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by Radi Radev

My church is small but in compensation there is a cemetery close to it. A lot of people, after visiting a relatives' graves, come to the House of God to light a candle and pray for them. It is not a large cemetery and, although, I am a priest I take care of it, too. I pluck the weeds, straighten a cross overturned or tilted by the wind. From time to time I water the flowers on the graves and make lanes among them.I don't have much work.

I don't overwork at the church, either.

Especially today. A couple of people made confessions.

Some came to pray.

I read "The Raven" by Poe most of the day and now I am poetically disposed. The day is drawing to an end. The Sun is slowly sinking below the horizon. The sky is reddish as if torn flesh merged with the light-blue clouds and created a drawing by Boche.

I gazed at the summer sky for a moment before closing the church gate. Sometimes I feel heavy with the sins heard during the day.

A man was coming across the church yard. When he saw that I was about to close the church, he quickened his step. He was with broad shoulders, dressed in a Kardin suit, with big wet stains around the armpits.

His round face was red and shiny. Drops of sweat streamed down his face, reached his nose and dropped on his chest. Breathing heavily, he asked: "Father, I would like to make a confession. Would you listen to me?"

I said: "I haven't sent back anyone, yet, son. Come with me to the confessional."

I entered my part of the confessional and he sat down in his. I slid the netlike window between us to make him feel at ease. I saw his face just for a while but I was impressed by it. His hair was sleeked back with hair gel. And although he looked young, there was a high, rather wrinkled forehead under his hair. His eyes were deep and arrogant. His nose was straight and his lower jaw was more protruding than his upper one.

"Wait a second, son, "I said. I took the Bible from the shelf next to me, held it tight in my hands and encouraged him: "Go on, son."

"I would like to know, do you keep the secret of the confession?"

"Every priest, entering the bosom of the church, takes a vow not only to listen to people's sins but to impress on them penance keeping their secrets in his heart. "I was still poetically disposed.

"How can I be sure that you won't go to the police after you listen to what I have to say?"

"My son, a lot of people have confessed before me. I have heard things which make normal people's hair stand on end. If you are afraid of talking in my presence you can leave. I was about to lock the church."

"I am sorry, father. It's my first confession."

Then he continued.

He spoke for almost fifteen minutes without a break. I don't want to repeat to anyone the things that I heard from him.

The man was a hired assassin. He had started at the age of nineteen. Now he was twenty seven. I laughed at him in the beginning. A lot of crazy people come to me just to have a chat with someone. But after he told me about some of the murders he had committed and the way he had committed them my doubts vanished.

No one could make up the things he told me.

Actually he did not intend to come to church but he had difficulties sleeping lately. He couldn't fall asleep nights on end. And when, finally, he managed to fall asleep he had nightmares. His numerous victims rose from the dead and haunted him. When he woke up his sheet were torn and his face wet with sweat and tears.

"I went to a psychologist, father."

"Obviously he didn't help, son."

"He kept asking me what I did for a living, father.I lied to him but he was clever and didn't believe me. He wanted to know what my real profession was. He made me do different tests. RFM-tests, experimental electric rhythmo-dream and what not. One day he was waiting for me in his office with a court order for forced getting into a mental hospital and two policemen.

"Maybe God wanted you to be treated."

He interrupted me in a firm tone: "I am not crazy, father. I managed to escape, and then..."

Something in his voice made me grab the cross hanging on my chest. I held the Bible in the other hand. "What happened to the psychologist, son?"

"One night I went back for him..."

Both of us kept silent for a moment. I was shocked of what I had heard and was thinking about it, and he was probably taking breath after the long talking.

After that he said: "I know that my sins can't be expiated, father.

But I have heard that you make people with more trivial faults to repeat a couple of times a day Ave Maria or Our Father. And if you impose such a punishment on me, father, I am sure that it will help me."

"The confession is over, son," said I adamantly.

I slid aside the netlike window and repeated: "The confession is over, forever !!!"

I opened the hollow Bible, took the 38-calibre out of it and shot him in the head.

I locked the church hurriedly. There are such cases sometimes. I have to judge some people. I have to be their Prosecutor, Judge and Executioner all at the same time.

The ones like him have no right to use a lawyer.

I will bury him in the nearby cemetery after midnight.I think that the inhabitants of our small town would lynch me, if they found out how many people I have Judged and buried late at night.

I pray for their immortal souls.

-- Radi Radev

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