“Son, you are in the house of the lord. Please refrain from using profanity.” The elder whispered through the screen.
“My apologies, father.” Terrance nodded.
“Please, take a seat, and tell me your sins.”
“Where to begin?” Terrance rubbed his freshly shaven chin. “Well, for starters, I’ve been having sex with my mother three times a day for the past month.”
“Excuse me?” The priest pressed closer.
“Stepmother, actually. My real mother is a corpse at the bottom of the sea. Do not worry; I would not think of such a heinous act with her, even though I’m certain she needed plenty of sexing up in her day,” said Terrance.
“Pardon? Did you say that you had sex with a corpse?”
“Ha! I said no such thing, you old goat,” Terrance chuckled. “Corpses around Essex only wish I’d stick my seed in them. Their bones might even rise from the grave…or be shit straight to hell.”
“Son, the profanities,” the priest gasped.
“Right, where’s my head?” He brushed his dark locks aside. “My sincerest apology.”
“Is there anything else you’d like to confess?” The priest shook his head.
“Fucking hell…well, come to think of it, I guess I poked my previous stepmother as well.”
“Your stepmother before your mother?” The priest pondered. “You mean your grandmother?”
“No, you fool. One of a string of foolish knaves who my father married after my mother croaked. I’m afraid I’ve done the whole lot of them.” He leaned back. “You’re married, aren’t you father?”
“I’m a priest, how could I-”
“Then you know how it feels gazing at a woman’s firm breasts, knowing full well that one day gravity will have its way with them. And in addition to those sagging loafs, her unwashed twat keeps creeping on your scruffy chin every morning with terrifying frequency. To think that there is one woman worth sacrificing for, one who can redefine age and beauty is absurd. In the meantime, I’ll keep my melons ripe and fox holes clean; thank you very much.”
The priest’s mouth was agape, but nothing came.
“Say, you have a wine cellar on the premises, don’t you?” Terrance smirked. “Perhaps you could break out a bottle, to help our conversation flow easier?”
“Blasphemy, that is the blood of Christ,” the priest snapped.
“Of course it is, father,” Terrance grinned.
The old brute spit out his wine. “You caught him with a chicken?” He howled. “He only confessed to me about pigs.”
“Goodness gracious, father.” Terrance chuckled. “How deliciously profane.” He snatched the bottle back, and poured himself a glass. “Those poor little piggies helped feed the Thatcher estate for the better part of the year. No wonder their meat was so tough and pale.” He shook his head. “Good thing I smashed his skull while I had the chance.”
“Good heavens. Did you just say you killed a man?” the priest gazed at him in the dim light of the cellar.
“Nothing of the sort: I was defending mum. Truly I don’t know what came over the dunderhead. He ran up and bit Tess, and then after we made love, he came after me,” Terrance replied.
“Wait a minute…what?” The clergyman choked. “Are you saying that while this lunatic was chasing you around, you stopped and shagged your stepmother?”
“Indeed.” Terrance drained his glass.
“You are hopelessly disturbed, my child.” He made the sign of the cross, and flicked wine in Terrance’s face. “So what next? No, let me guess: you’re going to sneak into the church, and have a romp on the holy altar?”
“Afraid we’ve already done that.” Terrance patted his face with a handkerchief.
The holy man spit out his wine again. “Damn you, Terrance. Would you at least let me swallow a mouthful?”
“My deepest…oh, to hell with it.” He raised his glass and drank. “So how goes the rest of Southminster?”
“The normal slop,” said the preacher. “As usual, Mr. Beauford is having an affair with his three housemaids. Old man Wiggins accidentally shot off a toe while waxing his candlestick outside Betty Hammill’s window. Then, of course, there’s the chicken lover you knocked off.”
“I’m surprised Tess did not pay you a visit. Surely she’s been in a dozen times cursing my name,” said Terrance.
“Actually it’s funny you mentioned it; she came by this morning.”
“Really?” Terrance was not the least bit surprised. “And what did she say?”
“No, I shouldn’t.”
Terrance poured him another glass of wine.
The pot-bellied priest gulped it down. “Actually my heart sank the moment she opened her mouth.” He belched. “She told me she hadn’t seen her family in a year, and that she was confused; didn’t know what to do.”
The holy man hesitated. “She said she didn’t love her husband, nor the lover who used her so frequently. No names were mentioned, but it’s hardly a surprise it’s you.”
“Go on. Did she mention anything about the inheritance?” Terrance asked.
Terrance kept his glass full.
“Well yes…she said that she could no longer live with herself anymore; even though she saved her family from poverty, she felt like she sold a piece of her soul. Tess feared that the only reason she lingered was to get a better settlement before moving on.”
“I knew it!” Terrance slammed his fist on the barrel. “Thank you father for indulging me with your company.” He set down his glass. “What’s my penance?”
The priest tossed the bible, hitting Terrance in the head. “I’m throwing the book at you.” He cackled.
“Hopefully that’s not how you hand out the Eucharist on Sunday,” Terrance quipped. “So what is the penalty for deflowering the hillside? Execution?”
“I’ll have you read the bible, cover to cover, and come to church every Sunday,” the elder hiccuped.
“Damn it to hell! But what if I’m happily condemned?” Terrance inquired.
“What better way to torture a narrow soul than to force him to read about the very salvation he can never have?”
“You are a wicked man, father. Here, choke on this.” He poured him another.
“I think you have the wrong idea about me.” The priest pushed the glass aside, and went straight for the bottle.
“My, old man. You are steadfast in your devotion,” Terrance giggled. “I think I’ll go join old man Wiggins, and see if Mrs. Hammill will put on a show if we throw coins in her window.”
The priest choked. “Cut it out, Terrance.”
“Perhaps I can get a discount if Wiggins and I compare bacon rods, and I came out ahead.”
Waving Terrance off, the priest continued to choke.
“I’d imagine that between the two of us, we could get a group rate. Hell, if you tag along, old man, she might throw in a second show for free.” Terrance winked.
The clergyman’s face turned purple. He clutched his throat, and fell to the ground.
“Come, father.” Terrance jumped off the barrel. “Let’s go into town, grab a few whores, and play a hand of strip poker so I can talk you out of my penance.” He nudged him with his boot. “Father?”
He bent over, and checked the priest’s vitals. “Bloody hell.”