From their collective objection of morning sobriety to their penchant for using the confessional as a place to nap; the humble population of Paso Robles possessed a vast variety of thoroughly irritating qualities.
In an ironic twist, this perpetual inability to behave ultimately drove me to the bottom of an empty whiskey bottle.
In hindsight, given my priestly vocation, falling on the vices of alcohol did not set the best example for my incompetent parishioners. Although, on this particular night I recount, by the time I left the bar, completely hammered, I honestly didn’t care anymore.
Staggering and stumbling in tune with my tilting world view, I made a gallant attempt to walk home despite my failure to see straight. At the sight of Sister Anthony’s house, however, I paused in the middle of the deserted sidewalk, swaying slightly.
Even in my dangerously inebriated state, I was acutely aware of the nun’s strong aversion to drunkenness, colorful language, and self-inflicted speech impairments. And with her open window resting right in between me and my house, I choose to leave the comforts of home behind, as I picked the locked church doors, exchanging her well-rehearsed lecture for an intoxicated siesta on my office couch.
The darkened sanctuary burned of soft spice. I inhaled deeply, shuffling towards the double doored hallway, fully confident I’d stay conscious long enough to make it to my final resting place.
Lacking all sense of self-control, I tipped in awkward surprise against the wall, while letting out an alarmed sound which should never leave a grown man’s mouth.
I wasn’t the only one who thought breaking into a locked church was a good idea, for sitting eerily in the darkness was a pale young man.
He rose from the pews and came closer, his face contorting in disgust at the overwhelming stench of alcohol dripping from my pores.
“You are Father Tomas, aren’t you?” the intruder asked.
“That’s what it says on my desk,” I slurred.
“I have several confessions to make.”
“And I’m drunk.”
“Does that in any way prevent you from absolving my sins?”
“My judgment is slight impaired and there is a good chance I will throw up on you, but I think I can manage.”
The young man watched me sway into a short, standing nap. He cleared his throat, bringing me back to his sober situation, and nodded to the confessional box.
“I’m good, I’m good,” I reassured him, clambering into the wrong side of the booth, where I sat down, my world still spinning violently.
In a true attempt to stay somewhat conscious during this interview, I lit up a cigarette, in the high hopes the acrid smell of burning paper might sharpen my waning mind. However, my drunken state did not account for the choking side effect the smoke would produce in the confessional’s cramped confinement. I remedied the situation by kicking the door open and letting the thick haze permeate the sanctuary.
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” the young man said, “to be honest, I’ve never done this before. I’m not sure where to start.”
“Anything and everything I confess will not be shared with the authorities, right?”
“Always the most reassuring question. But yes, I am sworn to secrecy.”
“I tried to kill my wife.”
“Dear God, this is why I drink.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Small confession of my own. Go on.”
“I lie to my superiors on a daily basis.”
“About attempting murder?”
“Is that really relevant?”
“I suppose not. Anything else?”
“I also blew up a planet.”
Considering I was currently under the influence of a strong substance, I merely assumed the words floating into my ears did not match the interpretation my brain provided, so I saw no cause for alarm.
“Excuse me, what did you say?”
“At the time I knew it was wrong,” the young man confessed, “but I was trying to save my wife.”
“Wait, I thought you were trying to kill her.”
“I take it you are sorry for the mistakes of your past.”
“As atonement, you will have to -”
“Last week I turned a bank teller into a werewolf,” he quickly added.
“I’m sorry, you’re screwed.”
And with those encouraging words, I slipped into an intoxicated coma.