Meeting minutes 1

A card that’s laid is a card that’s played.

Les cardinaux Beauchamp et Richelieu (29 October 2020)

God: Good morning, everybody. Please, be seated. We are gathered here today to open case number 4,022,785,102. Peter, can we get the details on the subject?

Peter, breaking the seal on a large manilla envelope and pulling out a thin stack of papers. Sir, the subject’s name is Florence Belleville1. Conceived this night in Saint-Francis de Sales Parish by the union of a certain Suzanne Belleville and one Lionel Belleville.

God: Ma and Pa?

Peter: Ma and Pa, sir.

God: What is this, number six?

Laughter from Luke.

Peter: Ten, sir.

God: Didn’t these people get the memo?

Peter: The memo, sir? Ruffling through the papers and pulling out a document:This memo, sir? The Women’s Liberation Movement memo?

Père Joseph Bertrand LeBoeuf (30 March 2021)

God, under his breath: Oh for crying out loud. You want something done right… Pressing the call button on the phone: Nancy, why in hell is memo number 6,509,435,891 still in the Belleville case file?

Nancy: It’s Father Foucart de Fuchs and Sister Marie-Claudette Le Phoque, sir.

God: Father Joseph Onésime Emmanuel-Philibert Foucart de Fuchs? From Saint-Agathe de la Pocatière?

Père Emmanuel Philibert Foucart (8 January 2021)

Nancy: And Sister Marie-Claudette Le Phoque, sir.

God: From l’Ordre des Bénédictines de l’adoration du Saint-Sulpice?

Soeur Marie-Claudette des Bénédictions de l’adoration perpetuelle du Saint-Sulpice (8 November 2020)

Nancy: They used their ‘return to sender’ card, sir.

God: Motherfuckers!

Jésus: ¡Hipócritas!2

God: Cocksuckers!

Jésus: ¡Víboras!

God: Rotten sons of whores!

Jésus: ¡Necios y ciegos!

God: Shit for brains toolbags!

Jésus: ¡Insensatos!

Mark, whispering to Matthew: Are they going to do this all day?

Matthew, whispering back to Mark: Hell if I know.

Peter, to Mark and Matthew: Shush!

God: Pestilential dripping assho-…

Nancy: Sir?

God: Yes, Nancy?

Nancy: Father Foucart de Fuchs retires in 1983, sir. Sister Marie-Claudette Le Phoque in 1984. Shall I reissue the memo at that time, sir?

God: Do that, Nancy. And mark it as urgent!

Nancy: Reissue memo number 6,509,435,891 to Saint-Francis de Sales Parish, 1984: Urgent! Noted, sir!

God: Thank you, Nancy. Taking his finger off the call button: Now Peter, where were we?

Peter: Case number 4,022,785,102, sir. Subject by the name of Florence Belleville, conceived this night in Saint-Francis de Sales Parish by the union of a certain Suzanne Belleville and one Lionel Belleville.

L’Evêque Anatole Dupuis des Augustines de l’Assomption (14 November 2020)

God, counting on his fingers: A Sagittarius.

Peter: That’s right, sir.

John: You’re going to love her, sir. Spontaneous and fun!

Mark: Optimistic and hilarious!

Luke: Honest and intellectual!

Matthew: Great conversationalist!

God: Mmm. And Ma is a… Cancer?

John: Suspicious and pessimistic!

Mark: Irrational and controlling!

Matthew: Suppressor of feelings!

Peter: Not the best of combinations, sir.

Luke: Pretty bad, sir, actually.

John: Possibly the worst, sir.

Peter: To be fair, sir, no mother would have it easy against this subject as a daughter. Truth be told, Florence can be a short-tempered, self-righteous, cocky little smart-ass know-it-all bitch.

God: Nothing out of the ordinary then in terms of mother-daughter relationships?

Peter: Not in my estimation, sir. Besides, with Ma set to pop out number eleven 367 days after the subject’s arrival into the world, the child will find herself mostly in the care of Pa.

God: The Old One?3

The Apostles together, dressed in paisley shirts and bellbottoms, passing around flowers and a bunch of STDs, singing in harmony and dancing around each other like reeds swaying in the wind: Aquaaaariuuuuuuuuuuussssssss! Aquaaaariuuuuuuuuusssssss!

Peter: That’s right, sir, Pa.

God: Ah, yes. Good, good. But let’s get back to the details. Saint-Francis de Sales Parish, you said? Roman Catholic?

Mère supérieure Marie-Marthe Desneiges (5 February 2021)

Peter: Apostolic Roman Catholic, sir.

God: In Lancaster, Maine? Population 2,246? Three quarters of whom are biologically related in some way to the Belleville family?

Peter: Four fifths would be more accurate, sir.

God: Boys, this is a disaster! We’re going to suffocate the poor kid! She’s going to hate me by the time she’s eighteen!

Mark: Probably more like seventeen, sir.

Matthew: Possibly even sixteen, sir.

God: Sixteen! For fuck’s sake, boys! We can’t let this happen!

John: Everything has already been decided, sir. It was known long ago what each person would be.

Mark: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, here present.

Jésus, raising his hand by his face: Yo soy.

Matthew: For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus [here present], to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Luke: God always does what he plans.

God: Peter, what the hell are these people talking about?    

Peter: A card that’s laid is a card that’s played, sir.

God: I see. 

Peter: But, sir, let’s not put the cart in front of the ass. The goal of this meeting is simply to open case number 4,022,785,102.

Mark: Florence Belleville, sir.

God: Right, right. Please proceed.

Peter: Thank you, sir. I’m going to hand it over to Matthew who has prepared a slide show presentation with the vital details on the subject.

Matthew, wheeling over a cart with a Kodak Rotary Slide Projector on top of it, plugging it in and turning it on: Thank you, Peter. Thank you, God. John, if you could hit the lights? Thank you. Pressing on the advance button and reading from the first slide: Case number 4,022,785,102. Florence Belleville.

Archevêque Ambroise Boniface dit “Le Sage” (30 December 2020)

God, writing in a notepad: Mmm. Interesting.

Matthew, pressing on the advance button and reading from the second slide: Conceived this night in Saint-Francis de Sales Parish by the union of a certain Suzanne Belleville and one Lionel Belleville.

God, writing in a notepad: Very interesting.

Matthew, pressing on the advance button and gasping at the image of himself sitting on a beach blanket at the seaside with the other Apostles and a woman with perfect breasts dressed in a tiny little hot pink bikini.

Mark: Such a fun day!

Matthew, pressing on the advance button and gasping at a shot of Mark and the woman with perfect breasts licking on the same freeze pop.

John: That chick was so hot!

Matthew, pressing quickly on the advance button and gasping first at the close-up of the woman rubbing SPF 4 baby oil on both of her perfect breasts while making a kissing gesture at the camera, then at the one of her laughing at Mark pretending to lick the left one, then at the one of her laughing at Luke pretending to squeeze the right one4.

Peter, hissing to Matthew: What the hell, Matthew? Pull it together!

God, ripping off his reading glasses: Woah, woah! Go back to that close-up!

Matthew: But sir, Florence Belleville? Case number 4,022,785,102?

God, in a loud voice: Don’t make me come over there, Matthew! The close-up!

Matthew, pissing his pants: Right away, sir! Pressing on the back button several times.

God, whistling long and low and shaking his head slowly.

Mark: You just want to lick her up one side and down the other, sir.

Luke: And then some, sir.

Jésus: ¿Por qué me tentáis, hipócritas?

The Apostles together, shaving their heads, tearing at their robes and flopping down on piles of ashes: Forgive us, Lord, for we have sinned!

God, smacking the table with a gavel: Forgiven!

The Apostles together: Praise and thanks to the Lord, our God!

God, with his right hand over Jésus’ eyes: Did we happen to catch her name?

Matthew: Magdalena, sir.

God: Platz?

Mark: A. Platz, sir.

God, pressing the call button on the phone: Nancy, that old guy, Boris?

Nancy: The letter writer over in the Office of the Most High, sir?

God: He dead yet?

Nancy: Any minute now, sir. He was barely breathing this morning.

Sœur Marie-Agathe de la Sainte-Miséricorde (28 November 2020)

God: Good, good. Let’s bring Miss Magdalena A. Platz on board. Effective immediately.

Nancy: Shall I have her do a writing sample, sir?

God: A what?

Nancy: A writing sample, sir.

God: What for?

Nancy: To test her letter writing skills, sir.

God: Letter writing?

Nancy: She’ll be taking over for Boris, sir. The letter writer? Over in the Office of the Most High, sir.

God: Ah. Right. Sure, why not. Just put it on my desk when she’s done.

Nancy: You don’t want the hiring committee to look it over, sir?

God: That won’t be necessary, Nancy.

Nancy: Shall I have Boris train her before he dies, sir?

God: I’ll do it, Nancy. Just have her report to my office tomorrow morning at eight o’clock sharp.

Nancy: Noted, sir!

God: Thank you, Nancy. Releasing the call button on the phone: Now where were we, boys?

Peter: Sir, Matthew here was just presenting the vital details on case number 4,022,785,102. Subject by the name of Florence Belleville.

Matthew, advancing quickly past the slides of Magdalena and her perfect breasts and reading from the next slide: Fin.

Luke: , Matthew. The n is silent.

Matthew: Fã.

God, closing his notepad and capping his pen: Very interesting, boys.

Peter: That’s not all, sir. Luke here has prepared a surprise for you.

Luke, pulling out from under the table a sculpture made of popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, silly putty, bits of chicken wire, super glue and a bunch of black electrical tape: Tada!

God: A pigeon?

Luke: Florence Belleville, sir.

God: Florence Belleville is a pigeon?

Les Archevêques Josephat Baduel d’Oustrac et Théodule Colrat de Montrozier (8 December 2020)

Luke, looking perplexed and rotating the sculpture a few times: Oh, that thing! Pointing to the protruding breast bone: That’s just a pectus carinatum, sir.

Peter: Nothing but an innocuous congenital birth defect, sir. No more harmful than the little extra bone you see here on the subject’s left humerus.

Mark: I love that little extra bone, sir.

John: Very cute, sir.

God: But the pectus carinatum? Peter, she looks like a pigeon.

Peter: Just her chest cavity, sir. The rest is all one hundred percent normal. See?

Père Francis Maillard de la Morandais (10 December 2020)

God: Mmm.

Peter: No one will even notice it, sir.

God: Mmm.

Peter: Her smile will make up for it, sir.

Matthew: And her ass.

Mark: Tight, sir. Very tight.

God: Still. Seems a little cruel.

Peter: A card that’s laid is a card that’s played, sir.

God: That’s right. All right, then, Peter. Good work here today, team. Raising his hand over his head: Go in peace, boys.

The Apostles together: Let us give praise and thanks to the Lord our God! It is right to give Him thanks and praise!

To be continued…

  1. If The Book of Florence is an auto-fictional memoir of sorts, why would the author have chosen not to use her real name? See blog post #51: Who in the world is Florence Belleville? ↩︎
  2. What’s up with the Spanish-speaking Jesus? See blog post #8: A place at the table (26 March 2023) ↩︎
  3. What’s going on with this nickname? See blog post #44: This time around (3 December 2023). ↩︎
  4. Why the obsession with the idea of perfect breasts anyway? See blog posts #7: Real work (19 March 2023), #11: Who’s counting? (16 April 2023), #26: Portrait of the artist (30 July 2023), #27: What can it hurt? (6 August 2023), and #50: Naked as the day (14 January 2024). ↩︎

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