Blowhard, Esq. writes:
In Benson, Ruben Vega had to find the right church first, St. John the Apostle, then had to lie to the priest to get him to come from the priest house to the church to hear his confession.
Kneeling at the small window in the darkness of the confessional, Ruben Vega said, “Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been…thirty-seven years since my last confession.”
The old priest groaned, head lowered, pinching the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed.
“Since they I have fornicated with many women…maybe eight hundred. No, not that many, considering my work. Maybe six hundred only.”
“Do you mean bad women or good women?” the priest asked.
“They are all good, Father,” Ruben Vega said. “Let me think, I stole about…I don’t know, twenty-thousand head of beeves, but only in that time maybe fifty horses.” He paused for perhaps a full minute.
“Have you committed murder?”
“All the stealing you’ve done — you’ve never killed anyone?”
“Yes, of course, but it was not to commit murder. You understand the distinction? Not to kill someone, to take a life; but only to save my own.”
The priest was silent, perhaps deciding if he should go further into this question of murder. Finally he said, “Have you made restitution?”
“For all you’ve stolen. I can’t give you absolution unless you make an attempt to repay those you’ve harmed or injured.”
Jesus, Ruben Vega thought. He had forgotten how difficult they could make it when you wanted to unburden yourself.