Rated: T [PG] for foul language and violence.

Based on characters and situations from the movie written by Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama. Original characters are my creations and completely fictitious.

The Passion of Needy by Diablo Priest

Part I

It was five minutes to eleven, all the volunteers had left, all the hopeless people—the indigents, alcoholics, addicts, mentally disturbed, and homeless had gone for the night; and Father Paulson, as usual, was locking the front door of the Third Street Soup Kitchen and Mission. Off in the distance, sirens pierced the chilly night air of the city. Suddenly someone tried to open the door, Father Paulson grabbed the bar tightly.

"Sorry, we're closed for the night."

Despite his efforts, the door opened violently; a tremendous blow knocked him down, and the door slammed loudly.

Father Paulson lay on the cold floor, stunned. As he regained his senses, he heard someone breathing loudly, as if they had run a long distance. He turned his head and saw a pair of dirty fuzzy pink bunny slippers.

He looked up and saw a small blonde girl, fifteen or sixteen years old, he thought. She was wearing an orange jumpsuit and a hoodie. He almost laughed. How did an escaped teenager from juvenile detention wind up here in the middle of the night, he thought. His laugh was strangled, by the sight of blood. It was splattered all over her. The strangest sight, however, was the nimbus that appeared around the girl's head; surely this was an optical illusion caused by the florescent lights overhead and his unusual view from the floor. Before he could be frightened, the girl slumped against the wall.

Getting slowly to his knees, Father Paulson asked, "Are you all right?"

There was no reply.

He got up and reached for the girl.

She shot him a look of rage and growled, "Don't touch me, priest!"

He took a step back. "Are you hurt?"

"Are you?" she asked mockingly.

"No," he answered, "but you are very strong."

"More than you know," she said panting.

"You're out of breath, and you must be thirsty; do you want something to drink?"

"What's the catch, priest?"

"There's no catch. You are obviously in trouble—I try to help souls in trouble."

"I could use a drink," she said.

"Come in."

"And something to eat?"

"Come in."

She sat down at one of the folding tables in the large hall, which reminded her of the school cafeteria. Father Paulson disappeared in back, and reappeared with a cup of orange juice in one hand and a half-gallon carton in the other. The girl took the carton and swallowed it down like a football player.

"Take it easy," Father Paulson said. "We only serve 150 meals a day here."

"Don't worry, I'll save some for the bums. Now get me something to eat."

"I don't take commands from you," he said with a firm tone.

The girl almost said something to him, but then she merely sighed and gazed out the window at the front of the hall, gazed into the black night. "Please," she said in a small voice and dropped her gaze to the table.

He smiled, a handsome smile aged by years with the hopeless. He disappeared into the back again.

Above the counter on the wall hung a large Crucifix, the head of Jesus turned to the right side. She thought of the last time she had seen her friend—the friend she had stabbed in the heart—and began to cry. She had never cried for her friend before, but now the tears flooded out. During all the months she had spent in Leech Lake Women's Correctional Hospital, she never once cried for the life-long friend she had lost.

She heard Father Paulson returning with her food, and she choked off her tears somehow.

"You've been crying."

"Mind your own business, priest." Her mask of hostility returned.

"Okay, you'll tell me about it when you're ready."

"I'm not telling you shit!"

"As you wish."

He started the sign of the Cross.

"What are you doing?" she demanded.

"We always pray here before meals."

"Go to hell."

"I'm not forcing you to pray."

"Damn right," she said. "It does no good, anyway."

"So you have prayed."

"Nice try, priest," she said with a grin. "I'm still not telling you anything."

She wolfed down her meal.

"Do you have a place to stay tonight?"

The girl said nothing.

"The weatherman said it's going to be in the twenties tonight, and I know that the shelter for run-away girls is full."

"I'm not a runaway."

"Still, whatever trouble you're in, you need help, you can't face it alone."

"Why should I trust you? And why are you trying to help me?"

He touched his collar. "It's kind of my job." And he smiled again.

She rose from her chair and turned away.

"Look," Father Paulson said, "if I wanted to turn you in, I could have phoned the police when I got you the orange juice or food. You're not going to be safe out there tonight. I don't know what you're involved in, but from all the blood—it must be serious. You know they'll be looking for you. I offer you sanctuary for the night. Well, 'sanctuary' may be a fancy word for it—I offer you the old couch in my office. It's in the back."

She looked at him and said nothing. It was a strange offer, and she knew that evil could be concealed in unexpected places. Their eyes met: the light of the nimbus appeared in his mind's eye; and for a moment, she thought that she was looking into the eyes of the courageous, gentle, fallible boy who had once loved her. The priest gestured to the back of the mission. After showing her the office, he bid her goodnight and left, saying he would return early in the morning. The office was simple. There was a desk, a name plate on it, a chair, the phone, a filing cabinet, and the old couch, above which hung a picture of Jesus with several lambs at his feet and a dove above his head. There was a picture on the desk too. It was of a girl, dressed in white, who looked like an angel. The photograph was haunting, not least because it reminded the girl of her dead friend.

"Jennifer? Oh, Jennifer." the girl said out loud and erupted into violent sobs. She curled up on the couch and cried herself to sleep.