Literary Challenge #40 : Redux
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Solitude (LC #3: My Haven)
03-27-2013, 11:39 AM
They know what everybody knows
Better sit, a letter from a thief says
Finally when everybody sleeps
So few ways to cover up the old wounds
Lost in a finger, forced to lie
This sends us medicating through it all
If you ever enter my mind
Stay there, you'll live
Defend it off and fool them all
Faceless, so little there to judge
Left wing, let's separate the cold out
Opposites, we never need to tell
One sting I've found I'm having to, I'm having to...
Solitude, waste of a man
This fades as soon as the sun sets
I now own this fatal role that lives
Imagine here's a better feel
Told to dissolve or choose to fade
Or stay here, you'll live...
Pete Loeffler of Chevelle - "Letter from a Thief"
The Pirate Captain walked through the port of Santa Clara. A busy buccaneer port on the Yucatan Peninsula, and also home to a Jesuit mission, it offered all sorts of refuge for all sorts of people.
The Captain walked up the hill to the church. He could hear voices inside. He looked west toward the setting sun and realized he was late. His eyes swept the scenery of the coastal town and fixed on the ship anchored out in the cove.
It was a corvette - a common French warship design from the early eighteenth century. But this ship - his ship - was not common at all. It had been constructed by a master shipwright in Jamaica, built to accommodate thirteen bronze guns to a broadside, with fore and aft chasers. Her heavy but shallow keel and her custom rigging made her as fast and maneuverable as a racing sloop. She was the
- the Scourge of the Caribbean.
The Pirate doffed his leather tricorne hat, opened the door of the church and took a seat as quietly as possible, just as the Abbot approached the lectern.
* * *
...In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, amen.
" Father Sanchez concluded the Sunday evening mass. "Go in peace, my dear children, and God be with you."
The Pirate Captain stood up and stepped out of his pew, joining the crowd in the aisle filing out of the church. He paused at the door and spun on his heel. Father Sanchez was gathering his books from the pulpit. The Pirate caught his eye and nodded toward the confessional booth. The Abbot nodded and held up a finger, indicating that he would join him in a minute. The Pirate entered the booth, crossed himself and knelt on the padded board. He remembered once touring a monastery belonging to an entirely different religious sect and recalled the uncomfortable positions the penitent were forced to endure there. He held a silent prayer of thanks that the Jesuits were more compassionate.
"Have you come to confess, my son?" Father Sanchez asked. He had entered the booth stealthily, defeating the Pirate's keen hearing.
"Bless me father, for I have sinned," the Captain announced his penitence by rote. "It has been nine days since my last confession."
"Proceed, my son."
"Four days ago I shouted at one of my men and invoked the name of the Lord in vain. He had annoyed me, but the circumstances were trivial and I lost my temper.
"Two days ago I lost my temper again. I cursed at a man and threatened him with bodily injury because he spilled my coffee.
"Yesterday I was responsible for around one hundred and sixty men losing their lives. I ordered my gunners to fire on several ships which were protecting an outpost that I wanted to capture. Please do not count this action against the souls of my men - they were only following the instructions of their captain.
"And then while seizing the outpost I led my party as we put to death another twenty-five people.
"And this morning I had impure thoughts about a member of my crew."
"Is that all?" Sanchez asked.
"I believe so, Father," the Captain answered.
"All sins are equally great in the eyes of God. You must say five
for the absolution of your sins. Join me now in the recitation of the Act of Contrition..." after they had made the prayer in Latin - the Abbot leading, the Pirate repeating - Sanchez concluded the ritual. "Jesus loves you and He stands before His Father's throne to wash away your guilt. Go in peace my son, and sin no more. And when you do sin again, come back and we'll do this all over again." Father Sanchez looked at his parishioner with an amused and benevolent smile.
"Thank you, Father." The Pirate Captain started to stand up.
"By the way, what are you up to now?" Sanchez asked, adding "just as a matter of academic curiosity."
"What do you mean?" the Pirate responded, crouching in confines of the booth.
"How many people have you killed, counting the hundred and eighty-five or so yesterday?" Sanchez clarified.
"Am I still talking to my confessor?"
"Legally, perhaps, if you mean will your answer be under the protection of the seal of confession; it will, unless you tell me you once killed or tried to kill the pope. But I'm really asking as a curious historian."
"I don't exactly know," the Pirate answered. "I stopped taking count soon after the start of the war. I was up to over three thousand then, so I think I must have at least five times that by now."
"I see. Have a safe voyage, my son," Sanchez said, and he left the confessional. "
Vaya con Dios.
"Thank you," the Pirate said as he followed Sanchez out of the booth. He then walked out of the church. He replaced his hat and strolled through the town. He felt a brief twinge of guilt pulling at his conscience, triggered by the fact that he could no longer feel any guilt for the countless men he'd killed. He felt the burden of their deaths only as long as it took for him to reach Father Ricardo Sanchez and remove the stain of their blood with the blood of Christ. He remembered the numbers of bodies he'd stripped of life only for the purpose of being able to confess accurately. It hadn't always been that way. In the beginning, he remembered every face of every man, woman and child he'd ever watched die, whether he was responsible for their deaths or not. The faces haunted his dreams. Then he found Father Sanchez, and he found forgiveness and with it, the nightmares ceased. He still remembered a few faces, though.
He walked down the dock to the end and said to no one "Computer, end program." The town of Santa Clara, the pirate ship and church vanished, replaced by a holodeck room twenty meters square.
Vice Admiral Jesu LaRoca removed his pirate hat and walked out the door and down the corridors of the
, muttering to himself the words "
Ave Maria, gratia plena
"I won't try to hide behind the Law if what I stand for is what's Right."
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Last edited by sander233; 04-27-2013 at
. Reason: Name Change