The new pope is such a nice guy. He conducts his business in the spare bedroom of my friend Kristy’s apartment. Her husband isn’t home yet but I’ve met their daughter, though I had a hard time making friends because my mouthguard was still in. I’m here to tell Kristy about an attempted assault at a nearby bar where we were all served complimentary slices of the bartender’s wedding cake, but I forget because of the pope being here.
Apparently people can just walk for an audience, no appointment required. The pope sits in bed and invites you to sit in a chair at his left side. Dave is in there now. I start to join them, but back away. I’m Catholic, I should have more humility. Then Dave comes out and says, “You have to go in. Just put your necklace on and get in there.” He’s so supportive. I try again to walk in, but meet the pope coming out. “Wait here,” he says, “I’ll return.”
There are chairs on the right side of his bed, the side nearest the door, but their legs are all broken, whittled away to stubs, raw with sawdust. I’m wondering what to do next when who should walk in but David & Kim, along with their protégé, a young man so favored by the pope that he gets to sit on the bed itself.
David and Kim show us a large photo they’ve given the pope. It shows the roofline of their theatre, glinting in the sunlight. They speak of another protégé, Winifred, who sang for the pope after a monolog. Apparently, she wowed him. I am determined to have some sort of meaningful experience with the pope that I can blog about. The male protégé silently lounges on the left side of the bed. I decide to assert myself and lounge on the right side.
The pope returns, wearing a trenchcoat, and climbs back into bed. Between us he sits lightly, on top of the covers, conversing with David and Kim about the photograph. I suspect he uses the bed merely as a mark of respect to the less robust popes who came before.
The male protégé is rocking the bed, a teenager’s idle twitch, and I want to stop him. I try bracing my foot against the floor, but it’s no use. I can’t still the motion, and besides, I’m a newcomer; I don’t know how this is all supposed to work. I go with the flow and wonder whether I’ll ever have any time alone with the pope, and what I will say if I do.