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I Was in the Neighborhood

by LaVerne Zocco

It was a hot night even with the small fan blowing onto my neck. I had settled myself down to business in the confessional after finishing my bottled water and tying the laces of my left athletic shoe. I sat back, already agitated and I decided once again to read my little prayer for such occasions.

“My dearest Jesus, teach me to be patient when all the day long my heart is troubled by small but annoying crosses.” — Cardinal Merry Del Val

Then my ears perked up for I heard the distinctive opening of the confessional door on my left side. I waited until the person had fumbled around a little and when there was silence, I slid open the screen that divided me from him or her and gave time to start the confession.

It was a he. He in return started his ritual.

“Bless me, Father, for I need the water drops of forgiveness more than anything. My last confession was many Suns ago but my own doing. I was horizons away from the Dali-God and spliced out into the winter of the stars.”

I nodded, tilting my head to the side and thought that I understood his meaning, but he had a rhythm all his own. I thought it was a unique style and I was going to ask for clarification, but I decided to give him that one just for his willingness to come in and confess.

“It’s not the huge shame-benders that woke me to come, Father, I do confess using the Dali’s name in vain with the guys when I’m out in space, I’m not above being attached to worldly things ’cause I like a little glitter, but I draw the line at messing about or playing robber or blaspheming the Third Dali-God. It’s more the small spurts of vinegar that I spit out that turn me sour.”

I must confess I was intrigued with the hints of some words of pleadings and I asked, just to hear more, “Give me some examples of these lesser spurts.”

“Well, my temper goes flying in hot spurts and then I’m spraying the oxygen with spurts of poison, you know, Father, the daily cleansing of my stuffed head-pan cursing, oh lots of cursing with the world being in the shape it’s in.”

I smiled a little to myself, recognizing my own temper limitations. And he was making a kind of sense.

“And I do get to rattling about my transverse times and climbing on my partner’s errors and moaning loud about the distance and the unfamiliar terrain and getting sharp about the seeds when I go home; it makes me want to raise my toes and put them through the uprights. And I get to yelling at the partner and seeds because I’m slunkish, you know, hollowed empty or clanking about the up, up, up of the yapping hands, the seeds that want to be lifted.”

I thought I understood the last part. “You know the tongue can be a weapon and a little harsh for young ears to hear. But all and all, at least you know what things you should work on. Now, what else is there, my son?”

“I have guilt and shame water drops and get knee-down pleading for more okayness, but sometimes I’m dumb-wise, And when I’m traveling out away from my partner and the seeds, I can’t hardly stay clear, Father, of the no-no, but I do. For these small spurts of vinegar I am truly water-dropped.”

“Well, that’s fine. For penance say five Hail Marys and five Our Fathers.”

And all was silence again.

“By the way, just curious, son, where are you from?

“I was just in the neighborhood and wanted some of the Dali-God.”

“Yes, I see. But, where are you from?”

“Rigel. This is my first visit.”

“Well, welcome to Alpha Centauri.”

Copyright © 2011 by LaVerne Zocco

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