- My dad, he used to come to this church back when I was a kid. He was a fighter. Old school. Boxer. Lost more than he won. Had a 24-31 record before he, uh... But he could take a punch. Jesus, he could take a punch."
- Perhaps this would be easier if you tell me what you've done."
"I'm not seeking penance for what I've done, Father. I'm asking forgiveness for what I'm about to do."
"That's not how this works. What exactly are you going to do?
- You're Jack Murdock's kid, aren't you? It's all right. Seal of Confession. Anything you said during the sacrament of penance stays between us. Could've killed 10 people, I couldn't tell anyone."
"That seem fair to you?"
"Is what it is."
"I have to get to work."
"Yeah, me, too. Wouldn't mind a cup of coffee first, though. Chamber of commerce donated one of those... fancy espresso machines for meetings and stuff. I make a heck of a latte, if you're interested."
"Some other time, maybe."
"Seemed you had a lot on your mind last time you were here. Sure you don't want that latte?"
"Take care of yourself, Father.
- So... what's on your mind, Matthew? Wasn't that hard to find out. People still remember Battlin' Jack Murdock around these parts... and what happened to his son. Seal of confession still applies, even over lattes. That what you're worried about."
"Do you believe in the Devil, Father?"
"You mean as a concept?"
"No. Do you believe he exists? In this world, among us."
"You want the short answer or the long one?"
"Just the truth."
"When I was in seminary... I was more studious than pious, more... skeptical than most of my peers. I had this notion... which I was more than willing to speak about, at length, to whoever I could corner... that the Devil... was inconsequential. Minor figure in the grand scheme."
"Not very Catholic of you."
"Uh-huh, yeah. In my defense, in the scriptures, the Hebrew word "Satan" actually means "adversary". It's applied to any antagonist. Angels and Humans, serpents and kings. Medieval theologians reinterpreted those passages to be about a single monstrous enemy. And, in my youthful zeal, I was certain I knew why... propaganda. Played up to drive people into the church."
"So you don't believe he exists."
"Am I done talking?"
"Years later, I was in Rwanda... trying to help local churches provide aid and sanctuary to refugees. I'd become close with the village elder, Gahiji. He and his family had the respect of everybody, Hutu and Tutsi alike. He'd helped them all... through famines, disease. The militia liked to force Hutu villagers to murder their neighbors... with machetes. But nobody would raise a hand against Gahiji. They said, "Well,... how can we kill such a holy man?" So the militia commander sent soldiers... with orders to cut his head off... in front of the entire village. Gahiji didn't try to put up a fight. Just asked for the chance to say goodbye to his family. By the time he was done, even the soldiers didn't wanna kill him. So they went to their commander and asked permission to shoot him. At least give him a quick death. The commander wanted to meet this man... who had won the respect of so many. He went to Gahiji... talked with him in his hut... for many hours. Then he dragged him out in front of his village and hacked him to pieces... along with his entire family. In that man who took Gahiji's life... I saw the Devil. So yes, Matthew... I believe he walks among us... taking many forms.
- How did you know I was sitting here, you mind me asking?"
"You want the short answer or the long one?"
"I was worried you might've gone out and done something foolish, after our talk this morning."
"I haven't done anything. Not yet."
"Sounds a bit on the ominous side."
"I went to visit someone close to the... close to the Devil. Not to hurt her, just to get a sense of him. Of who he is and what it would take to... do what I have to."
"And what did you learn?"
"That he has someone he loves... who loves him, who'd mourn his loss."
"Mmm-hmm. Few things are absolute, Matthew. Even Lucifer was once an angel. It's why judgment and vengeance... are best left to God. Especially when murder is not in your heart."
"How do you know?"
"You're here, aren't you?
- That thing... brought you here last time... didn't go so well?"
"Not so much."
"The man... you talked of... did you..."
"No, I didn't kill him. But I tried to."
"And are you disappointed that you didn't succeed... or maybe a little relieved?"
"A friend of mine says that if I don't change the way I do things... the way I live my life... I will end up bloody and alone."
"You believe that?"
"I'm not afraid of dying."
"Lot of people aren't, comes right down to it. It's living scares the holy crap out of 'em."
"You know what I do? Who I am?"
"Sacrament of Penance, like I told you. Don't have to worry about-"
"It's not what I'm asking."
"Yes, Matthew, I'm not an idiot. I have a pretty good idea who you are... and what you do. How you do it... That's something else entirely."
"Accident... when I was a kid. Used to think it was God's will."
"Yeah, he made each and every one of us with a purpose, didn't he? A reason for being."
"I believe so, yes."
"Then why did he put the Devil in me? Why do I feel it in my heart... and my soul... clawing to be let out... if that's not all part of God's plan?"
"Maybe you're being called to summon the better angels of your nature. Maybe that's the struggle you're feeling... deep within you."
"And how do you know the angels and the Devil inside me aren't the same thing?"
"I don't, but nothing drives people to the church faster than the thought of the Devil snapping at their heels. Maybe that was God's plan all along. Why he created him, allowed him to fall from grace... to become a symbol to be feared... warning to us all, to tread the path of the righteous.
- How are you holding up?"
"Like a good Catholic boy."
"That bad huh?"
"He was a good man. And he's gone... because I haven't stopped what's happening to this city."
"Can't put that on yourself, Matthew. You've done everything you can. A lot you probably shouldn't have."
"And here we are.
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