by Hadley Stevens
Father Thom Donovan knew a thing or two about deception, and how given the right circumstances, even the most vile of actions could go unnoticed and undetected— even before the eyes of two-hundred witnesses.
Friday evening mass at St. Bards provided the best circumstances. The white marble, heavenly murals, flickering candles— a pious disguise that held many secrets. Donovan was an expert at disguise. The silks of a priest robe concealed all manner of things.
Tonight, the pews filled with the young: young mothers and young college students, all looking to confess their sins before happy hour. Women used to attend church wearing dresses that buttoned up the neck. Now they came in t-shirts and shorts, their toenails painted colors that drew attention, leaving the onlooker no choice but to cast a glance down the body, back up again.
“Sinners flock on days of forgiveness,” Father Mahoney said, approaching Donovan.
Donovan’s gaze faltered. “And are they each forgiven?”
Donovan watched him lead a woman to the confessional, and followed, counting to sixty before entering.
“. . .so that your sacrifice may be a pure one-“ Mahoney cut off, wine sloshing down his fingers. “Father Thom-“
“Actually, it’s Samantha.” From under the robe, she pulled out a badge and cuffs. “Detective Samantha Donovan. Thom’s my dad’s name. It’s a great name, don’t you think?”
She turned to the woman sitting, stunned, on the bench.
“I wouldn’t drink that if I were you. It’s not what it appears to be.”