A Crisis of Faith – II: The Wages of Sin

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Diana pulled her sedan into her driveway and opened the garage door.

“Fuck.” she whispered to herself, upon noticing Rick’s obnoxiously yellow SUV in the garage. She checked her watch. It was only 6:30. She wasn’t cutting it close at all; he was home a full half hour early. Diana pulled out her phone and deleted the texts that Ian and her had exchanged that day. The purge was a daily ritual; she feared the nightmare scenario of damning information accidentally being synced to their shared desktop.

Diana turned off the car and walked up to the door. She paused before turning the knob and attempted to come up with a credible alibi to explain her late arrival.

“Oh, fuck it.” She knew that no matter how clever her excuse was, Rick would claim it wasn’t valid.

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She opened the door to the kitchen. Rick was sitting at the table with his back toward her. He was sipping a glass of bourbon on the rocks with his left hand and thrumming his fingernails on the table with his right. An awkward moment passed when she deliberated whether she should shut the door or say hello first.

“Why are you home so late? Rick broke the silence for her.

“It’s only 6:30, Babe. It’s not that late.” Diana steadied her nerves then innocently walked over to her husband, like she was oblivious to his displeasure. On her way across the room, she noticed the new bottle of bourbon he’d just opened. Based on the bottle’s current volume, she guessed he was on his third or fourth drink.

“How was your day? Anything exciting happen at the office?” she placed her hands on his shoulders and gave him a peck on the cheek.

Dodging her kiss, he hunched forward.

“You know that I don’t like it when I come home to an empty house.” She could feel the tension in his shoulders. He was already seething and she hadn’t even tried to defend herself.

“Baby, I’m sorry. You don’t usually come home until 7:00. I do know that’s important to you and I really try to be here before then.”

“It’s a Thursday. What the fuck are you doing that keeps you out so late?” Rick finished his drink and turned to face Diana. The glass clanked on the table; the noise reminded her of a starter gun. He was off to the races.

“I was following your advice and working on my faith. I was at the Incarnation church on Main Street. I went to confessional.”

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Rick scoffed. He didn’t seem to buy it. He’d always used his faith as a weapon. Years of defending her moral shortcomings turned Diana off to Catholicism, and religion in general, but her apathy towards the faith only strengthened Rick’s resolve to torment her further. Some sick aperture of his soul seemed to feed off of her feelings of inadequacy.

“You haven’t been to confession in years. You pitched a fit when I dragged you to Mass last Christmas. What the hell did you do that made you feel so guilty all of a sudden?” Rick stood up. Able to smell the bourbon on his breath, Diana cautiously backed up.

“I’ve just been trying to work on myself spiritually. This weekend is Easter and I just had an impulse to go when I passed by it driving home from work. It wasn’t a big orchestration.”

“Which priest heard your confession?”

Diana struggled to remember the name of any other priest besides Ian. She didn’t want to even say his name and plant a seed in Rick’s paranoid head.

“It was the Monsignor, Father Sarrak I think his name is. Is that how you say it?”

Rick chuckled and moved towards her with a relaxed, casual motion. The mention of the Monsignor seemed to put him at ease.

“Yes that’s right. I love that guy. His sermons put me to sleep but he sure is one hell of a tennis player.”

“You played tennis with the Monsignor? When?”

“Several times. He goes to the Four Seasons Club. I’ve played a few pickup games with him and we’ve chatted a few times in the locker room. Priests actually have more interesting lives than you’d expect. Not a lot, but a little. He travels to a lot of cool places. He’s seen some pretty unreal things across the world. Come to think of it, I actually saw him a couple of weeks ago. He told me the funniest story–” Rick trailed off in drunken laughter.

Feigning interest, Diana tried to play along. “Oh yeah? What did he say that was so funny?”

“He said he was going to be visiting the archdiocese during Easter and that the junior priest…what’s his name? Father Gill! Yes, that’s it. Sarrak said that Father Gill was giving the Easter sermon this year.”

Diana froze. Rick hadn’t made it to church in months. He never mentioned fraternizing with the parish’s leadership.

I should have just said Ian’s fucking name. She though to herself as she slowly backed towards the bottle of bourbon. She always tried to have a contingency plan.

“Well I thought it was the Monsignor’s voice. I guess I misheard it. What’s the big deal?” Her frustration with his perpetual interrogation had finally manifested itself.¬†Genuinely interested in his answer, Diana put her hands up and stuck her neck forward.

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He gritted his teeth. Rick took the opportunity to plant a right hook directly into her cheek. She flew into the counter-top, fell down and collapsed onto the floor. Her back broke her fall before her head snapped backwards onto the tile. The taste of blood filled her mouth; her left canine had lacerated her gums when Rick’s fist became acquainted with her cheek. The fall knocked the wind out of her.

Rick stood over her while she gasped for breath. Diana looked into his eyes. The floodgates of self-hatred had broken through. It had been almost two months since the last time he’d laid his hands on her; that was two months that his rage had to fester. He could only go for so long without displacing that anger onto her. Diana know that he’d eventually beat her again, but she tried not to give him a reason to do it. But the maniac’s bloodshot eyes made it clear to her that he had the Holy Grail of reasons, at least in his mind.

He waited until she coughed and started to breathe again.

“I know you’ve been fucking him. I’ve known you were fucking someone for almost a week, but it took me awhile to figure out who.”

Her breathing was still frantic. “Rick, no. No. No.”

“I first noticed something different a few weeks ago. You changed. You became unusually attentive…caring, even happy. You usually just mope around like a fucking ghost. It was like you were trying to cover for something. At first I thought you were doing coke or diet pills or some shit, but then I thought there are worse things. At least you might lose a few pounds. But, the more upbeat you became, the more I wondered.”

Diana was breathing normally but her cheek was already beginning to swell.

“Rick, I didn’t. I swear.” Tears were coming. She was fighting them with every fiber in her being, but she knew that she couldn’t hold out much longer.

“Oh, my dear whore of a wife, you’re caught. So, please stop the charade. As I was saying, you started acting differently. You dressed better, smelled better and you even decided to put on makeup. I even thought about fucking you for a hot second. So, I started to dig. I pulled your credit card statements. You bought lube at CVS. You bought some new lingerie at Victoria’s Secret. I’ve seen neither of those things.”

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“Rick, please. Calm down.”

He bent down and mockingly slapped both sides of her cheeks repeatedly.

“Yes, that’s a good whore. Ditching the lies and fessing up. I appreciate that. Anyway, that was really all the proof that I needed that you were fucking someone. At that point, I just needed to know who it was. While you were asleep Sunday night, I shared your location with me from your phone.¬†So, I left work early this week and tailed your car. After you were inside the church for more than a half hour, I peaked around the grounds.”

Diana couldn’t hold the tears back anymore. Her breathing quickened and she completely forgot that her mouth was filled with blood.

“Eventually, I made my way to the residence, or I guess I should say the rectory. I heard noises and I knew that the Monsignor was away on business, so it had to have been coming from Father Gill’s room. Now, like any prudent adulterer, Gill shut the blinds, so I couldn’t get any pictures, but I could see through the slits just enough to catch a glimpse of you two fucking.”

Diana began to cough up blood-stained phlegm in between her sobs.

“But, I’m a reasonable man and I know that accusations of adultery are a serious matter. So, I made a concerted effort to obtain hard evidence to make my case to you.”

Rick pulled out a recorder from his pocket and pressed ‘play.’ Crystal clear sounds of her fucking Ian came through the speakers. She didn’t how that was possible; it sounded like Rick was in the room with them. Practically yelling, Rick began to talk over the wails of fornication.

“I found this really cool little gadget on the internet. It’s a suction-cup thingy that you attach to glass and plug into your microphone. It translates the sound waves flowing through the glass. Isn’t that cool?”

Diana’s only response was more sobs.

“Oh, come on now. I know you think it’s cool. Anyways, I think it’s tragic that Father Gill lost his faith, just like you did. I want to help change that, for both of you. I’ve found a way to bring you guys both back to God, and Easter is the perfect time to do it.”

“Rick, what the hell are you talking about?”

“Don”t worry my cunting whore, there’s still hope for your salvation. Father Gill, or Ian as you call him, is being taken care of right now. I know I never went to seminary, but I really think I’ll make a terrific priest. And I’m going to prove to it you, Diana.”

“What did you do to him?” her sobs stopped. Diana preferred death to Rick murdering Ian.

“Don’t worry. Your priest is safe. I just had to incapacitate him for our little ritual. Come to think of it, I need to do the same to you. Cheers!”

Rick began to pound at her head relentlessly. Each blow was like two; the first to the face and then the rear skull to the tile in a whiplash motion. It wasn’t long before she lost consciousness. The last thing she heard Rick utter was ‘I love you.’

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