Raymond waved to me to follow him out a back door and then through a wooden gate into the Gardens. There, hidden behind some shrubs, was the wooden doors of the walk-up. After undoing the padlock, he led me down into the dungeon of the Church, a sprawling basement that seemed to stretch into eternal darkness. Concrete floor, unfinished stone walls, lit only by slits of sunlight poking in through cracks here and there and from an occasional bare light bulb hanging down. As we walked, Raymond would keep tugging on yet another little chain igniting yet another few feet of 60 watt light.
This was Raymond's subterranean world, a musty, dusty world of cobwebs, cast-offs, furnaces, oily rags, tools, and the broken relics of days gone past.
On one side of the basement was a makeshift hovel, a single bed, a green sofa chair, a table, a lamp, a braided rug, and a rather sizable wardrobe, probably a one time donation from a wealthy widow that Raymond took off the truck. This was Raymond's home, here in the bowels of Raymond's realm.
On the other side of the basement was the working part of this maintenance hole, a long work bench pushed against a wall of tools, beside it what appeared to be a gardener's bench, piled high with insecticides, fertilizers, tools and pots.
"Raymond, is this all the garden chemicals?"
"As fah I know, suh."
I snatched a few samples of suspicious looking products for the lab to check. I did notice that a couple of the bags had the word strychnine hidden in the midst of much longer chemical names.
"Do you know which of these, the Archbishop used?"
"Most of 'em, suh. He especially sprayed those gardenias of his with this here stuff in this green bottle."
"Thank you, Raymond. By the way, who has keys to the basement. Most all the staff, suh. But seldom do see folks down here. De' figure this is muh home and I thinks de' like to leave me be."
Raymond was a good enough fellow. He walked me back out of the basement and showed me the quickest way to my car by way of a gate that led through the small cemetery that held the graves from a century ago.