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Michael Snellen

By Michael SnellenPublished 2 years ago 13 min read
Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash

I am an honest man. I try to be like Jesus was, and I am like him sometimes. Some of the old ladies think I am him the way they look up to me. But I’m not someone to look up to. If only they knew what I have done. They would not listen to me. For I have sinned. I am an evil man.

Being a priest for thirty years, I have heard the worst of humanity’s secrets. It got to me. Eventually, it got to me. It is somewhat ironic that I’m sitting in this confession booth telling you about my sins, asking you for forgiveness, when my sins were born from hearing my own congregation's confessions in my own confession booth.

I built a resilience against it and I’m sure you will understand what I mean by that once your hair starts to grey. A man must have a humour about these things, you know? God gave us humour to cope with the world. I don’t believe Adam ever laughed that often until he got expelled from the garden. He must have been laughing all the time after that. Humour and laughter can get a man out of many fights and most arguments. It’s compassionate, and at the same time self-deprecating, or humbling you might say.

Humour was the thickness of my skin. It could reflect the harshest of horrors I heard about like adultery or little Timmy telling me how much he plays with himself. It could dull the monotony of hearing repeatedly from those who knew they were about to die and felt compelled to admit every little thing they did. One lady thought spilling her coffee was a sin. I thought maybe she got angry and did something after that so I asked; she said she just spilled her coffee and thought Jesus would be upset with her. Her penance was to be more careful.

The first time my laughter failed to insulate me from the strange world was when an outsider, a newcomer to the town, begged me to make a confession after the mass. His skin was sunburnt. Must have been a grape worker or something like that. I didn’t think him odd. Though, I should have. The Texas sun will make a man mad. The newspaper always reports the worst crimes in the summer. The insufferable heat will dull a man's thoughts. It’s inescapable, like a cold sweat crawling on your neck, inescapable.

Now I was afraid to make this confession for a long time, a long time. I don’t want you to think this is a joke, or I’m doing it to try to scare you, a new young priest like yourself. I was once like you. Innocent. Hopeful. Listen! Please. I just need forgiveness. I need it!

Look, I didn’t mean to yell. It gets to me, overwhelms me, just thinking about what he told me. I know I’m scaring you much the same as he terrified me. Maybe you’ll be able to learn something from my mistakes; maybe that’s my penance.

Alright, I’ll tell you what he said. He had a deep voice cracked from excessive smoking and screaming or something like that. It was a harrowing voice. A voice that makes you listen. You had no choice but to believe every word he spoke. He said, ‘This isn’t a joke. It really happened.’ I was silent. It was like I couldn’t talk. And the words split out of him.

He spoke of how he used to mutilate animals when he was a child. I had to interrupt him and ask when the last time he had been to confession was; I forgot to ask that before we started. He said never. Then he quickly began to talk, once again, about his childhood as if he was trying to justify what might potentially come next. He raped a girl when he was just a teenager. He vandalized homes. Stalked people. It was evil stuff. He said, ‘by the time I was an adult, I got my first taste of blood.’ He said, ‘it was addictive’ and that ‘it all drew me back to get more.’ ‘I thirsted for it. Such delicious sin.’

He didn’t know how many he killed. I asked him for an estimate. He said thirty-five. Then he got specific as if he suddenly remembered everything. I couldn’t see him, but just from hearing him, I knew he was smiling. He talked about them as if they were planned out in order: first an old girlfriend, then an old woman, then a child. He tortured them and mutilated them. He always returned.

I felt sick as if I was about to collapse. My heart was saddened, and I think I even started to cry. Hard tears of blood. What sick monster was I listening to? His words were like a poison that if even let into the ears would corrupt a soul.

I followed him out after I gave him his absolution. We didn’t speak. I started my car and immediately turned on the cold air to relax my boiling skin. I stared at him in the rear view mirror and my heart was like a geyser of rage. My hands shook on the steering wheel. My vision was blurry.

I followed his car as he drove away from the church. I stayed close by in traffic and pursued him all the way until he stopped. He got out of his car, not locking it, and walked to his apartment. Since he didn’t lock his car I figured that he wouldn’t lock his apartment. I was right. But I didn’t go inside that cave of horrors just yet. I would return.

I went to the gun store and bought a revolver. The man who sold me the gun was at mass earlier that morning. He came to church often. He asked what a holy man would need a gun for. I told him target practice. It don’t say anywhere in the bible that a priest can’t have a gun.

I then went to another store and bought a Halloween mask to hide my face. To hide from God's face I guess to. It was a plain black ski mask. Basic, but it got the job done. Then I bought gloves to hide my trace.

His door wasn’t locked. I opened the handle gently and peaked in like a child would when he sees something he's not supposed to. Like Christmas presents you know.

It was in the dead of night, and it was dark inside. There was a rotting smell of death in that place. I creeped to his bedroom while I heard him snore. I turned on the lights, and he opened his eyes. He was like a deer that you would sneak up on. Surprised. Terrified. I told him to get up, and that I was taking him to the police. He didn’t speak. I pleaded with him to come with me for almost an hour it felt like. He wouldn’t move so I shot him. I killed him. I turned around, so repulsed by the blood and the sights of painful dying, but I could not escape the entrapping dread, and now I faced toward the living room, dimly lit up by the bedroom light, where I saw desecrated, rotting bodies torn to shreds, ripped to pieces as if an animal had done it.

It took me a while to leave my own room after that. I read the newspaper, and I read about his crimes which were abhorred by the community, you may remember hearing about them. The sheriff said that ‘he got what he deserved.’ He was scorned but I myself could only feel that I had done something wrong, that I had made a mistake.

I deluded myself. I had to if I was ever going to look someone in the face again, if I was ever going to preach again, if I was ever going to speak to God again. I prayed more than I breathed for weeks. I prayed for forgiveness more than I blinked, more than my heart would beat. I expected to be struck down by God. I believed that that would have saved me from sorrow and regret. My prayers were only answered with silence. Life was normal, still, and silent. It was like I had been vindicated. Like I was justified.

I was corrupted. I only grew worse. My thoughts became evil. I could no longer have humour when I was listening to people’s sins. All of their sins were trite and feeble compared to mine.

Though I could give people forgiveness, I myself could not forgive them. Even sins that I heard before and wouldn’t think much of would now stick with me for days. It was like the weight of the world's evil was upon my shoulders. I felt an unliftable burden. I was devastatingly crushed by hopelessness. A pulling void of nothingness.

But I bore my wickedness alone, I kept it under control, until this one new man to the church spoke of how he would beat his wife. She became pregnant and he only became more ‘selfish,’ he said. He punched her stomach as she cried until he was sure that the baby was dead. That same hatred I felt when the one I killed confessed to me now returned when I heard this man speak. The evil words I was hearing were like a reflective mirror of myself.

His wife confessed after him. She was quiet, and said she was sorry for feeling angry towards her husband. I asked her why she felt anger toward him, mostly because I wanted to know why I felt so much hatred towards him, but she wouldn’t say.

While this wife was praying during adoration, as the sun was going down one night, I snuck the revolver I killed the man with inside her purse with a note wrapped and taped around the barrel. I wrote on the note something like: do with this gun whatever you think needs to be done.

I read the newspaper religiously that week. I felt like I should run to take the revolver back. That I could stop what I expected. I couldn’t bring myself to. I could only wait. I waited, waited restlessly for something that may never happen.

Then it happened. She killed him. Shot him four times, every bullet hit, and then she used the last bullet to kill herself.

I now bear the responsibility for three deaths. It doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel like I have taken life. It was not my fault. His words lit the fires of evil within me. He was evil! I did the right thing. But I am sorry. I know that these sins are the worst of sins. Please forgive me!


As the priest drives away from the church, the cross on the roof, the sun heating up the inside of his car on a hot day, he turns on the cold air. His thoughts haunt him: ‘I don’t have control . . . I don’t want to do this . . . I can’t stop myself . . . I have to kill.’ He drives slowly and dazes off mindlessly at the people on the street.

The priest pulls into a driveway. He walks towards the door. In his mind his thoughts race, ‘I am going to do it . . . They deserve it . . . I hate myself . . . I hate them.’ He knocks on the door.

After a moment, the door opens.

“Hey. What’s the matter? What are you doing here?” a man asks in a nervous tone.

“I thought I’d stop by and talk with you about your confession yesterday. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I need to tell you something,” the priest says.

“Alright. Come in.”

The priest steps inside the small house. He sits down on the couch. The walls are white and a crucifix hangs on the wall above the priest's head.

“Do you want any water or something like that?” the man asks.


The owner of the house is a man in a white sleeveless shirt. He has many tattoos, piercings, and long and greasy black hair. He takes a seat across from the priest on a wooden chair. “What do you gotta tell me?”

“I just want you to listen to what I have to say. All but one sin is forgivable, and that is sinning against the Holy Spirit, but there's one sin that I think is worse from the rest.”

The man begins to cry. His leg shakes up and down.

The priest continues to speak as he holds his cross necklace piece, “You can recover in some sense from most sins. But I know myself that you can not recover once you take a life. I understand your hatred. You told me your feelings about wanting to murder someone and I sat by quiet. But what I felt in silence nearly made me want to kill myself. You reminded me of what I tried to forget. I have to tell you the truth. I only want to help you, to stop you from becoming like me.; helping you can be my only penance.

I have to make this confession to you. I had those same feelings you are having right now the first time I wanted to kill a man. But you can never prepare yourself for the moment you see his life leave his eyes or when his heart stops beating all because of you. The smell of blood and death. The sound of the cries and anguished shrieks of pain. You don’t know what it is like like I do. You don’t know that if you let it win by just considering it for a moment that it will damn you to the deepest depths of hell for all eternity. I only want to help you. Listen to me!”

The man cries, breathing heavily, and holds his hands on his face, hiding his eyes.

The priest lays his hand on his shoulder. “Now I will give you two options and I want you to make your choice right now. If you promise me that you will never think about killing someone again I will leave and we can forget this ever happened. But if you can’t promise me that I will kill you. Either way I am helping you. If I let you live you can have a good life. You can have the children and the wife that I never could have had. You can see that life is good, joyful, and worth living. But if I kill you, I don't do so because I want to; I only do so to spare you of the same evil that lives within me.”

The man lowers his hand, his eyes meet the priests, as he grabs a knife from his pocket and stabs the priest over and over. He stabs him and stabs him again and again. Blood pours out of the priest's neck on the white carpet and it splatters on the walls. He screams. He stabs the priest until he chokes on his blood and stops moving and twitching. The priest's eyes are strained open and facing the crucifix on the wall.


About the Creator

Michael Snellen

An audacious young writer.

email: [email protected]

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