The door clacked shut and the figure shuffled into the confessional. Fermin was able to determine his identity despite the intricately woven wooden bands separating them; Jimmy Papas had a very pronounced wheeze. It whistled through a gap in his front teeth and distorted his syllables into a breathy, jumbled mess which never ceased to irritate.
"Forgive me father for I have sinned."
"How have you sinned my child?" said Fermin, assuming the worn out, didactic tone that he often utilized in sermons.
"I have coveted. I have felt lust.." Jimmy stammered beside himself with guilt.
"How? In what form?"
"My friend Ted, his wife. I'm not sure but I believe she means to seduce me."
Fermin considered this to be highly unlikely but did not betray his thoughts "You must be strong Jimmy, resist all temptations."
Jimmy hesitated for a second surprised that his identity had been deduced, but ploughed on. "I try, I try but you cannot imagine..." he faltered "she is so beautiful."
Fermin almost snorted but managed to restrain himself. He tried to rustle up some ministerial advice "until an hour before the devil fell, God thought him beautiful in heaven . She may be beautiful, but if she means to tempt you then she is sinful."
"Yes. Yes your right. I will be strong. I'll stop going round to Ted's. Thank you father. You have really helped me".
With a pronounced grunt Jimmy heaved himself onto his feet and left the confessional. Fermin sat for a few more moments, mediating on the clueless arrogance of Jimmy's paranoia and hoping Ted would be better off without him.
He stood stiffly, arching his back to banish cramps. He slid the door to his cubicle open and stepped out. The sun was setting and the small church had been drained of colour. The stained glass windows, so vibrant during the day time, had become drab remnants of their former selves.
He set about closing the church; cleaning the pews, locking all donation money in the safe and giving the main aisle a quick sweep. By the time he was locking the double wooden doors night had almost fallen. He set off swiftly down the street, longing to have already covered the three blocks to his shabby apartment. A cold gust skittered some leaves onto the footpath, startling him. He waved the sign of the cross in an almost subconscious gesture and shivered. It was an eery night.
Several miles away, in the pitch blackness of a rabbit warren a shadow stirred. It unfurled its multitude of limbs, testing the constraints of its cage. It scuttled towards the entrance of the burrow and poked its head outside. A long sinuous tongue flickered out to taste the air, a shudder of ecstasy wracked its emaciated frame. It had been years since he had last indulged himself and once again he felt the familiar longings start to return. There was one particular scent that stood out to him, a daffodil in a meadow of bracken. He emerged into the green paddock of a soon to be housing development and began to hunt down his prey. A momentary blur on the landscape. As he ran he thought back.
The waitress was mopping down the bar when Fermin stepped into the diner.
"May I have a coffee please? Or are you closing?"
She glanced at her watch in an irritated fashion and was on the verge of rebuffing him, but upon noticing the pleading look in his eyes she relented.
"Sure, pull up a seat.