A Small Bit of Absolution

There is no crime too big to forgive. In theory.

Then again, beggars cant be choosers, and madman need better outlets to shop.

A Small Bit of Absolution by Gerald Sheagren

Richie Cantalini scrambled up the marble steps of Saint Patrick’s, entering the cathedral through what had to be blessed doors. His first order of business was to dip three fingers into the font of holy water, making a quick sign-of-the-cross. Would his visit here be enough to relive him of his sins; to void the thirty-five contacts he’d carried out; to set his poor tortured mind at ease? It was definitely worth a try. After all, Saint Patrick had rid Ireland of its snakes. Could old Saint Pat also rid him of the slithery serpents that were crawling through his brain? 

Richie walked down the center aisle of the cathedral, marveling at its high-vaulted ceiling and its many stained-glass windows. There were a number of people in attendance, probably a lot of them tourists, sitting in the pews and bowing their heads in silent prayer. One little boy was looking about in wide-eyed wonderment, captivated by the cathedral’s vast and infinite beauty. Someone was playing the Gallery Organ, its musical pipes echoing off the cathedral’s walls. 

Richie edged along, thinking that the last time he’d been in a house of God was when he’d attended the funeral mass of one of his first victims. He’d sat there, with nothing short of humor, watching the grieving family members as they mourned for their loved one, who, in actuality, wasn’t worth a pile of shit. Oh…maybe one, two or three of them might have had a inkling of what a bastard their sweet departed had been, but were unwilling to stand up and admit to it.  Family pride trumps all. 

Richie’s second order of business was to head to a long stand of votive candles, their flames flickering in little red jars. Since he had so many victims and there weren’t nearly enough unlit candles, he decided to light a single one for the combined total. He smiled when the flame took hold, his black, festering heart twitching with a small amount of joy. 

A now for the final event. Richie looked around, his eyes finally settling on the required confessional. There had to be a priest in attendance. And if there was, the dude had taken an oath to keep his mouth shut, no matter what anyone confessed. 

But when Richie hurried over and tried the door to where the confessor would kneel, he found the door locked. No! Give me a frigging break! This can’t be! I have sins to confess and I need absolution. Head spinning with anger, Richie tried using both hands, but the damn door wouldn’t budge, other than issuing a few little rattles. 

Nearly blacking out with rage, Richie drew a .45 from a shoulder-rig under his overcoat, firing off a shot that splintered the wood near the lock. Firing again, the door finally creaked open. Screams sounded and everyone in the cathedral made a mad scramble for the safety of outdoors. Unconcerned, Richie eased open the ruined door and entered the quiet of the confessional, taking up a comfortable position on the padded kneeler. Just being inside here was enough to replace his anger with a warm and fuzzy feeling. 


“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was … was … was so long ago that I can’t remember.” 

A croaky voice responded. “And you have plenty of fuckin’ sins, don’t you, Richie boy?” 

Richie scrubbed his head with his hands. “Who in the hell is this?” 

“It’s your old pal, Carmine Spignoli.” 

“But I whacked you ten, maybe twelve years ago.” 

“I’ll tell you this, you little punk. If you hadn’t snuck up on me from the rear, I would have kicked your ass a month from Sunday.” 

Richie’s heart was beating so fast that he thought it might burst. A river of cold sweat was flowing down both his forehead and spine. He tried to speak, but his words couldn’t seem to get around the walnut-sized lump in his throat. He began to pound his head with both hands, trying to silence the frigging voice. Sometimes that worked. 

“If you’re looking for absolution, you’ve come to the wrong place, Richie boy. No amount of Our Fathers and Hail Marys and Acts of Contrition are going to relieve your troubled soul.” 

Richie finally found his voice. “Shut the hell up! This is impossible! I … I bashed your head in with a Louisville Slugger.” 

“You don’t have to remind me, kiddo. And you certainly don’t have to remind my poor wife and three sons.” 

Whining and swaying, Richie visualized the bat, its hardwood splintered and covered with blood. 

“It hurt, Richie. Before the darkness came, it hurt so fuckin’ bad.” 

Panicked and willing himself to stand, Richie wobbled out of the confessional, head and heart pounding, the .45 once again drawn and in his hand. He hadn’t taken six steps when he spotted the two cops midway up the center aisle, both taking the shooter’s stance and double-arming their service weapons in his direction. 

“Freeze!” shouted the taller of the two cops. “Drop your gun and clasp your hands on your head!”

Carmine Spignoli’s voice spoke again in Richie’s brain. “You’re in a world of shit now, kiddo.”

“I’m warning you! Drop your gun now!” 

Carmine’s voice took on a tone of urgency. “You can always end things like your fucked-brain father did. Believe me, if you do some time for this little transgression, you won’t like those shower rooms in prison. Go ahead, Richie—do what you have to do. You can earn a small bit of absolution.” 

“Drop that gun!

Within the course of two flashing seconds, Richie fired a bullet into his temple at the very same instant that two police bullets plowed into his chest.

Gerald E. Sheagren is a 68-year-old retiree, who lives in the historic town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with his wife Sharon and three cats. His interests include studying history, writing short stories and reading the current bestsellers. Over the past twenty odd years many of his stories have appeared both online and in hard print. He writes everything from historical and inspirational stories to science fiction, horror and westerns. But every now and then, when the urge comes upon him, like having sex for a change, he gets on down and writes a gritty and dark-ass crime story.