The confessional at old Saint Clare's was stuffy. Angel smelled sweat, tobacco, whiskey, and the aroma of mildew in the heavy red curtains. His guilt was heavy too. It felt like purgatory. The tiny door opened. In the shadows, the aging priest tilted his head and whispered, "Yes?"
Angel began: "Bless me Father. I've sinned. My last confession was four years ago."
"That's a while."
"It's been hard."
"I'm deeply ashamed. I became close to a forbidden woman."
"She might be married. I don't know."
"Shame on you! Someone from the church?"
"Yes, on Sundays she's in the front pew."
"That's my mass. What is her name?"
"Her name is Nina."
"Do you know her?"
"Yes." He breathed heavily and sat silent. "Go on," he said.
"She would invite me to her apartment on Market Street after Mass. She has a sweet smile. I'm alone. My wife died some years ago. She may have a husband. I saw a man's black coat in the closet and cigar stubs in an ashtray on the balcony. He may be religious too. There was always a prayer book near the ashtray."
"Nina!" he growled again. The furrow on his brow deepened and went down. He breathed heavily. His eye swelled shut and disappeared off his face. The hair on his head came down and covered his face. His jaw protruded. He became a gorilla! Suddenly a hairy arm punched through the confessional door. Angel was in danger. He tumbled out of the confessional, tearing down the curtain. He ran down a pew, ducking under one of the benches. He lay there sweating in silence until the gorilla-priest passed by --- grunting. From under the bench he saw a hairy naked foot pass, heading toward the altar, the purple confessional stole tangled in its toes. Angel heard a thud. It must have been a plaster angel. Then glass shattered: it had to be the stained glass window, The Last Supper, behind the altar.
Then there was silence. Angel burst out of the pew and down the nave to the street. He heard the sound of more glass shattering and loud howls. He looked back and saw black smoke rising over the trees. He ran down Lafayette Street.
Years later Angel saw the gorilla-priest at a market in street clothes with Nina. He had two eyes again. The two looked happy picking though the yellow onions with gold rings on their fingers. Angel slipped out, and stopped by old Saint Clare's. It had been remodeled beautifully! Confession had been good for the church as well as some souls. He might try it again someday.