“Read this, Oh Caesar, that you may live!…”

"You'll have to pry what I wrote from these cold glands!--oops! I mean HANDS!

… “If not, the fates with traitors doth contrive!”  Artemidorus, Orange Julius…oops!  JULIUS CAESAR! Ahh, Literati! That fine Sicilian, Salvatore Buttaci, has entered our contest, probably wanting to assume his rightful throne, as Sal was one of our last winners before we had to scuttle the site and rebuild. Sal has entered You didn’t write …

… “If not, the fates with traitors doth contrive!”  Artemidorus, Orange Julius…oops!  JULIUS CAESAR!

Ahh, Literati!

That fine Sicilian, Salvatore Buttaci, has entered our contest, probably wanting to assume his rightful throne, as Sal was one of our last winners before we had to scuttle the site and rebuild.

Sal has entered You didn’t write that, our current contest, and though he meas his culpa here, there is no reason to let him bully his way to the throne.  Write your OWN contest entry, simply pull down the rules from the menu bar.  You could win an all expense paid trip to the steps of the Roman Senate, if that is what we were offering for a prize.

“You’ll have to pry what I wrote from these cold glands!–oops! I mean HANDS!

 

here is

 MEA CULPA

 by Salvatore Buttaci

 

“Caesar” Augusta stood at the side of my desk reading the note. Tall and robust in her black habit, she was the Caesar no dirty senator would dare take a dagger to.

I wasn’t worried. I’d devised a foolproof way of sending notes. I wrote two: the real thing and a decoy that read, “Going to the game?” It worked. When caught, I’d walk to Sister’s desk, place the counterfeit note in her extended palm.

Hogan laughed out loud when he read my note, then tossed it back on my desk where it lay crumpled beside the decoy. In a flash Sister scooped one up.

“You didn’t write that,” she said, waving the note above her.

Had she figured it all out ? Was she saying the decoy was precisely that? Then I opened the note on my desk. “Going to the game?”

Sister had been good to me. Said I was a good student. Slapped “Bully” Dodd on the schoolyard when he threatened to blowtorch me in my blue school trousers.

“Sorry, Sister. I didn‘t mean it.”

She let the torn-up note flutter down to my desk.

“If Caesar crosses the Rubicon, she can be her own ship!”

31 comments

  1. Kyle says:

    Master Flash. Great opening paragraph. Unique setting. Great description and use of characters. Rolls you all the way to the end. Imaginative. My kind of flasher. Loved it. Thanks Sal.

  2. Diane Cresswell says:

    Having never gone to Catholic school, I have in my time heard enough stories to be thoroughly glad I didn’t.  And your story – the master of flash (in a good way) has again made me glad I didn’t.  One does not fool around with Sister Mister…

    • Salvatorebuttaci says:

      Diane, despite the strictness of Catholic school, there were fun times and sisters who, like Sister Maria Augusta, influenced my writing life. Yes, there were those sadists who derived pleasure whacking my knuckles with heavy rulers till they almost bled. And there was Sister Dorothy who kicked me down a flight of stairs for taking too long to zipper my jacket, which fired up my Sicilian temper to the point where I climbed back up the stairs and yanked her down the stairs. It was another nun who pled ny case and saved me from a year or two in a reform school slammer as well as a slam or two from my father. There were those saints like Sr. Alma Rita and Sr. Rose de Lima, who insisted in those early grades that I could become a very good reader if I kept at it. I keep the old adage in mind: There is good and bad in everybody!

      • Diane Cresswell says:

        Glad you had back up with the Sisters – apologies are in order – so I do apologize for any stepping on you I might have done and the Sisters..  Won’t happen again.

      • Thorn
        Thorn says:

         Is The Sisters of Mercy an oxymoron?  I have posted a story on my blog, you can find it under Departments and Thorn’s Blog about my former wife, who was raised in a Catholic orphanage in Kuala Lumpur.  To this day she can’t add three plus five, because she witnessed a nun hold a child under the water in the common tub just a bit too long for getting a low score on her math test…

        • Salvatorebuttaci says:

          I was taught by Dominican sisters, Sisters of St. Joseph, and Sisters of Mercy. I loved the Sisters of Mercy best! I will admit that some of those nuns, regardless of their religious order, were sadistic and perhaps some back in my late 1940s childhood were Nazi war criminals in drag. 

      •  yes… I agree… I adored the nuns of St. Maria Goretti in Long Beach…even if they were a bit rough around the edges…. I still hold many foundational abilities due to their persistence & dedication…

        • SalvatoreButtaci says:

          Maria Goretti is a favorite saint of mine and I’m sure the sisters of her order were also quite persistent in upholding what they believed in and doing the teaching job they agreed to.

  3. Anna Mullins says:

    Great story Sal. I too had a few battles with strict old “fascist” nuns in Catholic School but I still give credit to Sister Marcella, my first grade teacher, for teaching me what Jesus was really all about…kindness, peace, and love.

    • Salvatorebuttaci says:

      The Catholic school life was a microcosm of the adult world we grew into. The people we would meet were like the sisters: some holy terrors, some saints.

  4. JPG8820 says:

    Great flash, Sal! Brings back a lot of memories here as well. We had a nun who liked the stairs too! Pushed my brother’s entire class down of flight of stairs leading into Church cos they wouldn’t cooperate and settle down. So, obviously that is what you do to 2nd graders. I’m sure that wasn’t the worst of her crimes! But yes, very nice story. I think you could make this into a great short story as well. As usual, you are The Master!  Joe

    • Salvatorebuttaci says:

      Joe, when Sister Dorothy kicked me down the stairs in plain sight of her 6th grade class (which included my sister Joanie), I knew exactly what I would do. I had to. My wounded Sicilian pride and my need for mob attention would not have had me do otherwise. Oddly enough it was the principal, Sr. Mary Victor, to whom Sr. Dorothy had sent me, who saved me from an early prison life!

  5. Josephine Lissandrello says:

    Loved this flash.  All of us that went to Catholic school had at one time or another a Sister “Caesar.”  I had one in 6th grade, Sister Andrina, who was the color of bile.  She was MEAN and difficult to love.  I must say though that I did have many that were sweethearts and I still hold memories of them fondly.  Not all the nuns had ruler weapons. Thank you Sal, you’re the best!

  6. diana_SD says:

    Salvatore, I was completely absorbed in your story of schoolboy hubris and maybe a little cruelty.  Kids don’t think about the impact of their words, and some do seem to have complete confidence in their ability to beat the system, as our protagonist does with his decoy note-passing.  
    The sister must have experienced some admixture of pride and hurt reading this note, for what is revealed in the final disclosure is not simply petty, juvenile insults, but the fact that our young note-passer has, indeed, been influenced by his education. Nice characterizations in minimal verbiage.

    • Salvatorebuttaci says:

      Thanks, Diana. Though the story has no roots in reality, it is true that much tomfoolery went on back then. Surely such events would fill a book of flashes!

  7. I had Brothers.  A dashing group of god’s teachers  formed by the paddle (you now the ones with the holes bored through them).  Such would be my fate no matter which note was discovered.  Thanks for this, Sal.  Brings back memories. So good to hear you again.

    • Thorn
      Thorn says:

       I knew those paddles myself, but it was a public school in Arizona.  I always thought those little holes were so they could say some part of your arse was spared!

        • Actually, a six by eight inch paddle with a ten inch reach was difficult to push through the air and render the proper sting.  During a divine illumination, a studious monk prayed over the engineering of all this and invented vents through the paddle.  No longer was there restriction.  Brothers and sisters could now whack away with full force.   Ah, is this not our finest hour?  If this information is redundant to your knowledge, I apologise.

    • Salvatorebuttaci says:

      Thanks, Mike. My late older brother Al attended a Catholic high school where brothers taught. When I’d complain about the nuns, he’d tell me I had it easy compared to him.

    • Salvatorebuttaci says:

      Julius was a wuss compared to Sister Augusta. Get tricked into a blood bath? Are you kidding! Why, she’d just as quickly ring your neck with her ponderous rosary beads she wore around her out-there waist!

  8. Absolutely great moment…. What a descriptive and clever writer you are Salvatore!  As a little Jewish girl, my parents put me in Catholic school growing up!!  The sisters kept me safe from harms way…. maybe you were the boy sitting in front of me!! Ha ha…

    • SalvatoreButtaci says:

      Sorry, Miryam, I was probably long out of college by then! Thanks for reading this and for sharing something kind about the sisters who taught you.

  9. Osullivanharrison says:

    Thank you for passing this along…I did not have the good fortune of being taught by nuns, other than CCD. By the time I cam along they were much more Maria VonTrapp than Caesar!  However, the stories my father tells are very different from the ones my children encountered in Parochial School…

  10. Chalice Divine says:

    oh yes, the boat oar with the drilled holes in the paddle end, and that black habit specter winding up for the swing. So many shaes of school years and tears in the contest. one would wonder why if it wasn’t so apparent. Heaven is when you escape those dreaded doors and dawns.
    Great piece:) We all thought we had the new tricks, didn’t we:)

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