The Mouth Breather

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Father Timothy was a mouth breather.

Every time I went to Confession I could hear his

Distinctive and repetitious exhalations

Seeping through the wicker

Screen separating us and I wondered if it was

The result of a broken nose.


I often tried to imagine what Father Timothy

Was like as a child.

Timothy had the length and sound of a

Young boy's name to me.  Maybe an old man's too.

But I didn't associate the name itself

With anyone in between.


I guess priests, even young ones give off

An aura of wisdom and understanding

That allows for a sort of agelessness, a

Quality not found in other professions.

Timothy wasn't so affecting

Out of view.


The old women in their mantilla

Veils bowed solemnly when he graced their

Aisles as if he commanded it.

I always worried about their lace head adornments

Because they never looked secure.

I watched them conscientiously, expecting to


Catch the fabric move forward and quickly slip off unintentionally

like an old man's toupee in the movies but it never happened.

Not under Father Timothy's watchful eye.  The lace was

As entranced with him as the women themselves.

I went to him when I was guilty of some minor offense,

Disobeying parents or an equivalent wrong.


I wouldn't dare confess to him darker sins,

Deviances like masturbation that I wouldn't want anyone

to know about, much less a priest.

But then the things I deprived from confession

Were always the sins most worthy of penance.

And Father Timothy relished in retributive justice.


I heard once he made a boy come out from behind the screen

And face him to receive his punishment when

He confessed to looking at a dirty picture in a magazine.

I don't know what the rest of the punishment entailed

But there were whispers that his parents changed parishes

Because they were too embarrassed to sit in his pews.


My father used nasal strips for his deviated septum.

He called them nose guards as if they were

Protecting him from gentle suffocation.

I liked to picture Father Timothy in bed at night

Emitting sonorous snores, unable to control himself.