"Thou shalt not covet." I never was quite sure what that particular sin was all about, but I think it had something to do with what I was feeling about Father Kelly's '49 Ford Woody. From the ivory knobs on that Philco radio, a car radio that actually worked, to that oakwood dashboard that made you feel as if this car had been crafted by magical forest elves, this car cried out to me, "I should be your car, Ian MacKenzie. Take me."
"Lieutenant, was Brother Paolo as you expected?"
"To be candid, not really. From the way you and Sister Anne described him, I was expecting something between a madman and an idiot. I found him to be a rather clear thinking fellow."
"And he is, Lieutenant, out here in the real world, he's a real life saint; but put him in the light of stained glass and he's a real pain in the neck. The problem with Brother Paolo is that he's got this nasty idealistic streak in him. He keeps thinking we ought to do things like Jesus would go about to doing things."
"Well, Father, I sorta thought that is what you guys with the reverse collars were suppose to be about."
"Oh, that's the impression we might give you but you have to remember that Jesus was rather a pain in the neck for the priests back in his day."
"Good point, Father. Do you really think Brother Paolo would do the Archbishop any harm?"
"I doubt it. Inside that growl is a very gentle and compassionate soul. But I have wondered if one of his street crazies might have taken upon themselves to be Brother Paolo's holy avenger."
"What about Raymond?"
"Don't know. We've never had a problem with him, but he does spook some members of the parish. Yet I just can't believe Raymond would hurt the Archbishop. They've known each other for years."
"Yeah. Raymond used to work in the Archbishop's former parish, while he was still the charismatic and handsome Monsignor Collins. I think they've been together for over thirty years."
"That's a bit unusual. Any reason why they were so close?"
"I reckon they just were good at listening to each other."
"Father, Raymond just didn't seem that upset this morning about the death of his old friend."
"I suspect that's because Raymond comes across as one tough, old bird. I wouldn't be surprised if it all doesn't all get to him a few days from now. Every now and then, Raymond sinks into a deep depression and we don't see much of him."
"Goes off on a drunk?"
"No. Just hides out in his place and sits in the dark for hours on end. Then in a week or so, he seems to shake it off."
As we neared Saint Francis, I rushed ahead with the question I should have already asked. "Father, any other people that might have had a grudge against the Archbishop?"
"Just one, Lieutenant. I came upon it when I was going through his correspondence. In recent months, someone who calls himself Michael has been writing some rather bizarre letters to the Archbishop about the end of the world coming soon?"
"Is that so unusual for a priest to be receiving such stuff?"
"Probably not so unusual except that he kept addressing the Archbishop as John Francis. No return address and all were handwritten in this incredibly ornate lettering, like you might see created by some medieval monk working in some candlelit scriptorium."
"Could you provide me those letters?"
"I'm ahead of you, Lieutenant. Open the glove compartment."
And there they were, six letters in identical antique parchment envelopes, wrapped together with a brown shoestring.