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Plot summary – Mute

Monette, a traveling book salesman in his fifties goes to confession, relating to the priest a complex story of his life. While on the road, Monette picked up a hitchhiker whose sign claimed he was deaf and mute. The man gets into the car and seemingly falls asleep. Though somewhat suspicious, Monette accepts the hitchhiker is deaf as well as mute, and decides to vent his problems even though they will go unheard.

Some time before the story, Monette discovered his wife had been carrying on an affair for two years with an older man, going on binge drinking and becoming addicted to playing the lottery. She soon started to embezzle from her employer in order to buy various erotic underwear and sex toys. As the amount of her embezzlement grew, she and her lover hoped to pay the money back by winning the lottery, only to have embezzled more than a hundred thousand dollars without earning any to replace it. She revealed this all to Monette and to his disbelief tried to blame him for it, claiming his lack of interest drove her to it.

Continuing to speak to the apparently sleeping hitchhiker, he expressed his anger at her irresponsibility and ill-concern as to how this debt will affect their college student daughter (who is unaware of her mother’s sordid antics). Stopping at a rest stop, Monette signed to the hitchhiker that he is going to the bathroom but will return shortly. Upon returning, Monette found the hitchhiker gone, stealing nothing of value save for Monette’s medallion of St. Christopher. Monette thought nothing of this until two days later when the police called to inform him that his wife and her lover were murdered in a hotel room.

The priest, horrified and intrigued by the story, asks of the aftermath. Monette relates how he believes the hitchhiker was as he suspected not deaf and heard the whole story, then, possibly by looking at the registration in the car, learned of his address then tracked down his wife and her lover. He believes the hitchhiker to be behind this as he came home one day after the funeral to find his medallion returned on his desk with a note—presumably from the hitchhiker—thanking him for the ride. Monette denies having intentionally set the hitchhiker up to kill his wife, but admits he is satisfied with her death as he has an alibi and can pay for his daughter’s tuition with the life insurance. The priest admonishes his satisfaction and tells him to do ten Our Fathers and Hail Marys!