Short Story: Sinner

They call it a house of worship. A place where you can find solace with the Creator. And here I stand on the stairs of the Lord’s temple, smoking a cigarette, feeling like the scum of the earth.

I recall memories from my childhood when I was in school. High school was such a cruel environment. There were some painful memories. It was really a dog eat dog world. I was a very naive child. Always trying to make everybody happy. The only person I couldn’t make happy was myself. But nobody cared. Once people get what they want from you, they stop caring and act like you don’t exist.

I finally had an epiphany. I finally realized that deep down, people are inherently selfish. They don’t realize it unless you point it out to them. Everyone thinks they’re good at heart. They think that they’re good people. It’s amazing how people believe their own bullshit. I believe the quote goes like this: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. In that case, we’re all fucked. Aren’t we?

Now I stand here in this church, sitting here at the altar. Staring at cross on the wall. Looking at the face of Jesus as he hangs there with his crown of thorns.

Would a lesser man have been able to face what he faced?

No. Probably not. But a lesser man would have tried his best to try and stay alive as long as he possibly could.

He would have connived. Lied. Perhaps even killed.

A lesser man would have done anything to protect himself. I guess we all can’t be Jesus.

They taught me in school that Jesus was destined to die for our sins. If he knew that, wasn’t that the reason to act all holy to be in the favor of God? Maybe I’m asking too many questions. But it’s a good exercise. It tests the mind. And it pisses off my Christians friends

It almost seems to have been a waste. Dying for the sins of man. I mean, we’re not doing a good job right now or taking advantage of the opportunity.  I’ve seen nuclear bombs drop, planes go into buildings, girls killed because they weren’t born boys. It’s all gruesome. Not a pretty picture. But it’s the world we live in.

In my position, I have seen greed and power corrupt the ones who were meek. The good ones fall. Most of them do. The weak can’t survive in this environment.

Sometimes I ask myself whether I’ve lost my faith. Kneeling down before God in his House may suggest that my faith is absolute. Praying to God to forgive me for my transgressions and forgive the transgressions that I will have to make in the future.

But does he really listen? Is he going to listen to a sinner like me? Of course he’s listening. He has to. He has no choice. We are his greatest creation. He was the one who birthed us and gave us free will. So now, he has to watch what his creation does with that power of free will. Like watching a child you gave birth to grow up and experience life. You can instill in them what you think is best but eventually, they grow out of the bubble you created for them and find their own way. Sometimes their paths aren’t the ones you hoped they would take. The paths they take can be so dark, it could easily break your heart.

Maybe that’s why I never had children of my own.

Practicing the sacrament of penance as I sit in the confession booth and tell a man of the cloth my past sins. I find it therapeutic actually. I never reveal everything deep to be honest. He may be a man of God but he is also a man just like me. A man who has to play politics with his own people. The people of the cloth. The Catholic Church has its own problems and they also have to play politics to solve them.

I confess my sins to this man and I’m given prayers to recite. Some “Our Fathers” and “Hail Marys. Like being given a prescription to take care of my problems. They think that recital of a prayer is the best solution. Praying to God forgive me for what I’ve done. I pray for myself. Pray for my soul. But I know it’s all empty. It’s all shallow. A waste of brain power.

It’s hard being a politician these days. Without thick skin, you’ll be eaten alive. Every day I have to dive in and swim in the cesspool called politics. I laugh at the irony of my colleagues who run on the platform of being religious. Being family men and women.

The hypocrisy of it all.

They say you shouldn’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. I say you can judge a man without walking in his shoes. You judge him by looking into his eyes and seeing if he has any of his soul left. If he does, the vultures will soon be feasting on him. If he is able to fight off those vultures and still remain, he is your adversary but you must make allies with him. But sooner or later, you will have to crush him and steal whether piece of his soul he has left. Or else, he will crush you first.

There are no friends in politics. Friends make the worst enemies. We’re all sinners. We can’t escape the prison we build for ourselves.

What’s the difference between a sinner and myself? I admit that I commit transgressions against God to survive. It’s tough environment. Survival of the fittest. This is nothing more than evolution.

We are all sinners. But I’m just a sinner trying to survive. But now it’s time I get back to the office and get back to work. Winning an election is not easy. But deep pockets sometimes works wonders when the people are hungry for loose change


The Couch (A Short Story)

The apartment looked really clean. He patted himself on the back for doing a great job of cleaning up the apartment by himself. The couch which had been in the living room had been moved outside. All his clothes were packed in the suitcase. His books and other items were in boxes, ready to be moved out. The carpet was surprisingly clean. It was probably because no one was hardly in the living room area.

Everything was great except for the weather. The sun wasn’t playing fair. It was disgustingly humid. You couldn’t walk outside for two minutes without your body breaking out in a sweat. It was summertime. There were times he wished he lived somewhere where the weather was a little more forgiving. Sometimes he contemplated moving to a cooler climate. For now, he only needed to worry about moving to another apartment instead of a whole different continent.

He had asked his (ex) girlfriend if she could help him move his stuff to the new apartment. He hated calling her his “ex-girlfriend”. It wasn’t too long ago since they had ended their relationship.  An “ex” also seemed to be a negative thing. But he and his now ex-girlfriend seemed more like good friends. After all, their break up had been mutual.

Whatever the word “mutual” meant.

They went shopping together, hang out at the movies and did regular stuff friends did. They just weren’t intimate anymore.

His (ex) girlfriend had arrived five minutes after he had finished packing up his last stack of books. She was parked not too far from his apartment block which made it easier to move the last items without walking too much.

Everything was packed and ready to be moved out. But one thing remained: the couch. It was just sitting in the walkway. He hadn’t really thought of a plan on how he was going to get rid of the couch. There was no room for it in his new apartment and he didn’t have a truck to move the damn thing.  Paying money to rent a truck just to move a piece of furniture just seemed like a waste of time. The best thing was to move it to the trash compactor near the entrance of the apartment. But he was living on the 3rd floor of his apartment building and the thought of carrying it down three flights of stairs, especially in humid weather, made him really anxious. He didn’t want to ask for help from the other tenants. Honestly, some of them scared him. Some were loud and obnoxious. They would probably decline to help because of the hot weather.

It was scorching hot and he was feeling tired from the apartment cleanup. He thought of the best way to solve his couch problem: Toss the damn thing over the ledge.

He would just throw the couch over the ledge at the back of the apartment and drag it to the trash compactor. It would be out of sight so no one would give him shit about throwing a piece of furniture from the 3rd floor of a building.

He thought it was a good plan. It would save a lot of time and work. His (ex)girlfriend was skeptical at first but eventually agreed to go along with his plan. He thought she would like the idea because there was no way she was going to help carry the couch down three flights of stairs.

Unfortunately, plans don’t always work out the way you hoped they would.

After positioning the couch at the edge of the ledge and after a count of three, he and his (ex)girlfriend tipped the couch over the ledge and watched it free fall towards the ground. A look of horror appeared on his face as he slowly watched the couch hit the floor and perform a perfect flip over the back fence like a gymnast.

“Dammit!” he muttered to himself.

There was no way he could leave the couch where it was. Someone may have already heard the sound of it crashing down. It would be too suspicious to just walk away and leave it. Some people had already passed by and saw him moving the couch. If he suddenly left and the couch was discovered, they would report him to management. He looked at his (ex) girlfriend and she already knew that they had to go get the couch back over the fence. She didn’t seem enthusiastic about it.

Hopping over the back fence was no issue. He was tall enough to hop the fence. He told his (ex)girlfriend what he wanted to do. The plan was for him to push the couch over the fence while she stood on the other side and tried to pull it over to her side.

It was easier said than done.

Pushing the couch back over the fence was trying to lift a rhino over a wall. The couch itself wasn’t that heavy. The difficult part was trying to push a couch over a fence while he stop on a slippery slop. As he was pushing the couch over, he kept slipping backwards. Needless to say, it was going to take a lot of work to get it done.

The fucking weather wasn’t helping either. The heat made his palms sweaty. His shirt started to look like he had just walked through car wash. He was looking drenched. Thank God it wasn’t raining. That would have made everything ten times harder.

He was drenched in sweat. His muscles ached and he felt like he needed to lie down or else he would pass out. But he decided to give it one more go before taking a rest. This time, the couch went over. His (ex)girlfriend was able to pull it over to the other side. She too was also dripping with sweat. If the couch were alive, she would probably have stabbed it death and watched it slowly die for making do so much manual labor on such a hot day.

After taking a quick rest, he climbed over the fence and they both went back into the apartment and just laid on the floor. They were exhausted. The ceiling fan which was turned up to its highest level, didn’t even seem like it was trying to help even though it. It was like it had made a deal with the weather to not give the occupants any relief from its oscillations.

As they laid on the floor, their sweat soaking into the carpet, he started to think about why they had broken up. He had blamed himself. He figured it was his fault it. He looked at her, all sweaty and worn out. He had been a dick at times in their relationship. Sometimes, he acted like he never really cared. Sometimes a bit selfish. Those seemed like a good list of reasons to end a relationship right?

Maybe. But sometimes he wondered if they was another reason as to why she pulled the plug on the relationship. Was there somebody else? Could they have communicated better and stayed together.

“What’s up?” she asked, after she caught him staring at her.

“Nothing. Just thinking of how sweaty you look.”

She laughed. “Yeah, I need a shower. Never thought moving a couch would take so much time. Hey, at least we won’t have to deal with it again.”

She was right. They wouldn’t have to deal with the couch again. They had done the hard part. They went back downstairs and completed the job they had set out to do. It was far easier moving the couch across the parking lot.  At long last, they brought the couch to the trash compactor, its final resting place.

“I’m starving” she said, as they walked back to the apartment.

“Me too. Let’s stop by a drive thru on the way and get something to eat. After that, I need to take a hot shower”.

She concurred.

His muscles were aching. Especially the ones in his legs. But the thought about never having to move that stupid couch again made him feel a lot better. And he would finally get to relax after all their work.

He did one last sweep of the apartment. He checked to make sure they had everything. He locked up the apartment. He would hand the keys over to the front office once they were done with eating.

As they drove out of the apartment complex one last time, he looked at the old couch lying in the trash compactor.

Moving always sucked. He couldn’t take everything with him so he had to toss some old stuff away. Something about throwing away stuff that you’ve held on to for a long time was depressing. Like telling an old friend good bye and knowing you’ll never see them again. But it had to be done. The old stuff was in the trash and there was nothing he could do about it. They became someone else’s problem. It takes a while but you soon move on to new things.

They got something to eat from the nearest drive thru. They ate in the car, shared stories about the past about things they used to do when they were together. They drove back to his old place one final time and he handed the front office manager the keys to his now old apartment.

He and his (ex) girlfriend were soon back on the road, heading towards their new apartment.

The apartment they had picked out together. The one with the two bedrooms which they would live in for a year. They new apartment where they would buy a new couch and new furniture.

The new apartment where they would eventually mend their relationship and get back together.

The new apartment where he finally took off the “ex” tag and started calling her his girlfriend again.