“Bless me father for I have sinned,” he had heard it on TV many times and figured it was the way to get started.
“What are your sins?” The answer came through the small holes in the wood that revealed nothing but darkness.
“I killed a man, father.”
A pause. It felt - to both sides - appropriate.
“Why did you kill this man? Had he wronged you in some way?”
“Yes father: he took my digital camera.”
A small, almost automatic pause.
“Tell me how it happened.”
“I was on vacation in Rome a few years back, walking around and seeing the sights. It was hot, muggy, crowded, and I was tired of walking. It was my second day there and I already hated the place. I know that the Vatican is there and all father, but I’m sorry, I just hated Rome.”
A chuckle emanated from the darkness before quickly realizing itself and quieting back down to a silence.
“Why do you laugh, father?”
“Sorry my son, but it’s just - you don’t have to apologize for not liking Rome.”
“I won’t get like a penalty on top of whatever you give me?”
“And what kind of penalty would you expect?”
“Oh you know, a prayer or two repeated a bunch of times.”
“How many times have you confessed, my son?”
“Never. This is my first time. Why? Am I doing it wrong or something?”
“The sacrament of confession - ”
“Sorry, but father, I really don’t want to talk about that; I just want to tell you about what’s on my mind, have you and God huddle and come back with whatever I have to do to get me back on track and on my way.”
A pause. This time a thoughtful one.
“Are you sorry for what you did?”
“Of course I am, I killed a guy - but can I finish the story?”
“Go on,” very uncomfortable.
“So I’m in Rome and I’m hating it. The only solace I’m taking is that I’ll have all these pictures of places everyone already has pictures of and has already seen before. But still, those pictures are the only thing that I will have once I leave. I just as soon not have been in Rome without those pictures.”
“But I thought you hated Rome,” engrossed in the story now. Why would pictures of a place you dislike so much be so important to you?”
“Rome isn’t around the corner, father. It isn’t cheap either. You don’t just hail a cab and go to Rome. You have to have something to show after spending all that money.”
Confusing pause, “Go on.”
“So I’m holding my camera behind me and trying to drink out of the Fontana Trevi, it’s a fountain father. I don’t know why because I never want to come back to this place ever again, but all the other people are lining up to do it and it’s in my expensive little guidebook. And as I’m enjoying my second gulp - feeling surprisingly refreshed - I feel a violent yank at my arm and I spin away from the fountain. I get my bearings and realize this dude has -”
“Dude, my son?”
“Oh...well, this man, this guy is running away from me with my camera, my pictures inside it.”
“So you ran after him?”
“No father, and this is where it turned weird. I looked at him running away - it happened very fast - and felt relieved that my only memories of Rome were getting further and further away from me. It felt OK. No big deal. But then some dark cloud materialized in my brain and I got angry. Crazy angry. I’m a mellow guy father, and I had never felt anything like it before. This unknown guy, this Roman dude, was running off with my property. An part of this oppressive, whoring city was stealing something of mine. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, father.”
“So you chased after him?”
“No, not right away. It gets even weirder. I gave him a head start, father. I let my rage and anger and all those chemicals in my brain marinate a little longer - knowing it would make them stronger. Suddenly something snapped and I lost it. I was still there, I just couldn’t do anything about it. I was in for the ride but I couldn’t steer, so to speak. I caught him rather quickly and when I did we both knew he was in trouble. I tripped him up, got on top of him, and started unleashing my fury on this man. And this is where I feel bad, father, because I took out rage on this man that had nothing to do with him. When my arms were tired I heard some gurgling coming from the bloody mass of flesh where his head was. He held up the camera to me, presumably to call a truce. I took the camera and struck him with it. Again. And again. I did this until I realized I was literally beating a dead horse. There was blood everywhere and a crowd had gathered all around me. All this I realized later. I stopped. I caught my breath. Someone murmured pazzo. I finally realized what I had done and, coming back to my senses, crossed one wrist over the other, begging for someone to arrest me. No one did. Minutes passed. I got desperate to be arrested, yelling at the crowd that had gathered. Nobody did anything. Shock, I think. Eventually I hightailed it out of there. I have no idea what happened to the camera.”
The most expected and understandable pause.
“And he died?” From the darkness.
“Yes father, I could feel it when the life left his body - kind of like I stole it or sent it on its way.
He waited for the priest to say something. Then he jumped in, pre-empting the priest, “Actually, you know what? I feel really good. Much better now. Never mind the whole prayer thing.” Feet shuffling. “It feels great to just have someone else that knows.”
“But my son, do you realize -”
“Amen and so forth father.”
Then he hesitated and returned to the dark holes in the wood, “You can’t tell anyone right father? It’s like a lawyer or a shrink, right? Our little secret?”
“Son, this is the house of the lord and you don’t have to -”
“I thought so. Have a good one padre...” and he quickly shuffled out of the church, into his car, and drove away. He felt a great buzz inside of himself somewhere. “That was fucking great,” and he stepped down all the way on the gas.



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