Barry Pope-Pope

“So how was I to be chosen Pope?” Barry prompted, pouring Mindy more green tea to entice her to continue.

“I don’t know,” she shrugged, “You know they lock them in a room to vote.”

“Who they?”

Barry was eager to know details about his nomination for Pope, or as she put it Pope-Pope, but as usual once Mindy had regaled him with her dream, she lost interest.

“Who are they?” he prodded.

“Bishops or something, I don’t know I’m not a bloody Catholic.”

“Neither am I which is why it’s funny you’d dream I was Pope.”

“It was because of that TV show last night about how rich the Popes were. What a good life they had: all the servants and posh palaces.”

“Better still, all the booze and good food.”

“That too, I thought you’d enjoy it: sitting around pontificating.”

“Better still sitting around eating and drinking, but back to the hitch that I’m not Catholic.”

“You’d be the first Zoroaster to be Pope.”

“Maybe not. Wasn’t there one who took Jerusalem?

“But that was for the other side.”

“The dark side?”

“Whatever,” she said, “Which is why you had to be Pope-Pope.”

“But did you see me in Pope’s robes?”

She stirred her tea, glanced at her watch and shrugged, “Sure, they had a dress rehearsal to see how you’d look. You were in your gear: gold and purple and red velvet.”

“And I looked good?”

“Yeah, you looked great. And you had on that little hat, so you couldn’t notice your hair.”

“What do you mean, Notice my hair?”

“That it’s not thick.”

“Are you’re saying I’m going bald?”

Mindy rolled her eyes, “Focus on the positive,” she warned.

She was right. ‘Til now, Mindy had complained that his job at Billy’s Best was a dead end (ignoring the fact that he supervised the students) and threatened to find “a better catch.” The dream showed that subconsciously Mindy could see him doing great things; maybe being on a TV reality show or a CEO of some company.

Unless he had jumped to the wrong conclusion, maybe being Pope was a bad sign, “I thought you hated the Pope,” he said.

“I hate the real Pope because he won’t let Catholics use birth control even in Africa with all those people dying of AIDS but you were a good Pope. And let me tell you getting it off with a Pope is hot.”

That night in bed, mind buzzing, Barry wondered where he could rent a Pope costume. In a pinch, even a Bishop’s robe might get Mindy going. But it might be a lost cause; they probably burned old robes or made them into cushion covers to keep them from non-believers like him.

Next morning, as Barry watched the student stocking the shelves his mind kept snapping back to himself as Pope-Pope. Mindy and he arm-in-arm, or maybe she’d be a respectful step behind. Other times, he’d be high above the crowd on the balcony waving or walking through the street touching babies’ heads. The Security guards would try to keep him away from the crowds but he’d refuse to be separated from his people. And every night, he and Mindy would be going at it like rabbits in one of those high gold canopy beds.

“What’s up, doc?” his co-worker Jennifer said when she caught him in the lunch room, mesmerized by his meatloaf sandwich.

“Just thinking,” he smiled.

“It’s probably about a raise or a week in Hawaii,” she laughed.

“Or my life as Pope” he almost blurted before snapping his mouth shut in case she was Catholic.

At the bar after work when he told Fred about Mindy’s dream his friend spurt out his beer, “You fucker you aren’t even a Catholic and you sure ain’t a celibate.”

“A what?”

“A celibate you fucker, you sleep with women.”

“Yeah, so.”

“So you can’t be Pope besides not being Italian and not even being a Catholic.”

“It was a dream, stupid, but it shows what Mindy thinks of me.”

“She thinks you’re religious?”

“No, that I am Pope material,” he said, finally recognizing that Mindy’s description of Fred as ‘always thinking inside the box’ was right on.

The more Barry considered what the dream meant, the more powerful it made him feel. It was obvious what an impressive figure he was in Mindy’s eyes. His stride strengthened and he stood proud as he glided along the aisles past the frozen food. Sure he might have preferred if she had dreamed he was a superhero but the Pope was still a very important guy.

As soon as Barry got home, he began to badger Mindy for more details: Was he a shoe in? What would he do as Pope-Pope? Were lots of women after him? Which celebrities had he met?

She played along for a while making up details about meeting movie stars and sleeping on satin sheets, but finally exasperated that he was interrupting her favourite TV show, she sputtered, “Oh for Christ’s sakes, it was just a dream.”

“But it shows that subconsciously you see me as Pope or President or something.”

“Piss off. I made it up for a laugh.”

“No way.”

“Yeah way, it was a joke.”

His bones suddenly chilled cold as a dip in a May lake, his stomach collapsed as the long robes slipped off his shoulders.

“But you said you dreamt it.”

“You’re so incredulous.”

“Don’t you mean credulous?”

“Always nit picking, counting cans.”

“But that’s my job.”

“Which is why you’ll never be Pope.”

~ Melodie Corrigall

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