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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

         It was several minutes before Fr. Kevin could move from his spot on the bed.  The whole episode had been one freaking nightmare!  Or at least he hoped it was just a bad dream.  All things considered, he felt very much awake, but the alternative meant he had surely lost his mind.  Getting back to sleep was never going to happen; his heart was beating like a hammer in his chest, and his left knee jiggled up and down in a state of nervous frenzy.  The cell phone on the nightstand read 3:10 AM, leaving him a few long hours before the start of the earliest Sunday Mass.  Not wanting to toss and turn in the dark, he decided to go downstairs, have some breakfast, and maybe look over the file from Sheriff Beckett.  But not without first checking that his room was free from the presence of strange, little men.  Just to be sure, he looked in all the logical places...under the bed, behind the chair, in the corner next to the dresser...and felt like a complete idiot doing so.   Satisfied the room was fairy free, he made his way down the stairs, flipping on every light as he passed.  He was sure his neighbors would notice, and wonder why the rectory lights were blazing in the middle of the night.  There would be whispers after every Mass, but he cared little, as the warm brightness, and lack of shadowy corners, made him feel better, and so he left them all on.

           He fixed himself a pitcher of his favorite breakfast "pick-me-up", a mixture of Mountain Dew, Red Bull and orange juice, and settled himself at his desk, the very same one Tessa Peppers had so graciously "tidied" up for him the evening before.  Thinking of the woman aggravated him, so he instead focused his energy on the coroner's report on Marco Rivera's body.  The cause of death seemed pretty obvious.  The pruning shears had 7 inch serrated blades, and had been plunged between Marco's shoulder blades to a depth of  4 inches, hitting an artery, and causing massive bleeding.  Having slept through most of his high school anatomy class, Fr. Kevin wasn't sure how much force it would require to break through that much muscle and tissue in a person's back, but assumed it would take a decent amount of strength to do so.  Did that rule out  the possibility of a woman as the killer?  Remembering how his sister, Maureen, all five feet, 110 pounds of her, wielded her la crosse stick, he thought probably not.  If the murderer had the element of surprise, and rage enough to want to kill, they could easily have taken out the small and wiry Rivera without much of a fight, man or woman.  The angle of the blades into the body suggested that the person was nearly the same height as Marco, again not limiting the suspects to one gender or the other.

        As far as Kevin could tell, the rest of the coroner's report offered little in the way of forensic clues.
When ever he watched a crime drama on television, there were always little bits of evidence that pointed the finger at a variety of suspects.  Apparently in real life, it wasn't that simple, and murders were unable to be solved in less than an hour.  Yet, the priest was sure he was missing something important in this report.  He just wasn't sure what.

         Rereading the same page again, he noted the sticky residue on Marco's undershirt, a size medium
Fruit of the Loom, with a crew neck.  He shuffled through the file, trying to locate a photo of the said shirt, and upon finding it, stared long and hard.  What could leave a mark like that, he pondered?  It looked familiar, but hard as he tried, he couldn't quite place where he had seen it before.  As he finished the last of his morning juice, curious in thought over the findings in the report, the grandfather clock across the room chimed five times.  Closing the file, Fr. O'Kenney got up from the desk and began to prepare for 6:00 AM Mass.



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