops. Love was not the law. An assembly of townspeople gathered outside the mosque. Banging on the doors. Hurling rocks the size of fists at windows.
Presently, the young woman was dragged from the building. Punched and kicked by outraged teenage boys and men. Folded through the gates.
One of them closest to her struck her in the face with a stick. Another knocked her to the ground.
Emboldened by the screams of righteous women, a deluge of blood, she was stamped on repeatedly. Trampled on by scores of feet.
The weight of tendons. Bone. Pulsating hearts.
Someone produced a canister of petrol out of nowhere, and fuel was poured over the stricken woman. Someone else produced a match. The woman was set alight.
The police stood well back and did nothing to help her. Their cries were enervated. Hoes and spades rained down on her. A blanket was thrown over her prone body to assist in the burning.
A woman, not much older than the victim, spat in the direction of the blaze and laughed.
Later, rumours persisted that the woman was still alive when they dumped her body in the river. The apparatus of the law appeared to have lost its voice. The imam made no comment.
Several arrests were made after tempers cooled.
It was never confirmed that the hapless young woman had burned the Quran or even attempted to. Her family issued a statement to the effect that their daughter had been mentally unstable for a number of years. Little was said as to the soundness of mind of the mob.
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."And savages continued to claim to hear the word of God the loudest. And the impoverished of soul continued to proselytise.