Father Trevor’s rolled the rosary beads round in his hand for the twentieth time in the last twelve minutes. He knew how exactly how long it had been, since the hands on the clock overhead were extra noisy as they ticked the down the seconds going round. The digits were painted on bold too, dark green, on a pale cream-colored backdrop, making them hard to miss. Under it sat the calendar with today’s date circled in red, December 31, 1949.
The date was significant for Trevor, since it was one year ago today that he’d been transferred to this stark and quiet parish from his native and decadent Puerto Rico. A move he’d hadn’t wanted, but had resigned himself to. Monsignor had told him it was either that or face expulsion from the order, so he’d sighed and reluctantly agreed. Packed up his things that very night, and was on a plane the next morning. He’d settled down into his new surroundings not ten hours later that evening.
Ohio was certainly not Puerto Rico. There was no escaping the monotony of the strict borders and rules of the priesthood here. No avenues for escape like in San Juan, where the bars he’d found tucked away in the seedier downtown districts had led him to Eduardo. They’d tucked out whenever he could get away, slipping into their nightly rituals just long enough to meet up and shack up. They’d rendezvous in whatever hotel Eduardo had managed to find, usually one of those by the hour places, just long enough to satisfy their urges. Then, once satiated, he’d sneak back to his priestly service, no one being the wiser. But they’d found out, and exiled him, a million miles away from Eduardo and the temptations of his favorite and secretly coveted city.
But he’d found a new hobby, even here, of all places, in Ohio. And he guessed that they knew, once again. He was going to be asked to come clean. Could feel it. His eyes watched the clock as he rolled the beads round and round in his fingers, wondering just what to say.
Should he tell them everything? Or just barely enough. Or maybe, nothing at all.
Maybe they didn’t really know, maybe they only suspected.
The parish’s newest altar boy was so sweet, so young. So compliant. And Trevor’s passions had got the better of him the very first time he glanced the boy through the bathroom mirrors, while stripping down for their morning showers. They’d exchanged glances but once, and it was done. Ever since then, their midnight meetings in the gardens outside the parish walls had become more frequent, and this last time they’d both felt someone or something watching, and looked up just in time to see a window closing high overhead, in a hurry.
“The Monsignor will see you now Father.”
The tall, lean messenger’s request broke Trevor from his thoughts.
“Yes of course.”
Trevor rose from the pew, straightened his robes with the palm of his hand and tucked the beads down deep into his trouser pocket beneath.
I’ll tell them nothing, he thought. If they know, they know. And I’ll suffer the consequences. And if they don’t, then it’s on me. My sins are all on my conscience.
He walked behind the messenger and down the long aisle of the small chapel, where the sun set off the stained glass windows all around, illuminating clearly the things in front of him. Trevor’s eyes took in the round, firm swishing back and forth under the robes of the messenger walking in front of him and something stirred in his pants.
Lord help me, he thought. My sins are not my own. But, they are, will be, my undoing.
He swallowed hard and pushed on, into the abyss, unfolding