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Thursday, June 21, 2012

              After escaping the clutches of the long winded Tessa Peppers, Fr. Kevin was in no mood to attempt any more home visits. Looking at his watch, he realized it was already 2:30 in the afternoon, and if he wanted to catch Sheriff Beckett before he left for the day, he'd better hustle.

              The Sheriff was just clearing off his desk, when Fr. O'Kenney appeared at the door.  It was a lovely Saturday afternoon, and the poor man was hoping to get in a few hours of fishing before supper. The intrusion of the young priest as he was getting to leave for the day, was not a welcome sight.

              "Fr. O'Kenney, what brings you here on a grand Saturday afternoon?  Don't you have souls to save somewhere?" chuckled the Sheriff, laughing at his own joke.

              "I apologize for bothering you this late in the day, Sheriff Beckett.  I had planned to stop earlier, but I was visiting parishioners, and time just slipped away.  I wanted to give you this possible evidence."  He handed the two Ziploc baggies containing the rosary and glove to the Sheriff.  "I thought you might want to have your CSI guys take a look at this."

                "CSI guys, Father?  You've got to be kidding!  In Dollyville?  You're looking at the entire police force in front of you!  We don't have a crime lab here, or any forensic experts, for that matter.  Damn, I' d be happy to be able to hire a deputy, but we don't have money in the budget for another salary.  I'm hoping after the mayoral election in the fall, we get someone who truly recognizes the needs of this town.  Besides, this is the first murder in Dollyville in fifteen years, and the last one was an open and close domestic issue.  We don't need our own crime lab.  When I need something analyzed, I just send it down state to the big boys."

                Fr. Kevin looked sheepish, but continued the conversation, "I just thought maybe these were clues to who might have murdered Mr. Rivera.  The Telller boy, Irwin, found them near the spot where Marco was um... lying..  I figured you'd want them as evidence."

                "I appreciate your concern, Father.  But I think you watch too much T.V.  Cases are solved by good, solid leg work.  Track down the motive, and the evidence finds itself.  Leave the police work to the professionals"

                After a few more minutes of conversion and and pleading, Fr. O'Kenney walked out with few answers, but did manage to talk Sheriff Beckett out of a copy of the coroner's report, and a file containing a few case notes, including witness interviews.  He knew that if the Sheriff had not been in a hurry, and old fashioned in the sense that he respected Kevin's Roman collar, he would have left empty-handed.  At the least, he could discover how poor Marco had died.  He owed the man that much.

                Stopping briefly for a carry-out sandwich, he headed back to the rectory, looking forward to some peace and quiet, and time to go over the files before 5:00 Mass.  As luck would have it, that was not to be.  Several phone calls, and a problem with the church's air conditioning, ate up the rest of the afternoon, and it was late in the evening before he could get back to the information concerning Marco's murder.

                 Making himself a tall pitcher of instant lemonade, he settled at his desk in the rectory's parlor, and began to read.  According to the coroner, the gardener had died from stab wounds to the back, which pierced the left lung, and severed two major arteries. Cause of death was listed as massive blood loss. That didn't come as a shock to the priest, as he had seen the pruning shears wedged firmly between Marco's shoulder blades, and the huge pool of blood spreading across the church lawn.  Curiously, the heavy sweater the man had been wearing that day had been cut up the front, and there had been a sticky residue, and remnants of masking tape, on the man's undershirt.

       The notes stated that there were no witnesses to the actual attack, and several people at Mass that morning claimed to have heard nothing out of the ordinary,  A few foot prints  had been found near the body, but because the ground had been so dry, the impression were not clear enough to determine shoe size or type.

                 The rest of the file contained bits and pieces of information about Rivera's personal life, but seemingly nothing out the ordinary that would give someone justification to kill the man.  Fr. Kevin scratched his head, and looked over the notes on his desk.  It felt like he was missing something important, but could not determine what it might be.  He wondered about the rosary and glove he had handed over to the Sheriff earlier that afternoon.  Although the Sheriff had shown little concern about them as possible evidence, the priest felt their appearance at the exact murder site was more than coincidence.

                Frustrated, and tired of sitting in the uncomfortable desk chair, he rose, stretched and walked across the room to pour himself another glass of lemonade.  He bent down to grab the pitcher, and was startled to see a face pressed against the parlor window, watching his every move.  "Shit!" he exclaimed, dropping the file full of papers, as he jumped back from the window.


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