the church murder case (part eleven)

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A hospital aide arrived a few minutes later, with a straitjacket. The phony priest tried to break free when he saw this, but we held him and the aide gave him a shot that quieted him down.

The real Father Frank appeared as we were tightening the straps, accompanied by Jan and Ron. He was, as I had originally expected, a bit smaller and older than the impostor. He was disheveled, but he appeared to be unhurt.

"Father Frank," my employer said as they came up, "please sit down."

He shook his head, looking down at the impostor. "I'm fine. After a few hours tied to that chair, I need to stretch my legs." He sighed.

"The first question is about his claim that he's your brother. Is this true?"

Father Frank nodded, looking down at the man. "Yes, he is."

This was more or less a formality, given the resemblance between the two men, but it was possible they were more distantly related.

"What's wrong with him?" Father Frank asked.

"He's been sedated, and he will be restrained."

"He's not crazy," he said sadly.

"With all due respect, Father," I said, "he apparently crucified a fellow human being in your church. He will be treated humanely, but we won't take any chances."

He closed his eyes and nodded. Jan turned to the aide. "He should be restrained during examination, and I need a very thorough autopsy on the corpse. I need to know how he died beyond any possible question." She looked around. "You're not going to handle this alone, are you?"

She shook her head. "Oh, no. Two others are following me, with the gurneys. I came ahead on the bike with the runner."

She nodded. "Good. Do you need us to wait until they come?"

She shook her head. "No need. I'll be fine."

"Then, Father Frank, let me ask if we will need any information from your brother to help us understand what happened here, or can he be taken to the hospital when the others arrive?"

Father Frank shook his head. "I think I know the answers, at least to what he did. As for why he did it, I'm not sure either of us could put that into words, at least not completely."

"And we can fill in the rest."

So, my employer, the priest, Ron, and I adjourned to Father Frank's office.

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About Anthony Lee Collins

I write.
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