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Chapter One: In The Wake of the Great Fornicator

The Archbishop is in his chambers as his barge arrives one summer in the last town along the canal. Inside the barge, Grace O’Kell, one of The Archbishop’s colleens, comes to pleasure herself in front of the Archbishop, just as he has taught her to do.

Mother Nature

Upon arrival at the last town, Grace sees a boy (Tommy Tom Cushing) damping down the kerosene lamps along the shore.

The Archbishop hears the chanting of the Hads, those women who had slept with The Great Fornicator, Thomas Cushing; and the Had Nots, those who have not slept with Thomas Cushing but say they did. Had and Had Nots had been gathering for Confession at The Church of the Immaculate Conception, there to swap stories with each other and to be forgiven by the priests who long to hear their sins.

Monsignor Fahey, backed by his Knights and lackeys, waits along the shore to welcome the Archbishop to the last town along the canal.

Priests in the parish had vied for a posting in the last town so as to hear the grievous sins of Hads and Had Nots both.

The young colleens-to-be, singing all the way, proceed from the church to the shore to greet the Archbishop.

In his chambers on the barge, the Archbishop confronts Monsignor Fahey about the monstrous sins of The Great Fornicator Thomas Cushing—and the momentous fallout among Hads and Had Nots both. The half-wit in the telegraph office down canal had garbled the message from the Monsignor to the Archbishop.

The Archbishop starts to hear the Confessions of the many Hads waiting for him on the shore. The first Had to confess is Molly O’Malley—wife of Michael O’Malley, leader of the machine—the first woman to have sex with Thomas Cushing out of wedlock. Molly O’Malley relives her first time with The Great Fornicator then tells the Archbishop about every time she sinned—until he gives her a fixed dollar amount for her penance.

The Archbishop hears the Confession of all the Hads, growing more weary with each one. The Archbishop tries (and fails) to declare a general amnesty for all sinners. Instead, Constance Briody—the wife of the albino baker—barges into his chambers at the end of the day and demands to be heard. She shows him she is pregnant by The Great Fornicator with the baby to be known as Caitlin Briody, the mother of Atomic Tom Cushing. She says that unlike the rest of the women she actually loves Thomas Cushing.

The Archbishop declares The Great Fornicator must be found no matter the consequences.

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