Inebriated with thoughts of past indiscretions, a pedestrian, his given name ‘Durwood’, bumbles into a place of worship … on the eve of the winter solstice. Upon entering, he is met by a tall gent wearing a frock holding a just lit candle. The wax drips. The scents of bourbon, musk and Cornish hen float in the air.
Durwood: My but it’s awfully quiet in here.
Scratch: ‘Tis true. So, did you come here to get blessed or what?
Durwood: (hands in pocket) Well, uh, I was thinking more along the lines of absolution.
Scratch: I see. Seeking salvation, eh? (jokingly) Do they even do that here any more?
Durwood: (laughs) Yeah, I, uh, don’t know. You see, it’s been awhile and um…
Scratch: Say no more. I understand perfectly. You know, they say it’s better to give than receive.
Scratch: Well, you’re here for the “go forth and sin no more” part, right?
Durwood: (sheepishly) Look, um, this is a bit awkward …
Scratch: Sure, but let’s face it, if you hammered the nail in the block of wood, removing it still leaves a hole, right?
Durwood: (confused) uh, I’m not sure what you …
Scratch: (inquisitively) How will you manage the guilt?
Durwood: I, uh ….
Scratch: (condescendingly) You do have guilt, don’t you?
Durwood: Yes, but I think …
Scratch: (interrupting) You thought? You thought what? Did you think before you transgressed before all that is holy?
Durwood: But I only …
Scratch: (interrupting) Oh, so you think your ‘little sin’ is any less repugnant in the face of the divine countenance? Is that it?
Durwood: No, that’s not … that’s not it. I uh … I assumed …
Scratch: Right, you assumed you’d get away with it and then come here when you were good and ready, or in the neighborhood, and sort of ‘wipe the slate clean’, eh? A few magic words, some pixie dust, and then all is good and forgiven, hmm?
Durwood: Of course, it’s not that simple. I understand. But …
Scratch: Surely, you must have considered that waving a hand and saying a few words will only get you so far. What did you think that all would be forgotten, as well? You should be ashamed of yourself! Have you no regret?
Durwood: I have remorse, of course, but …
Scratch: … and then you come here to this house of holy with your bloodstained hands and blackened soul, hoping for a dismissive pat on the back for your debauchery and moral ineptitude! You defiler of sacred cows and bearer of red heifers! The sinful stain on you grows by the second!
Durwood: (agitated) BLOOD? I never said anything about … Cows? Now wait just a minute …
Scratch: … (in an accusing tone) You’re not here to beg for mercy, and you certainly don’t seem beset with anguish or lost in the throes of repentance. There’s no signs of contrition written in the lines of your face. How pathetic.
Durwood: But I’ve come here to …
Scratch: (mocking) To what exactly? To pay your token ‘parking fine’ and abscond with a papal ‘get out of jail free’ card? Life is not a game of monopoly, son.
Durwood: No, I never said it was.
Scratch: (sternly) You’ll get what’s coming to you one day, as we all will.
Durwood: (confused) But … but what of forgiveness?
Scratch: (sarcastically) Oh yes, very nice. “I’m so sorry” and all that. That may have worked when you were a child, but not now. Time to grow up! You’re an adult, aren’t you?
Durwood: But I was led astray! It was the devil who …
Scratch: (outraged) Then you can it tell to the devil, while your burning flesh drips from your bones! You dare to cast blame for your own iniquities on another? You had free choice, you chose transgression over righteousness, perversion over sanctity! You knew better, and you sinned anyway!
Durwood: (lowered tone) yes, I have sinned (sobbing – long pregnant pause) but I want to change … I want to be different … I hate who I am … what I’ve done …
Scratch: (indignantly) Then show some humility, God damn it! Grovel and then grovel some more!
Scratch: Me? Forgive you? Don’t be absurd! Take what’s coming to you!
Durwood: (begging) No! Please! I beseech you! I want to make it right!
Scratch: Well, then … you’d better talk with someone in charge. I’m just the undertaker.
A dormouse scurries across the floor. It stops, rises up on its haunches and recites “And there were in the same country Shepards abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.”
A long pregnant pause is heard before the wistful rodent remarks … “oh yeah, feed your head.”