Deal Me In 2019 – Week 22
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Mr. Arceneaux looked at the ceiling, the corners of his flaccid mouth turning down. “I don’t know. There’s one thing I ain’t told you yet.”
“Well, it’s now or never.” The priest was instantly sorry for saying this, and Clyde gave him a questioning look before glancing down at his purple feet.
I wasn’t sure exactly where Tim Gautreaux’s short story “Good For the Soul” was headed at first. Father Ledet, in the middle of his brandy, gets a call for the Annointing of the Sick for a parishioner in the hospital. While driving there, not long after his brandy, he sideswipes the car of another parishioner who ends up at the hospital with a painful but not life-threatening injury. All this resulting in a DWI for the priest.
With an interconnection of confessions, the priest gets caught up in a humorous attempt to make right one of the “sins” of the sick parishioner. While Father Ledet hands out a small penance, the priest, himself, seems to be the one taking up the slack for the hospitalized man’s misdeed.
The more I think about this story, the funnier it gets. At the same time, Gautreaux inserts Patrolman Vic Garafola to provide a slight moral compass – just enough to keep the overarching plot humorous without making drunk driving funny.
This story is included in The Best American Catholic Short Stories edited by Daniel McVeigh and Patricia Schnapp. I read it when I selected the Nine of Hearts for Week 22 of my Deal Me In 2019 short story project. My Deal Me In list can be seen here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.