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Dirge

By Patrick Trahey

I clenched the pistol, etching the criss-cross pattern of the grip into my left hand. Father Flinn's face was a statue, as if he'd seen thousands of guns and this one didn't impress him. I hadn't been to this church since my Confirmation. It was still a dump. Even the streetlights were burnt out. Flinn was closing up for the day, so the only light was from a couple of candles and moonlight pouring in through broken stained glass windows.

"What is it you've come to confess?" Breath rose from his mouth like wisps of smoke from a freshly extinguished candle.

"I have a lot to tell you, Father."

Everything spewed out: the petty thefts, the arson, all the experiments with drugs and alcohol. I even told him how I beat a homeless guy with a tire iron. Flinn grumbled, but offered no words of comfort. When I ran out of sins to confess, we sat in silence.

Wind howled through the church, carrying the stench of vomit. I peeked out of the confessional. A bum, asleep in a nearby pew, had just puked in the aisle. Father Flinn didn't lift a finger.

Flinn checked his watch. "What happened to your wrist?"

I drew the door shut. "I slipped on a patch of ice while running from the cops." The bruise was purple and swollen. My hand hung limp. But I'm used to wounds like this; they heal, with time.

He fiddled with the large wooden cross around his neck. "Are you planning to tell me what happened, Daniel?"

I took a deep breath. "I went to band practice after school today. I got home around five. My mom was loading my baby brother into the station wagon. Russell was wailing, and blood shot from his eyes." My hand tightened even harder around the gun. "He's only seven. He's only seven fucking years old!" My chest heaved. "Dad gets home from the plant and just drinks and drinks. If he gets anywhere near Russell I get in his face, and I take it, butů I wasn't there." My hand refused to let go of the gun, so I wiped my tears with my jacket.

Flinn sighed into his wire rimmed glasses and wiped them on his robe. "Why did you come here Daniel? Are you looking for salvation? Because you won't find it."
A siren blared outside. Red and blue lights flooded the dingy church.

The crackled voice of a megaphone ordered, "Come outside Danny."

"Go to them. There's no future for you here." Father Flinn stepped from the booth and threw my door open.

"My mom will never forgive me." I cocked the hammer.

"God has no place for people like you." The son of a bitch spat at my feet.

I shoved the gun into my mouth.































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