Buy Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Michael Duffy Has Arisen Now

Set in 1950s Ireland, ”Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Michael Duffy Has Arisen” is a delightful coming of age tale about a young boy struggling with the overwhelming anger and grief of losing his adored father.

A lot has gone wrong for young Frankie O'Connor in the year since his father died. His sister has run off to America, his mother has been forced to work for mean-spirited Michael Duffy, and Frankie's golden singing voice has suffered the ravages of puberty, threatening to derail his dreams of someday following his idol, Frank Sinatra, to singing stardom in America.

But when Frankie is convinced he has cursed a man and sent him to an early grave, the young lad's dreams of fame and fortune take a back seat to his gripping fear of the eternal damnation that awaits unless he can find a way to make things right.

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I wrote my first short story when I was eight years old, about a young girl trapped in a house and a picture (a la Dorian Grey) that comes alive and does her in. My Aunt Sheila sat at the dining room table, listening attentively while I read aloud the four or so hand-written pages and clapped enthusiastically at the end, not because the story was any good, I’m quite sure, but because the reading had entertained her.

After that, I was hooked.

In this space I’ll post descriptions of stories I’ve completed either recently or in the distant past. I’ll talk about how I came to write the story, the process being as much a mystery to me today as it was when I was eight. As with my novel, Here Among Us, the stories will be available for download through Amazon.

I hope you enjoy the stories as much as my Aunt Sheila liked that first one so many years ago.


Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Michael Duffy Has Arisen

Anyone who knows the Irish knows that “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” is commonly said in response to surprise. My mother said it often, and I’ve been told I do, too.

It seemed fitting then to name a story after such an evocative declarative statement. As to the premise of the story—the boy forgetting his jacket in church and having to go back for it—it was told to me by my cousin’s husband on the occasion of his flying out to attend my husband’s memorial service.

We were sitting at the kitchen table the following night, a somber group as you can imagine. Joe must have sensed that relief was in order and he told us a story a relative’s father had told him. It was about a young boy in Ireland many, many years ago, who had left his only jacket behind in the vestibule of his parish church after he’d served some sort of evening mass. It happened at the time that there was someone recently deceased laid out in the church awaiting the next day’s funeral mass. The boy in this story went back for the jacket, knowing that if he didn’t have it, he’d be in serious trouble.  In his haste, he left his lantern behind. The next morning, the villagers were talking about the “beautiful light” that came from the church in the night and the rumor soon spread that maybe God himself had come for the deceased

I loved the tale but it wasn’t enough to create an entire short story. I had to fill in the blanks myself, and to do that I had to answer quite a few questions. For instance, who was the boy? He must have had pluck to go out in the dark after the jacket. What was the boy’s circumstance? He must have been poor if the jacket meant enough for him to return for it in the night and with a dead body in the church.

Did something startle the boy so that he left the lantern or did he just forget it? Who was the person laid out? Was he liked? Disliked? Despised maybe? What did it mean that the people in the village immediately assumed divine intervention when they saw the light? That’s where imagination entered the picture, filling the blanks and answering all those questions, I hope to the enhancement of the story.

But I’ll let you decide.