Reverend Taylor | August 26, 2017
Reverend Taylor preferred the winter because it was better for church attendance. A Sunday afternoon in the summer is wasted sitting in a pew—those days are meant for sleeping in, for letting fans blow lazily over you, for wearing nothing but underwear. In August, sweating in a nearly two-hundred-year-old building has no appeal. In December, it’s easier to do.
We lose hope in the winter and forget that spring will ever come. During days when the sunset at five o’clock, Reverend Taylor reminded us that this was all temporary, and we looked forward to a better season. But in summer, we didn’t want to be reminded that someday the warmth would pass.
Attendance last Sunday at church was dismal, I’m told. Richard showed up and Marie. They said there were only two more other people there, but they didn’t go into specifics.
There was no point in drumming up energy in so small an audience. Marie said the Reverend wilted at the altar and spoke so softly that Richard complained about it the entire way home. What was the point in going to church if Reverend Taylor was barely there himself?
That was the last anyone saw of him for several days.
He didn’t indulge in many habits, except for the walk he was known to take at dusk. I never understood the appeal; that was just when the bugs came out in swarms, and it still wasn’t cool out. But every day he would walk past my front window—exactly as the sun kissed the horizon, more consistent than any clock I’d ever owned.
I saw him Sunday night. He didn’t raise his head in acknowledgement or even glance my way. He tapped insistently on his leg, and then on the fence in front of my house, and then my neighbours’ houses, and then presumably the fences of the houses on the next street. I couldn’t make out a rhythm or beat but didn’t think much of it at the time. Now, it’s consumed my thoughts. Was it a code? A pattern? A tune only he could hear?
They found him in the river.
It wouldn’t have been a suspicious death. The river moves fast—too fast to swim in, the public signs claim. If the Reverend had stumbled in, or if he had gotten disoriented after dark, his death could have been easily put to rest. He’d be thought of once, or twice. He would have been a footnote in my studies of Winterbourne, rather than a file.
But Reverend Taylor was frozen solid, caught between a branch and a rock along the shoreline. He died of hypothermia in the middle of August.