Surprises for Two
Lorenzo Marces opened the door so happy and relieved to let Father Joseph in that the priest saw his constraint of visiting him at the request of Veitena Marces vanishing right away. He feared reluctance from Lorenzo, who could believe that the constant presence of Veitena Marces in church would be a demonstration of one side for which the priest would advocate.
After the initial friendly conversation, the three of them took seats comfortably: Lorenzo and Father Joseph on the armchairs, Veitena, on the middle of the sofa and sliding sideways towards the armrest to be close to Lorenzo. At the first silence that followed, Veitena spoke:
“Father Joseph, the feelings I have for the one I chose to spend my life with led me to seek your guidance, because there are now evidences of the unruly life style he has entered into.” Lorenzo, silent, looked at the priest while Veitena went on, “He is unable to perceive how dangerous it is, but, with the grace of God, he accepted your generous visit to help him...”
Father Joseph interrupted Veitena, looking straight at her and gently asking:
“First of all, what is going on here? I came to this apartment in which Lorenzo lives alone, indicating, indeed, that there is a separation. Thus, Dona Veitena, why are you interfering with Lorenzo’s life?” then turning to Lorenzo, he added, “And Lorenzo, why do you accept this level of intervention of the woman from whom you separated?”
The blow of such direct questions to each of them, although made under his peculiar kindness, was completely unexpected. Veitena answered with a soft smile on her face:
“Father Joseph, because we had children together, even living separate lives now, we must care for each other as good friends.”
Father Joseph acknowledged her answer nodding his head. Lorenzo, in turn, said:
“Those violent outbreaks that you witnessed when I left her, Father, are much worse when we are alone in the office, for example. Particularly, I don’t know how to behave when she threatens my life or her own.” Lorenzo could never go to police, but he could tell the priest.
Father Joseph saw the radical change in Veitena’s gaze before Lorenzo finished speaking. The previous smiling expression had turned into striking distaste and she stared Lorenzo without any blink of an eye, just waiting for the moment he would look at her to see those threats renewed. Aware, Lorenzo did not look at her.
Father Joseph concluded that such answer was his cry for help. The priest remembered when the son and daughter of the Marces rescued their mother, taking her to church in search of him, who interrupted the visit to the hospital due to the panic of the church secretary, affected by Veitena’s state of hysteria, soon after the news on the immediate separation and future divorce. Father Joseph had to make use of impacting physical gestures that he did not like much, such as to lay both his hands on Veitena’s head so that she felt emotional control injected into her by the authority she recognized in him as representative of God. After one and a half hour in the attendance room, he tenderly directed the siblings to seek psychiatric attention for their mother immediately, once his rational assessment pointing out that things in life happen as direct consequences of choices made over time did not help very much. Veitena did not start screaming again because she was stroke by his words.
Back to that meeting, Father Joseph said:
“OK, then, thank you! There is something in common in both answers: we do have a separation preceding a divorce. Now, let’s move on with our talk.”
For Lorenzo, that was a surprise, once he believed that the priest was there at Veitena’s request precisely to object his decision for separation with the purpose to retrieve the irretrievable.
For Veitena, that was a surprise, because she just pretended to recognize the separation. I think Father Joseph doesn’t get it! Marriage is indissoluble! That’s the point!
Both Lorenzo and Veitena sat on that living room before Father Joseph from that moment on with no idea whatsoever about to where Father Joseph intended to lead that conversation. Veitena could not allow Father Joseph to divert that talk from her purposes. No, no, no, no, no! He won’t spoil everything… She, then, took the lead:
“Father Joseph, I had promised myself not to denounce the clear evidences of apostasy of Lorenzo over the last months. Indeed, he abandoned his faith! This situation forces me to do it now, so that you have a better picture of the life of perdition I am trying to make him avoid:” she said, looking for something in her cell phone, “listen to Elena, Father:
’…You smell wonderfully! I loved your perfume!
I was driven to a blessed madness by you!
What a delicious cock! I simply could not hold myself, kneeling in front of it…
Our kisses, your warm hands holding my breasts…’ "
She made a brief pause to look at Lorenzo, with eyes closed and the expression of constraint in his face, and then she added, “This pornography is from six months before, Father Joseph! Now, listen to this prostitute, days ago, indicating that this is a general rule in his current life:
’7:01 Úrsula: I can hardly wait to have my mouth on your delicious cock again…
7:28 Lorenzo: Be careful with your wishes, otherwise I’ll skip work so that you do it before lunch…
7:32 Úrsula: Please!!! Do it...’ ”
Veitena put the phone down and completed, “My faith obliges me to ask you for help to restore Lorenzo back to a life of rectitude in the eyes of God, Father, for the love of our family!"
Father Joseph had listened to those words with the head lowered, resting it upon his hand and his elbow supported by the arm of the chair, as he usually did whenever he found himself in deep reflections. Silence reigned in the living room after the embarrassing reading. Veitena stared Lorenzo, savoring the near victory.
For Lorenzo, there was nothing he could do or say, ashamed as he was in front of Father Joseph. He kept his eyes closed, feeding the silence that followed, already willing to acknowledge the doom to which he would be condemned, trying to live with it in the best way he could. He had to create courage to embrace fully his decisions and any consequence of them. Lorenzo would not deny those texts and, much less, lie. He had just escaped from unbearable lies in his marriage.
Eternal minutes followed, during which Father Joseph, motionless, seemed to complete the processing of what he just heard.
Silence had already taken dramatic shades when Father Joseph gently asked:
“Lorenzo, do you, by chance, have a Bible at home? Lost in my own thoughts when driving here, I forgot mine in the car.”
Before Lorenzo answered, Veitena stood with the car keys in hand:
“Father, he hates to read, he always hated, but I’ll be glad to fetch mine in the car…” she was rejoicing. Some reading of the Bible will do him good...
Father Joseph smiled, thankfully, when Lorenzo intervened:
“That won’t be necessary, Veitena, I’ll fetch a Bible in my bedroom.” leaving the room to do it.
After sitting back on the sofa, Veitena commented such novelty of a Bible in that apartment where no book was seen:
Father Joseph took the opportunity to ask Veitena how she convinced Lorenzo to show those deeply intimate messages she just read. The answer came from the corridor, by Lorenzo:
“She didn’t Father. My computer and my cell phone were hacked as well as my life is monitored.”
In the minutes that took for Lorenzo to fetch the Bible, Father Joseph stared Veitena. He used to hear confessions from thousand people and, therefore, he could not remember all of them. But he remembered confessions of many churchgoers, correlating them, preparing beautiful homilies based on his reflections about human nature at the light of Catholicism. Veitena had a constant pattern of sins, temptation to buy expensive things, to be rude with employees or people in lower social positions. She never had confessed suicide threats, death threats, invasion of privacy, the last ones felonies under the Brazilian law. He just stared her, silent. She uttered no word, looking at the floor, then at the ceiling, then at the pictures on the wall, then at the floor. Those minutes were painfully long.
At last, as in predictable clichés of any thriller movie, the few seconds of relief hearing the steps of Lorenzo coming back to the living room were immediately replaced by horror. Veitena had the dreadful intuition that, in the next hours, she would have preferred to continue under the gaze of Father Joseph to face what would happen next.