the church murder case (part eight)

This story started here.

There was one area of the church itself, near the altar but way on the side, which was hidden by several large pieces of cloth hanging from the edge of a balcony. I had assumed that there was construction of some sort, and the hanging cloths were to contain the dust and debris, but Father Frank led us around behind this impromptu curtain and there was no construction.

There, behind the curtain of sheets, were several pews, a beautiful stained glass window portraying the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and, facing the window, mounted on one of the wooden posts which held up the balcony, a crucified man.

Father Frank was watching my employer when we came upon this atrocity, and I wondered if he had been skeptical about her claims of toughness under fire.

If he did indeed have any doubts about her ability to deal with the sight of a corpse, they were quickly dispelled as she limped forward, her eyes locked onto the body. "Fascinating," she said quietly, walking around to examine it from different angles.

the church floor plan
the church floor plan

The dead man was middle-aged, unshaven, with graying hair which didn't appear to have been washed recently. His clothes were worn and tattered and dirty. He was not really crucified, he was hanging from the wooden pillar, his jacket nailed to it in such a way that his arms were lifted up to around a forty-five degree angle. Placed where he was, however, facing the crucifixion image, the intent was clear.

Without taking her eyes off of the body, my employer said, "Father Frank, please describe how and when you found this."

He sighed. "I came in to pray this morning, as I always do, and at first I didn't see this. I sat over there, in the second section of pews, and it was fairly dark. I was alone.

"When I was done, I got up and as I was turning to go back to my office, I saw his arms sticking out on either side of the pillar. I didn't know what they were, but I came over, and I saw what had been done. I was stunned, and as I tried to collect myself, I heard a sound outside on the street. I rushed out, and I found that girl. She had just finished writing her blasphemy on the wall."

"And you thought she had had something to do with the body?" Jan demanded.

"Oh, no, of course not. She was obviously just some street urchin. But then she said something about being related to you, and that gave me the idea of sending for you. Both to see if the girl was telling the truth and to see if you would have any ideas about this mess."

My employer turned to me and she pointed at Father Frank. "Marshall," she said, "please restrain this man." The priest looked up, startled, as she turned to him and demanded, "Who are you and what have you done with Father Frank?"

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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