The Saint

“He’s here,” the old man said, lowering his newspaper, chuckling under his breath. “The saint.” His wife smiled behind him.

“Right on schedule,” he said.

It was a Friday. The man in question always goes to church on Fridays. He parked his car across the cafe from where the old man and his wife were sitting. He didn’t know they’ve been watching him for months now.

“What a good man,” the wife said. “I wonder who he is. I wonder where he lives.”

“He doesn’t look like he’s from around here,” the old man said.

“I wonder if he has a wife and kids,” she said.

“He looks like a family man to me,” he said.

“What a good man,” she said. “And so young. When was the last time you went to confession, Tony? And to think that we live right across a church.”

The old man grumbled and went back to his reading.

The man disappeared into the confessional. After what seemed like a long time, he emerged from it with an expression that was solemn and severe. He walked slowly into the adoration chapel, leaving his shoes by the door.

“He never stops by here,” the old man said, stirring his coffee.

“No. He must be very busy,” the wife said.

A quarter of an hour passed by before they saw the man again. He bought a piece of rose from a vendor who was idling by the parking lot and laid it beside a statue of the Virgin Mary. Then he lit some candles and stood motionless for several minutes.

“What a good man,” the wife repeated, more to herself than to her husband.

Inside his car later that afternoon, on his way home, the man beat at his chest and wept, “Oh, Lord. Oh, Lord! I am so ashamed. When will this agony end?” He wiped the tears off his cheeks with his sleeve. “Oh Lord, that I be a decent man. Please help me become a decent man.”

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