Demon of the Spanish Cloister was written by Ted Phillips on October 10, 2002 for an assignment in his tenth grade English 2 Advanced class. Demon of the Spanish Cloister was inspired by Robert Browning's poem Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister, which Ted had read in class.
In 2007, Ted Phillips adapted Demon of the Spanish Cloister into a screenplay for the second episode of The Twisted Mile series.
The TextTip! Tip! Tip! Tip! Tip!
It's quarter of an hour before lunch and he's already coming down those stairs, and so quickly and noisily too. Some of us actually like to spend our free time in soothing silence, but that interminable devastating din of each foot dropping down the darkened staircase… Brother Lawrence is trying to drive me insane. Look at him: he's here already -- he's down the stairs so soon, -- "Salve tibi!" -- as if he had flown, and the noise his slippers produce is just unbearable. The decibel count must have skyrocketed to at least 2½!
When I descend the staircase I come down elegantly, quietly; no one can hear neither pit nor pat. Why, sometimes I remove my shoes and softly take the steps slowly in threes, for the Trinity, and let the sweet fragrance from my feet fill the air… I take a deep breath -- believe me, there is nothing more lovely than the scent of biscuits and toe cheese at noontime.
Everyone chats frivolously and casually over the meal, and Lawrence always seems the most intellectual of us all, and speaking of his flowers and interrupting the uncomfortable silences. Oh, here he goes again, saying that tomatoes are related to some other God forsaken flower by family or genus, and let’s not forget about kingdom.
Look at him with his chin up, smiling politely; he thinks everything is delicious. Mr. High-and-Mighty resting his knife and fork across the top of the platter, not cross-wise for the Trinity, but all clean and spotless and reflective as if he had spit-shined it. How is it possible to not leave any residue or particle upon your plate, to not trim your meat before you eat it -- and that disrespectful Brother Lawrence drinks his goblet down in one large gulp! Oh, he does it gently and muffled so no one notices; he thinks this is acceptable and he attempts to not swallow hard and reverberate throughout the dining hall, but his efforts are unsatisfactory. One should take orange juice in three sips, for the Trinity.
Fifteen years in a mental institution will do one thing to you: it makes you tolerant of people's incompetence, having to deal with it all the time in every way, people thinking you have some mental disorder or terrible personality problem.
I, of course, was put there under false pretenses when I was accused of continuous torture of old women. My actions were justified, however, for out of the thirty-five hags I got hold of thirty-three of them were evil incarnate, I tell you. They treated me like a small two-month old tiger cub, and my grandmother was the worst of all.
My father said my grandmother was kind and generous, and that I was being unfair to her. On the contrary, any educated person knows for a fact that any female relative who bakes cookies and cakes and presents you with gifts and sponsors your trips and tuition is trying to drive you mad until you don't know what's what, and then they kill you in your sleep. Oh yes, I have seen it before… I have seen it before…
I can hear him talk of the kind of weather, the season, the time of year -- could it perchance be imperative to know or even dare to care about these sorts of things?
"What’s the Latin name for parsley?" Brother Lawrence curiously inquired, followed by my dutiful response: "What's the Greek name for Swine's Snout?"
Is that humming? -- Of a tune not suitable for a saintly brother like yourself? Goodness gracious, could it be some complex, forbidden, classical hum? I peering around the walkway corner, there sits his wretched pride and joy, his blithering flowerpots, and that ridiculous rose requires some hydrogen oxide? Drown that rose would I, if only it were possible to transpose it into your goblet. Maybe then, by its thorny touch, would your sips decrease in amount.
Oh dear, his myrtle bush wants trimming! Perhaps I should fetch him… he seems to have wandered off -- his eyes at least -- to Dolores squatting outside the convent bank. With her blue-black, lustrous hair flowing down, what does Brother Lawrence care of her activity? Oh ho! How pleased I am to see this! Actually begun my work for me, over-watering your flowerpots? I laugh: Hell's flames will parch it soon enough, and you and your symbiotic friends can wither together for all eternity.
Brother Lawrence is trying to lead me to sin, leading my gaze towards the lovely, irresistible, voluptuous, horse-haired, delicious -- melons, trying to drive me to madness by your external goodness and piety, getting in nice and cozy with the abbot, providing him with entire melons and us with mere slices, you ungrateful swine! Someday the abbot will die of congestive heart failure due to your overfeeding him melons, and then you’ll be running the show. You'll be Satan’s Number-Two Man for murdering the abbot, and you'll have your little palace in hell, with all the melons you could never scoff, surrounded by the droning of tunes and feet climbing stairs, you floating in an endless vat bursting with pulpy orange juice, while myrtle bushes trim and roses water you; if hate killed men, Brother Lawrence, oh, would not mine kill you!
Brother Lawrence is always so dramatic and flourishing and not without great ability when it comes his turn to read at Mass. He never misses a word or phrase and everything is pronounced perfectly. If you wish to get the fullest from the Scriptures, however, it must be interpreted literally and read with a monotone deep respect and understanding for the inspired Word of God, and the customary mispronunciation is essential to style of a great reader.
Heh-heh-heh-heh! What a perfect, flawless, ingenious plan I have concocted! It will be sure to trick that babbling, bumbling ignoramus of a swine into his undoing… a swift, wrangled passage to Hell indeed.
I mustn't let the smirk crawl into my face; it will give me away. There sits Brother Lawrence; he folds his hands with clasped fingers, how foolish is he, for one must fold his hands with fingers together in threes, for the Trinity.
We take turns reading during the services, and next will be Brother Lawrence's. How opportune this is… when everyone is out I will mark the page at Galatians at the passage which if spoken incorrectly yields twenty-nine damnations unto the reader. I will fold the page down and double it over to the next where I place a page from one of my scrofulous French novels on gray paper with blunt type. Simply glance at it, and it will consume his whole, and there will be no escape…
He passes me in the hall as I exit the chapel. "Salve tibi! There's Vespers! Plena gratia Ave, Virgo -- "
Ah, finally he mounts the marble stairs to the pulpit, where my plan will go without a hitch. I can hardly restrain my sense of self-satisfaction. Soon I will be the one who condemned the devil’s advocate to his eternal fate. That ignorant, incompetent, churlish, asinine, wretched, slow, idiotic, cheerful, holy, disrespectful, lighthearted, sophisticated, adhesive, clever, carefree, sanitary, jest-full, disaccharide, pompous, courtly, carbon-based, leaf-loving, bush-burping, stem-smelling, garden-gorging, plant-popping, tree-tasting, dirt-devouring, insanity inducing, purple-skinned, educated, mortal, homologous, pleasant, consistent, average-height Brother Lawrence won't know what hit him.
"Ahem… Brother Lawrence has taken ill today. I will be reading in his place today," and Brother Eugene began.
My blood boils, and my skin crawls every time I see him now. His skin growing paler, his gestures weaker, and yet he still does everything with the same enthusiasm. As if illness is not the master of him! That smart aleck has something to say to everyone: "Hello," and "How art thou?" or "The weather is fickle today." The rose in leaden vase wilts; the myrtle bush droops. You wonder why your flowerpots remain so close-nipped. If I act not swiftly, there will be all time gone, and you most assuredly will be trapped between here and hell. You need a nudge -- trust me; I will provide you one.
I dream about bolsters, racks, and impalement techniques. Medieval torture is long forgotten and sadly so. Quartering does not sound too unpleasant. None of these, however, would suit my grandmother. Only one so obviously evil as Brother Lawrence could deserve such short painless deaths such that these produce. I can picture him now, the fuzz clears, the blur dissipates, lying there; I can discern…
Standing now at the gates of Heaven, awaiting our judgment, he smiles at me. The hate consumes my soul and I scowl towards him. St. Peter with the Keys smiles too. How aggravating and frustrating this is: so many smiles -- all the saints and souls and angels smiling at our angle.
"Ah, Brother!" says he, looking down at the book. "It seems you have done many a great deed in your lifetime. As promised, you have rejected Satan and all his works. I commend you and the gates are opened to you.
"And you, Brother. You have lived sinfully and have tried to bring others down with you. Torturing others and trying to earn their admission to Hell is not something we look lightly upon. I am sorry, but this decision is made in the interest of all the good souls that have come into this Heaven before you."
Brother Lawrence was banished to Hell for all eternity.
"…And killing people in their sleep, too…"
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