Chapter Three

Posted: February 15, 2016 by Ty in Speare Book 1
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It is true what they say defaulting to the answer of “aliens” does just make life simple. Just like the church to go back to is not the one where the body was found cold, but where the blood of the body burned hot for a new lover. St. Peter’s Cathedral was a half block sand stone gothic architecture church building. A shining beacon of Roman Catholicism, with church bells that would ring exactly five minutes after the hour and half hour of the spire clock. Enough to drive the OCD types postal.
Speare scratched the stubble of his chin as he ascended the 14 cobble stone stairs to the front door. Solid oak, supposed to look imposing, but in the afternoon light resembled something more of a Monty Python prop. Google was the modern day private eye’s friend. Through that Speare had located O’Neil’s Linkedin profile that showed before defrocking he had been the priest in charge at the Cathedral.
His good eye looks at the Mass times sign, Reconciliation was held in about five minutes. Speare opens the door and steps into the Narthex, the Holy Water fountain is the first thing he connects with. “When in Rome.” Speare dips his fingers into the water and makes the sign of the Cross as he steps into the sanctuary area, to the left there is a small room. The church post Vatican II had moved away from the stereo typical confessional booths, to more like tea rooms where the parishners and priest could sit to discuss redemption from sins real or imagined.
Weekday Mass brought a small but faithful group of older ladies huddled at the front of the Sanctuary saying the Rosary, contemplating the mysteries of faith while Speare moved into the room and took a seat to await the new priest in charge, for he knew it would be fool hardy to expect Bishop Paul to be on deck for such matters.
Speare had to smile for in between the two wing back chairs sat a small table, and on the table was two tea cups and a pot of steeping tea. Quite the literalists within this church. Never to pass up a warm beverage Speare pours himself a cup and takes a seat.
A gruff harrumph from the entrance. The portly man with the thinning white hair, red complexion, gasping uncomfortably through his nose dressed in the black suit of the priest. “Well I will be damned the Bishop is home.” Speare said.
Bishop Paul tugs at his black shirt as he closes the door and takes the empty seat by Speare. “Thinking of converting my child?”
“Now padre, we both know my unrepentant heresies would keep me not only out of communion with the Holy See, but could very likely cause you to burst into flames.”
The laugh from the Bishop is a deep one that authentically begins in the belly. “True, Mr. Speare, how may I help you aside from drinking my tea?”
Speare smirks and takes a sip of the tea, chamomile, quite the blend to bring about a conversation of Reconciliation. “I must admit that you guys know how to create the mood for this whole sacrament thing.”
“Sacrament thing, hard to believe at one point you were a lay minister.” Paul said.
“Not my fault that no one fact checked my allegiances before consecration.” Speare chuckles, and Paul shares the laugh. “But more seriously I am here about something that happened roughly 3 months ago.”
“Reverend O’Neil’s mysterious death.”
Another gulp of tea, there is a form that Speare can make out through the stain glass in the doorway. A true parishner awaiting reconciliation with their God in the sky who looks like Charlton Heston possibly, through the great mediation of the Bishop. It was a clear sign for Speare to pick up the tempo of the dance for information, as much fun as it was to kibitz with one of his former spiritual directors.
“The board of the United Church has hired me to look into his murder.” Speare always feels that after a statement like that he should play his own thriller music sound track for proper effect. The Bishop’s gave does not shift, and there is no extra sweat or other tell-tale signs that he had wished O’Neil unwell or would have actively sought out his extermination.
Paul pours himself his own cup of tea and takes a sip before providing an answer, almost seems to ponder the word choice like one might in a philosophical debate on who is the greatest sports team: Montreal Canadiens or New York Yankees. But that is a deeper theological issue than murder. “John the Baptist had it right in regards to some religious being nothing more than a nest of vipers. I tried to warn Rex about that when he fell in love with Jerome. I encouraged him to remember his vows, and failing that to keep it quiet, but the heart wants what the heart wants as Rex told me. We released him from his vows to pursue love, and in spite of what many may think, did not persecute. Hell, our women’s league made him his vestments for the new church, and the men’s group built the fence for their new house. But…” There is always a but in stories such as these.
“But… There was a darkness in that home that even our prayers could not keep out.” Paul paused for effect. “I am not going to even waste our collective air in hear digressing on theological issues, or denominational brand bull shit, please don’t let the women’s league know I use such language.” Another large belly laugh, followed by a gulp of tea this time. “There was something ill in that church as a whole, they have cycled through 10 pastors in 7 years that is a record I do believe. Yet it almost felt like a head hunting expedition into our pulpit by Jerome to get Rex, and once he had him.”
Interesting theory, in moment’s like this Speare wished he carried a notebook to write things down. “Well Bishop, you know the official story”
Paul nodded. “Yes we do. Scandal and intrigue gets internet hits and sells ad space, and papers. But truth is we ended our relationship on good terms. We were saddened to hear of his death three months ago, and sadly my first inclination was to wonder how much his life was worth to that dying group of people.”
The money question again. How much would a dead minister be worth to a church? Very much connecting with what Mrs. Lowery was trying to share. Speare sipped the last of his tea. “Shot in the dark, is there any one a bit off in your congregation that may have not been so progressive in thought?”
Paul shrugs upwards. “I can cop out and state seal of the confessional, but really, no, there was no hard feelings at his transition out.”
With that Speare ends the conversation, and lets the lady waiting outside of the doors in to reconcile her own sins. There needed to be one more stop before returning to the now cold scene of the crime, and that was to get a broader perspective on the issue, and possibly some muscle as things might turn nasty.

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