The hot seat. I was on the hot seat being grilled again, relentless questions, borderline vitriol, my interrogator becoming obviously frustrated with his lack of success. In the dim, tiny space, I could sense his cumbersome frame shifting on the bench. Poor fellow had a tremendous appetite making him a giant man in tiny shoes.The wooden seat relayed his every impulse with skittish movements and a tiny symphony of squeaks. These were the motions of a restless soul, well beyond foot-tapping, movements longing to be a palm slamming on the chair or a head banging against the wall. Wonderful, he was making nervous twitches, and I was not. I was the one being questioned, and I was cool.
"How many times did you do that?" His voice had no energy. It was by now reduced to a raspy whisper, a weakling feature that still attempted to slash and hurt with its last strength.
"As often as I pleased!"
A head bang. The man was exasperated; I remained on top. I smiled in quiet satisfaction.
"Have you no guilt, no shame?"
"Guilt for what? For doing what comes naturally. Man is an animal driven by impulses to survive. Money, power, sex..."
"Shut up! I will not have you lecturing me about morality." Creak, squeak, bang!
"You're not God!" I said.
Swoosh! Clang! His hands clawed the screen between us. I could hear fingernails rattling along rows of metal. "I'm the closest to God you'll ever get!" he bellowed.
Silence. A lovely pause where he gathered his resources and I, well, I gloated.
"Your penance will be three Hail Mary's and an Act of Contrition recited daily until you see the evil of your ways."
With a swish the tiny curtain closed, and the murmur of another confession wafted over. I sighed. The fun was over. I couldn't help but wonder why they expected me to do this every year. It was so hard on Father O'Leary, Ah well, I had impulses to service before I'd be back next year.