Confessional, by Michael Vines
Inclement weather forced my retreat back into the purgatory I call home. “Damned tumultuous rain,” I muttered as I bolted the door behind me. My appearance went wholly unnoticed, to my satisfaction. Upon entering the hovel my senses balked at the sight of him, an itinerant cropper known as Stephan, sitting at the kitchen board stuffing his gullet. A gullible and unsophisticated waif, who assuredly exists solely to satisfy his pabulum and carnal appetite, busied herself with a coffee urn while I removed a piece of mutton and a turnip from the kettle. “She's little more than unnamed fodder to the bastard,” I thought to myself. I broke-off a chip of stale bread and took a toil-worn chair at the other end of the table to preclude any prospect of conversation: the anonymity of a stranger being my placid desire. My observations demanded otherwise.
There he sat, the repugnant oaf, oblivious to the milieu; focused utterly upon himself and his vulgar obsessions. To know him with any degree of intimacy would violate any sense of morality or ethical judgment from the most common pedestrian. Yet, he exists and walks freely among those who value what life bestows upon them and who devoutly worship their creator. A sense of nausea came to me in his morbid presence but it was overcome by gnawing hunger. At least the woman cooks well enough.
The thought of reviewing that which is known about him caused me great trepidation, but I am unable to resist the masochistic allure. There was a time when the mere mention of his name was enough to obturate my bowels, but now, with all conjured mettle, can he be contemplated with sound regularity. An assault upon the intellect is the only guarantee of venturing further into his recountal; it would be wise to consider it fair warning.
Well known about his loyalty to friends is the lack of compassion he demonstrated during their time of need; a dodging of communication and his lack of personal acumen during the 11th Hour farewell of companions was left with a revealing deficiency of propriety. His emotional betrayal also carried over to hapless family members. The mental treatment of his overwrought and distressed, widowed mother was cruel and unapologetic concerning the revelation of a lifelong confession from his emotionally tormented brother, and his inadequate support of grieving and apprehensive kinfolk had resulted in complete estrangement. Little, if any further insight into his aforementioned emotional failing would reveal nothing of particular value.
Childhood revelations include his blind trust of bitter and grudging friendships who turned truly devoted and reliable friends against him. In adulthood, he cavalierly traded long-standing relationships for a perceived furtherance of status without any regard for the substitute party's sensitivities, for which he suffered scorn and rejection from all. A lesson never learned by his quelled and limited mentality.
Schooling marked the development of an egotistical, self-serving psyche that would mold his materialistic character for years to come. A habitually poor student, he possessed little ability to grasp the most basic fundamentals of education, preferring to sharpen what social skills he held to further his intrepid desire for sibling acceptance. When he reached higher levels of education his deficiencies became more apparent with the expected results: a non-issued credential and the squandered use of an educator's pedagogical skills. This was met with the minutest regard on his behalf.
The lump of putrid flesh appears disturbed. Perhaps he is not receiving the unwavering adoration from the fair lady he expects. Or the inhabitants of the house are not demonstrating their fidelity and servitude by way of genuflection when traversing his presence. It is not my opinion alone that he be adequately celebrated by being set afire.
An unexpectedly long and prosperous career awaited the beast in a position where he posed as a knowledgeable and capable civil servant, deceiving the journeymen who worked along side of him for a very long spell. The deception was complete, and in turn, allowed him to create a pretentious social demeanor which successfully followed him throughout his productive years, except to a few who could see through his elaborate charade. Ironically, he was forced out of his position due to nepotism—granting jobs to relatives without regard to merit, and was constrained to working the land; a fitting post for his limited mentality and know-how, with no offense to those who subsist by cultivating the earth.
He believed taking a wife would be beneficial to him; financially, if she came with a dowry, and her as a maid servant since his widowed mother was advancing in years and required care. His concern and love for another woman would always be secondary to his mother; a selfish and arrogant ransom on any relationship. His marriage proved a rapid failure; barely consummated and leaving her to care for a vindictive and overbearing mother-in-law while he traveled the land for work, away for months at a time. Unable to cope, alone and without child, she took her life by hanging from the same tree under which he had proposed to her only a year before.
A broken and valueless man who had no idea of the misery and disappointment he had brought to so many lives during his years. Singularly responsible and without remorse for so many failures, he'll continue to feed from those charitable souls who undyingly and unknowingly welcome him into their hearts and homes.
Fear not old fiend, for I am surly you.
Michael Vines is a freelance writer who lives in South-Central Kentucky. His "Slice of Life" essays have been published in statewide newspapers and Amazon Kindle ("Ain't Life Peachy")
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