Lucy rubbed her tired, gritty eyes. The irony of the gesture was not lost on her.
Her opthalmologist had scolded her, kindly. “I know you’re the patron saint of those with eye problems and blindness,” she’d said. “But if you’re going to be a martyr, do it for being stabbed in the neck, not for staring at your computer screen all day.”
Lucy leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. She needed her eyesight, with so many people depending on her. Somehow, over the centuries, she’d also become the patron saint of epidemics, salesmen, throat infections, dysentery, two large cities, a Caribbean island, and writers. If my sainthood were a job description, no way in Hell could anybody fill it, she thought. Then she felt guilty for thinking the Hell part.
Cassian stuck his head through the doorway. “Got a minute?”
“Sure.” She always had time for Cassian, her second in command. As the patron saint of shorthand writers, he sometimes filled in for her when she desperately needed a vacation. Thank God she was the patron saint of that Caribbean island. St. Francis had Upington, South Africa, and things were often tense there.
“Francis called. He wants to know if you can keep an eye on Baker, Oregon while he’s at the school board meeting.”
Lucy sighed. God had stressed that it was important for them all to support Francis de Sales, patron saint of educators, in their current time of need. It was very, very important that teachers not lose faith just now, He said. Luckily, Francis’s favors usually involved keeping track of some obscure little country or some peculiar slice of the population, and with fewer devotees, crises were less likely.
Lucy realized Cassian was waiting for her answer. “Fine.”
“He also wants to know if you’re doing anything about the First Amendment.”
“No. Fuck it. That’s his job. I do fiction, not facts.”
Cassian raised an eyebrow. “In today’s current political climate, that’s a gray area, but I’ll just say ‘no.’ ” He flipped over a page in his notebook. “Decisions next?”
“We can’t use pig eyeballs in the appearance on Sunday. The animal activists have been bugging St. Anthony about that again.”
“Not even pigs that are already dead?”
“Can we use those gelatin molds with milk or something, like we did for the vegetarians?”
“I was thinking glass eyes,” Cassian said. “Gelatin comes from cows.”
“Glass eyes roll off the golden plate,” Lucy said. “It’s a pain in the ass. Make the gelatin eyes again, and slice off the back so they’ll stick to the plate. Tell ’em they’re made with soy milk if you have to.” Cassian agreed.
“Next, palm fronds,” Cassian said. “We’ve been getting them from a nursery in southern California that just got busted for hiring illegal immigrants. Should we continue patronizing them, or should we find another nursery?”
“Find out about their business practices, then ask Xavier what he would do,” Lucy said. As the patron saint of immigrants, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini had surely already encountered this situation or one like it. “And if Xavier says we should switch nurseries, ask Paul where we should get them.” Palm fronds, the symbol of victory over evil, were important to get right, especially nowadays.
“Paul the Apostle?”
“No, Paul of Thebes. A palm tree is one of his attributes.”
“That’s Paul the First Hermit, right?” Cassian looked confused. “Is he going to know what I’m talking about?”
“He may be a hermit, but he has wicked fast internet,” Lucy said. “He’ll know. Or he’ll Google it.”
“I could Google it — ”
“Get Paul’s opinion first. Don’t be nervous. He’s just introverted, not crazy.”
“Okay,” Cassion said, scribbling on his notepad. He flipped it closed, and paused, looking at Lucy closely. “You feeling okay?”
“Sorry if I sound short. Maybe I’m coming down with something.” As the patron saint of throat infections and epidemics, it seemed like she was always fighting off strep or plague. As long as it’s not dysentery, she thought wryly.
“Maybe you need something with lots of vitamin C in it,” Cassian suggested. “Like a margarita. Full of lime juice. I know an island in the Caribbean where you can get one.”
“Maybe I will,” Lucy said, thinking of the overstuffed sofas in the bar of the Luxe Hotel. Maybe she’d put her feet up, sip something cold and sweet, and count her blessings. Her real blessings. “Maybe I just will.”