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Authors: Jane Haddam

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What he wanted instead was more coffee, and as he started down the street he began to hurry, just a little, so that he would be closer to getting it.
If Mary McAllister had been at the church right after Father Healy's body was discovered, or even heard about the death anytime in the next two hours, she would have been able to talk to Gregor Demarkian directly. Instead, she had had an evening class and then a quick run to the library. Lately, it seemed as if she never had the materials she needed to do what she needed to do. Then she had been in a hurry, because she was late for the soup kitchen and also for the boxes she was supposed to pick up at St. Anselm's. If she had listened to an ordinary radio station on the drive over, she would have heard all about it. Instead, she'd tuned in to the station that played chant and medieval motets. She had no idea where they broadcast from, but wherever it was seemed to have no news bureau at all. It wasn't until she had pulled into the parking lot at St. Anselm's and seen all the strange lights in the courtyard that she'd realized something was wrong. It wasn't until she'd found Sister Scholastica, looking as if she'd been drenched and wrung out in her habit, that she'd known what was wrong. Then, for a while, she'd simply behaved like a fool. It wasn't that she had been inordinately fond of Father Healy. As priests went, he hadn't been too bad, but he hadn't inspired her in the way that the Pope did, or made her feel as if she were in the presence of holiness, the way Father Dougan at the soup kitchen did. He was just a nice, ordinary, harmless man who meant well and tried to do good. Maybe that was why his death came as such a shock. She could almost understand somebody killing Sister Harriet Garrity. She had had urges to do that herself. Then, without realizing it, she had been bracketing away the deaths of Bernadette Kelly and Scott Boardman by telling herself they were probably the work of somebody deranged, like a psychopath. But this seemed like such an … ordinary … murder, so sort of matter-of-fact, as if whoever had done it had killed in the same spirit in which he got himself breakfast or decided to change the channel on his television set.
Gregor Demarkian and the two police detectives were already
gone by the time Mary got to St. Anselm's. Mary didn't really want to talk to the police detectives, because it would seem too much like something official. A deposition. A witness report. Gregor Demarkian seemed safer. Mary had seen enough of him on the news and in the papers to feel as if she almost knew him. His best friend was a priest, that was one thing. The woman he went out with was the one who wrote the fantasy novels about good and evil that one of Mary's English professors at St. Joe's had said had “a very Catholic intellectual foundation,” whatever that was supposed to mean. None of it meant anything, except that she would be more comfortable talking to Demarkian than to the police, and she knew where to find Demarkian. She called the soup kitchen and told them she would be late with the boxes. Then she put the boxes in the back of the van as fast as she could and crossed the street to St. Stephen's. Just as she was coming out St. Anselm's front door she saw that man—Roy Phipps; for a second she hadn't been able to remember his name—coming out of St. Stephen's. He looked at her briefly but didn't register what he saw, and she looked away. It was Mary McAllister's personal opinion that Roy Phipps was an agent of the devil himself, determined to make all Christians look like evil fanatics and make sure nobody who wasn't one would ever want to be one, but this didn't seem to be the best place or the best time to have it out with him.
She went into St. Stephen's front door and looked around. Nobody was there that she knew. She went around to the back and into the annex. Most of the office doors were open, but the offices were empty. She went around to the back of the church again and looked into the small reading room behind the sacristy, and there he was, sitting with his legs propped up on an ottoman, reading David Leavitt's
The Lost Language of Cranes
.
“There you are,” she said. “I was afraid you'd left without me.”
“I can't leave without you.” Chickie put his book down in his lap. “You're the only one who can get me in and out of a car. I'm in no shape to take a taxi by myself.”
“Where's Aaron?”
“Marc's play opened tonight. It ought to be just about over by now. There's going to be a party to wait for the notices.
We're invited, if you want to go.” Chickie's head shot up. “I don't think I meant that the way it sounded.”
“I know the way you meant it,” Mary said. “Oh, rats. We really need Aaron.”
“Why?”
“Because we have to talk to Mr. Demarkian, that's why. And Aaron is the one who figured it out. He'll be able to explain it better than we will.”
Chickie fingered the back of his book. “Don't you think you're jumping to conclusions here? Gregor Demarkian is a professional. The police are professionals. If they really need us, they'll come and find us.”
Mary marched over to Chickie's chair and put her hands on its arms. She was leaning all the way over him, with her face only inches from his, and she was breathing hard.
“Look,” she said. “I know it's an act. The swish thing you do. And I know you've got good reason to do it, even if you haven't told me what it is, but I believe you, and mostly I'm okay with it, but I'm not now. Okay, Chickie? I can't handle it now. Do you know Father Healy is dead?”
“Yes,” Chickie said. “Everybody in Philadelphia knows Father Healy is dead.”
Mary retreated to a standing position. “I didn't know he was dead. I was in class and in the library, and then I was listening to that station that makes you so crazy. But you must see it, don't you? What Aaron found out, about the extra name, that Scott knew about. I'm not crazy, you know, I'm really not. It must have something to do with all this.”
“But even if it does, Mary, what are we supposed to do about it? Even Aaron isn't sure he knows what it means, and I don't understand it any better than I understand Swahili. In fact, considering some of the situations I've gotten myself into over the years, I probably understand Swahili better.”
“Don't get started on that sort of thing, either. I get nightmares that you're going to pick up AIDS.”
“I do try to be somewhat more careful than that. My point, however, stands. We don't have anything to say to Gregor Demarkian. Or to the police. We don't know what we're talking about.”
“Did Aaron make copies of those sheets?”
“Dozens of them. They're all over the place. According to
Aaron, you can't be killed for what you know if everybody else knows it, too.”
“Good,” Mary said. “What we'll do is get some of the copies and take them out to that place Demarkian lives. Cavanaugh Street. I can find it on a map. And then we'll just tell him the truth. About Aaron finding the stuff on Scott's computer. And like that.”
“And then what?”
“I don't know what. That's what Mr. Demarkian is supposed to know.”
“Has it occurred to you that Aaron might not be overjoyed to be turned in to the police? I don't know what his life is like at the moment, but he may have issues—”
“Like what?”
“Like an apartment full of marijuana.”
“Oh.” Mary always forgot that people like Aaron and Chickie lived lives very different from hers. They seemed—Chickie, especially, seemed—so close to her on the emotional level, she was never prepared to hear that they did things that horrified her even to think about. The sex, she didn't think about. It was easier that way.
“I know,” she said. “Aaron has a cell phone, right?”
“Right.”
“And you must have the number, or Father Burdock must—”
“Dan isn't here. We had a visit from Reverend Hell Incarnate down the road.”
“I know. I saw him leave. Why does that mean that Father Burdock isn't here?”
“I haven't the faintest idea. He was upset. He came through here and said he'd be out for a while. Why do you want Dan?”
“I don't know,” Mary said. “Somebody in authority, maybe. Somebody official. It doesn't matter. You call Aaron and tell him what we're going to do, and he can meet us at Cavanaugh Street or he can not and wait to talk to Mr. Demarkian tomorrow and if his apartment really is full of marijuana, he can flush it down the toilet or give it to the neighbors. I'll call Mr. Demarkian and tell him we're coming.”
“Is he listed?'
“On the front page of the Philadelphia
Inquirer
, two days ago. There's a contact number for anybody wanting to reach
him with information. Come on. If we hurry, I'll be able to get this all done in time for me to pick up the homeless people to bring them to the soup kitchen tomorrow morning. Which reminds me. Sometime on this trip, we have to drop off the boxes I've got in the back of the van. Go on, go call Aaron, and I'll call Demarkian.”
“I think you're insane,” Chickie said.
“I'm not insane.” Mary swept the hair away from her face and wound it into a knot around her hand. She used the other hand to search around in her pockets for an elastic band, found one, and tied her hair back. She was breathless and exhilarated at once, as if she had taken some kind of drug. “Hurry up,” she said. “I'll go down to Aaron's office and see if I can find those copies. I'll be back in a minute. You call Aaron.”
“May I tell him that I think you're insane?”
“Tell him anything you want. Just make sure he knows what's going on. And hurry.”
Mary chugged out of the little room and back across to the annex, moving as fast as she ever did when one of the homeless people was losing control. She got to Aaron's office without coming close to getting out of breath. The copies were stacked up on his desk in a little pile, collated. She took three sets and folded them into a square that would fit into her jeans. Then she took the phone and punched in for a line. She didn't really have the number they'd printed in the
Inquirer
for Gregor Demarkian. It wouldn't have occurred to her to keep it. She was just sure that if there was a number in the newspaper, there would be one listed in the directory. She got Aaron's phone book from off the bookshelf and looked up Demarkian. The number was there.
It was only later, standing next to Aaron's desk while the phone rang over and over again in her ear, that it occurred to her that she had told Chickie nothing about thinking that she wanted to go into the convent. She hadn't changed her mind. If anything, her conviction had grown stronger by the hour, so that now she was sure that her next step would have to be to talk to Sister Scholastica to find out how the wheels could be put in motion. It made her a little uncomfortable, to know that she hadn't said anything about it. She was closer to Chickie than she had ever been to any of the best girlfriends she had had growing up, or to any of the ones she had met at
college. She told him everything. She even told him when she had cramps.
All of a sudden, the phone on the other end of the line was picked up. After so long a ring, Mary expected to hear an answering machine. She heard, instead, the low throaty voice of a woman with the kind of Main Line accent that reminded her a little of Katharine Hepburn.
“Bennis Hannaford,” the voice said.
Mary McAllister forgot all about Chickie, and about wanting to be a nun, and even about herself, and launched into a complicated explanation of what it was she was calling about.
It wasn't that Gregor Demarkian thought the information brought to him by Mary McAllister and Chickie George was unimportant. It was only that he had anticipated it. From the moment that he had first heard that there had been a “huge” damages case against the archdiocese, he had expected somebody, somewhere, to have been using it to cheat. Bennis would probably call this cynical—although, Lord only knew, she was cynical enough herself—but Gregor didn't believe it was possible for an opportunity like this to crop up without somebody taking advantage of it in some way. Not only was there a damages case, but the man who had been at the head of the fountain of money was an incompetent fool. Whatever else could be said about the old Cardinal Archbishop, that much was without question, at least when it came to matters of the law. The new Cardinal Archbishop was much better, but he was also in the middle of a whirlwind. Somehow, somewhere, some way, somebody would have figured it all out, but Gregor didn't think there had been a fairy's breath of a chance that that would be anytime soon. That was why he sat calmly at the desk in the corner of Garry Mansfield's office reading witness reports, while Garry and Lou Emiliani jumped around making phone calls, taking faxes, and jumping around with all the abandon of disgruntled employees who'd gotten dead drunk at the office Christmas party.
“I don't understand what's wrong with you,” Garry Mansfield said, when Gregor had been particularly unresponsive to some piece of news. “This could be it. This is the first sensible lead we've had since this whole mess started.”
It was edging on to noon, and Gregor had been at the station since eight that morning. He'd been up and restless until well after three, too, so that he was now tired enough to have very little patience for amateurs. He especially had no patience for Garry and Lou, who should not be behaving like amateurs. Both of them had to have been at this long enough to know that they shouldn't jump to conclusions. Both of them had been with the department through its own agonizing series of scandals, which ought to have taught them caution for a whole different set of reasons. Instead of being cautious, they were partying, and Gregor's head ached.
“You really are being too uptight about this,” Lou said after a while. “This is real, what you uncovered here. There really is a scam going on in the offices of Brady, Marquis and Holden.”
“I know,” Gregor said.
“Well?” Garry said. “What more do you want? Look at what we've got here. The archdiocese has been paying restitution to sixty-two men, but the firm has been distributing restitution to seventy one. See that? We're going to have to do a lot more work, of course, but this is spectacular. It really is. It amounts to tens of thousands of dollars already.”
“If it has gone on the full payment term, it amounts to over two million,” Lou Emiliani said. “Garry's right. We can't ignore this. It all fits together.”
“I'm not asking you to ignore it,” Gregor said. “I brought it to you. Don't you remember?”
“We remember.” Garry said.
“Well, then.”
“I just want to know what you're so down about,” Lou Emiliani said. “It's not unclear who pulled the scam. It was this guy Ian Holden. Partner in the firm's name and everything. Don't tell me you think we're going to get all the paper, and it's going to turn out not to be him.”
“No,” Gregor said.
“We've got traces out on the checks that were sent to the extra nine men.” Garry ticked the points off on his fingers. “We've got requests in for information about his bank accounts. If we can get this moving without his realizing we're onto him—”
“Have you been able to find him yet?” Gregor asked.
“No,” Garry admitted. “He seems to have disappeared.”
“You've sent people to his apartment?” Gregor asked it, but it wasn't really a question.
“We sent uniforms, yeah,” Lou admitted. “He didn't answer the door. Under other circumstances they might have found it open, if you know what I mean, but seeing as he's a lawyer—”
“Never mind.” Gregor waved it away. “I take it he hasn't been at work.”
“No,” Garry Mansfield said.
“So,” Gregor said, “that most likely means he knows the news is out. Don't you think? Somehow or the other, he's got word, or he knows something that makes him think that the news will be out and he's anticipating. And he's gone.”
“Maybe it was panic,” Garry Mansfield said. “He was around yesterday afternoon, right after lunch. People saw him. People talked to him. Maybe he went down to St. Anselm's and killed Father Healy—”
“Why?” Gregor asked.
“Because Father Healy knew,” Lou Emiliani said. “That's what all this is about. Who knew. Keeping people quiet. Bernadette Kelly because she worked in the office—”
“—as a receptionist,” Gregor said.
“She did extra work for the partners on the side,” Garry Mansfield said. “We knew that before. And she was smart about numbers when she wasn't smart about anything else. I mean, can't you see it? Holden takes a look at her and figures she's too dumb to catch on to what he's doing, gets her to help with the paperwork, and—wham. Doesn't that ring true to you? Doesn't it? And don't tell me it won't pan out.”
“I won't,” Gregor said. “I think that part will pan out. That's not my point. There are too many loose ends here. Why arsenic, for one thing. Why would he use arsenic?”
“Maybe he had some handy,” Lou said.
“Is there any evidence of that? I can't imagine that a major law firm like Brady, Marquis and Holden would buy rat poison at the local pharmacy if they had a problem. They'd hire a firm of professional exterminators. Don't you think so?”
“Maybe,” Lou said, half-sullenly. “But maybe it wasn't from the firm. Maybe he had it at home.”
“No,” Gregor said. “Listen. If he had rat poison at home, or arsenic in any other form, then he bought it openly without
intending to murder anybody. In that case, if he used it to murder somebody, he would leave himself open to being identified as having bought it. Never mind the fact that there would be traces of the stuff around the house. Why would he do something like that?”
“Panic,” Garry Mansfield said.
Gregor sighed. “Be reasonable. Four times? That's how many people are dead. Four. Do you really think he panicked four times in a row?”
“Maybe he used the stuff that was in the church,” Lou said.
“We don't know where Bernadette Kelly was killed, not yet. He could have given her something at the church and then moved her body—”
Gregor sat up a little straighter in his chair. “Wait,” he said. “Look at the great detective,” Lou said. “I thought of something. I thought of something he didn't.”
“He couldn't have moved the body,” Gregor said.
“There goes that,” Garry said.
Gregor rubbed his forehead and stood up. This was what he hated most about not sleeping well. Other people could operate at full power on no rest, but he was always left logy and disoriented and slow.
“He couldn't have moved the body,” he said again, “but he wouldn't have had to. Nobody would have had to. Nobody has to move a body before it's a body yet. I want to go talk to the Reverend Phipps.”
“What?” Lou Emiliani looked startled.
It felt better to be up and moving. His coat was laid over an old-fashioned metal filing cabinet in a corner of the room. He couldn't believe either Lou or Garry ever used it, or anybody else either, with computers all over the department. Gregor put on his coat and felt around in the pockets for his gloves. They weren't there. He must have left them at home on the bed.
Garry and Lou were standing side by side, staring at him.
“It would be helpful if one of you came along,” Gregor said. “He's not a stupid man, the Reverend Phipps. He isn't going to talk to me if I don't have a police officer with me. He may not talk to me even then.”
“We were talking,” Garry said carefully, “about Ian Holden. And how he probably committed four murders.”
“He didn't,” Gregor said.
“Why not?” Lou asked.
“Because the timing is off, for one thing,” Gregor said. “I should have realized all along that the timing mattered more than anything, but I was so tangled up in—you know, it's a dangerous thing. Nobody who deals with real crime ought ever to read Agatha Christie novels.”
“What are you talking about?” Garry asked.
Gregor wound his scarf around his neck. “Agatha Christie novels. In an Agatha Christie novel, the poisoner would have tucked the arsenic into something innocuous, and then he could have been miles away when the death actually happened. The poison would have been, in, say, the chocolates on Sister Scholastica's desk—”
“We had those checked,” Lou said quickly.
“I'm sure you did,” Gregor said. “And I'm sure they were fine, too. As a murder method, that one always bothered me because you couldn't be sure of getting the person you wanted. Anybody could eat the chocolates. Death and destruction could rain down like confetti at a New Year's party, and then what? Trust me. Check out his schedule. Ian Holden couldn't have committed these murders, not all four of them, anyway, because he couldn't have been in the right place at the right time. I've been forgetting the timing. I've been thinking like Agatha Christie.”
“Right,” Garry Mansfield said.
“Come with me, one of you,” Gregor said. “It's only a couple of blocks away. It won't take more than half an hour. There's something I've got to find out.”
“Nobody would be angry at you if you could prove the Reverend Phipps did it,” Lou Emiliani said. “The precinct would probably get together and throw you a party.”
“Come,” Gregor said.
Garry Mansfield got his coat off the back of his chair and started to put it on. Gregor stood, shifting from one foot to the other and feeling dense. There are only two reasons for individual murder, love and money. He knew that. He had always known that. And there was something else he had known, too. In real life, murderers did not construct elaborate plots for no other reason than to make themselves look clever.
Not that anybody had constructed an elaborate plot here,
of course. This was so simple, he had gone days missing the whole thing.
The Philadelphia Inquirer didn't know what it was talking about when it called him the “Armenian-American Hercule Poirot”
In the end, it was Garry Mansfield who came with him. Gregor had the feeling that neither of them wanted to go, and that their reluctance had more to do with their distaste for Roy Phipps than with any work that might be lying around the office, waiting to get done. Garry wanted to cut down the side streets and come up on Phipps's place from the side, but Gregor insisted on going the long way around, past St. Anselm's and St. Stephen's, so that he could see what the situation was. The situation was nonexistent. St. Stephen's was having its service for the men who had been hurt in the riot later this afternoon. There was a notice to that effect on the sign at the end of its front walk, made of colored cardboard and printed in metallic paint, as if to attract as much attention as possible. Whatever effect Roy Phipps had had on this neighborhood, he had not driven the men of St. Stephen's into hiding, or even into discretion. Gregor approved of that very much. He looked at St. Anselm's and noted that there was a short note on its sign, indicating that Masses would be said as usual even now that Father Healy was dead. Gregor who would say them, since the parochial vicar was away. Gregor thought it had all been easier in the day when every parish had had nothing more than a parish priest and the nuns who ran the parochial school.
He turned down the street on the same side as St. Anselm's and picked up speed. Halfway to where he was going, he reached Edith Lawton's house and stopped. The house looked shuttered up and dead, but he was sure that somebody was supposed to be inside. Hadn't Bennis told him that Edith Lawton worked at home? The front window shades were pulled down tight. There were no lights coming from inside, in spite of the fact that the day was gray and dark. Still, if there had ever been mail in the wrought-iron mailbox, it was gone.
“This is what's-her-name's house,” Garry said politely. “You know. The pain in the ass. The bitch.”
“Edith Lawton.”
“That once.”
“Why isn't she home?”
“She probably went out shopping. Do you want to talk to Roy Phipps, or do you want to talk to Edith Lawton?”
“I want to talk to Roy Phipps,” Gregor said, even though he really wanted to talk to both. He turned away from Edith Lawton's house and went on down the street. He wasn't in a hurry, at the moment. It seemed to him that now that everything was reasonably clear, he had all the time in the world. He only wished that he could walk into Roy Phipps's town house and catch the man smoking crack cocaine in the foyer, or something else equally egregious, so that he could do his part to make St. Stephen's evening service a success. It was the unfortunate truth that people like Roy Phipps almost never did things like that. They were too … focused.
They stopped in front of Roy Phipps's town house, and Gregor looked in the closer of the two front windows. The shades were open, and the room behind them was empty and conventional: a couch, a couple of chairs, a coffee table. Gregor climbed the stoop and rang the bell. There was a cross screwed into the brick next to the door on one side, and another, smaller one screwed into the doorframe above the button for the bell. They were crosses, not crucifixes, which made Gregor unaccountably grumpy. The Armenian Church used crosses rather than crucifixes. Gregor didn't like the idea that there was any similarity at all.
Nobody had come to the door. Gregor rang the bell again and stood back a little to look through the windows. That room was still empty. It still looked too clean. Then Gregor heard footsteps coming up to the door, and the sound of panting, somebody out of breath.
The door opened on an overweight man in a suit a size too small for him. He looked as if he were strangling in his shirt collar.
“Yes?” he said.
“I'm Gregor Demarkian,” Gregor said. “This is—”
Garry Mansfield had his badge out, but the man in the tight suit was barely looking at it. “Yes, yes,” he was saying. “We
were expecting you. Reverend Phipps asked me to make sure you came right in, as soon as you got here—”
“Excuse me?” Gregor said.
“We want to cooperate with the police,” the man said, gesturing them to come inside. “We want to cooperate fully with all the necessary, uh,
things
that the, uh, that the police want of us, and—”
“Fred.” The voice sounded oddly preppy, as if some exclusive boys' school accent had been laid on over the West Virginia twang. Roy Phipps was standing at the back of the long front foyer, dressed in a suit that most definitely fit him perfectly, looking slightly pained. “I think Mr. Demarkian and his friend have taken your point,” he said.
“Detective Mansfield,” Garry said.
Roy Phipps nodded politely and stepped aside. Gregor went up to him and saw that there was a narrow hall leading to the side, and near the end of it an open door. That would be the door to the room with the other window that faced front. Gregor went in and saw that he was right. He had a full, high-ceilinged view of the street, nearly down to the end where the churches were. He could see St. Stephen's more easily than he could see St. Anselm's, although it was a stretch for both.
Garry Mansfield came in, and Roy Phipps came in after him. Gregor sat down in one of the visitor's chairs that faced the desk.
“So,” Roy Phipps said, “are you going to arrest me now, or are you going to wait to make a splash in the papers for a few days and do it then.”
“I'm not aware that we're going to arrest you at all,” Gregor said. “I couldn't arrest you if I wanted to. I'm not a police officer.”
Roy Phipps sat down behind his desk. “Very neat. Are you going to arrest one of my parishioners?”
“Not that I know of,” Gregor said.
“This gets more interesting all the time. I thought it was the official position of the Philadelphia Police Department that I am personally responsible for any untoward thing that happens to any homosexual within the city precincts.”
“Do you mean to say you think that Father Healy was a homosexual?”
“No,” Roy Phipps said, smiling faintly. “Father Healy was
a Satanist and a devil worshiper in the pay of the Whore of Babylon, but as far as I know, he was as heterosexual as he was damned. I was thinking of the man who died at St. Stephen's. Scott Boardman.”
“Were you responsible for the death of Scott Boardman?”
“If I was, I wouldn't tell you. But you know that. So that can't be what this is about. Was it me you wanted to talk to, or one of the men of the church?”
“It was you,” Gregor said. “If you don't mind. I'd like to know why you decided to found your church here, rather than, say—”
“In a neighborhood closer to where my parishioners live?”
“You can't draw much of a crowd from the surrounding blocks,” Gregor pointed out. “You're mismatched for the area. You have to admit it.”
“Christians are always mismatched for the world they live in,” Roy Phipps said. “At least, real Christians are. There aren't a lot of us left anymore. Most of the people who call themselves Christians in the United States are anything but. They're children of their times. They don't like to hear the truth when it's pointed out to them.”
“And the truth is?”
“That sinners go to hell and God hates sinners. I'm not in the wrong neighborhood, Mr. Demarkian. I'm in the right one. The only chance these people have is to hear the truth preached to them and to repent. If God will let them repent. God doesn't give the gift of repentance to everybody.”
“Were you here, on the street, yesterday afternoon?”
“Yes.”
“In this office?”
“Most of the time, yes.”
“When you're here in this office, do you keep watch on St. Stephen's and St. Anselm's?”
Roy Phipps shrugged. “I do what I can. I can't really see the churches clearly from here. If you're expecting me to have seen some particular person come in or out, the chances are nearly nil. I do see people when they walk by here, but they almost never do.”
“Do you know who Mary McAllister is?”
“No.”
“She works with homeless people. She brings a van from a soup kitchen—”
“Wait,” Roy said. “I do know who she is, by sight. I wasn't sure of the name.”
“Did you see her anytime on the afternoon of the day Father Healy died?”
“No.”
“What about Sister Scholastica and Sister Peter Rose?”
“I assume they're nuns,” Roy said. “But that isn't very helpful, is it? There are a fair number of nuns down at St. Anselm's. I couldn't tell one from the other at a distance, and I don't think I know any of them by name.”
“Did you see any nuns on the street the afternoon of the day Father Healy died?”
“Of course I did. They're everywhere, aren't they? But I don't think that means anything, either. What difference would it make?”
“What about Father Healy?” Gregor said. “Did you see him?”
“No.” Roy stirred in his chair. “Why don't I save you some trouble, Mr. Demarkian. The only person I saw down this end of the street all day yesterday was the whore atheist, Edith Lawton. I saw her come down the street and go into her own house. Dozens of people could have gone into and out of the churches without my ever seeing them. I don't have a good enough view.”
“And that was it? Edith Lawton.”
“That was it. At least, that was it on the day Father Healy died. Since then, of course, the street has been hopping. There are half a dozen people skulking around this morning. I assume they're all reporters.”
“Fine,” Gregor said. “What about you, on the afternoon of the day Father Healy died. You said you were mostly in this room. Where else were you?”
“In the bathroom,” Roy said.
“That was it?”
“I didn't go out even once all afternoon. I had work to do, and that evening I had a Bible study. In case you didn't notice, I didn't even manage to put together a picket line after the murder, although I should have. Sometimes, I can't do everything at once.”
“Were you here alone?”
“I am never alone,” Roy said solemnly. And then he smiled. “I live in a fishbowl, Mr. Demarkian. There's always somebody here, Fred or one of the other men. They man phones day and night, for one thing. And I'm not exactly easy to lose in a crowd, am I? By now, my face must have been on every news broadcast in Philadelphia. I wasn't wandering around the street by myself that afternoon. I couldn't have been and gotten away with it.”
“Shit,” Garry Mansfield said.
Gregor only sat back in his chair and tried to think.
BOOK: True Believers
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