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NEGOTIATIONS

NEGOTIATIONS

by Closetfan

 

Rating:  G

Summary:  Face made a most interesting confession….

Warnings:  None.  Well, it's a little fluffy. <g>  Spoiler to "Timber!" episode.

Disclaimer:  The usual.

 

***

 

Father Rossi sat in his confessional, deep in thought.

Mountain range: six letters. Ends with "a."

He sighed. It wasn't that he didn't love his job. He did. And it wasn't that he didn't have a good congregation. He had that too. He actually had everything that the priest of a small parish could want.

Except the occasional whiff of excitement.

He grinned to himself. Perhaps he should call the monsignor and make confession himself for wanting more than the Lord, in his wisdom, had given him. Not that it was a sin to think about something you'd like. Just the occasional wistful thought every now and again. Was it wrong to want a little excitement?

He heard the sound of someone approaching the confessional booth.  Two young men and they seemed to be having some kind of disagreement.

"I understand your occasional need to unburden your soul, but do you truly think that this is the time?"

"Listen," the other man replied. "We don't get by a church that often, and I haven't been in a while. It just feels right."

"Face...."

Face? What kind of name was that?

"It won't take long, I promise." There was a pause, and the unmistakable sound of a hand slapping someone's arm.

"Wipe that smirk off your face," the one who'd been called Face said. "Wait for me outside."

Father Rossi listened to the sound of the other man departing as the first man slipped into the booth and pulled the curtain shut.  Putting down his crossword puzzle, the priest slid open the door to the confessional booth, and looked curiously at the man sitting across from him.

Despite the thin, silk screen that separated him from his parishioners, Father Rossi knew who each and every one of them was when they came to confession.  Mrs. Johnson always felt guilty about shortchanging people at the grocery store and pocketing the difference every day. Unfortunately, her nagging conscience didn't stop her from confessing to this same offense every week. Mr. Hanson had been considering having an affair with his secretary for the past six months. The accountant had helped his brother-in-law cheat on his taxes. It was all very mundane, on the surface, but he realized it was also very important to his flock, so he would speak with them seriously about their offenses, and try to help them come around to the right path. He had the feeling, though, that Mrs. Johnson would be saying rosaries till Judgment Day, and would still go to the gates of Heaven with a jingling pocketful of someone else's change.

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned," the man began quietly. "It's been -- geez, Father, I can't remember when I got to confession last."

Father Rossi smiled. "It's all right, my son. You're here now. What would you like to confess?" Out of town confessions were few and far between here.  For some reason that made them seem more interesting, no matter how trivial the sin....

"Father, is it wrong to blow up a truck in a good cause?"

Okay, maybe not so trivial.

"Blow up -- a truck?"

"
Well, it might not have been a truck. It might have been a sedan -- you know, those really big, older ones. I didn't really get a good look at the make before it, uh, went up."


"You blew up a truck."

"Or a car. Yes. Is that wrong if it's done in a good cause?"

"Well," Father Rossi sat back. "I must admit I'm hard put to think of a good reason to destroy someone's property."

"That's what I would think, too. And see, the reason I -- well, we really -- the reason we blew up the truck, car, whatever, is because the guys who owned it, see, they were trying to take over a friend's logging company. Real nice lady and her little son. I don't think you know them, their place is about a hundred miles from here, we're just passing through, see. But they were doing the most terrible things to this lady to try to take over her company."

"I see. Well, that is a little more complicated...."

"Well you know, we didn't just go in and blow up a truck. First, we asked them to cut it out. I thought we asked them really nicely, too. When they said no, well...." The man paused.

"You blew up the car?"

"No. Maybe worse. We took their payroll."

"You – you stole their money?"

"Well, we had to get some equipment for our friend's logging company. And after all, if these guys hadn't been making things hard for her, she would've had her own money to buy equipment, right?"


"Well, I guess --"

"Right. So, yes. I guess we did steal their money. But really, they stole it first. Don't you think?"

"Ummm...."

"So, we were just minding our business, cutting down trees, trying to get them to the lumberyard on a deadline, and that's when they dropped the tree on my friend."

"A tree?"

"Yes! Can you believe that? It's a lucky thing he wasn't killed."

"Was he hurt?"

"No, just a few cuts. Damnedest thing I ever saw -- whoops. Sorry, Father."

"That's all right, son." Father Rossi sat back, not sure any more whether to believe this young man, or whether someone in his parish had put him up to this just to pull the priest's leg. "He wasn't hurt at all? He surely must have an angel on this shoulder."

"I guess -- among other things. Anyway, we had to get the trees to the lumberyard, to get cut up or whatever they do to make lumber, and these guys had wrecked her truck. So, I had to arrange for another one." There was another uncomfortable pause.

"So," Father Rossi said, making sure to keep the kindness in his voice, and the amusement out, "did you steal one?"

"No!" The young man sounded taken aback. "Of course we didn't steal one. Borrowed is more the term I'd use. The owner will get it back. I'm sure of that."

"I see."

"And then these guys tried to kill all of us when we brought the trees in."

"Kill you? Good heavens! Did you call the police?"

"No, we took care of them ourselves."

"Yourselves?"

"
It's kinda what we do, Father."


"Taking care of yourselves? Or others?"

"Well you know, Father, there are people out there, they can't take care of themselves. Not like, day-to-day, every day kind of taking care of themselves. I mean, I have a friend who has trouble taking care of himself sometimes.

"These are the big problems, Father. When the bad guys are grinding the good guys down. David and Goliath! Making trouble just because they're bad people, and greedy people, and sometimes, sometimes Father, they're just mean people. When the little guy asks us for our help, well, that's what we do. We're --" The young man seemed to grope for the exact phrase he wanted. "We're solution engineers."  Father Rossi could hear the satisfaction in his voice at having found the words he wanted.

"I see." Father Rossi sat back, deep in thought again. He pulled at his bottom lip for a moment. Whether it was bogus or not, this was the most interesting confession he'd ever heard. And if genuine, in its own way, more difficult. He sat in quiet contemplation, allowing the young man to fidget uncomfortably.

"They were bad guys, Father. We were trying to help."

"Um-hum."

"
I guess what I really want to know, Father, that eye-for-an-eye thing. That still goes, right? I mean, if they try to take something from someone by force, are we -- divinely, I guess – are we allowed to get it back for them using the same means?"


"Well, my son, it must trouble you to some degree. After all, you're here, aren't you?"

"Yes. I suppose you're right."

"If you're looking to me to bless your destruction of personal property, I'm afraid I can't do that."

The young man's shoulders slumped, and he sighed. "I was afraid of that."

"But, if you're looking to me to find out if your motivations are right, I would have to agree that they are. The Lord would approve of your defending the defenseless."

He sat up straight again. "After all, it *was* Jesus who drove the money lenders from the temple, right?"

"Well, it's not *quite* the same thing," Father Rossi smiled, "but I think we both have the idea."

"Thanks, Father. I feel a lot better."

"I'm glad." Making the sign of the cross in the air before him, Father Rossi recited the blessing of forgiveness.

"Amen," they both said.

"Now, as to your penance --"

Suddenly, they heard someone running across the vestibule, and the curtain to the confessional was thrown open on the young man's side.  Father Rossi saw another man stick his head into the booth.

"Face!" he said, in an exaggerated stage whisper.  He then looked through the screen at the priest, and guiltily snatched a baseball cap from his head. "Sorry Father." He turned back to the first man. "Decker's comin', Faceman. I hate to break this up, but
Hannibal says we gotta roll, like now.  BA's got the van out front."

Father Rossi half rose from his seat in confusion. "But," he began. "Your penance...."

"Father," the young man said as he got up from his knees, "trust me. If Decker is God's doing, I've been doing penance for about ten years now. But thanks for the blessing." Then, with the sound of their hurried footsteps echoing through the church, the men departed.


Father Rossi was sorely tempted to leave the confessional and follow the men, to see what they looked like, and just who this "Decker" was, but decided wisely to respect the sanctity of the confessional and give the man his privacy.

The sirens that screamed past the church moments later gave him a good idea who was after them, anyway.


Father Rossi sighed, and looked at his watch. Another half hour left for confessions.  He picked up the newspaper and pencil.

 

Six letters, mountain range, ends with "a"....

***

Fini

 


Negotiations by Closetfan

 

 


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