BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

After much hard work and determination, Anthony was in a good place in life. He loved his job and enjoyed the people he interacted with every day. He had to make some sacrifices along the way but he managed to find the time to mix business with pleasure. Anthony knew if he played his cards right he’d be next in line for a promotion. Having that new title would open many doors for him.

During a routine meeting Anthony was surprised by a bit of news. He was informed that the Rome office needed some help for a few months; since he had worked in Rome previously and spoke fluent Italian, he was specifically requested for the temporary position. At first Anthony wasn’t thrilled about the move and disruption in his life but when his boss told him it would be “a feather in his cap”, he accepted the assignment.

Flying into Leonardo da Vinci Airport always gave Anthony a rush. He loved Italy and had many friends there. One person in particular had been on his mind the entire flight: Gabriella. It had been more than two years since he had seen her; they texted frequently after his last trip to Italy but hadn’t communicated in quite a while. He longed to see her and hoped she felt the same.

Anthony quickly assessed the situation in the office: the staff’s computer skills were practically nonexistent. Time, patience, new MacBooks and a good teacher were desperately needed. He was given approval to order whatever was necessary to get the office functioning properly. Once that was done Anthony was free to contact Gabriella.

He sent her a text:

Ciao, bella! I’m in Rome and would love to see you. Can we meet?”

Antonio! I’ve missed you! Come to my apartment tonight. I will cook dinner. You remember my address?”

Si, si! Everything about you is carved in my memory! I’ll be there at 7:00. Ciao, cara!”

Done with his first day on the job, Anthony hurried to the pensione where he was staying. He showered, changed his clothes and stopped on the way to Gabriella’s to buy a bottle of wine. He knew seeing her was terribly wrong; he was already in a committed relationship but he couldn’t stay away.

Pushing aside the gate to Gabriella’s apartment building, Anthony raced up the steps two at a time. She stood at her open door waiting for him. His heart skipped a beat as it did every time he saw her. She pulled him inside, closing the door behind her. “Mi amore” she whispered, seductively nibbling at his ear. He scooped her up in his arms, whisking her off to the bedroom.

Life for Anthony was a dynamic mixture of business and pleasure – wrapped up with work every day and making love to Gabriella every night. The days became weeks then months. The staff learned well and was now up to speed. Anthony’s time in Italy drew to an end and he would leave Gabriella once again. Their last night together would remain with him forever. He had many lovers but none as captivating as Gabriella.

Anthony’s superiors gave him permission to visit his parents in Westchester County before returning to his job in Manhattan. He had much to think about during his flight and knew he had one serious matter to resolve: he needed to clear his conscience. He hailed a taxi at Kennedy Airport and told the driver his destination. When they arrived Anthony gave the cabbie $20.00 and suggested he get some breakfast, then come back in an hour to pick him up.

Alone in the early morning, Anthony stood outside for a few moments gathering his thoughts. He walked up to the dimly lit house and rang the doorbell. As he waited Anthony gazed at the beautiful old church next door. His reverie was abruptly broken when the porch light came on. In the doorway stood his mentor and confidant, Monsignor Valenti.

Anthony! This is a surprise! I didn’t know you were in town. Come in, come, in! I’ll make some coffee.”

It’s good to see you, Monsignor, but this is not a social call.”

What then? Official church business?” asked the monsignor curiously.

No” Anthony replied softly. “It’s personal. I’ve come for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I have broken my vows and must confess my sins.”

The monsignor sighed heavily. “Come. Let’s go to the chapel, Father Anthony.”

The errant priest began “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned” as the monsignor quietly closed the door behind him.

NAR © 2020

#FOWCconfess

QUESTIONABLE LANGUAGE

It was Saturday afternoon and the old priest sat in the confessional, humming and examining his fingernails as he waited for the penitent to arrive. Usually the most devout went to confession every week, sometimes more than that. Most of the confessions were harmless while others could curl your hair. 

Just as the priest was about to nod off, a middle-aged woman entered the confessional and said “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I committed adultery twice this week.” The priest was understandably upset but forgave her, told her to say six Hail Marys and advised her not to let it happen again. 

During the week eight more people confessed the same sin. The priest forgave them all but by the end of the month over fifty people confessed to committing adultery and he was ready to scream. He was so disappointed by the behavior of his parishioners that the following Sunday he greeted the congregation with the following announcement: “From now on if any of you needs to confess to committing adultery, don’t say that word. Instead say you tripped in a pothole and fell down – something along those lines. I don’t want to hear that distasteful word ever again.” The people were embarrassed and ashamed to look at the priest but they honored his request and did as he asked. 

Months went by and the number of people who tripped in potholes or fell down was mind-boggling. Even people from other churches began coming to confess their sins to the kindly old priest. After all, saying “I tripped in a pothole was much more palatable than admitting to committing adultery. The penitent parishioners certainly were creative and the priest heard every euphemism for “adultery” under the sun! 

Suddenly the old priest passed away and was replaced by young priest fresh from the seminary and anxious to do God’s work. The new priest knew nothing about the “adultery arrangement”. One day a young woman came to confession and admitted to tripping in a pothole and twisting her ankle on a cobblestone … twice.  The priest was rather perplexed but simply replied “That’s alright, my child. Just watch your step next time.” This happened so often that the young priest felt compelled to take the issue of the potholes up with the mayor and city council. 

The priest telephoned the mayor and they planned to meet the next day. “Mr. Mayor”, the priest said. “Something needs to be done about the deplorable conditions of the roads in this town. People keep tripping in potholes or falling off broken curbs every day.” 

Oh, that” he answered and everyone began laughing hysterically when they realized the priest had no idea about the secret of the potholes. 

The priest was taken aback and angered by the mayor and city council’s cavalier attitude. 

“This is no laughing matter, Mr. Mayor! I can’t understand why you think it’s so funny. Why, your own wife tripped and fell in potholes six times last week!” 

NAR © 2019