“What were you thinking?” Adam accused.
“I was thinking that if I didn’t get away from my life for awhile, I was going to explode. Haven’t you ever done something really stupid? I mean, so completely asinine that you feel like there’s no hope of redemption?”
Adam blushed and Kyle knew he had and probably in what way. Hadn’t all men done that at one time or another?
“Yeah, okay. But you’re old enough to know better.”
Kyle’s laugh barked out catching them both by surprise. “Boy, you’re so full of shit…. Hell, my first major mistake got me married when I was about your age. The next biggie was last night and might possibly screw up my new chance at happiness. Know better? Right….”
A call came over the shipboard intercom. “Mr. Kyle Scott. Please report to the Purser’s Office. Kyle Scott, report to the Purser’s Office.”
He looked at Adam for clarification. “Who the hell is the Purser and where’s his office?”
“Like Gopher on the Love Boat. This way.”
Kyle followed the young man through the labyrinth of passages, decks and corridors until they were at the Purser’s office. He didn’t know what he was expecting to see, but it wasn’t what greeted him. Father Michael stood there calmly talking to the Purser and the Captain.
Captain Carter stepped forward, greeting Kyle like a long lost friend. “Mr. Scott, good morning. Father Michael wanted to see you.”
“So I see.” He glared at the priest, trying hard to keep a lid on his temper.
“You can step into the salon next door. It’s empty at this hour. Adam, you can return to your duty post.”
“Actually, Captain, I’d rather like the kid with me. If that’s okay?”
“Certainly. Adam, you know the way.”
“Yes, sir.” He showed the other men into the empty salon.
Kyle had expected it to be a place to get hair done, but it was a large, airy sitting room with lots of windows and comfortable chairs. Kyle flung himself down in one, Michael sat carefully in another. Adam stood near Kyle, unsure what to do.
“Come to hear my confession now?” Kyle demanded.
“No. I came to show you something.” Mike gestured toward a briefcase he carried.
“What could you possibly have to show me that’s going to make twenty-six years disappear?”
“Not disappear, but maybe once you see this, you’ll understand.” He opened the case and extracted a folder, laying it on a low table in front of him.
“Before you start, I think I need to make the introductions so that Adam, Emily’s godson, knows why I proceeded to make such an ass of myself last night. Adam, I took a woman to bed I wasn’t married to. But you know that already. What you don’t know is that the man sitting across from me did the same damn thing thirty-five years ago. I want you to meet my father, Adam. Father Michael Scott.” He spat the name out, furious. “Now that you know that, can you begin to understand why I was unfaithful to Emily?”
Adam’s face went pale. He sat heavily opposite the priest. Fr. Michael’s expression hardened. The edge of his ears turned red, a flush of anger rising from his collar.
“Your sins are your own, son. And mine belong to me. I’ve received absolution. Have you?”
“Seeking absolution does nothing until you explain to my mother why you left. So you had an argument. I’ve had plenty of them. Not a week went by that Margo and I didn’t squabble over something, but I never left! I didn’t destroy three lives, leaving two innocent kids in my wake. I made my mistake and I lived with it for fifteen years. But they were good ones, despite the rocky start. So you were young when you married. So was I! I went to college at night, working three jobs during the day so I could support my family. For the last ten years, I’ve worked at a job I hate just to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. You know what? I’m damn good at it, I make a lot of money, but I hate it just the same.
“So don’t preach to me about being too young to get your shit together. That’s a bullshit cop out and I’m not listening to that line anymore. I’ll always be grateful for what you did for Emily, but don’t ask my forgiveness, Priest. I don’t have that in me.”
“Now that you’re done venting, perhaps you’ll listen.” Father Michael opened a folder. “This is a series of pictures of people I’ve helped. Some of them before I ever became a priest. Most of them in the last five years since I began this mission.”
© Dellani Oakes
Normally, this story would be posted on the Second Wind site. Regrettably, I have left Second Wind, so I will be posting the remainder of this story on this site instead, the 17 of every month as before. ~ Dellani