Mystery and Crime Fiction posted April 13, 2013 Chapters:  ...34 35 -36- 37... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
don't cry for me Darcy Shaw

A chapter in the book Along the Jericho Road

Suta Moon

by Writingfundimension

Previously: An elderly, home-bound parishioner of St. Matilde's Catholic Church is brutally murdered in her home. The corpse is posed and communion hosts taped to her lips. The killer has twice called Father Brian DeShano to taunt him with cryptic clues. Homicide detectives with the Granite Mountain's Sheriff's Department have considered the possibility  the priest is the killer. 


Father Brian DeShano embraced the sublime mystery of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. His role as Confessor endowed him with the power to erase the stain of sin. Providing the person confessing approached the sacrament with a sincere heart.

He grieved the churchgoers' waning reverence for the sacrament's power. He'd experienced its miraculous ability to heal the spirit. Following his mother's suicide, he turned to a Catholic priest for advice. Father Flaherty advised the young man to release Satan's hold on his thoughts and allow Jesus to heal him.

"I do want that, Father," Brian whispered. Immediately, a mysterious light filled the dark confessional. Soft as a baby's sigh, it entered through his crown, spread across his chest and absorbed his despair. A conviction grew. This was Christ calling him to the priesthood, and six months later he was a seminarian.

Twenty-eight years had passed, yet he could readily summon the sublime peace of that long-ago day.

If any parishioners experienced that in my confessional, they've not shared it with me.

"Brian, you're as good a priest as I've ever met." Father Alan Borkowski, the speaker, was Brian's mentor.

The two priests regularly exchanged confessional services. At that particular moment, they were seated across from each other in St. Catherine's ultra-modern rectory savoring coffee and blueberry ebaskivers. The clean lines of the den's furniture echoed the Scandinavian aesthetic Swedish immigrants introduced into Minnesota.

"I think you're burned out right now," Father Alan continued, "Add to that the murder of a close friend and parishioner..."

"A sabbatical is out of the question right now," Brian interjected, "even if the Bishop would allow it. We're understaffed, and the new candidates won't be ready for another year."

The older man massaged his arthritic knuckles. Minnesota winters had worn down his immune system. Yet, he submitted to his Bishop's wish to keep him in the diocese - probably until the day they carted him off to the morgue. He'd known Brian for over a decade and could tell when he was dissembling.

Father Borkowski leaned forward in his seat and softened his eyes to blunt the effect of his words. "I don't think a sabbatical will do you any good, my friend. I believe you're suffering from suppression of the truth. Or, at least, something you believe to be true."

Brian was stunned. He'd not spoken of his fear his mother was forever beyond the reach of forgiveness. He must, as a representative of the church, profess the belief that self-murder was a damnable sin. His heart, however, was at odds with his tongue.

Why should my mother be punished for the unholy spirit that took over her mind and compelled her actions?

He was not ready to speak of the matter and knew Alan would not press further. He placed his coffee cup on the tray table and stood.

"I've got an appointment in forty-five minutes with Debra Padget's niece. The Coroner's released the body, and we're meeting to discuss funeral arrangements."

Father Borkowski was half-way out of his chair when Brian signalled him to stay seated. "No need to see me to the door, Alan." He reached the den's threshold and looked back, "Same time next week?"

"God willing."

"Keep me in your prayers, old friend?"

"Always, you know that."

Brian's sudden grin held mischief. "One more thing. Stop being stubborn and take that new medication your rheumatologist prescribed. To heck with the side effects," he said before disappearing into the hallway.

It was Father Borkowski's turn to be stunned.

"How does he know about that? I only stopped taking it yesterday!"


The bank teller studied the petite blonde next in line. She took in the tight jeans, low-cut floral blouse and large purse sporting the exclusive Coach insignia. The woman glared at the backside of the customer at Margie's counter as if trying to make him disappear.

Margie was one of two tellers working the lunch hour. She made small talk in an attempt to stall until the other teller was free so she wouldn't have to deal with the blonde. The gentleman at her station was a regular customer and they often spent a few minutes catching up on local gossip. Today, he was late for a doctor's appointment and couldn't linger. When the blonde stepped to the counter, Margie put on a fake smile and said, "How can I ...?"

"Are you the head teller?"

"Excuse me?"

"I need to get into my aunt's safe deposit box." Dangling from the woman's finger was a purple band with a small key attached. "The solicitor of her estate provided me with this key. I want to view the contents of her security box."

This time Margie's smile was genuine. "The lady you need to speak with is on her lunch break. If you'll come back in an hour, I'm sure she'll be glad to assist you."

"That's not going to work for me. If the woman is on the premises, I demand to see her now."

The woman's aggression took Margie off guard. In just under a minute, she'd come to despise her. The Branch Manager watched all this from his office. He stepped to the customer's side, and without a glance in Margie's direction, dismissed her.

"I'll handle this, Margie," he said. Though the man's overbearing attitude offended her, she was relieved at his interference.

"Why don't you come into my office where we can speak in private, Miss Shaw?"

Lashes thick with black mascara framed Darcy Shaw's startling blue eyes. She tilted her head and said in a honeyed voice, "I'm flattered you know my name, especially since I do my banking elsewhere. I'm sure I'd recall meeting a handsome guy like you?"

"I saw you on television." He lowered his voice to imitate sympathy. "You know, after the... um... murder."

"Oh, of course." She tucked a curl behind her ear. "Reporters are beasts! I wasn't prepared for their assault. I feared for my own safety, I can tell you."

With a deft hand, Patrick Morgan steered her into his office and had her sit across from him behind a closed door..

"I see you have the key to your aunt's deposit box," he began. "It'll take just a few minutes for me to secure the other key. Can I offer you some coffee while you wait?"

"Well, aren't you a gentleman? I appreciate the offer, but I'm in somewhat of a hurry. I'm meeting with my aunt's pastor to... oh, dear, this is so hard... to arrange her funeral." She dabbed at non-existent tears.

"A difficult day for you," Patrick murmured. "I'll secure the key and be right back."


Finally, Darcy was alone with the box. Her hands shook as she lifted its lid. Her stomach lurched when she realized there was no jewelry inside. The contents consisted of a couple of stock certificates and a sealed mailer. She tore off the top of the mailer and pulled out several letters addressed to her aunt. They'd been carefully sliced with a letter opener indicating they'd been read.

At first she couldn't comprehend what she was looking at. Each letter consisted of words cut from various sources. Darcy's hands shook as she read the words and realized they were death threats. Included with each letter was a photograph. In each one, her Aunt Debra was with a priest she vaguely recognized.

I think this is the priest they sent to prison for raping those boys. Crap, crap, crap. I can't show this to the police. Nothing can stand in the way of my going to Mexico for the vacation I deserve!

She shoved the letters and certificates in her purse and slammed the box shut. She had just enough time to make it across town for her appointment with Father Brian. She'd plan her next move while driving to the meeting.

Once she'd exited the building, she let loose. "Damn you, Aunt Debra," she hissed, "you were always a real pain in the ass."


Cast of characters:
Father Brian DeShano: Pastor of St. Matilde's Catholic Church.
Father Alan Borkowski: Past of St. Catherine's Catholic Church.
Monsignor Lewis Flaherty: A convicted pedophile priest, previously the past of St. Matilde's.
Debra Padget: Murdered parishioner of St. Matilde's and Father Brian's personal friend.
Darcy Shaw: Debra Padget's only living relative.

Bank Branch: A bank location separate from the main headquarters.
Ebaskiver: Danish pastry (eh-bah-skee-ver)
Sacrament of Reconciliation: The confessing of one's sins to a priest who then gives you absolution of your sins.
Teller: Bank employee

Sioux term:
Suta: Hard (sue-dah)

Thanks much to lilacCollas for the great accompanying artwork.
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