“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 1200 years since my last Confession.”
“Wait, I know that voice. Get out! I’m not playing with you today. Get out!”
“How can you say that to me? I’m here to make a genuine confession. You can’t kick someone out of a confessional booth. It’s wrong on a lot of different levels. I think you’re even obligated to hear me out.”
“Oh no, I’m not. I have the right to send you on your way, so go.” The priest’s gesturing outstretched hand could be seen even in the dark of the confessional.
“Aren’t you even the tiniest bit interested in what I have to say? I’ve been horrible, a monster. I really need to get some of this off my chest.”
“I don’t have to listen to the depravity of your confession,” the elderly priest replied through the ornate partition separating him from Satan.
“It’s not depravity, it’s just my nature. I can’t help it, I was made this way. I’m a victim here, if you remember.”
“A victim? Of what?” the priest cried. “I could use the word ‘victim,’ but it would be to describe the thousands—nay, millions– of innocent people that you have destroyed!”
“Now, that’s not fair. I didn’t start this mess. I had no say in the matter. And this will all be over much faster if you would just let me have my say.”
“Fine,” huffed the old man, “say what you need to so I can get you out of here. How did you even survive walking through the door, anyway? This is holy ground.”
“Oh, that’s just an old story. Surely a Catholic priest would know firsthand that I can come and go as I please anywhere around a church.”
“I don’t need to be reminded of your so-called ‘abilities.’ Do you know how many people you have hurt just in the name of the Church? The Inquisition? The Salem witch trials? The beheadings? The televangelists? The child molestation scandals? You have had plenty of reign here, I assure you,” the priest spat out angrily.
“Are you going to let me talk or not?” the Prince of Darkness whined.
“Oh, fine, have your say. This should be fairly interesting.”
“Well, first, let’s see, I had this all plotted out chronologically, but you flustered me. I guess I could go in order of importance instead of historical date. Okay, in the last 1200 years, give or take, I’ve taken the Lord’s name in vain. And I mean, A LOT. Pretty much on an hourly basis. But you know, when you think about it, I had a lot of good reasons. He has not been good to me.”
The priest gave an exasperated sigh on the other side of the screen.
“I can’t really remember how many times I’ve dishonored my parents…”
“That’s because you don’t have any parents! If this is not a genuine confession then you are making a mockery of God!”
“Oh, thanks for reminding me, I’ve made a mockery of God 19,682,309 times. I mean, ten times,” Satan countered. “And I’ve overthrown 83 legitimate governments, corrupted 4,238,000 or so political leaders, both appointed and elected. And I invented lawn jarts.”
“Lawn jarts?” the priest asked.
“Yeah, you know, those sharp pointy toys that kids were supposed to throw at each other? I did that.”
“What would possess you to do such a terrible thing?” the man questioned in surprise.
“Well, it’s really easy to corrupt someone who has accidentally killed his younger sibling. They’re putty in your hands just a few years down the road.”
“Pray, continue,” the father replied wearily.
“Okay, I also started 367 wars, both small and large scale.”
“Are you sure you’re not estimating a little low?”
“No, I kept meticulous records of the wars. Those were fun.”
“You don’t sound very sorry about those. You do realize that repentance is required for absolution. If you’re not sorry about this, then your confession isn’t valid in the eyes of God.”
“I’m mostly sorry. Does that count?” Satan asked.
“How can you be only mostly sorry for starting a war in which thousands of people have been killed and entire landscapes have been wiped out?”
“Well anything will sound bad if you put it that way.”
“Just continue, please.”
The Prince of Darkness cleared his throat. “Um, this next part won’t be pretty, and I’m really not proud of any of it.”
“Oh, why start flowering it up now?”
“You know, I think sarcasm is a sin. You’re going to have to go to confession now. By the way, to whom do you confess, my dear saint? Do you just look in a mirror and start talking?” Satan teased.
“Mind your business and get on with it!” the father replied.
“Well, like I said before, there’s a lot of sex stuff, and I swear I’m really sorry about all of it. I mean, there was TONS of sex. More sex than you can possibly imagine. And I mean, like never-in-your-wildest-dreams-type crazy stuff. Like this one time…”
“That will do. Descriptions aren’t necessary, I assure you, our Heavenly Father knows the gory details.”
“I’m not sure even He could envision some of this stuff. I’m the Devil, after all. I mean, we’re talking animals, children, priceless statues, crack whores, foreign widows who really thought I was selling them green cards, you name it.”
“Move along, please. Wait, did you say statues? Never mind, I don’t want to know.”
“Really? I don’t have to admit to any of it?”
“I think I’ll sleep better if you don’t.”
“Whew! I thought that one was going to take until dinner time!” the devil smiled. “Okay, where were we…can we just stick all the Lust under the sex category, or do I have to break it down?” Satan inquired.
“Oh no, I’m fairly certain lust and sex can go under the same heading, we’re good. Pick a new topic, if you please. I have a nauseating feeling there’s more,” he answered.
“Oh, tons. I hope that chair in there is comfy. You know, I’ve noticed there’s no chair on my side of this box. Why is that? All I’ve got is this little bench to kneel down on.”
“The Church has come to realize that the kneeler helps the penitents humble themselves before God. That could be why its purpose is lost on you,” the priest sneered.
“I’m just saying I bet you’d get more people in here if it were a little more comfortable. This is kind of intimidating. I’m not sure I like it,” the devil sniffled.
“You’re not supposed to like it! It’s Confession! You’re supposed to feel rotten and horrible for all of the vile things you’ve done!” he barked.
“Why would I feel bad? I’m Satan. What would be the point in rotting in Hell for all time if I hated it?”
The monsignor rubbed his temples in small circles with both index fingers, finally at a loss for words. He had never had a penitent to whom he couldn’t offer comfort and a reminder of the Father’s love, but Satan was trying his patience. “Confession ends for the day at four, and I’m sure there are others waiting in the sanctuary.”
“Oh no, I sent them packing. I knew I’d be here a while. Are we ready for the greed list?”
“I suppose, at least this one won’t turn my stomach the way some of your other exploits have.”
“Don’t be too sure, padre. I’ve embezzled money from orphans’ charities!” Satan laughed with a satisfied grin. “Remember Enron? All those employees who lost their retirement savings? Junk bonds? That movie Wall Street? I coined the phrase, ‘Greed is good.’ But that stuff is boring. Let’s talk murder!”
“Let’s see, I’ve killed…um, let me think, forty-three, carry the six…well, a lot of people.”
“Why don’t you just give me the highlights, you know, lump sum mass murders. That might keep it all organized for you,” the monsignor suggested.
“Again with the sarcasm! Jesus Christ!”
“If you don’t mind!” the older man roared indignantly.
“Sorry…can we just add that one to the list or will I need to come back?” Satan asked sheepishly.
“All right! Well, there’s the obvious ones, the six million Jews during the Holocaust, millions of ethnic cleansing casualties, hundreds at a time in plane crashes, the children who die from malaria…”
“Let’s not forget all the victims of AIDS, now,” the priest offered with mock helpfulness.
“I was getting there, hold your horses!”
“You were going to gloss over that one, thinking the celibate man wouldn’t care too much about a sexually-transmitted disease, weren’t you?”
“Even you have to admit, that one was a stroke of genius. A disease which attacks the immune system and mutates so quickly that a cure is practically impossible? C’mon! Who could have thought of that?”
“You are mentally ill,” the priest fumed.
“No, it’s truly well thought-out. A virus whose primary means of transmission is things that are already sins! I can make you get the disease without doing anything! You just have to be an average, sinful human! The best part of it was all the fanatics who’ve been telling people that God is doing it to the bad people…that was just icing on the cake.”
“I’m surprised, I would have thought your ego would be wounded at someone else getting the credit for your work.”
“No, that’s only a problem for people with no imagination. I’m always thinking up new ways to be evil, I don’t have time to look back and rest on my laurels.”
“Yes, you’re a veritable think tank.”
“I mean it, that sarcasm isn’t becoming to a man of the cloth,” Satan hinted.
“Do you have any more items on your self-indulgent agenda? I don’t have all day and you haven’t even touched on the damage you’ve done to the environment.”
“Wait, just a minute there holy man! You’re not pinning that one on me! I didn’t do anything to this shoddy rock!” the devil retorted defensively.
“Nope! I had nothing to do with that one. Turns out it really is just a human thing. I wish I could take credit for the combustion engine alone, but it’s not my doing.”
“I find that incredibly difficult to believe. It’s right up your alley. Make people so greedy and self-centered that they will poison their own habitats? They will give themselves cancer with the chemicals they put all over their homes, gardens, food, bodies? That one has your name written all over it.”
“Well, you can believe me or not.”
“I don’t know…”
“Look, Father, I’ve copped to the murders, the sex, the invention of crystal meth, why would I deny one that I wish I could take credit for?”
“You never said anything about the drugs!”
“Oops. We’ll get to that one. I actually had Drugs on a separate list, since there’s a whole bunch of stuff that goes along with it. You know, stealing, murder, corrupt politicians, cop killers, I figured we’d get to drugs somewhere after addressing the Klan.”
“I have decided not to hear the rest of your gleeful saga. I told you already that you must be truly sorry in order to receive absolution, and you’re far too eager to brag about your antics of the last millennium. I don’t believe you’re at all sorry, and you’d be hard pressed to convince God as well.”
“So are you telling me you won’t forgive me?”
“I don’t forgive you in the least. Luckily for you, it’s not my forgiveness you came for, and God has assured us he will forgive anyone who is truly sorry.”
“But I am sorry! Really!”
“Then, fortunately, my work here is done. This is now between you and God. Why did you come here anyway? What did you hope to accomplish?”
“Hmmm…you’re cheaper than therapy?”
“Bye Father. See you next time!” the devil promised with an ugly smirk.
“Fortunately, at the rate that you seem determined to confess, I will be long gone.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t mean I’d see you here!” Satan let the door to the confessional slam shut on its rusty hinges and headed back out onto the street.