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Young Davey O’Flannery sat down behind the screen. With his hands nestled in his lap, both shaking a bit, he turned his head toward the screen, and after taking a deep breath, he motioned the cross in front of himself, physically drawing the cross across his own torso, using his index and forefinger, muttering “In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

The voice from the other side of the screen was from an older man, a priest, and he spoke to the young man, saying, “Hello, my son. Are you ready to make your confession?” And with that, the young man replied quickly and nervously, “Yes, father.”

The Priest cleared his throat and continued, “We find in the book of James of the New Testament, chapter 5 verse 14 that Christ’s own brother James, speaking on his behalf, tells us, “Is any sick among us? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the lord.”

“Yes, father.” Davey spoke softly again, closing his eyes and then opening them, as if somehow punctuating the verse with a direct line to its writer. “And have you read your bible this week, Davey? Do you remember what Christ tells us to do, if in fact we are sick? If in fact we have sinned?” The Priest continued.

Stumbling in his next comment, Davey spoke. “I…I have read my bible this week father, but I admit that this passage is not one that I have looked over. I am gratefully sorry, father.” With that, young Davey puts his head in his hands. The Priest pauses and then clears his throat again before speaking. “Well now, Davey, do not despair. You know that Christ, the son of God, our Lord and Savior---he is a forgiving man, and he will most certainly forgive you, son. For it is not me that you have to answer to, Davey, but to the Christ! For it is him, who died for your sins. You owe him that much, don’t you think?”

“Y…Ye…Yes, of course, father,” Davey exclaimed.

“Davey,” the Priest continued. “Now, when you go home and look up the passage I have just spoken of today, you will find that James goes on to say that if you make your holy confession to another, that you will be healed. Do you believe that, Davey?”

“Yes sir. Yes, father.” Davey responded, nervously.

“Pray one for another, that ye may be healed. Those are his exact words, Davey. And do you know who does the best praying? Who do you think is the best person to confess to? Who do you think would pray for your sins to be forgiven the best, Davey?”

Davey thinks before he speaks. It feels to him like ages, but it is in all reality only a couple of moments that he takes to ponder, and then he answers. “I suppose, Jesus Christ, our lord and savior, father?”

The priest chuckles to himself a bit and runs his left hand through his black hair. “Certainly Davey, Jesus would be a good pick, but Jesus has things to do. You know he can’t be around all the time. Even when he was alive and walking around performing miracles, he had the twelve beside him to keep him company and to help out whenever needed. You know that, don’t you Davey?”

Confused, Davey lifts his head a bit from his hands, and without thinking much, remarks, “Father?”

The Priest continues, his voice growing a bit louder---without the preface of a throat clearing. “You sound confused, Davey. There is no need to be confused in the face of God. God knows all. He sees all. And he knows that you know that his son cannot be around all the time to do the things that need to be done. Rather than have you twist yourself through a guessing game, my son, let me read from the good book. Is that alright with you?”

Davey, now genuinely frightened, simply nods. The Priest who is looking through the screen at the young man, sees his silhouette do so, and reads from the bible in his own hands. “James, chapter 5, verse 16, Davey---Confess your faults to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much!”

Davey, sitting there, shifts one hand over the other, back and forth, and with his eyes almost bugging out of his head, he responds differently this time. “Father, I understand.”

“You understand that the best bet for your forgiveness is a righteous man, then, Mr. O’Flannery, no?” The Priest speaks with disdain.

“Um, yes sir. Yes, father.” Davey sits straight up again.

“So who do you think, Mr. O’Flannery, based on this passage…who do you think is this righteous man?”

Davey thinks that he has finally understood where this is going, and with a sigh of relief, he utters, “Why, you, father, you are that righteous man which Christ speaks of.”

The Priest chuckles again, and then turns toward the screen. Then his tone turns serious again. “And so I am here with you now, Davey. What sins do you feel you need to confess?”

Davey took a deep breath and released it, and then, as if that was all he was waiting for---like the gun going off at a sprint race---he drenched the priest in his sins, hoping that the Lord God and his Son, Jesus Christ, would both take time out of their busy day and forgive him.

“I stole my best friend Tommy Delylle’s bike and rode it around the whole day that he was on a picnic with his family. I cut some of my sister’s hair while she was asleep. I stepped on three toads and squashed them into the concrete. I thought about tits father---women’s breasts---specifically, Ms. Anderson’s firm tits and her deep blue eyes. Ms. Anderson is my home room teacher and she always wears long tight skirts---I don’t know why, father, it is like she is trying to give us all boners. She has the blue eyes, like I said, and an accent---I think she is from Jersey, I don’t know. But her hair is jet black and her eyes sparkle when she laughs. Anyway, father, I jerked off to thoughts of her quite a few times this week. I won’t lie. I can’t lie. Please father, know that I can’t lie about this! I know it is wrong. I know that burning my mother’s favorite shoes was wrong too---but she walked in on me when I was jerking off and I was so humiliated and frightened and angry! I just want to be forgiven father. I just want Jesus to forgive me. Please talk to him. Please let him know that I am so ashamed.”

And with all of that, Davey was whimpering a bit. The Priest cleared his throat, ran his right hand through his own black hair and spoke in a calming tone. “Now, now, my son, know that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross. He died for the sins of all men, and there is nothing that you could do that he would not forgive you for. You have come to confess these deeds and God and Jesus will forgive you. I assure you of that. But I do want to talk more about these sins, you know.”

Without hesitation, Davey wiped his eyes and sat up straight. “Of course, father,” he said.

“I want you to tell me more about jerking off. I want you to tell me why you think you committed this sin, Davey.” The Priest had changed positions in the booth as he was speaking.

“Father?” Davey was confused, as he thought that speaking as briefly about the sin as he did was too much to begin with. After all, he thought that his sins would now be washed away because he had confessed them.

“Comfortable, Davey?” The Priest raised his voice a bit. “Would you feel more comfortable walking with the likes of Lucifer for the rest of all your days in eternal fire? Would that make you happier?”

“N…No, I guess not, father.” Davey (now more shaken than ever), responded with a shiver in his voice.

The Priest looked directly at young Davey through the screen and grinned. “Let me repeat what I asked, Mr. O’Flannery. I would like you to expound on the how and the why of your masturbatory nature---so that we can examine it, Davey, and so in examining it, we can eliminate it from your life. Do you understand me?”

At this point, Davey O’Flannery gave up all resistance to what was being asked. He figured that God, Jesus, and all the Angels wanted it that way. After all, had God not wanted him to be in that very place, at that very point in time, having that very conversation, then he would have put him elsewhere---because everything happens for a reason and the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Davey placed his head in his hands again and cried out. “It’s Brianna Boyle, father! It’s Brianna Boyle…it’s Ms. Anderson…my God father, it’s like every girl I see I want to touch! I just…I don’t even…You know father, I don’t even know what it is I want to do, or that I need from them…but I want it, whatever it is!” And with that Davey heard what sounded to him like the action of a zipper, unzipping.

“Tell me more Mr. O’Flannery. Tell me how it made you feel. Tell me what these thoughts did to your body, Davey.” The Priest yelped out.

Davey, without a single thought, went on, obeying the Priest.

“Father, it made me feel excited. It made me feel anxious, and you know, I have talked some with the other guys…my friends, you know, and they have told me that the feelings I have been feeling are sex feelings---that what happens to me then is because I want sex or that I need sex or that I want something sexual and it has something to do with Ms. Anderson, or Brianna. And, I just don’t know.”

The Priest, quite unsatisfied with this kind of vague imagery, gritted his teeth, in his own attempt at getting his holy manhood woody. His vocal tone had dropped a bit and when he spoke it was something less than human, which spit out. “Tell me Davey. specifically, what happened to your penis! Tell me why it is that you felt the need to jerk off. And don’t play dumb with me Davey. You know what jerking off is. I know that you and your little friends have scored pornography from Wilson’s General store on Bogdin
Street. So please, do not try and fool me.”

Davey shouted out, losing what rationality he had left in the given context. “Father, I touched myself to relieve the crazy feelings that I was feeling! And father, I know they were bad. I know that Satan brought them to me! I know that God did not bring these thoughts to me! And I came to you father because I want them to stop! I want Ms. Anderson and Brianna to leave me….I want them…I need them to leave me…to leave my thoughts and my dreams so that I can concentrate on my schoolwork! I want to be one with God again father! I need to know how to stop this and I came to you because I can’t stop it on my own!” And with that, Davey slumped in his seat, exhausted, throat hoarse and crying. While he was sobbing, within seconds after he stopped shouting he heard the Priest let out a loud grunt and a whisper. These sounds were followed with the same zipping sound as before. Then, for close to a minute---but a minute which felt like years to Davey, there was an eerie silence.

“I think now you should come around to the side entrance Mr. O’Flannery,” the Priest spoke. “I believe that we should do some praying together, don’t you? These sins that you have unpacked just now, they need to be repented in full.”

“Yes, father.” Davey answered the Priest, without a moment of hesitation. And with that he got up from where he was kneeling, wiped his face with his shirt sleeve and walked around to the side entrance of the confessional.

The door to the side entrance was opened by the Priest and Davey saw that his pitch black hair was somewhat disheveled, unlike it usually was. Usually, Davey knew it to be slicked back with wax---neat and tidy. The Priest smiled at Davey, and with an index finger, rubbed a tear from young O’Flannery’s face. “No need to cry, my son. Satan will not get you in here.” He spoke quietly with a sense of compassion in his voice.

Davey walked inside the confessional, stepping as if he was trying not to break a branch on the ground in the woods---trying to avoid the gnashing teeth of a predator who was stalking him. But the Priest (taking Davey’s hand and leading him in like a newlywed husband might his blushing new bride to their honeymoon suite) patted Davey on the shoulder, and once he was in the booth, he shut the door behind him and locked it. “Now we can see about getting these demons out of you, Davey.” The Priest spoke.

Davey sat down on the bench that the Priest would normally sit, and the Priest knelt down in front of him. Davey, as if in a trance, simply watched and listened to the Priest.

The Priest, keeping eye contact with Davey, and holding him with it, like some kind of tractor beam from a sci-fi film, placed his hands at Davey’s sides, not touching him yet---but moving in to do so, feeling out the boundaries. Davey did nothing to stop the Priest, and so he continued, speaking while now tracing the sides of young Davey with his palm, moving his hands downward.

“What I want to do for you, my son, is to relieve you of your worries. I want you to know that God understands your frustrations---both with young Brianna, and Ms. Anderson as well. And I want you to know that the Lord Jesus Christ himself, has bestowed upon me the ability to help cleanse you of all these sins through your confession here today. I want you to know that everything is going to be alright Davey. Those temptresses will bother you no more.”

Davey saw that while the Priest was speaking, he was getting closer to him. With his hands now on Davey’s thighs, the Priest seemed to be moving his head downward towards Davey’s crotch---and Davey began to look around the inside of the booth now---as if he was realizing the innards of his own dream were now crumbling apart. Davey started to understand in those quick fleeting moments where he actually was and what was actually happening.

The Priest continued now, touching and speaking, as if there was no boundary any longer---as if he had some kind of carte blanche where Davey was concerned. And whatever it was that the Priest was saying now, all seemed to fade away---melting into a brick red background behind the actions that were taking place in the distinct moment.
With his lips pursed as if he was about to kiss something or lick something---The Priest was now running the edge of his slithery tongue along the top of his own lip, growing increasingly closer to Davey, down there.

And Davey was coming to, like a coma patient slowly being jogged back into a conscious state---with the fingers at first twitching, the eyelids flickering---it all began to seem utterly horrible to Davey, what was going on. And he decided quickly (as the Priest now, with both hands had gently pressed open Davey’s legs and was creeping his hands up his inner thighs, seemingly making way to unzip O’Flannery’s pants) that this was not something that he wanted to be happening in his life. Yes, he decided at that moment, that if God had destined him to be in that booth at that moment in time, with that Priest about to unzip his pants---that all bets were off---and that he would have to take control of the situation, because it didn’t seem like God, or Jesus, or all the Angels, were going to do anything about it.

With that, like a hard slap to the face, Davey broke out of the trance, and he immediately snapped his knees together on both sides of the Priest’s head, as hard as he possibly could, smashing both the man’s temples extremely hard with his kneecaps. With that, his arms lifted up with an energy (one that he could only describe when retelling the tale to his parents and friends later on in life as “the will to live”) that he didn’t even know he had, both of his hands grabbed on to the pewter-plated wine pitcher which had been sitting up on a shelf near where he was sitting in the booth. Grasping it tightly in that split-second notion of survival---in an attempt to kill the predator, before it killed himself---he slammed the pitcher down on the Priest’s face, as he had looked up with pain and bewilderment at the young man when he was struck first on the sides of his head with the kneecaps.

Davey did not stop there. He brought his arms back and did it again. And when the Priest fell to the floor with his hands covering his face, the young man hit him again, and again, and again! As if Davey was taking out a vengeance much more than his own, more than he could ever imagine---with each powerful strike against the Priest’s head and face, smashing and pulverizing the flesh, bone and blood---beating it all into actual pulp---something which reminded Davey of a bowl of thick steel cut oatmeal---it was then that the young man knew, that if there was a devil, if Lucifer existed, it was certainly not within himself and the petty things that he had come to that booth to confess, but with the self-righteous & disgusting predator that now laid quite dead on the floor of the confessional in front of him.

With the Priest laying there on the floor, his head bashed in and a pool of blood covering the inside of the booth, Davey threw the wine pitcher down next to the body. He then left the confessional and the church itself.




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The following comments are for "The Sacrament of Penance"
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