I bowed my head in prayer at the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic church in AM. That’s what the locals called the Ames Metropolitan Area, the 30-mile long city that stretched from Ames in the north all the way to Des Moines in the south. It was bordered by a large lake and swamp in the west. The lake had been formed only a couple centuries ago when huge underground caverns had collapsed, created a deep depression. Rivers had quickly flooded the area and formed Lake Everstill.
My name is Warren Brody. I’m a private detective. I specialize in unusual cases, particularly those of concern to the Church. Up until a couple years ago, I was a priest, but although I felt the call to serve God, I never felt I was quite good enough, pure enough to be what I needed to be. Father Sebastian disagreed, talked me into staying with the Church, at least in a sense. I’m technically still a deacon, which means I have specific secular duties. In this case, investigation into matters that concerned the Church. Often this takes the form of investigation of a spiritual sort. But not always.
Today I was investigating the same thing I’d been working on for weeks. The Church suspected the bishop of this diocese, named Christian Steele, was involved in illicit drug traffic. I’d dug deep enough to determine that he had mob connections, but I didn’t have proof. Having run into a dead end, I’d come to the church to find my center. Prayer often settled my mind and allowed me to make connections.
I looked up into the face of a young man. Also a deacon, I remembered his name was Steve.
He looked around nervously. “I heard you were looking into Bishop Steele.”
The deacon went on to discuss his suspicions that the Bishop had a lot of connections. I agreed. It had been very difficult to find any solid evidence, however. Especially while also protecting the Church’s reputation.
“The reason I wanted to see you was that I found something under the Bishop’s desk when I was cleaning.”
I thought it a little odd that a deacon was doing that, but Steve was relatively new. I was more curious about what he’d found. Steve showed me a section of the newspaper want ads. One in particular was circled. The entry didn’t make much sense, but there were notes scribbled along the sides describing a meeting down near the docks to take place in a week.
It was exactly what I needed. I took the paper and thanked him.
I spent the week studying the paper. I managed to discover the key to the code and referencing back issues of the paper at the library showed me this had been going on for a while at least at a rate of about every other week. I checked previous meeting locations, but didn’t find anything interesting there.
Soon enough the night of the meeting arrived. I had arrived early and found a place to hide. It was the best position to see, but I could hear just fine. I made sure my mini recorder was ready to go and waited. It wasn’t long before three people arrived. One was an obvious thug, one was apparently a mob negotiator and the last was a trench-wearing church man who couldn’t have truly been a man of the cloth. His language belonged here on the docks.
They argued about price and the quality of whatever drugs the Bishop was peddling to his own flock. I knew this is what I needed, proof of what the bishop was up to. But I needed more than the tape. I leaned out some to get a picture but it was no good. I decided it was my best chance to get a break I. This case, so I moved out to find a better position.
To my shock, they weren’t where I expected. While I had rustled about, they’d moved and gotten around me. I stared in shock when I discovered that the church man wasn’t the bishop at all. It was Deacon Steve. It had been a setup all along.
The goons opened up on me. I tried to get to cover, but I was hit bad and I knew it. I laid in a growing puddle of my own blood and I knew it was over.
That’s when the angel of death showed up. She came out of nowhere. Calm, beautiful, deadly — she carved through them like a living knife. But then everything went dark and I saw no more.