The door closed behind him, and all that could be heard was the sweet sound of silence. Too quiet, he thought. It reminded his soul of death, like it was knocking but wanted to break down the door and rush into the room. He stood in front of the basin filled with water. Holy water. Dipping the tips of his index and middle fingers into the basin, he crossed himself. Not as religious as he once was, the thought of confession never crossed his mind in so many years. What brought him here today, the very same church he received communion for the first time, went through confirmation, baptism, and his first marriage, he had no clue. The booth was unoccupied so he slipped in and took a seat. The lights were fairly shining from above. Good, he thought, the priest can’t see the shame written on my face. Maybe he will hear it in my voice? Just then the other door opened and in stepped the priest. He took a seat, readied himself and began the cross sign. The man followed. “Bless me father for I have sinned. It’s been ten years since my last confession.” “That’s a long time, my son. What have you brought before god to cleanse your spirit of?” “Everything father. I am a desperate man. I haven’t been to church since I was married four years ago, and before that when my father passed. I’d like to start from there.” The priest cleared his throat then told the man to continue. After a long sigh he began. “My father grew ill early this decade. It was a sudden, tragic event. It took it’s on my family very quickly. He was the breadwinner of my parents and I am the eldest of my three brothers, so it was my sworn duty to uphold my family’s honor and do what was necessary. I quit school and worked in a factory. That hardly put food on the table. Impatient, I received an invitation to join a group of men who specialized in work that was…illicit.” “You’re saying you partook in illegal activity.” “Yes father.” “Tell me, my son, what sort of crimes did you commit?” The man sighed again. “First they were petty gigs; stick-up jobs mostly. The elderly were our targets. We knew they would be vulnerable to our attacks and were less likely to fight back. Then it became more serious. Bank heists, forgery, embezzlement, fraud. Then the kick in the ass, excuse my French father; murder.” “This is quite a burden on your soul, my son.” “Yes father. I’ve lived with the regret of taking another man’s life for the past eight years. Some days I cannot even look at myself in the mirror. But somehow I managed to crawl out of this hole, and that is when I met my wife. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.” “What happened between you two?” “I grew weak, and lusted for other women. You see, father, I never really grew to truly trust women. You can partially blame my mother for that. Of the three boys I hardly received affection despite being the eldest. She was the hardest on me, and the most impatient. Very demanding, stubborn and harsh. Tough love is what some people call it. I’d like to think of it as bad parenting. There was zero encouragement from her. My dreams were silly, according to her, and often mocked. When trying to carry on a conversation she would rather watch television than listen to what I had to say. But when it came to my other brothers she was all ears. So you see father, although I was starved for love, I never knew how to take it once it came to me. I was always hungry for more. Even as a teen I never felt loved by my girlfriends. They would often say so but never to my face. We would spend hours on end talking on the phone of love, the future, anything and everything. But I am a man of action, as I’m sure you can see, so when I hear I love you being spoken I want to also have it expressed psychically.” “And your spouse did no such thing?” “As I said, father, I’m basically fucked up in the head. Excuse my French again father. So if she did love me, even though we were partners for life, how could I identify such emotion?” “I see. And did your mistress give you such emotion?” “I used women father. I had many mistresses. I preyed on their souls to feed my lustful desires. I couldn’t stand not being loved as a child and young man so I took it upon myself to play games with various women. I would tell them everything they wanted to hear and for just a moment, a single drop of secondary bliss, I believed my words. There were women who loved me for who I was but couldn’t say it in person. Or perhaps they chose not to for whatever reason. Women used me for my body, as I was for theirs. They would leave scars on my back that would remain for days, in some instances weeks. One had an abortion. One had been older then I; this was in my early twenties. Back when I had the youthful exuberance to carry on such relations with women some odd years my senior. Then I met one woman in particular that still haunts me to this day. We would talk hours upon hours on the phone. Explicit conversations, father; we desired each other in more ways than just emotionally.” “And what happened to this woman?” “At the same time I had been in her life there was another man in hers. I grew jealous, insane even. I wanted her to be mine even though I was married. She had all the tools a man could ask for; brains, beauty, heart. A catholic too father, she very much believed in the lord.” “Are you catholic too, my son?” “I was raised Roman Catholic, but I cannot speak of being one these days. Years really.” “I see. Continue my son.” “I wanted her father, more than the air I breathed. In every thought of her I could hear her voice while making up conversations the two of us might have. I dreamt of kissing her beautiful lips. I could feel my hands caress her body, smell her skin, taste her…loins.” The priest cleared his throat while shifting in his seat. “Go on, son.” “Yes father. I wanted to ravage this woman; do unspeakable sexual acts. She possessed my soul and I became the devil himself. Some nights while making love to my wife I saw her face, and then…act, accordingly.” “I don’t follow you, son.” “I pretended that my wife was this woman, father. Those acts I spoke of; I forced them upon my wife.” “With her permission?” The man cleared his throat. “On occasions she loved the thrill of something new in bed. Other times she wasn’t so pleased with the idea but allowed me to perform them. The other nights…I forced them.” The man sniffled and rubbed his eyes. “Take your time, young man. God will wait for you.” Minutes passed when the man took a deep breath and spoke again. “I am ashamed of myself father. In my quest for self-indulgence I scorned the few people remaining in my life. My wife and I are no longer married. I have no kids. My brothers speak little to no words in my direction. And this woman I spoke of; nothing of her. She and I are no longer in cahoots. I turned to drugs, and gambling. I needed salvation. Prostitutes filled my nights. Hangovers aroused me in the day. I am here tonight father because I seek redemption. I am not asking for the lord’s hand in savior. I am simply asking for some…guidance; a path that he can show me to walk on. I want to be a better man; a fruitful man who knows how to love and be loved. For god sake father I was a fucking Alter boy!” This time, as he rested his head in his arms, he did not ask the priest for excusal of his language. The priest rested a hand on the man’s shoulder. “God forgives you son. He knows you are sorry for what you have done, and these sins are now washed clean. Your soul is free of burden, of sorrow, regret. The lord has accepted you and your flaws, and takes them as his own. Go to him, my son, and pray that he watch over you. That he show you the path you so wish to walk on.” “Thank you father,” the man said as he stepped out of the booth and into the first pew. He knelt there for hours praying. Praying until his knees hurt. Bled. Until he felt he was worthy to walk as a man would; with his head up high and his chin up. Before leaving he dipped not his fingers into the basin, but his whole head, taking in the crisp smell of pure love. Then as he left the church and walked down the street, he felt like he was becoming a new man. The man he wanted to be. The man he was destined to be.