Boston, Massachusetts, Sunday, June 3rd, 2018
The pop of the cork echoed in the dining room as he opened the 2011 bottle of Terre Rouge Tête-à-Tête. If one type of alcohol made his life easier, it was red wine. It pleased his taste buds and suited his profession. The blood of Christ.
Whether early priests had begun drinking it due to alcoholism, epicurism, or simple lack of clean drinking water was debatable, but one thing was certain: blends were better for his budget than expensive dry wines. And they offered the perfect cover for the first step of his cleansing process.
She sat cross-legged at a proper distance from him, with her Sunday best on. Her manicured hands rested together on one of her knees, but he knew she hadn’t kept her distance from other men before… At least she had the decency to keep her filthy digits away from him.
For a second, he reconsidered whether he should proceed with his plan.
“Your parents have been out of town, you said. Are they back?” he asked, his eyes scanning the rest of the dining room decor, which was adorned with family photos. In the neatly tiled frames, she and her parents beamed in various settings: by the harbor, at graduation, at the beach. Her blonde hair ran in the family.
When she started speaking, he returned his eyes to her. A hint of pink had reached her cheeks.
“They’re away on a cruise. They’ve been gone for a week already, but they should be back in two weeks.”
Her reply returned him to his senses. If he let her be, she’d only worsen her situation. She’d have too much time to continue sinning. If he waited any longer, she’d forever be damned and stuck in Hell, rotting with…
He couldn’t even bring himself to think about her name anymore.
A soul could only stand so much staining before the gates of paradise would forever seal shut, preventing trespassing by those who didn’t deserve entry.
He moved the empty wine glasses closer, away from the pen and pad of paper she’d placed on the table minutes earlier.
As he poured an inch of red liquid into the first glass, he spoke. “You said your parents had a special Bible they liked to read from, as a family. Could you please get it? I’d love to see it.”
“Of course.” She grinned, got up from her chair, and headed into the adjacent living room, her footsteps fading away as she walked out of sight.
He knew she could be back any second. A practicing family like hers had to have Bibles nearby at all times. After retrieving the tiny vial he’d hidden, his fingers swiftly dumped its contents into the empty glass. By the time the creaks of her footsteps got closer, he’d already poured wine over it, hiding his special ingredient.
“Here it is,” she said, handing the worn-out, leather-bound book to him and beaming as though it was an Olympic medal she’d just earned.
“Ah, the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition. Is this one of the original printings?”
She nodded. “Daddy says so. He’s had it since he was a child.”
“Very nice. Please join me.” He indicated to the chair she’d previously occupied next to him.
“You are so… fun.” She sat and grabbed her pen and paper. “You’re right. It will be much easier to work on the social calendar here, away from the screaming children waiting for their parents to be done socializing. And while drinking wine? You’re the coolest!”
Such a lovely young woman, but so easily tempted.
Her soul deserved to rest in peace. Unlike the one whose name he dared not think about anymore, he had time to save this young woman’s soul, if he acted now.
“Shall I bless this wine before we get started?”