Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chapter 26

Wednesday, November 4, 1964

I learned at breakfast that plans were afoot for Bernie's funeral on Friday. Hank had made the announcement at mass in the main chapel. The other priests weren't therethey had been celebrating mass in the smaller chapels. Of course, I wasn't there either. It wasn't my practice. Hank had to bring me and the others up to date at breakfast. Everyone expressed relief, Father Hop asking for the obvious update on the investigation. Hank said the only information he had was that the coroner expected to release the body for burial later in the day. Obviously, he didn't know how the investigation was going. 

After instructing Father Hop to schedule the juniors and seniors for the all-night wake on Thursday evening and Friday morning, Hank dismissed the faculty. They dispersed, relieved for the normalcy of a funeral. 

Hank took me aside privately and explained a few things. "What I told the group was not the whole truth," he said. "I probably should not tell you, but I have to tell somebody who is not suspected as the perpetrator."

"They don't suspect me?"

"Well, let's just say I choose to assume they don't," he said. "There appears to be something developing. I jumped the gun on announcing the funeral, though I had permission from everyone concerned to do so."

"That sounds opaque."


"Not transparent."

"I know what it means. Bernie's body is still in the morgue, but the coroner is planning to get clearance to release the body from the National Poison Control Center later today. He is almost certain that the center will be able to identify the poison by today or tomorrow, which normally would trigger his announcement that the death was a homicide."


"Well, this assumes that the particular poison would not have been ingested accidentally. Still, the normal expectation would be for him to follow the center's determination with his own ruling.  However ,,," he paused. "However, the congregation's lawyer seems to have worked out an arrangement benefiting both the congregation and law enforcement, at least temporarily. The lawyer told us
told the provincial, at any ratethat the detectives wanted the coroner to delay announcing the ruling out of fear that it might prompt the killer to flee."

"Suggesting what?"

"Suggesting that they think whoever did the deed feels safe at the moment, which narrows the field."

It took me a while, but I finally got it
to my dismay. "This means the detectives are not suspecting a faculty member."

"That's my guess. They know that the faculty knows Bernie's death is suspicious."

"And there behavior is ,,," I paused.

"Normal, at least under the circumstances," Hank said. "Faculty members are shocked, saddened, and nervous about what lies ahead."

"Normal under the circumstances," I repeated. "But how do the detectives know about the faculty's behavior? Through you?"

"Some," he said. "But they interviewed everyone on the staff
at some lengthand I don't think they stirred anybody up. Well, except for the good sisters."

"What? Surely the authorities don't expect food poisoning."

"They don't," Hank said. "But it's something they needed to eliminate. They talked to the cooks yesterday, and Father Hop said that it didn't go well."

"He was the interpreter."

"Yes, and he said the good sisters took considerable umbrage ..."

"Umbrage. Big word. And how can you tell? Those two are not known for their conviviality."

"Father Hop had no trouble identifying it as umbrage. He said the velocity, volume, and quantity of the German was up three or four notches
and he didn't dare translate much of what they said literally."

"I bet," I said, "Sorry I missed it."

"Despite Father Hop's best intentions, the detectives got the gist
and they weren't pleased."

"But they don't suspect them."

"Of course not, but their reaction forced them to call in the health department to check the kitchen. Today, as I understand it."

"Umm, more fireworks to come."

"You might want to eat at the Huddle tonight."

"If they aren't suspecting the good sisters, who are they suspecting?" I didn't really want an answer.

"I think they are looking at one of the students."


"You tell me."

"I'd rather not."

"Everything seems to be pointing to Dave Johnson."

"Dingo Dave?"

"Don't you love their nicknames? As I understand it, Dingo Dave has motive, means, opportunity."

"But they haven't even talked to any of the students yet, Dave included," I said.

"No, but they've talked to you."

"But the seminarians think it was a natural death, like a heart attack."

"Except for the um, killer, who
if he's a seminarianfeels safe because nobody seems the wiser."

"They suspect a seminarian," I said.  "That's ugly."

"You think there is an outcome that is not ugly?"

"Good point."

"We've stepped in something nasty, and we're not likely to get it off our shoes for some time.

Dinner time

My classes went better than I expected. The seminarians were subdued, but returning to the regular schedule had anchored them. Lunch, which featured bologna sandwiches, was uneventful. I didn't have a history class, but I collared Dan Johnson after my sophomore English class and gave him Dr. Mueller's book to read, clarifying that I wanted it back. He seemed interested. 

There was one afternoon class, and then the boys went off to recreation. Mostly flag football, the last games before attention turned to basketball.

Then, at dinner, everything fell apart. The cooks were in a foul mood, banging pots and slinging German that nobody could understand. The waiters waited impatiently for the food, which was slow to come to the counters. When it did, it featured mystery squares cooked to a black crisp, stewed tomatoes heated to room temperature, and partially boiled potatoes. 

The priest table, whose fare was a notch above what the seminarians were served, got the same treatment. Something was going on. The good sisters had served up a trifecta of the most hated foodsand ruined them, which heretofore no one had thought possible. The gathering set to murmuring, and Hank sent Father Hop back to the kitchen to reconnoiter. 

He returned ten minutes later to report.

"As near as I can tell," he said after taking his chair and staring for a bit at the plate of burned mystery squares, "our cooks are in rebellion, thanks to yesterday's interview with the detectives and today's visit from the health department."

"I assume they will settle down by breakfast."

"I wouldn't count on it," Father Hop said. 

"I see," said Hank. 

The table got very quiet, while the priest waiters poured everyone coffee, an item they controlled. 

"I sense we'll be doing some snacking in the faculty lounge and in our rooms," said Brother Rufus. 

"What about the seminarians?" asked Hank.

"We could do an impromptu soiree," I suggested.

"A party hardly seems appropriate under the circumstances," Hank said. "Are they getting enough to tide them over."

Father Hop responded, "While I was down there, the runners were asking the cooks for bread, at which point they threw unopened loaves of white bread at them. I think everyone got a loaf. They won't starve, but they won't be in a good mood either."

"It'll have to do," Hank said and turned to me. "You've chatted with Sister Angela?"

"Most of the time I had a tongue depressor down my throat, so I did a lot of listening."

"Well, maybe you could go up to the dispensary after dinner, such as it is, and give her a buzz," Hank said. "As I understand it, she speaks English. Maybe she can tell us what's going on with those two."


After the seminarians got done tearing into the loaves of bread and exhausting the supplies of butter and honey, Hank slammed his hand on the bell and led the closing blessing. Since it focused on thanksgiving, participation was limp. 

I went off on my errand. I climbed a flight of stairs to the section of the third floor that housed the infirmary and the seniors' rooms. A couple of seniors climbed the stairs with me, grumbling about the meal, planning to fire up the available popcorn poppers, and making fun of Sister Marta, Why the seminarians chose to make fun of Marta
when Sister Celia looked and behaved pretty much like her twin sisterwas beyond me. They asked me what was going on. 

"I don't know," I said. "I just live here." I went into the infirmary and rang the bell. The way things were going, I wasn't expecting an answer. But after five minutes or so, Sister Angela appeared in the infirmary.

"May I help you," she said.

"Perhaps. Your sisters
the cookswere in something of a state at dinner."

She waited for me to say more, but I didn't. "A state," she repeated neutrally.

"They seemed upset. Very upset. The food was ... um, they seemed very upset. Father Superior ... " I paused to let the more formal title for Hank sink in. I didn't want her to think I was here on my own recognizance. "Father superior was wondering if anything was wrong."

"I wasn't there, of course," Sister Angela said. 

"Of course," I repeated. "But you speak English, whereas Sisters Marta and Celia are a bit challenged in English, and we were wondering if you knew what is going on."

"I see," said Sr. Angela. This was like watching a boat dock.

"Do you .. um, know?" 

"I know that this afternoon some men came to inspect their kitchen."

"Yes, from the health department," I said. "It was routine."

"The sisters did not think so."

"Well, okay, it was not a regular inspection, as I understand it, but it was a routine practice, given the intensity of Charlie Parker's distress."

"But nobody else was sick," she said. 

I said nothing.

"And Sister Marta and Sister Celia did not like being accused of food poisoning."

"I don't think they were accused of food poisoning."

"They think so."

"Sister. Angela, you know they were not accused of food poisoning. If they had been, the health inspectors would have closed down the kitchen."'

"I understand. I told them as much, but they would not listen." 

"Can't you settle them down?"

"I'd have an easier time jumping over the moon," she said. "In any case, they ... maybe I shouldn't say."

"Would you tell Father Grieshaber if he were here?"

"I suppose."

"Then tell me," I said. "I'm his emissary."

"On their behalf, I spoke to Mother Superior and requested that we be transferred to the Mother House."

"Ouch. We don't need this."

"Mr. Foote, the point is, we don't need it either. I'm afraid the die is cast. Sisters Marta and Celia are packing as we speak, and I must attend to my own suitcase." With that, she turned and left. 

A shiver went through me. I got up and headed down the stairs and to the faculty lounge, where I expected to find Hank. He was there, and I broke the news. It didn't need embellishment.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Chapter 25

Tuesday, November 3, 1964

The day after wasn't the adrenalin rush of All Soul's Day, but it had its own inner drama.
My meeting yesterday with Eli was both a comfort and a concern. A comfort because he didn't seem terribly concerned about my exposure. A concern because there was some exposure. He pointed out that I, along with everyone else at the seminary, would be a suspect. 

"But if you're not worried, I'm not worried," he had said. "In this situation, you're most likely exposure is in how you cooperate with the investigators. On one hand, you're working for Holy Cross Seminary and might be inclined to protect your employer. On the other hand, you don't want to open yourself to a charge of obstruction of justice. As an attorney, I've got to warn you to pay attention to the latter. Cooperate with the authorities."

He pooh-poohed my belief that I was sitting on the horns of a dilemma.  "Only if you have reason to feel particularly protective of your employer," he had said. At any rate, he wasn't concerned enough to insist that he be there when the detectives interviewed me again, if they did. He did point out that I could stop the process at any time and ask for my lawyer.

"And wouldn't that make them think I had something to hide?"

"Of course," he had said. "Use your judgment."

"Oh, boy."

After that, I skipped dinner and went to an AA meeting, during which I shared, in general terms, about the day. I had noticed how alive I felt, something I could only compare to the time on the battlefield when the Lieutenant sent me up a utility pole to cut the communication lines. I was the target and could hear bullets whistling past me. I had entered the fray in late 1944, toward the end of things but just in time for one of Europe's coldest winters. Most of the time I was freezing, wet, or dog tired. In combat, I never volunteered. Never moved more than I had to. Yesterday was different. I wasn't cold, wet, or tired. Something bad had happened, and I was being asked to do something. The parts were moving. I felt alive again. 

Today, in the morning, my first class was Bernie's sophomore history class, in which I shared my experience in the war and opened the floor for questions. I shared the same experience
the World War II part, that isand opened the floor to questions. There were many. Were you afraid? Did you kill anyone? What was it like? And so on. 

Dan Johnson raised his hand and asked, "Did the Nazis exterminate homos along with Jews in their concentration camps?" 

We had discussed this in private before. It was a fair question, but the way he phrased it, in public and in the light of yesterday's event, sent a shiver up my spine. Had he researched it like I asked? I didn't challenge him, only admitted I wasn't up on the facts
and made a mental note to enlist the help of a certain reference librarian to fill me in. I did say I knew that the Nazis had executed some Christians, gypsies, and homosexuals along with roughly six million Jews. 

I did tell them that I was part of the 71st Infantry Division that liberated Gunskirchen Lager, a work camp in Northern Austria. In this case, I said, there were 400 or so political prisoners, who could have been anything, but the rest of the estimated 15,000 prisoners were Jews. 

Of course, they wanted to know what it was like. I did my best to explain. It was an intense experience, a mixture of horror and ecstasy. On the one hand, we were liberators, marching into a screaming sea of humanity grateful beyond words. They wanted to thank us, to touch us, to let us see their tears. In case we had forgotten
and in the cold, mud, and blood we hadthis was what the war was all about. On the other hand, this human horde was like nothing I had ever seen. It was like marching in a Fourth of July Parade where the onlookers were not men, women, and children applauding politely but skeletons attacking the marchers with frantic joy. They were skeletons, albeit covered with a tissue of skin and rags barely showing the horizontal stripes of prison uniforms. They milled around, impeding the progress of troops and vehicles, mouthing what must have been "thank you" in different languages. Some, unable to walk, crawled toward us. One man couldn't crawl but propped himself up on an elbow and waved. People fell, knocked over by their fellows or just fainted from hunger. 

To a man, we wanted to do something, anything. We didn't have much. I gave one skeleton a cigarette, but he put it in his mouth and ate it before I could light it for him. One of my buddies handed out a chocolate bar, which was consumed instantly, wrapper and all. After that, we knew to break the bar into bits, sans wrapper, and pass it around. Another soldier pointed to the left, toward a jury of human crows picking over a bloated horse that had been killed by artillery fire. 

I hadn't talked about this, ever. The bloated horse wasn't the thing that stuck with me. It was the smell. We were a dirty bunch, inured to our own stink and the smell of rotting bodies, but the stench that greeted us a mile before we entered the camp sent some of us to vomit in the ditches. It was a combination of human excrement, urine, decaying bodies, smoke, and German tobacco
which worked like an emulsifier bonding the putrid with the decay into an everlasting nasal memorial. And that was the thing. The peculiar and disgusting smell permeated everything and lingered for what seemed like forever. Six hours after we left the camp, we swore we could still smell it on our clothes. It may still be there. Last night, I had a nightmare in which the images were dark and vague but the smell was there, more the structure than the decoration. When I woke up in a cold sweat, I sniffed my sheets, horrified at the familiarity of it. I got up early and showered for forty minutes. I didn't share my stinking dream with the seminarians. 

My next class, just before lunch, was junior English. They were still wired about the death of Father Fox, so
on the spotI assigned them to take twenty minutes to write a short eulogy for their fallen history teacher. Most had a vague idea of what a eulogy should dosay nice things about the deceased. Dave Johnson, Dingo Dave, argued that this sounded a bit phony, that a eulogy like this might not fairly describe the person. 

I suggested that everyone has good and bad things about them. However, when a person dies, we bury some things but try to hold onto some things, the better things, the things we can learn from. It's the job of a eulogy to identify those things. With that, they set to work. 

After twenty minutes, I invited the willing to share their eulogies. It was revealing. His "speed mass" was popular, which most thought exhibited his thoughtfulness. Several thought he was "real," citing his propensity for "telling it like it is," no matter what anybody else thought. A couple of comments, including one from Dingo Dave, mentioned that he went out of his way to defend the underdogs.. Some felt like they were reaching for something to saygreat bridge player, tough basketball coach, no homework. Nothing suggested he had been misbehaving with students. 

At lunch, Hank led grace with no further comment to the seminarians but told the assembled at the priest's table that we had caught a break, albeit a temporary one. "The coroner's office completed the autopsy and determined that Bernie was poisoned," he said. "By what, they don't know. It wasn't arsenic, strychnine, rat poison or something easy. They sent the stomach contents and such to the National Poison Control Center at St. Luke's-Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago, which is better equipped to determine the specific poison. More good news. The coroner prefers not to release any information until he hears back from Chicago. Meantime, we've got a few days to get our ducks in a row."

Nobody said anything, presumably contemplating what it would take to get 100 or so ducks in a row during an explosion. 

After lunch

I was looking forward to a free afternoon, but Sergeant Hayden was waiting in the hallway as Hank and I left the dining room. Nobody paid him any mind. The way the sergeant dressed, he didn't look like a cop. After shaking hands with both of us, he turned to me and asked if I would mind being interviewed

Answering for me, Hank said, "I expect he'll be thrilled. You can use my office."

We followed him to his office. He waved us in and left.

Sergeant Hayden scanned the room. I thought he'd take Hank's desk chair. He didn't. Instead he motioned to the guest chairs on the outside of the desk and said. "Let's do this friendly like. I'll take this chair and you take that one."

"How's it going?" I said. Great opening line.

"Fine, thanks." Informative comeback. "Tell me about Charlie Parker." Down to business.

"I assume the chief filled you in," I said.

"I'd like you to hear it from you."

"Charlie vomited rather dramatically at breakfast yesterday. After I had a chance to think a bit yesterday, I realized there might be a connection between him and Father Fox."

"Puke being the common symptom."

"Yes, along with the fact that no one else registered any similar symptoms."

"So you interviewed him?"

"Not really," I said. "As it turned out, he hadn't heard that Father Fox was, umm, found dead. I broke the news to him, let him absorb that. His reaction gave me some interesting information."

"Which was."

"He was the altar boy for Father Fox that morning."

"So he might have been the last person to see him alive?"

"Along with the sisters. But more than that." And I stopped.


"Maybe the sister's chapel was the crime scene."

Now it was his turn to pause. "Because it was the only place the two people with stomach issues were together?"


"Let's say that the young man and Father Fox ingested the poison there," he said. "How would they have done that?"

"Best guess. They drank something."

"Wine?" Sergeant Hayden didn't need to be Catholic to make this guess

"Bingo," I said. "They could have eaten something. Unleavened bread. Hosts. But I think you can eliminate that."


"Multiple reasons. I'm no expert, but I think it would be hard to deliver the poison via the hosts. Anyway, if it were so, the sisters might have gotten sick."

"Okay, how about water?"

"It's a thought, "I admitted. "During the mass, the priest puts a few drops of water in the chalice. If you were trying to deliver some poison, I don't think you'd use water."

"You'd use wine."

"Yes, the more so because on this day the priest would be saying three masses and drinking multiple cups of wine."

"Might Father Fox have cut back on the wine for masses two and three?"

"Some priests do, I'm sure," I said, "To be honest, I don't know his habits in this area. I didn't think to ask Charlie about this. I'm sorry."

"And what about Charlie? Surely he wouldn't have drunk as much as Father Fox?"

"He shouldn't have drunk any, but ... have you ever been an altar boy?"

"Nope, where I go everyone drinks grape juice out of little cups four times a year."

"Well, then, you may not know that altar boys have been known to sneak a sip now and then."

"When the priest is not looking." 

"They are very good at it."

"And you think, Charlie might have done so."

"I didn't ask," I said. "In this instance, I thought discretion was important. Besides, I didn't have to ask."

"Because you're certain he filched some wine."

"Ninety-nine-point-nine percent. Probably after Father Fox left, in a hurry according to Charlie."

"Can you take me to the sister's chapel?"

I paused. I wasn't sure, but I thought about Eli's warning and said, "Sure." We headed upstairs without talking, heading past a couple of seminarians in the library and into the sister's chapel. It was empty. Sergeant Hayden looked it over and asked me show him where wine might have been positioned. I showed him the credence table, where the cruets would have been and the altar where the chalice would have been. I demonstrated where and how the altar boy would have handed off the cruets and the priest would have poured the wine and water into the chalice.

"Was there only one altar boy?"

"Yes," I said. "In the main chapel, two. In the small chapels, like here, only one."

"Who else was here? Nuns?"

"Yes, that's all. They handled their own singing, I think, but we, uh, you should check that. In the other small chapels, two seminarians sometimes did the chants for a high mass. Here
I thinkthe sisters handled that."

"No one else was here?"

"Hmm. not during the service, no. Just Father Fox, three sisters, and one altar boy."

"You said 'during the service,' " the sergeant said. "Did anyone else have access to this chapel?"

"Well, any of the priests can come in here, but they usually don't unless they are saying the mass here. Then the sacristans, of course."

"Sacristans? What's that?"

"Two seminarians are assigned this role. Their job is to set things up for the next mass and cleanup after a mass. One usually handles the main chapel. The other handles the small chapels."

"What does this setup and cleanup involve?"

"Here, I'll show you." I took him into the sacristy, a small room at the side where the vestments, vessels, and other accessories were kept.

He was very interested in this and asked plenty of questions, including but not limited to the wine. "You said there was one seminarian assigned to the small chapels. Who was that?"

Oops. I don't know why I wasn't prepared for this. The thought that Dingo Dave might be a suspect had crossed my mind. But so, I reasoned, should have been the sisters, priests, and other staff. They all had access. I took a breath and told myself to keep to the truth, the minimum truth where possible. "Dave Johnson. His classmates call him Dingo Dave because his mother hails from Australia and he sometimes affects an Australian accent. I saw him in here the night before the, uh, unfortunate event."

"Was he supposed to be in here at the time?"

"Sure. I think so anyway. I believe the sacristans usually set up the night before."

"And the cleanup? When do they do that?"

"In the morning. After breakfast. That's when everybody does their obediences. That's our name for assigned housekeeping roles."

"So he would have had time to get rid of the evidence before Father Fox's body was found?"

"Well, actually, he probably would have been here just about the time I found the body."

"With enough time to get rid of the evidence."

This was going to a place I didn't like. Fast. "Are you assuming Dave Johnson did the deed?"

"Right now, I'm just looking at someone who seems to have had the opportunity to do it and the opportunity to clean it up."

"But the sisters also would had the opportunity on both counts." I can't believe I said that. 

"Yes, that's true," Sergeant Hayden said. "As did the altar boy, though he probably wouldn't have drunk his own poison. We'll be looking at other things too."

"Like motive?"

"Sure. Do the sisters have motive? Does Charlie Parker, who may have drank some of the poison, have motive? Does this Dave Johnson have motive?"


 Early afternoon

After I told Sergeant Hayden what I knew about Dingo Dave and his brother, I went up to my room and tried to think. I filled my pipe with Cherry Blend and tried to feel wise. It didn't help, Between coughs I felt like an idiot. I tried to tell myself that I had no choice, that I had to tell the police what I knew, but I felt like a snitchand an idiot. I contemplated trying to find Hank and talking it over with him and decided against it. 

With no better plan, I knocked the remains of my pipe tobacco into an ashtray and headed out the door, downstairs, and out and onto the cinder path, along the lake to the library. Before I reached the lake, I remembered I hadn't voted. Lyndon Johnson was going to clobber Barry Goldwater, I was pretty sure of that, but there were other offices open. It wouldn't do for a history teacher, however interim, to skip voting. I reversed direction, fired up the Edsel, and headed to a voting station near my house, Sarah's house, where I was registered. The lines were long, but I was able to do my civic duty in half an hour. I got back in the car, drove to the university library, and parked my car in the faculty lot across the road. 

When I got to the library, I found Sarah at the front desk. I told her I was interested in doing some research on Nazis and homosexuality. I expected her to think this was a bit strange, but she reacted as if I was anyone coming in off the street.

"Fifth floor," she said. "But you might want to talk to Dr. Paul Schueller. He's an expert on Germany, specifically the run-up to World War II and beyond. His office is downstairs. Can't say when he'll be there. Anything else?"

"No, thanks. Talk to you later."

I worked my way down to the basement, found his office, which had office hours posted on his door. Supposedly, he'd be there at 4. It was almost 3:30. I figured I could wait. I assumed he'd be on time
with a name like Schueller and and a specialty on Nazis, he wouldn't be careless about time. I just hoped there wouldn't be a line of students.

After browsing the periodical section for twenty minutes, I went back downstairs. He wasn't there, and there were no students in line. I leaned against the wall next to his door. I wanted to be first. 

And he was on time. Good German. I recognized him, probably had seen him on campus somewhere. He was short, was balding with frizzy gray hair on the sides, glasses, and a grumpy demeanor.

"You're not a student," he said, looking at me suspiciously. 

I explained who I was and the surface of what I wanted. 

"Pity about Father Fox," he said. "I didn't really know him. You'd think we would have crossed paths."

"Well, he's been in the Chicago area since ordination," I said. "Can you help?"

"Have your students read my book, Nazis from the Weimar Republic until the End."  

"Not a bad idea," I said. "At least for one student. Is it in the library?"

"Of course, but you could buy it from me." The man wasn't shy about self-promotion. 

"Do you mind giving me the gist
about the homosexual part at least?"

He looked at me suspiciously. "The Cliff Notes version, then. The Weimar Republic was not very good on economics but quite liberal socially. It was fairly tolerant of homosexuality. The Nazis swam with this tide for a while, to the point where certain elements
notably the Brownshirts or Sturmabteilung, which predated the Nazis but became its early paramilitary wingwas well known for homosexuality within its ranks. Some sources think this was mixed up with a cult of virility. At any rate they were a tough bunch, not effeminate types at all. They were instrumental in bringing Hitler to power, but he turned on them. Big time." 

"Because they were homosexual ...?

"Because he perceived them as a threat
or, at any rate, because Himmler and Goering perceived them as a threat and convinced Hitler this was so. This may or may not have been true, but they apparently were trying to replace the German army, which made them serious enemies. Their leader, Ernst Rohm, was popular and influential. He surely was a threat to some. Not incidentally, his taste for young boys was well known and accepted for a time. Hitler with considerable help from the SS or Schutzstaffel, with which you might be familiar, purged them in 1934, killing most of the leadership in something called the 'Blood Purge' or 'The Night of the Long Knives.' 

"Somehow the perceived threat of the Brownshirts and their reputation for homosexual behavior got mixed together, to the point where purges spread to the Hitler Youth and then to homosexuals
and suspected homosexualswho had no connection to any of these groups. It's hard to tell how widespread the purge was, but the Nazis left the tolerance of the Weimar Republic behind. They were pretty vicious."

"Well, I'm shocked," I said in mock outrage. "Not really, but it sounds like Father Fox was onto something."

"If that's what he was alluding to," Dr. Mueller said. "We just don't know the extent of it. Clearly, some people were sent to concentration camps because they were homosexuals."

"And I bet some were accused of being homosexual because someone wanted to get rid of them."

"Surely," he said. "Hard to know how many."

I left with a copy of his book, which I offered to pay for and which offer was accepted.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Chapter 24

Monday, November 2, 1964

Breakfast began an hour later than usual, thanks to the incomprehensible obligation for priests to say three masses instead of one and for the even less understandable reason for the seminarians to sit through three masses. Nevertheless, it was All Soul's Day, a dark day accompanied by black vestments in a catch-all memorial for the expired sinners who weren't counted among the "saints" and collectively remembered the day before. For most seminarians, it functioned as penance for the excesses of Halloween.

The seminarians filed into the refectory with something like relief, the ordeal of three masses having been accomplished, leaving them with a ravenous hunger. The exception was a sophomore, who after grace and the delivery of gluey oatmeal befitting the day, barked two octaves below a hiccup and propelled the remains of yesterday's supper into the face of the table captain, a senior unfamiliar with such indignities. The senior yelped, jumped, and knocked over his chair, and stared at the backside of the vomit rocket who was running from the room.

The dining room was abuzz.

Once he deciphered what was going on, Hank aka Father Grease rang the bell and announced that a) the victimized table should leave the room that b) everyone should pipe down and get back to business while c) he personally cleaned up the mess. 

I thought the last was a nice touch, almost Franciscan, something he would surely regret once he started mopping up the vomit. However, my thoughts had outraced the events. Hank grabbed one of the priest-waiters and immediately went into supervisory mode, sending the young man out to fill up a mop bucket, bring it along with a roll of napkins, and then begin cleaning up the mess.

Appetites had not restored themselves by the time Father Grease and his unfortunate helper were done cleaning up the worst of the mess. Therefore, while standing in the middle of the room, Father Grease said a perfunctory grace after meals and excused everyone. The room cleared of most seminarians in less than a minute, except for the food servers who had the responsibility of preparing the room for the next meal and were gathering like sour milk on the ramp to the kitchen. 

"Get to work," Father Grease commanded.

"Well, that was entertaining," I said to him. "Too bad Bernie missed it."

"Speaking of the good Father Fox," Hank said after taking a deep breath, "he is here. He said his three masses in the sister's chapel. It's not like him to miss a breakfast. When you go back to your room, check on him."

I didn't much care for the assignment, but I was the natural choice. Bernie's room was next to mine. Procrastination, especially when it involved unpleasant tasks, was a bad habit I would address one of these days. In this case, Hank was glaring at me, and I decided to get my mission out of the way. I made the trek down the hall and up three flights of stairs, and stopped in front of the Fox's door. It was shut, which was no surprise. Bernie was a private man. I knocked and got no answer. Maybe he was in the bathroom. I went to my room, left my door cracked, and lit up a Lucky Strike. I figured smoking the cigarette would give him time to get out of the bathroom. I heard footsteps and looked out, hoping it was Bernie. It was a seminarian, coming up to do his obedience, which would consist of dust-mopping the dorms on both sides of my room and Bernie's. I stubbed out the Lucky and resigned myself to checking. 

I knocked. Nothing. I knocked again. Nothing. With resignation, I tried the door. It wasn't locked.

The smell hit me, a harsh reminder of our recent breakfast. Vomit. There was a splatter trail leading from Bernie's easy chair toward the bathroom. The contents weren't abundant, but their color was a strange mix of bright yellow and streaks of blood. Bernie was in the bathroom, laying on his back in a pool of bright yellow, more bright yellow dripping from his mouth. His head was bleeding. It wasn't pretty, but I had seenand smelled
worse in the war. This problem wasthis was now and he was not moving. When I felt his neck for a pulse, I felt nothing. 

I went to his phone, dialed "0", and then hung up. Bernie wasn't going anywhere. All hell was about to break loose, and it might help to face it with a plan.  

I hung the do-not-disturb sign on my doorknob and did the same on Bernie's door. Then I headed downstairs in search of Hank. 

Five minutes later

"Heart attack?" It was the first words Hank said after I gave him the news. The air had gone out of him, and it took more than a minute for him to speak. 

"Don't think so. Some kind of stomach thing. He's in the bathroom, vomit
mostly blood and bileall over. He puked his guts out, literally. Looks like he might have fallen and hit his head. It's ugly."

"You sure he's dead?"

I just looked at him.

"Okay, right," he said. "You've seen your share of trauma." Twenty years ago, Hank and I had been in the seminary. He stayed put. I went to war.

"I didn't call the police," I said. "I thought about it, but this is going to throw the school into chaos. I thought we might take some time to figure out how to handle it. We've got about forty-five minutes before the guys start filing into their classrooms. Time to step up, Boss."

"Well, okay then," he said. "I'll tell you what. I'll grab my kit, run upstairs, give Bernie the last rites, and look things over. In the meantime, see if you can round up the faculty and ask them to meet me in the lounge. Umm, don't tell them anything
except that we need an emergency meeting."

"And after that," I said.

"I have no idea." 

Fifteen minutes later

"Heart attack?" Father Al Hopfensperger's question broke the silence. 

"We should be so lucky," I said, as much to myself as to the assembled staff.

Hank continued, describing the scene and the likelihood that something besides natural causes was behind Bernie's sudden departure. 

"This is bad," someone muttered.

"What are we going to do?" someone else asked.

"The sixty-four thousand dollar question," Hank said.

"Are you going to call the authorities?" Father Hop wanted to know.

"I don't want to," Hank said. "But I think I have to."

"That's going to open up a can of worms," said Brother Rufus. 

"I'm afraid the worms have been loose for some time," said Hank. "Now they are so obvious we have to deal with them."

"But how?" asked Father Hop. 

Even though I was the new guy, I'd had the most time to think about it, maybe twenty minutes. I figured I should jump in. "'First things first. Let's starting with what we do right now. How do we break it to the seminarians, and then what do we do with them for the rest of the day."

"Or even just this morning," said Hank, looking at me with something like relief. 

"What about this?" I said. "As soon as we leave here, let's corral everyone into the chapel for an emergency assembly."

"Good," said Father Hop. "Classes are supposed to start in twenty minutes or so. That'll be a good time to gather them. I'll stand in front the school building and redirect everyone to the chapel."

"And once everyone is assembled, someone
Hank?can make the announcement," I said. "Probably should keep it general. He was found dead. We don't know what happened. That sort of thing."

"Absolutely," said Hank. "But I'm afraid I'm going to have to be available to the authorities. Al, as assistant superior, the job should fall to you. Bert, why don't you can handle redirecting the guys to the chapel?" I nodded assent, and he continued. "Al, keep it general, per Bert's suggestion. Don't give any details. Just say that Father Fox was found dead in his room. We don't know what happened. None of you should give out any more than that."

"After that, we can say a rosary," said Father Hop, warming to the task. "That will us buy some time. Twenty minutes, maybe. Then what."

"That's a quandary," said Hank. "I imagine it's going to take the authorities the rest of the morning
at the very leastto process the body and the scene. I'm just guessing, but I'm not keen on having the boys staring at ambulances, hearses, police cars, and whatnot. That'll just feed speculation."

"How about sending the underclassmen to their locker rooms until further notice?" I said. "Seniors can go to their rooms."

"Why not send them to study hall?" asked Father Hop. "At least they can study there."
"Because the guys in the north study hall will have their noses pressed to the windows, staring at the police cars, ambulances, comings and goings," I said. "They can't do that from the locker rooms. Besides, they are comfortable hanging out in the locker rooms. They can manage there until lunch."

"Okay," said Hank. "If you're not otherwise tied up, each of you join the boys in their space. Al, take the seniors. Bert, take the juniors. The rest of you, take the underclassmen. Everyone, answer their questions
generally pleaseand help them process the news. Try to control their speculating and wild theories."

"Good luck with that," I said.

After 10 A.M.

"Mr. Foote, I need you upstairs."

That was ominous. Hank hadn't visited the junior locker room all year. I was there as part of the plan, helping the seminarians process the death of their history teacher by hanging out with them. I had been there for a good hour, listening, pretending I didn't know anything when they asked me "what happened?" This part of the plan had worked fairly well. Breaking the news in the chapel, where the seminarians never spoke anything but prayers, and saying the rosary afterward had grounded everyone. Moving them to their locker rooms had worked as well. There was the expected shock of coming to terms with the sudden death of someone they had seen alive and well the day before, but the main reaction among juniors had been divided between dramatic sadness and guilty silence, the former on the part of those who liked their teacher and the latter on the part of those who didn't. Or at least I surmised as such. Dingo Dave sat on a bench, stared into his locker, and said nothing while I was around. As a change of pace, a couple of them made reference to the breakfast drama, whose perpetrator
Charles Weberthey had already branded as "UpChuck." 

"Let's walk slowly," Hank said. "I have to fill you in." After getting out of earshot, we stopped at the foot of the stairs. 

"Okay, shoot."

"I made two phone calls," Hank said. "One was to campus security, which generated a visit from the chief of security and the MD from the campus infirmary. After one look at the body, the doc called the time of death and the chief called the county coroner. He's not here yet.
"I made another call to the provincial, who instructed me not to tell law enforcement anything until the congregation's lawyer arrived."

"You lawyered up?"

"No surprise," Hank said. "We're not sure how much to say about Bernie and all the rumors."

"There's that. And the possibility that the murderer ... " I paused. "We're pretty sure this was a murder, aren't we ...?"

"I can tell you this: the chief waited about a second before calling the coroner," Hank said. "So yeah, I don't think anybody's gonna think Bernie ate a bad clam."

"Some clam," I said. "Then there's the possibility
even the likelihoodthat the murderer is going to behow should I say thisone of us."

Hank looked at his shoes and then at me. "You know, I hadn't even thought of that. I guess I didn't want to."

"So what did you say to the authorities?"

"Not much," Hank said. "I told the chief that you found Bernie, came and told me, whereupon I went upstairs, checked his pulse, gave him the last rites, and went to the faculty lounge to break the news to the team and plan the logistics of the morning. I had asked the provincial if it would be okay to do that much. That's what you should do as well."

"Stick to finding the body then? What if he asks me other questions
about Bernie and so on."

"Just tell him you need to wait. The chief is waiting as well. The coroner is here. When he declares this to be a suspicious death, the chief plans to call the sheriff. He'll send out a detective, who will do the in-depth interviews. By then, we'll have talked to the lawyer."

"What do we do about the seminarians?"

"Well, while I'm here I'll go talk to the juniors. Maybe that'll help me decide what to do next."

Hank went off to the locker room, and I went off in search of the chief of security. I found him outside, sitting in his car, waiting for the coroner. He gathered that I was the person he had asked for, opened the passenger door, and motioned me to sit. I did
and waited.

The chief was mature, maybe in his early fifties, a retired city cop I guessed, not entirely correctly as it turned out. There was a chill in the air, and he was in uniform, without a coat, probably why he was waiting in his car. 

"You're Mr. Foote, I assume."

"Foote" with an "e". My first name is Englebert, but everybody calls me Bert
for obvious reasons."

"I'll be calling you Mr. Foote, and you may call me Chief Ziolkowski
or Chief, for obvious reasons."  

"Okay, I guess I'll be calling you Chief."

"Father Grieshaber said you found the body."

"Yes, Father Fox didn't show up for breakfast, which was unlike him," I said. "Hank, er, Father Griesehaber asked me to check on him. His room is next to mine."

"Did you have any reason to suspect a problem?"

"Other than that he didn't show up for breakfast, no."

"What did you do when you found him?"

"I checked for a pulse on his neck. Nothing. Then I left, went to find Father Grieshaber."

"Why didn't you call someone? The operator? Campus security?"

"Two reasons. It was pretty clear Bernie, Father Fox, was dead. There wasn't going to be anything we could do for him. Second, we're a boarding school. Sudden death like this is bound to create some chaos. I wanted to give ... Father Grieshaber ... a chance to think through how we were going to handle the seminarians, at least for the day. He called you shortly after a short meeting with the staff."

"You seem pretty calm for someone who found a dead body hardly more than an hour ago."

If I had been perfectly honest, I would have told the chief that I wasn't all that calm. In fact, I could have used a drink. On the other hand, strictly speaking, there wasn't anything novel about that. Even at 10 in the morning. There was something odd about the situation, though. My hands weren't shaking. I was calm. Oddly so. Finally, I said, "I was in the infantry during the war. I've seen more than my share of dead bodies." 

"Oh, where?"

"Europe. France and Germany. 1945, the tail end of things. Some fighting. A lot of cleanup. Maybe it wasn't the worst duty, but it was bad enough."

"Me, I was Marine MP, stationed on the U.S.S. Hornet for a while. The Hornet saw plenty of action, but we were never hit. All things considered, my job was fairly routine, mostly busting the chops of all the eighteen to twenty-two year olds who wanted to act like eighteen to twenty-two year olds."

"Sounds like it has something in common with campus security."

"In some ways, yeah," he said. "I figured I'd be well equipped to oversee security for seven thousand sex-starved boys." He paused. "Father Grieshaber asked if we'd wait until this afternoon for extended questioning, I said, fine, figuring someone from the sheriff's office was going to do the honors."

"He mentioned that."

"Still, is there anything you'd care to tell me before then."

"You know, I think I can tell you something. One of the boys tossed his cookies at breakfast. It made quite an impression on his table mates. In fact, we ended breakfast a bit early. It didn't occur to me until now, but there might be a connection."

"A connection? You think?"

"Well, yeah, you know. Two instances of projectile vomiting on the same morning. Same bilious contents. Could be a clue."

A clue? Who are you, Agatha Christie?"

"What, you don't want a clue?"

"I'm a campus security guard," he said. "I expect to call the sheriff' soon. I'll ask him about this clue thing. In the meantime, who tossed the yellow cookies at breakfast?"

"He's a sophomore, name of Charles Weber, though I heard someone calling him 'Upchuck' as everybody filed out after breakfast."

"Poor kid, that'll stick and he'll have that nickname for life. I'd like to talk to him, but I've got to wait here and it's a bit of a deal to talk to minors anyway."

"The kid's in my class. How about I talk to him, find out what he's eaten or drunk in the past twenty-four hours or so?"

"Good idea, but make the timeline forty-eight hours. And find out where he's been, not just what he's eaten."

"Deal. Give me a half hour. I think he's in the infirmary." I was starting to feel like a real detective, but I didn't say that.

About 10:45 A.M.

I made the trek up to the infirmary. Father Hop had already given the seniors the news and was having a standing meeting with six of them at the end of the hallway, Others were talking quietly in groups of three to four, in the hallway or in someone's room. No one was at the nurse's station. I rang the doorbell and waited a couple of minutes until Sister Angela showed up.

"How's your bronchitis?" she said.

"Progressing nicely, thank you," I said. "Throat pain is gone, but it's migrated to my chest, waiting to break up."

"I'll give you a decongestant."

"Good, but that's not the main reason I'm here."


"Is Charles Weber up here? He had an, uh, incident this morning at breakfast."

"Yes," she said. "He came in here looking a little green, but he's feeling some better."

"I'd like to speak to him."

"He's not much for conversation right now."

"It's important. It has to do with Father Fox."

"Father Fox?"

"You didn't hear?" Apparently, Hank had neglected to inform the good sisters.

"Hear what?"

"I, um ... Father Fox was found dead in his room this morning." I decided I'd best keep to the protocol. 


Neither her voice nor her face showed any emotion, so I said, "Maybe you didn't know him?"

"Not really," she said. "He came up here once for some aspirin. We weren't close." Her face registered something, maybe  amusement, maybe curiosity. "He said the masses for us this morning. Seemed okay. Maybe a little anxious to get it over with, but it was three masses
and he's always been a quick one. Heart attack?"

"I have no idea." A little lie. "Anyway, if Charles is in your infirmary, he probably doesn't know either."

"I can tell him."

"I'd rather do it, if you don't mind. The teachers are dealing with all the students
and thanks to his little incident, Charles is out of the loop. I've been sent to rectify that." Another little lie.

"Okay then." With that she led me into a ward with a dozen beds in it. Charles Weber was in one of them. There were no other patients.

"Hey, Charlie, how are you doing?"

"Getting better," he said. "Man, something came over me at breakfast. I slept fine, served three masses in the sister's chapel, no problem. And then at breakfast, bang ..."

My antennae went up. "So you were Father Fox's altar boy this morning?"

"Yea, why?"

"That's one of the reasons I came in here. To let you know
Father Fox was found dead this morning.'

"No! Really?" He looked shocked. No reason not too."Heart attack?"

"No idea," I said. Third lie in ten minutes. "You might have been the last person to see him alive. Did he seem okay?"

"Yea, well. Sure, I mean, he did the last mass really fast and then disappeared. That's his style, though. So ... the last person to see him. Whoa!"

Yea, Whoa!

About 11:00 A.M.

Things moved quickly while I was talking to Charles. The coroner had ruled within five minutes of inspecting the scene that the death was suspicious; he called the sheriff, who gave his forewarned homicide investigators the go ahead. By the time I got outside to talk to the chief, the homicide guys were upstairs in Bernie's room consulting with the coroner.
Meanwhile, I filled in the chief on Upchuck's activities, whereabouts, and menu for the last forty eight hours.

"Oh," was his response, which I gathered was copspeak for "I'm really excited."
Just as I finished my briefing, another car showed up, which turned out to belong to the congregation's attorney. He introduced himself as Al Mueller, after which I offered to go in search of Hank, who the chief said had gone upstairs just before our conversation. 

"I told him the coroner wasn't going to let him in the room," the chief said, "but he went up there anyway."

"Probably didn't know what else to do," I said. 

"The coroner is not going to let me in there either," the attorney said. "So I'll take you up on your offer to climb those stairs and retrieve Father Grease."

"You call him by his nickname," I noticed, curious.

"Everybody calls him that," Mueller said. "Even the provincial. I don't even remember his full name."

"Grieshaber," I said, "but I call him Hank." I headed off on my climbing expedition, coughing and wheezing by the time I reached the fourth floor. 

As predicted, Hank was pacing the corridor. He greeted me, almost glad to have some direction, even if it was "let's get out of here." On the way down, I told him what I had found out about Charles Weber and his morning whereabouts coinciding with Bernie's. He was aghast.

"You told the chief about this?"

"It had to do with the morning's events," I said, "which I figured was reasonable to share with the officer." I had wondered if I should say anything and felt mildly guilty about it. On the other hand, I rather relished the idea of contributing to the case. Gosh, I was sober enough to have an ego.

Mueller was waiting for us, just inside the entrance. It was a little cool, and no one was about. The seminarians were still being warehoused in their locker rooms. We huddled.
"Here's the deal," Mueller began. "I'm the attorney for the congregation. If you think you need an attorney for yourself, go get one. In my role, I'm not going to stop you from cooperating with the authorities. In fact, you have to cooperate with them. Answer their questions as best you can. Provide the information they ask for. Volunteer whatever information you think might be helpful."

"Does this include sharing our suspicions ..." Hank paused and swallowed.  "... and/or the rumors about Father Fox?"

"The provincial briefed me on that," the attorney said. "Like I said, you have to be seen to be cooperating. So, yes, share this with them. You can certainly give your take on them. You didn't believe the rumors, et cetera, et cetera. However, my role is to keep the lid on what the public will hear."

"You're doing PR?" I asked. 

"Yes, basically," he said. "The local authorities are going to do their investigations. They aren't going to pull any punches, but they understand the university's need
and by association the congregation's needfor discretion. It's not that they are good buddies with us. They have a natural distaste for releasing any but the most minimal informationuntil they identify a perpetrator."

"If there is a perpetrator," said Hank. 

"Yes, of course. The point is, when that happens, reporters will be out in full force and you'll be at the mercy of events. In the meantime, though, I'll help you keep a lid on things."

"Until the cover blows off," I said.

"Until then."

After 11 A.M.

After a bit of negotiation, Al Mueller, Hank, and I convened with Sergeant Frank Hayden and Deputy Andrew Wood from the Sheriff's Office and Chief Ziolkowski from the university. The discussion had involved a quick rundown on my role in the matter and Hank's desire to have me included in informal questioning. We fit conveniently around a game table and gathered there. The sheriff's deputies weren't in uniform, unless you considered sport coats, black pants, blue shirts with no tie a uniform. Sergeant Hayden was in his mid-forties, by my guess, a notch over six feet tall, and had a shock of very blonde hair. Detective Wood was shorter and with dark hair receding quickly, which made him look older than his partner. I guessed that he wasn't. They looked like a couple of college professors, which suggested they were the go-to team for anything to do with Notre Dame.
Sergeant Hayden even took out a pipe to complete the look. 

"You men need something to drink," Hank asked.

"No, thanks," said
Sergeant Hayden.

"I'm fine, thanks," said Detective Wood.

"Nope," said Mueller.

I half expected Hank to go pour himself a glass of scotch. He didn't, and I tried not to register a sigh of relief.

The attorney spoke first, explaining that he was the congregation's attorney and that he had advised each of us to get our own attorneys if we were concerned about talking to the police. He explained that his main interest was in working with the authorities to ensure discretion with regard to the initial reports about Father Fox's death and the cause.
"In that respect, I'd like to ask that Father Fox's room be secured in a way that does not suggest that it is a crime scene. This will reduce the speculation on the part of the seminarians and ultimately the public."

"Good idea. I hadn't thought of that," said Hank. He had that deer in headlights look.

Chief Ziolkowski jumped in. "I can handle that. I'll give the university's locksmith a call. Someone will be here within the half hour to add a keyed deadbolt to Father Fox's room, very discrete."

"And you'll hold the keys, presumably," said Sgt. Hayden. 

"Yes, sir," the chief said and left the room. 

After that,
Sergeant Hayden took the lead, reviewing my encounter and Hank's with the body. We went through it again. With that out of the way, he asked the expected question, "Can you think of anyone who who wanted to harm Father Fox?"

Hank looked at me, then at Mueller, and said nothing.

Muller looked back at Hank and said, "The congregation has no objection to filling them in."

Hank sighed and began by explaining that Bernie Fox had been moved to Holy Cross Seminary after rumors surfaced that he had molested a student in his previous assignment at Notre Dame High School in Niles, Illinois. "The provincial didn't believe the rumors, but he believed he had to transfer Bernie to another job."

"Why to another high school?"
Sergeant Hayden asked. 

"Like I said, he didn't believe the stories."

"With good reason," I interjected. "The stories began to circulate after Bernie
Father Foxstood up for a kid who was being bullied. The bullies were the sons of prominent Chicagoans, and Bernie tried to get them expelled."

"So he made some enemies?"
Sergeant Hayden said.

"It appears so," Hank said.

"But why the molestation charges?"

"Because the boy who was being bullied was struggling with homosexuality."

"How do you know that?"
Sergeant Hayden asked. 

"His name was Jimmy Parker," Hank said. "He entered St. Joe Hall in August. That's our first-year residence for seminarians who join us after high school or later. Jimmy committed suicide a month ago. You can check with the chief and the coroner."

"And homosexuality was an issue for this young man?"

"It appears so," I said and told them about the copy of The Charioteer, signed by Father Fox, that Father Perry found at the scene of the suicide.

"Doesn't this suggest that Father Fox and this Jimmy Parker had a relationship?"

"A relationship, yes," said Hank. He had a little edge to his voice.  "But don't jump to the worst
and likely the wrongconclusion. Father Fox was a teacher, as I am and as Bert is. We all have relationships with our students, relationships that are appropriate to us as teachersand sometimes as counselors. The book didn't suggest to me that Father Fox was having sex with the boy."

"Nor to me, either," I said. "The book is about a young man struggling with his sexual identity. My first thought was that Father Fox was counseling the young man."

"And telling him it was okay to be a homosexual?" said the Detective Wood.

"Is this really your issue?" asked Mueller.

"Point taken," said the sergeant. "We're looking for a motive, but our primary issue is who killed Father Fox."

"If anyone killed Father Fox," said Mueller. 

"Correct," said the sergeant. "Technically, we're jumping the gun
we don't have the coroner's rulingbut we have an expectation. That's why we're here."

Hank's jaw tightened. I thought he was going to break a tooth. 

"Mr. Foote," continued the sergeant. "You found the body, but you seem to know as much as anyone about Father Fox. What's going on? Were you his best friend
or what?"

I looked at Hank and then at Mueller. "Not hardly," and I proceeded to tell them why I was hired.

"So tell us what you know," Sgt. Hayden ordered.

 "I suppose you mean about Father Fox," I said.

"Yes," said the detective. "I'm not so interested in how you diagram sentences."

Good cop, bad cop, funny cop.  "I think I've told you must of what I know," I said. "Father Fox tried to protect Jimmy Parker from being bullied. Because of that, he pissed off
excuse mesome powerful parents. This doesn't make him a bad guy. Quite the contrary. The seminarians gossip a bit about him, they call him BJ, playing off the rumors ..."

Hank was glaring at me.

"What's up with the nickname?"
Sergeant Hayden said. 

"His name is Bernard John Fox." I emphasized Bernard and John.

"So it could be innocent," Hank said, still glaring at me.

"But not so much," I said. "It's ..."

"I get it,"
Sergeant Hayden said. "And you don't think that's an indication he might be misbehaving."

"I get nothing from the students but gossip. No red flags on that score. But he is controversial."

"Go on," the sergeant said. 

I looked at Hank and proceeded. "On the first day of class, he announced that he was going to teach history backwards. This sounded radical and thrilled some students. Others thought it was stupid. He has, um, had ... this is hard to get used to ... I'm just going to use the present tense if you don't mind."

"Always the English teacher," Hank said. 

"Father Fox" has a sour disposition. He hardly ever laughs," I said and stopped, thinking of my wife. "He's prone to cutting remarks, which I find hard to take, but it tickles a lot of the seminarians, depending on the target."

"And if they are the target ..." said Detective Wood.

"I suppose they might develop a bit of a resentment," I admitted. "On the other hand, some of the seminarians identify with his cynicism. He says mass in half the time of all the other priests, which makes him popular with most of the seminarians."

Sergeant Hayden puffed on his pipe and asked, "Any of the seminarians exhibit any particular animus to Father Fox." 

 "Animus?" Must be the pipe, I thought. 

"It's Latin," the sergeant said. "I like to work university cases because I get to try out my vocabulary. Can anyone answer the question?"

Hank and I looked at each other. He shrugged, which gave me the go-ahead. "The Johnson brothers exhibit a certain, um, animus, The younger brother, Dan, He seems to be in some kind of intellectual competition with the man, but I don't think it rises to level of murderous rage." I explained Dan's class confrontation with his history teacher and his explanation of what was behind it. I added that the older brother, Dave, had expressed some misgivings about him. Nothing too dramatic.

"And that's it?" The sergeant took another puff from his pipe.

"Well, it would be, except ..." And I told the group about the collages I found on his door.

"And you think the Johnson brothers might have had something to do with that?" Another puff.

"I asked Dan about it, and he denied it," I said. "I have my suspicions, but I can't be sure."

"Sounds like someone has a certain, how do you say..." The sergeant paused to take another puff.

"Animus," I finished for him. "I guess. But I don't know who. And there is one other thing you should know." I looked at Hank and stopped

Hank took a breath. "I received a threatening note regarding Father Fox in my mail cubby last week."

The sergeant beat the bowl of his pipe into the palm of his hand and dropped the contents into an ashtray. He stared at Hank. "Go on."

"It's downstairs in my office. It looks like one of those ransom notes, with the cut-out letters. It says, 'Foxes are predators. Get rid of yours before someone does it for you.' It was folded inside a blank envelope."

"Blank?" the sergeant said.


"And you didn't do anything about it?"

"Actually, I did," said Hank. "I showed it to our provincial. He had appointed Father Fox to teach here, in spite of the rumors about him. He didn't believe them. He still doesn't believe them, but the note made him contemplate moving Father Fox somewhere else, somewhere out of harm's way. He was supposed to let us know his decision today."

"I guess you should have acted on Friday," the sergeant said. 

After lunch

By 1 p.m., Bernie's body had been transported to the morgue, the seminarians had been released, lunch had been served, and the staff was gathering in the faculty lounge. 

Lunch had been a little querky. The kitchen sisters were distracted and off their game, more annoyed than anything else by not having been officially informed of the day's tragedy. In fact, they had found out about it more or less accidentally from me after I had gone through Sister Angela to interview Charlie Weber. 

The priest's table was subdued after Hank asked the teachers to table their questions and concerns until the meeting afterwards. 

The seminarians were full of energy, which seemed odd under the circumstances. However, the underclassmen had been cooped up in their locker rooms for three hours, and they must have felt like they just got out of jail. The tragedy for them was real, but it produced what amounted to a free day for themwith conditions. Father Grease informed them they could not leave the seminary campus, a freedom that had been new this year. The lock-down was at the request of the sheriff's deputies, but Hank didn't call it a lock-down and didn't say where the request had come from.

The faculty meeting didn't consume a half hour. Hank told the staff about our meeting with the deputies, leaving out some details. He didn't mention the threatening note. He informed them that the two deputies would be back at 2 p.m to interview the staff, beginning with the cooks.

"I hope they speak German," said Brother Rufus. "Those sisters don't speak a lick of English."

"But they understand plenty," said Father Hop. "I'll be available if they need an interpreter."

"Good, but I have another job for you," said Hank. "I need you to gin up some kind of report detailing the movement of the students, beginning with the Halloween activities on Friday night until breakfast this morning."

"Hmm, I can," Father Hop said. "But it's quite a job."

"Yes it is," Hank allowed. "But the deputies are reluctant to interview 100-plus students until they have to. This will save time and give them some direction. You can group some of them, but you'll need to individualize some things, like obediences."

"That one's easy," Father Hop said. "I can give them the obedience list."

I asked how we were going to handle Bernie's history class the next day.

"I haven't thought about it,' Hank said. "Off the top of my head, let's send the lads to study hall. In the meantime, when I get a chance, I'll talk to the provincial about it. I have a feeling, we'll have to bring somebody out of retirement." With that, he dismissed everyone. 

When the others had left, Hank spoke to me. "I need a drink. Do you mind?"

"I could use one myself," I said.


"Yea, I better," I said. "And thank you for thinking of me."

"No problem," he said. getting up to pour himself a Red Label over ice. "We need a steady hand around here, and I'm feeling a tad shaky."

I followed him to the counter, grabbed a mug, and poured myself some coffee. "Be good if you can settle down," I said. "Before this whole place gets the shakes."

He took more than a sip from his scotch and let let out a deep sigh. "But hey, no pressure."

"Sorry," I made a face. The coffee was hours old and nasty. "Keep in mind, you aren't alone. You're part of a religious community, and your faculty is close."

"Hmm, one of whom could have killed their brother."

That stopped me. "I don't see that, do you? Even given Bernie's prickly nature."

"So what are you thinking?"

"I'm not getting anywhere with my thinking," I said. "It's got to be a member of the staff or a student."

"Or one of the good sisters," he said.

"Or one of the good sisters, Hard to imagine, although I am hoping for accidental food poisoning."

"Wouldn't that be nice," he said, more as a statement than a question. 

"The detectives came alive when they found out Charlie Parker did the big barf at breakfast," I said. "I think they'll chase that tail for a while, but I don't buy it. If it were food poisoning, we'd be overrun with the puke-and-trots. We had only two victims, so it's not likely."

"Coulda been something that nobody else eats," Hank said. 

"You mean like mystery squares," I said. "Nobody likes them. The legend is that the sisters serve 100 mystery squares and get back 150."

"So maybe Bernie and Charlie were the only ones who dared eat one. I like it." Hank made a sound, the distant ancestor of a chuckle, took a good pull on his scotch, and sighed.  

"We can always hope, but Bernie would have had to eat a dozen yesterday," I said. 

"Change of subject. I could handle Bernie's sophomore history class for the next week or so. Last I heard, they were still talking about World War II. I've got a little experience there."

"What about his other classes?"

"Can't solve that one for you," I said. "All my other classes are in the same period with his."


It seemed like the day had gone on for a week. It was only 3 p.m. I had no classes. The authorities had left, except for the detectives who were on site, interviewing the sisters responsible for preparing the food. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall, watching their reaction to the veiled hint that their food preparation might have been responsible for the death of a priest. 

The detectives were not going to talk to me until tomorrow, if then. It was a crazy day, and I needed to talk to someone. My sponsor was at work. So was my wife, but her work was at the university library. I started the walk on the cinder path, past St. Mary's Lake, and across campus, wondering what I would tell her. I hadn't even told her the details of why I was hired. And I hadn't been good at confiding in her when we were together. 

I stopped at the Huddle, thinking I needed a decent cup of coffee and a relaxed smoke. Before going to the counter, I went to the bank of phone booths in the student center and called Eli, who would have to serve as my lawyer if I needed one, and arranged an appointment for later in the afternoon. I didn't expect him to make room for me today, but  when I told him the basics, he said he'd stay later to talk with me. That worried me.
I decided to skip the coffee and the smoke and headed to the library. I stopped at the desk, asked for Sarah, and was pointed to the periodicals section. I found her there, got her agreement to meet me in fifteen minutes in the canteen downstairs. 

That gave me time to buy a cup of coffee from the machine
not great but better than the swill in the faculty loungeand a chance to light my pipe and relax a bit. 

Sarah was as good as her word, as was her practice. She took one look at me and said, "Wow! What's going on? You look like you just stuck your finger in a wall socket."

"Yea, well, at nine this morning, I did get a bit of shock." And I began to fill her in, starting with my discovery of the body. 

"Doesn't sound like death from natural causes," she said.

"No, it doesn't. Hank ... Father Grease, the school superior ... and I are holding out for food poisoning, but it's a vain hope. Somebody poisoned him on purpose."

"Poisoned? How strange."

"You think?"

"And why would someone kill this guy, especially if, as seems likely, that someone is part of the seminary landscape."

"Okay, there is something I haven't told you." And I finally told her the real reason that I, a recently sober alcoholic with no teaching experience and a dubious relationship to the Catholic church, had been hired to teach English in a high school seminary.

When I stopped talking, she paused a bit and said, "Of course, I knew that you weren't hired for your spectacular qualifications," she said, "but I just assumed that your seminary classmate was trying to give you a helping hand."

"That was part of it, I'm sure," I said, "but he was in a jam, and he needed an outsider he could trust."

"And he could trust you?"

"He was willing to take the chance."

"So why are you telling me now," she said. "Confiding in me hasn't been your long suit."

"Yeah, right. I get that, but confiding in anyone has never been my long suit. But lately, I've been dipping my toe in the waters."

"A benefit of your meetings perhaps. But again, why me?"

"Two reasons I can think of. One, I need another person to talk to, someone not connected to the seminary, someone who can keep a confidence. Aside from not being good at the confiding thing and not being comfortable talking to youthanks to our, hmm, situationI had an ethical reason for not telling you why I was hired."

"And that is ..."

"And that was ... the need to avoid spreading tales about people, especially Father Fox. The situation was awkward."

"And now that he's gone, you can talk to me."

"Yes, but I think I could have talked to you before. My lawyer, the Jewish guy, told me that the laws against spreading gossip don't apply to sharing between a husband and wife. This is partly because a husband and wife shouldn't have secrets from each other
and they should be able to assume their confidence will be kept."

"And we are separated, so the husband and wife thing ..."

"... was up in the air," said. "But maybe more important, I just wasn't ready to confide in you."

"And now you are?"

"I'm getting there."