Beneath the Surface (Chapter 7)


The interview took over an hour. Alex got up and began pacing around the room. Every minute that went by felt like an eternity. What could he be asking her? Does her believe her? More importantly, would he be able to help her if he did.

The door finally opened and Father Moran appeared, “Forgive me, Tersa doesn’t want to come inside.”

Sgt. McConnel got up and headed for the door, “How is she?”

“I need to talk to Alex before I make any judgement, but I think you should join your daughter.”

The police officer nodded and stepped by the old preist. Father Moran turned to Alex and nodded, “It’s best if you come into my office.”

Alex got up and followed Father Moran into the next room. As the preist closed the door, Alex studied his surroundings as he stepped inside. The office had the same wood paneling and blue carpet as the sitting room. He saw pictures on the wall of family members as well as degrees and certificates. Aside from religious studies, Father Moran had also earned a Master’s Degree in psychology from the Boston College.

Alex felt like he was entering a shark’s tank as the old priest sat in his chair and looked up at the young man, “Please sit down.”


Alex took the seat in front of the desk. Father Moran moved his papers and took off his glasses. His thin hair matched the white color of his beard, which he brushed trimmed down to stubble along the sides. “So Alex… how do you know this girl?”

“We went to High School together.”

“Were you two close?”

Alex shook his head, “No… we were two years apart. I don’t think we met more than once or twice.”

“So you didn’t really know her then.”


“So why are you here now?”

“She was walking by my house earlier in the week during that huge storm. I let her hang out there until the storm passed.”

“Why was she out walking during the storm?”

“Her car broke down.”

“I see…”

Alex noticed the unease in his voice, “Father, what is it?”

The priest sighed, “Alex, I spoke with the psychiatrist who saw her and then to her parents. You were brought up quite a bit.”

“So she had a crush on me in High School, so what?”

“You don’t see it, do you?”


“She still does, Alex.”

Alex rolled his eyes, “What does that have to do with anything?”

“Come on, Alex, you’re smarter than this. Think about it. She just happens to show up outside of your house the first night that you’re back in town after two years, she’s read your books, and she’s had eyes for you.”

“What exactly are you saying?”

Father Moran sighed. He clearly didn’t want to say it, but knew he had to, “I think she may have underlying psychological issues. I think she’s playing the damsel in distress to get your attention. She read your books, which go into great detail on the Church’s view of exorcisms, so she knew what to do.”

Alex was almost in shock, “What? You can’t be serious! How do you explain her voices, her knowing Latin, and the faces she’s made?”

“Latin can be learned, none of the voices described by her parents were outside the range a human can make, and the same with her faces.”

“Father, I have a degree in psychology too. You can’t seriously think that this is the case?”

The priest frowned, “I have doubts about what you’ve brought forward. I can’t take her case to the bishop when I don’t know that I believe it.”

Alex rubed his forehead with his right hand, “Tersa is not obsessive. She is not psycotic, narcoleptic, or any combination of the afflictions. I know what they look like. I know how terrible each of them can be but…”

Alex lowered his eyes. He didn’t want to say it. A sympathetic look came over Father Moran’s face, “Take your time.”

Alex sucked down a deep breath, “… they don’t frighten me.”

“Her afflictions did, I take it?”

Alex nodded, not looking up, but offered no other response.

Father Moran got up, walked around his desk, and put his hand on Alex’s shoulder, “I can understand your wanting to help. She is a fascinating woman.”

“It’s not like that.”

“Isn’t it? You know, despite my recommendation, I never thought that you were right for the priesthood. You were a steadfast believer of course, but you had a certain joviality about you that wouldn’t fit in. A priest’s life includes some level of seclusion that you would not have been able to thrive under. Your uncle was really the one pushing this on you, wasn’t he?”

Alex shook his head, “My uncle helped me choose a calling, leave him out of this.”

“As you wish… but Alex, look at it from my perspective. If you were in my shoes, would you really bring this case to the bishop, as it stands?.”

Alex shook his head, “No…”

“Of course not, his Excellency would probably give me a long lecture about due diligence.”

Alex was becoming despirate, “But Father, you didn’t see what I did. I think… I believe her case meets the criteria. What about the crosses? We put on in front of her and she almost jumped out of her skin, and…”

“And what?”

Alex didn’t want to say it. He knew what Father Moran would think, but he was running out of evidence, “My nightmares…”

Father Moran sat back down, “What nightmares?”

“I see her in my dreams now. She’s possessed and suffering like…”

“Like the girl in Rome.”

Alex looked up at Father Moran with a surprised expression, “How did you know about that?”

“I kept tabs on you.” Father Moran replied. “I know what’s been troubling you and why you left the seminary.”

Alex shook his head, “Great…”

Father Moran smiled, “Alex, what you saw is something that no human being could see without being affected by it. I think you might also want to go see a therapist. You may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. If you’d like, I’d be happy to…”

“No thank you.” Alex replied. “I’ve done fine on my own.”

“As you say… but as for your claims about the cross, I tested that. She reacted fine to being around crosses.”

“That doesn’t mean anything when she’s in control.”

“Yes I know that.” Father Moran admitted. “However, like I said, you’ve given me very little in the way of convincing me that this isn’t the machinations of two very troubled minds.”

Seeing the disappointed look on Alex face, Father Moran adjusted his tone, “Look, if it’ll make you feel better, I’ll keep this matter open. If Tersa starts going to see a psychiatrist on a regular basis and they can’t resolve this, then I will reexamine her. If then I determine this to be a legitimate case, I’ll recommend the exorcism.”

“I just hope she survives that long.”

“The doctors won’t let anything happen to her. Give them a chance.”

Alex had run out of patience. It was obvious that he was not going to help them. He got up to leave as Father Moran looked over the papers one more time, “And Jesus said to him, ‘You believe because you have seen, but blessed are those who have not seen me and yet still believe’.”

The preist looked up and smiled, “John 20:29… But as for you, blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.”

Alex turned away, “Matthew 13:16… Good day, Father.”

“Good day.”

Alex left Father Moran’s office and joined the family waiting for him outside. Tersa looked up at him, “He’s not going to help us, is he?”


“He thinks I’m crazy, right?”

Alex didn’t answer her, “Come on, let’s get out of here.”


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