"Its not that easy, Jack. You have to be sincerely sorry and resolve not to sin again, to be absolved of sin. Im not convinced that you are sincerely sorry...."
fiction by brian doyle
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.
Tell me about it.
It has been, ah, it has been, well, its been a long time, to tell you the truth.
A few years?
Less than twenty.
(dryly) Glad to have you back.
I used to be here every week, you know. I was a confession nut. Had nothing to confess then, though.
Speaking of confession, what would you like to confess?
I wouldnt like to confess anything, actually. But I think I should.
Being shriven of sins, that sort of thing. You know.
And your sins would be...?
I covet my neighbors wife. Well, were not really neighbors, but he lives nearby. They live nearby. He and the wife. Im a little nervous here.
Thats a serious sin, you know. More than people think.
Yeh, I know. I feel badly about it.
About half-bad. Half-badly, I mean. Is that a word, half-badly?
To be forgiven you must feel remorse.
Well, I do feel badly about him. Hes a good guy.
And about her?
Well, about her I feel ... covetous.
Have you acted on your desires?
Ah ... yes.
More than once?
(Pause) You mean each time more than once?
(Pause) I think I answered your question.
So, te absolve, how about it?
Its not that easy, Jack. You have to be sincerely sorry and resolve not to sin again, to be absolved of sin. Im not convinced that you are sincerely sorry.
Well, Im sincerely sorry for him. Hes got the depression thing too, you know. The black dog. And hes got a bad back. Jesus, a bad back is an awful thing. No matter what you do, there it is, like a knife in your spine.
Jack, for her you feel no sorrow? For luring this woman into a state of mortal sin, no feeling at all?
Hey, I didnt lure her. She had her high beams on, my friend.
So youre not at fault.
I dont think its my fault, no. You know Darlene. Shed dance with you if you could.
Okay. Lets get back to basics. Are you sorry for your sins?
(Pause) Im sorry I hurt Mike.
Im sorry I got sucked into this, to tell you the truth. It stinks. We meet in motels and two seconds after Im done I feel like a heel. But I keep going back.
Where do you meet?
At the Day-Glo.
Aw, cmon. Thats tacky. Thats bad novel stuff.
Cant afford the Comfort Inn.
Jesus, Jack. On esthetic grounds alone you should break this off. The Day-Glo. Jesus.
Its not that easy.
Well, for one thing, I paid in advance.
Youre running a tab at an hourly motel?
You get a 20 percent break if you book in advance. Thirty if you book more than a month.
How far in advance are you booked?
(Pause) Three months.
Three months. Jesus, Jack. Thats embarrassing. The Day-Glo.
Uh could we get back to the confession thing here? I got things to do.
Dont say shit in the confessional.
Okay. Listen, Jack you have to stop. You know you want to. Thats why you and I are here.
You only get the one life, Jack.
I know. But Im tired. I dont care much anymore about right and wrong, you know? I dont mean to be rude or flippant, but I just dont. I just want to get by with a little jolt here and there.
(Pause.) Its a dark joy.
Joyless. And cold. Thats not what were here for.
Its not hurting anybody. And Im so tired of thinking about what Im supposed to do. I just want to do whatever I want to do. Im awful tired.
Me, too, Jack. Me too.
Bad days, huh? Even for priests?
Yeh, even for priests. Especially for priests. The nights are worse.
Yeah, but you know youre on the right side, youre Gods boy.
I doubt it.
Hello? Youre not sure of all this?
So why are you telling me Im sinning?
Because youre sinning.
How are there sins if theres no God?
Who said theres no God?
You just said youre not sure.
Im not sure.
So what am I doing here then?
Trying to shuck your sins. Trying to shuck off the cold dark mean little things you do and are. Thats why people come in here. Thats why I am here. I dont have any magical powers. And this has nothing to do with whether theres a God or not. Who cares? This has to do with you knowing full well whats clean and true and whats the Day-Glo.
If youre not sure theres a God, why are you a priest?
I love being a priest. I love it because its really hard and it doesnt make any sense. Therefore its great. Like being married. Doing really hard things that dont make the slightest sense is what human beings are all about.
Jesus, Pete, Im all confused here.
I believe in God, most days. Its harder at night. Its hardest when I think of all the pain and sadness. Its hardest when I think of kids, kids being beat up, kids getting worse things done to them, the worst things. Hard to believe theres a God sometimes when I see evil nose to nose, and I see evil nose to nose a lot, and its evil with a fucking capital E, too. And its lonely being a priest, and I got a heart murmur, and my balls ache, and here and there I have a second really big glass of whiskey and go to bed with my head swimming, and I eat too much, and I get real tired of the same people staring at me night after night in that bad swimming-pool light in the church basement in meeting after meeting of the fucking this or that committee on fucking this or that. I get tired of it. It gets to be a job. It is a job.
Cant. Made a promise.
But if you hate it, why not bag it? You only get the one life. You just said that to me.
Youre not with me, here, Jack. I made a promise. You make a promise, you stick with it. Not because you promise someone else but because if you dont keep your promises theres no real you. Youre just another liar. Theres plenty of liars but not too many real guys. And who knows anything about women, you know? Not me.
Okay, Im done with, you know, what I was doing.
Because Im done.
Is that enough of a reason?
What are you, a chick? Im done. Believe it.
Okay. I believe it.
(Pause.) Look, somehow you believing me is what I need to believe me, which I dont understand, but thanks.
Lets get a beer.
You owe me.
Fucking lie. You owe me like eight beers.
I got two words for you: Day Glo.
(Pause). Okay. Beers on me.
Okay. But then you owe me seven beers. You cant snake out on beers you owe a guy. A guy who snakes on what he owes another guy thats low.