by Tom James
Though it's hard to forgive others, It can be harder to forgive ourselves.
| As the town slept, he grew more restless. Like a black cat, he blended into the night, leaving only a speck of white to be seen. Without hesitation, he turned the corner and entered the bar. His senses surged with every step, deeper and deeper into the abyss that was....”The Hole.”
The place was pretty quiet. A few of its patrons looked up as he made his way to the bar, strolling through the puddle of degenerates before him. Because, that’s what they were to him, degenerates. As he went forth, he claimed his usual tattered stool. It was a spot he felt he had earned due to his excellent patronage. And though he was a local regular, he was also a local nobody. And that’s how he liked it. He liked it a lot.
“Here you go buddy,” said the bartender, as he slid down the dirty mug of beer. “Enjoy,” he said, as if he had personally counted each and every strain of bacteria on the seemingly sweat stained glass. But he smiled for another reason. He smiled because he knew what would happen that night. Or rather, he knew what would happen that morning. As time went by, the drinks became tastier. He could hardly tell it was watered down. As he began to chug the last beer before calling it a night, he noticed one of the few people there walk silently out the back door into the alley.
He gathered his bearings and carefully pulled out a $50, as he was always a “generous tipper.” As he entered the restroom, he was greeted by shit-stained walls and foul odors that filed into his nostrils accordingly. After he finished using the facilities, or lack thereof, he knew not to wash his hands, lest he desired his mitts to be even more filthy. Before leaving, he took a look in the mirror, past the rust, past the grime, past the residue left behind. He, almost, saw a man. He almost saw himself, but that dam speck of white got in the way again.
As tears welled in his eyes, he gathered himself again. After all, he did not want to keep his guest waiting. He stepped out of the bathroom and noticed for the first time, that there was a cross, just above the front door. In his mind he chuckled and thought to himself, “God? In a place like this?,” then made his way out into the alley. He took a few clumsy steps behind the dumpster shielded in darkness, and then, all of a sudden, he was yanked from existence and pushed against the wall. All of a sudden he was being touched, felt, and groped.
He felt fingers cling to him, tighter than the dead vines that clung to the rusted pipes high above his head. As his pants dropped to his ankles he felt a mustache tickle his face, then his neck, then his chest, then his belly.
An hour later, the nameless patron walks into the Cathedral a little more than 12 blocks down the road. He takes a deep breath and enters the confession box. He slides back the panel and hears a voice. “Forgive me father for I have sinned; it has been 7 days since my last confession.” “Be at ease my child,” said the nameless patron, as he tugged at his collar, “You are forgiven.”