Fast Fiction: The Confessional Booth is Not a Happy Place for Father Marco

Hello again everyone,

Here’s another of those pre-scheduled blog posts of fast fiction from my monthly writers group’s warming up exercises. The premise is explained more fully here. Here’s a quick rundown of the rules:

Rule #1: These pieces of fast fiction were generated from a prompt chosen at random during one of my monthly writers’ group meetings. I will label that prompt at the top and where I use it in the prose.

Rule #2: WordPress allows me a ‘click here to read the rest of the story’ break, and that will be used before the fast fiction begins in earnest so people browsing through this blog are not overwhelmed.

Rule #3: The prose of the fast fiction shall be transcribed from my handwriting accurately: Line breaks, grammar, punctuation, spelling, what-have-you. The point of showing a 10- or 15-minute first draft is saying what you tried to do in that time, so what does editing really get me? The very rare changes I really do deem necessary shall be noted with an asterisk and an apologetic explanation at the end.

Rule #4: After the fast fiction I will include a few sentences about my first thoughts of the prompt. These entries are less about the actual prose and more about the exercise as a whole. Post-gaming that exercise will be a big part of the end result.

Rule #5: I have all these posts set up to go out through Twitter. If I’m going to queue up twenty or so of them into the distant future, I will schedule them to go out at 3 am on a Sunday. I reserve the right to reschedule these posts based on other things that should take priority on this blog.

And that’s it. Here we go.

Prompt:

“This is what it means to be fallen creatures,” Marco said. “In the Biblical sense.”

“Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been ten days since my last confession,” Maria began.

“What troubles you, My Child?” Father Marco asked, quietly bemused whenever he had the chance to call his spinster aunt ‘My Child.’

“Oh, Father. Brian and I have been up to no good!” Maria said conspiratorially, a tone entirely unnecessary within the privacy of a confessional in an empty church in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon.

Father Marco sighed. It was going to be one of ‘those’ confessions. One of the ones that Aunt Maria said to try and get a rise out of him while simultaneously hoping against hope that he would break his vows and repeat the juicy gossip to his mother, his aunt’s sister.

“And what have you and Brian done this time?” Marco asked in the reserved, measured tones that he used to mask impatience.

“Oh, Father, these Irish Catholics can drink! I mean, you think Hispanics enjoy a glass or two, but when that Brian O’Shaugnessy takes me dancing, we move our arms and tip our heads back more than we ever move our feet!” Maria squealed her pleasure.

Hers had been a disappointing love life until her late fifties when the recently widowed Brian O’Shaugnessy decided he still had wild oats to sow.

“Drinking is no sin, My Child,” Marco murmured, sure the sins were coming soon.

“Oh, I know that, Father, but it’s what we get up to when we’ve been drinking that I need to confess to you about!” Maria enthused.

“You do not need to make your confession to me but before God, My Child,” Marco said piously.

“I don’t like to tell God what I get up to,” Maria confessed giddily.

Marco sighed again, sure he aunt was about to tell him something he did not want to hear.

“Is this going to be about what you get up to in the mattress store after hours?” Marco asked, trying to cut Maria off at the pass. Brian was the Mattress King of Sheboygan, and ‘Christening the Mattresses’ was the last thing Maria had told Marco that really flustered him.

“No Father!” Maria said.

“But your sin was carnal in nature?” Marco asked.

“Oh, Yes Father. Very Carnal Indeed!”

“Well, if you are truly penitent–“ Marco tried to move on, but was interrupted.

“I need to tell you what we did, Father!” Marco interjected.

“I am sure it’s variations on a theme, My Child. A truly penitent person would not repeat the same sins over and over with such abandon and still expect absolution and forgiveness in the confessional,” Marco chided.

“But Father, this time we did something truly wicked!” Maria put her hands on the screen.
“This is what it means to be fallen creatures,” Marco said. “In the Biblical sense.”

“But Father, you don’t understand, this time we did it in the confessional booth.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Aunt Maria, gross!” Marco erupted, flying from the booth, leaving her unshriven.

“Don’t forget to tell your mother, Marco! She always said I wouldn’t find sex this good, but I showed her!” Maria crowed her triumph at his receding frocked form.

Note: Several times now I have expressed my hesitation to write about sex in a ten- or fifteen-minute writing exercise. This time, the guy picking the prompt kind of trapped me:

“This is what it means to be fallen creatures,” Marco said. “In the Biblical sense.”

There’s not a lot of wiggle room when you hear, “In the Biblical sense.” Is there? No, so I decided to make the most of it. Marco is a man offering platitudes about fallen creatures as it relates to the Bible? Marco is a priest, then. Marco being a Latino name, I decided he was Catholic. Now who is he talking to? Someone who wants to talk about sex. Why? Well, the confessional is the natural train of thought, but I also wanted to have some conflict to the piece. What if they’re related? Also, what if he doesn’t want to hear what she has to say, and she wants to say it just to get a rise out of him? Yes, now there’s grist for a mill!

Brian O’Shaugnessy was the most Irish Catholic name I could come up with on the fly. I thought as long as we have a Marco and a Maria, why not bridge the divide into another branch of Catholicism? I always enjoyed the episode of The Simpsons where Bart and Homer convert to Catholicism and Marge imagines the different kinds of Christian Heaven. As for ‘Mattress King of Sheboygan,’ that is a tip of the cap to John Candy’s Polka King of the Midwest from Home Alone. He sold 623 copies of ‘Polka Twist’ in Sheboygan. He was very big in Sheboygan…

Anyway, I don’t remember how the writers’ group received the piece. I mostly remember scandalizing the waitress as I raised my voice to deliver that final line of Maria’s…

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