Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bless Me, Father

Here's my contribution to Dan O'Shea's flash challenge. See my previous post for a link to all the stories. I can't wait to read them all. Here's mine and I hope you enjoy.


Mary Catherine needed to hurry. The morning was getting away from her and that wouldn't do. If she didn't get to St. Michael's before 8:45, she would miss confession with Father Mark. No. That wouldn't do. Not at all.

Mother had an odd look about her--not a peaceful one by any means. Mary Catherine figured it was because she had seen the knife coming. That was most unfortunate, but Mother did need to see a servant of God ready to smite her. She tucked Mother into her bed of sin, naked before God, both in this world and the next. Mary Catherine took a quick shower before she dressed for Church. Who knew a throat wound would bleed that much.

Father Mark was alone in the Church. All the older women in the parish arrived bright and early for confession and stayed on for the early Mass. No one went to confession before the 9:00 a.m. Mass anymore, and that was just fine with Mary Catherine. This morning, she wanted Father Mark all to herself.

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned," she began. "It has been one day since my last confession."

The priest recognized the young girl's voice and bright red hair through the grating in the confessional. He smiled. These children. So devout.

"Is that you, Mary Catherine? Are you certain that you need to seek penance today, child? What could you possibly have done in one day that would necessitate your seeking absolution?"

"Well, the first thing this morning, I killed my mother," she responded. "And now, I'm going to kill you."

The priest couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"Uh--I--what did you say? My child, if you've done something ser..., I mean, perhaps the best thing for us to do would be to go now to my office where we can speak privately. If you're having some sort of episode..., or problem, well, I know that I can help you if you just trust me. Let's..."

The priest saw the barrel of the gun Mary Catherine was pointing at him through the grating.

"No, Father, we are not going anywhere. See, Mother and I were arguing again this morning. She drinks a lot, you see. Gets up every morning, and first thing, grabs a bottle. Oh, but I forgot. You already knew that, didn't you?"

"I'm not sure what you're saying, child. How would I..."

He stopped when the girl began tapping the grating with the barrel of the gun again.

"Don't interrupt me. I'm trying to explain. Anyway, we started arguing, and I told her how much I hated her. I do, you know, and I tell her as often as I can. But, this morning, she surprised me and grew a backbone. She took a swing at me and told me she hated me too. She said she had always hated me and wished I had never even been born. She said when she found out she got knocked up, she wanted to get rid of me, but couldn't because of who my father was. Well, more to the point, because of what my father was."

The priest wondered if he could make it out of the confessional before the girl pulled the trigger. Even if he could though, he wondered, what then? What if he dove behind a pew? Would she fire anyway? Would she look for him in the pews?

"Are you listening? You look like you're in your own little world, Father. Just in case you're thinking of making a run for it, think again. There's only so far you can run, and I do mean to kill you today. So, just pay attention. I have many other things to do today, you know. You're not my only errand."

Errand? Is that what killing him was to her? An errand? My God, he thought, please let me get out of this somehow. Please let me find a way to reason with this disturbed child. Perhaps if I just try to remain calm, he thought, and try to keep her talking. Someone's bound to come into the Church and that surely will make her stop this insanity.

"What did you mean, what your father was? Please tell me."

"I will, if you would just shut the fuck up. Oh. I'll add a Hail Mary to my penance for that one. Anyway, Mother told me what and who my father was. She said he was a priest. Can you believe it? A priest. And she also said, you sick and wicked bastard, that the priest was you."

Oh God, no. Now, he wasn't sure keeping this child talking was such a good idea.

"You don't understand how things were, child. I was struggling with my faith, I was young, the times were different, I was confused and your mother..."

The gunshot echoed through the empty Church. Blood splattered all over the front of Mary Catherine's new Sunday dress. Who knew a headshot would bleed that much.

"Dear God," she whispered, "I beg for absolution for this and all my sins of today. I wonder what my penance should be. I'll decide then, shall I? Let's see. I've got it."

She put the gun back into her purse, straightened up on the kneeler, closed her eyes, clasped her hands and began.

"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed..."


  1. Makes me wonder what other "errands" she has to run today. Nice work!

  2. Really good piece, Joyce. Nice, tight writing. I've read quite a few of the entries so far and there are some crackers.
    Regards, David. (Mines up if you fancy a look.) :-)

  3. These religious men are taking a beating today. Literally. Good story!

  4. Ah, that was excellent. I don't think I'd ever want to end up on her 'To Do' list.

  5. Nice work there. Might be a while before many priests head back into the confessional after they read these stories today.

  6. Joyce, I always forget how damn scary you can be. Great story!

  7. Best thing you can do with a Priest....;-)

    Smashing writing! Well enjoyed it!!

  8. Good stuff. Makes me wonder which bleeds more, the neck or the head shot.

  9. Uh, Chris got to my question before I could. The "other errands". I can tell you know your way around a confessional. Or if not, you did a bang up job in this heathen's eyes. Nice tale with just the right amount of gore to drive home the effect I think you wanted to relay.

  10. Mary Catherine, such a good catholic name. But little Mary Cate has had her fill. Excellent twist! Loved it! Really had me chuckling.

  11. How many of those Our Fathers and Hail Marys she got -- she might be there awhile.

  12. Awesome! Like Eric, I loved both lines about the neck bleeding, then the headshot bleeding. I thought it had a clean powerful writing voice. Great work

  13. Very strong and puchy and...I think...realistic!

  14. Chris, She certainly was a 'do-bee'.

    David, I really enjoyed your story very much. Great piece. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

    Patti, They really took some hard hits, didn't they.

    Kent, This is someone you DON'T want to get to know.

    Steve, The Vatican is considering changing the grating in the confessionals to iron bars.

    Keith, You always seem to know just the right thing to say.

    FD, Now, now... Glad you liked it.

    Eric, Just a little food for thought.

    MR, Unfortunately, I do. Most of my youth was spent kneeling in the school parking lot saying penance. But, that's a whole other flash piece...

    Dottie, I don't believe MC's halo shone quite as brightly as she thought it did.

    Chad, I believe she probably got the penance-to-go package.

    Jimmy, Thanks and hallelujah, brother.

    Matt, Power is what it's all about, after all.

  15. Many thanks to all who stopped by to read, and for all your comments. This was a really fun challenge and it was a great pleasure for me to have my work included with such tremendously talented writers. Looking forward to the next challenge!

  16. Paul, Thanks for sharing part of Mary Catherine's day. You just never know what goes on behind those little doors, do you...

  17. Tight, readable, pacy and sitting so comfortably in the noir genre you just want to keep reading. Great story.

  18. Thanks so much, Richard, for stopping by to read and comment. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I really enjoyed writing this one.

  19. Not only was this a good story, but you did an excellent job showing us Mary Catherine's disconnection from reality and empathy.

  20. Thanks for stopping by, Cormac and for your comment. Mary Catherine certainly did march to her own drummer, didn't she.