If It Ain't Broke...
Father Augustus sat outside the confessional on a Saturday afternoon and watched a cherubic altar boy light two banks of candles. Something, an unseen breeze perhaps, caused the child's robe to cling to his backside, ruffled his hair and painted pink kisses all over his face.
The priest stood.
"Ahem." A stern-faced organist turned from her music and glared.
Augustus vigorously polished the confessional doorknob with his sleeve until reflected candlelight twinkled from the brass.
Another wedding. Another eager couple staving off temptations of the flesh while their fevered parents planned and funded proper nuptials. A waste. Both bride and groom had admitted their moral transgressions to him for weeks.
He would not perform the ceremony. Oh no. Father Cleophus would do the honors. Augustus turned, making certain the guests had not yet arrived. He was on a short chain these days. Very short. It was the little boys: Rosy cheeks. Bright eyes and round bottoms that robbed him of his piety and promise.
They knew. Of course they knew his weakness. Yet they continued to choose the tightest cassocks and wear the surplice provocatively sliding off thin shoulders.
The boy moved to the back of the sanctuary. He seemed to mince his steps, mocking and cavorting, sending mixed messages to whirl around the agitated priest who hurried to a small chapel near his quarters and threw himself down before Saint Angela.
Patron of sexual temptation, she was painfully obscure. Some called her the Mistress of Theologians but Augustus knew better. Her character was as flawed as his own.
"I am done with you, Saint Angela," he rasped. "It isn't so simple as a woman perceives. It's subtle. Teasing. Complicated. Why should I correct what is inborn? Change what is divine? You once gave in to sin and then rose above it. So what? You flaunt yourself, woman, and I marvel you were ever canonized. Too many years I have prayed to you, come to you, begged for a changing of my heart. And why?
"Why change the spots of the leopard? The heart of the lion? The eye of the roaming tiger? I've read you were once a loose woman, reformed with a zealot's heart. To think I almost succumbed to your wiles.
"No more. I shall find another saint. Another muse. Another place to waste my nightly prayers.
"We have a thousand saints, my dear. Ten thousand, maybe more. There must be a patron of small round bottoms, someone who celebrates youth. Somewhere..."
First published: November, 2006
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