Chance After Chance by Thomas Walsh

by Arun

Theme for the Week: Edgar Winners

Source: The Edgar Winners.

Story Number: 78

He was just known as the Padre. He has been thrown out of the church for various transgressions. In his fifties, his only indulgence is whiskey – he is seen drinking from 7 in the night till 3 in the morning in the Harrington’s. He is surprised when his friend Jack invites him for dinner to meet two of his friends.

Over several whiskies, the host and his two friends come to know of several vows which the Padre had broken during his tenure of service for the Roman Catholic Church. Knowing that he still has his priest’s shirt and a roman collar, they put forth a proposal to the Padre. To appear in his capacity as a Padre to hear the confession of a dying man who had robbed a bank. This man has just been recently released from prison, he is the sole survivor of the gang which attempted the robbery and he hasn’t revealed the whereabouts of the loot to anyone. The three friends suspect that he would confess this information to a Father on his deathbed and they want him to pass on the location of the loot to them. The Padre accepts to listen to the confession even though he knows in his mind that this is the only vow which he hasn’t broken.

The three friends corner the Padre after he emerges from the dying man’s house. The Padre refuses to part with the information that they want, he says that he was moved and completely transformed when the dying man saw him with such reverence and respect. This forces the three of them to take the Padre to a cliff edge and threaten him with his life. Will he consent to share the loot with them as a co-conspirator? Will he just give them the information that they want without being a privy to the retrieval of the dirty money and break the vow he has never broken? Or will he able to think of a way to escape?

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