Another Aperitif from Double Exposures

Here is another clip from one of the short stories in Double Exposures, available from Amazon in paper and kindle.

From How Maria Caridad Found Passion:

“My father married the lustiest woman in the village,” Sister Maria Caridad confided to Father Jiménez through the confessional lattice. She ran her fingers back through her hair, which had grown back thick, black, and shining long before. She kept it cut short, since long hair invites conceit. She sat up straight, as she always did, her breasts pushed up and forward.

Father Jiménez was quite old, twenty years past any sexual desire and blind as a potato. At seventy-seven, his only vice was the chocolate cookies the women of the parish baked for him. “I remember your father,” he answered.

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“It was the same with my father’s father, and his father, always the lustiest girl for his bride, no one else would do.”

“I remember,” Father said.

“While my mother married the kindest, saintliest man she could find,” she continued. “And my mother’s mother, and her mother, and so on as far as anyone remembers, always the kindest, saintliest man in the village.”

“What is your point,” Father asked, thinking about the cookies waiting in the rectory.

“Do you remember how Armando Ortega took seeds from the hottest habaneros and inbred them fearlessly until his pepper plants glowed like red fireflies in the night? Each year his chilies grew hotter?”

“I remember.”

“While his wife, Luciana Ortega, took sweet chilies for seed, and pollinated with even sweeter chilies and did this until her’s were the sweetest chilies in the valley.”

“Your point?” Father repeated.

“Armando succeeded because he walked in one direction. Luciana the same – one direction.

“Yes, success of a sort.”

“My parents crossed their purposes. My father took my mother as wife because her character was what he wanted, and she took him for husband for the same reason, yet the characters they pursued are directly opposite – mules hitched to the front and back of one wagon, one pulling north, one south.”

“Did they get along?”

“Each loved the other; of course they got along.”

“So that worked out well for them, no?”

“A chili can’t be sweet and hot.”

The old priest smiled. “People are not chilies.”

“But how…?”

“You will never find peace so long as you deny your nature. I know we priests talk that way, advising our flocks to avoid intense pleasure except the pleasure of communion with God, but we only do that to get attention. None of it is true.”

“What do you mean?”

“Temptation can be God’s tool as well as Satan’s.” He paused and looked up at the ceiling of the confessional as if he could see it.

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