With Darth Vader on the train

We have experienced that the "passion, death and resurrection" dynamic has a certain parallel with our daily lives. In this story, the author replicates this itinerary in an episode of Don Giorgio's life, albeit with a nice touch of humor.

Juan Ignacio Izquierdo Hübner-April 25, 2022-Reading time: 5 minutes
Darth vader

It was Sunday, night was falling and don Giorgio was traveling to his mother's house to spend Pasquetta with her. He had celebrated three long Masses and he longed to be reunited with his pillow. He longed for it not so much for the mark embroidered on the pillowcase, 'Michelangelo'.He suspected that the choice of the character (his mother had given it to him as a gift) could be alluding to the artist at best, or to one of the Ninja Turtles, with whom the priest shares certain physical similarities not recognized by him (good physical condition, so far perfect, but also baldness and short stature).

He boarded the Rome-Viterbo intercity train, miraculously found a free seat on the aisle side and collapsed against the green plastic backrest. The car smelled of bread, sweat and tobacco. He took off his collar, stretched his legs a little in the space left by the three ladies who surrounded him with their packages, one beside him and the other two in front, and cheated his sense of duty by taking the Gospel out of the briefcase. Predictably, he was unable to read more than a line: sleep crept up on his head like foam, his eyelids tended to gather, his feet went numb and his head drooped back and forth like a guitarist's in rock and roll

The priest was reaching a relative peace: the scent of focaccia that danced up from the lady next door's package stunned him, transported him back to his childhood; let's say it worked like Moses' rod with the rock of Horeb, it made his mouth water.

But life is hard. At the next station, a gang of 5 or 6 teenagers dressed as rappers, an outfit flashier than the clergyman the priest wore under his fleece, burst into the wagon with a vulgarity that wounded the night. They were agitated, smelled of amaro or rum, played with blows and laughed loudly. Don Giorgio looked at them out of the corner of his eye and when he saw them taking bottles out of their backpacks to toast, he wondered whether the clink-clink of the clashing glass could be equivalent to the sound of Satan's bells. He immediately corrected himself and formulated a more benevolent judgment: "It's just a bunch of kids who don't know about friendship, how I wish I could teach them...". 

He had, in any case, a bad feeling: he measured the strength of the boys, compared it with what he had left and kept the Gospel to adopt the arcane strategy of pretending to be asleep.

The boys conquered the central space of the wagon and the passengers tolerated their arrogance by walking away and turning up the volume on their headphones. The leader of the gang, a tall young man dressed in a white sweatshirt more appropriate for a toga, sunglasses and combing the bangs of his blond hair with his hand as if in a nervous tic, suddenly raised his arm and pointed at don Giorgio with his index finger, in a posture similar to that of Jesus in the painting "Vocazione di san Matteo"Caravaggio, only this choice seemed to have the opposite meaning. Then, the mane lowered his finger, smiled a cruel smile and conspired with his cronies. The priest began to worry, for he still had a few more stations to go to reach his destination.

The boys seemed to make up their minds. They furrowed their brows, squared themselves, and advanced with military step toward the priest's seat while they hummed, emulating with their lips the sound of trombones and trumpets playing the imperial march from Star Wars"Tan, tan, tan, tan, tan-ta-tan, tan-ta-tan; tin, tin, tin, tin, tin-ti-tin, tin-ti-tin! ...". Don Giorgio remained in the middle of the show, he did not feel like fighting and kept on with his strategy of pretending to sleep. The young men, for their part, noticed some complicit smiles among the passengers, who, hearing the bells of entertainment, had reconnected with the present. 

The boys marched up and down the corridor, increasing the intensity of their provocation to achieve their goal: they raised the volume of their singing, dropped a few insults and stamped their feet on the floor. Until one, shameless or naive, dared more and shook don Giorgio's shoulder. The situation became untenable and the priest opened his eyes. He imagined himself as a dragon being disturbed in the heart of the mountain where he guards the treasure; however, the boys only saw a tired, short, though physically fit, round-headed priest with light blue eyes, of an age similar to that of his parents. One commented that he looked like a stray penguin and they laughed.

The ragazzo The boss gulped down what was left in his bottle and confronted the pastor:

- Stand up.

The train was slowing down and don Giorgio got up... not to accept the duel, but to explain, with his best smile, that, "what a coincidence!", he had to get off the train. The tall young man, however, blocked his way. Don Giorgio turned to the other side of the aisle and met the other gang members who were also beating their chests at him. 

- What are you doing here at this time of night, dressed in black? Darth Vader? -roared the leader as he combed his mane with his fingers and tilted his head back, as if gargling to celebrate his wit. The rest of the gang joined him with the din of alienated hyenas.

Don Giorgio felt he was on his own Way of the Cross. But Christ is risen," he said to himself, "and I must also represent him in this version...". Suddenly, his light bulb lit up. He covered his mouth with one hand and began to breathe with difficulty, as if he were wearing an oxygen tank. The young people didn't flinch, but the people in the carriage felt uncomfortable. Then Don Giorgio looked up and, between inhalations and throat-clearing exhalations, tried to speak: 

– Ghh, uhh, ghh, ghh, uhh.

- What's the matter with you? -asked the boy with a slight break of fear.

– Ghh, uhh, ghh, ghh, uhh.

- What's up!

- I -ghh- I'm-your-father.

The doors closed. For two or three seconds silence filled every space in the carriage; those moments that every comedian has suffered in the interval between the joke and the audience's judgment. 

An austere applause sounded from the lady who was guarding the focaccia, breaking the ice. The other ladies around Don Giorgio followed suit. Other passengers took off their headphones and sought the eyes of the young men to reproach them for their excess... The atmosphere had hardened, but that density began to melt with the laughter of the passengers in the back, who were already commenting on the priest's ingenious stratagem. The young men, seeing that the audience was betraying them and that the spell of intimidation had been broken, lost their assurance and huddled by the door with folded arms and heads down, ruminating on their failure. They got off at the next station, jostling and blaming each other. 

The priest returned to his seat and asked permission from the lady at the window to look at the platform through the glass. He saw the lion, obfuscated, raging like a little tyrant, and prayed for him. The train was moving forward again, but don Giorgio was still attentive... At the last moment, three boys from the gang turned their heads, found don Giorgio and, cautiously, smiled at him. Good. Maybe he would meet them another day, and then he would invite them to talk a little. The first topic would be friendship, how much they needed it!

- Would you like some focaccia? -asked the woman, who had noticed the effect her scent had on the priest.

- Yes, thank you," he looked stealthily at the options inside the bag and added, mischievously, "I love the one with olives. But you eat it too and join me.

She was happy and listened to him. Don Giorgio took the bread, pressed it lightly with his fingers to feel its freshness and savored it, dreaming, optimistically, of the future of those boys, and of the well-deserved rest he would enjoy with his mother the next day.

Read more
La Brújula Newsletter Leave us your email and receive every week the latest news curated with a catholic point of view.
Banner advertising
Banner advertising