Monday, November 23, 1964
Yesterday was the anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. The news media was all over the story, replaying the assassination and the funeral. Hank had the TV on in the faculty lounge for most of the day. Ordinarily, TV was limited for the seminarians, but November 22 was no ordinary day. They were allowed to watch the TV in the auditorium. Everyone was there at some point. A few were there for most of the afternoon, including one fellow who spent the entire day there.
On Friday, I had assigned each class to write something about Kennedy, the assassination, the funeral, his legacy, or whatever. Even though the country was moving on, it was still a raw memory.
Today, the seminarians read from their essays. Everyone had a chance to read at least a paragraph, and we had enough time to talk about the event and its ramifications. Nothing about Dingo Dave came up.
But today was a big day on that score. I picked up Butch at home at 3:30 and headed towards Fort Wayne, where the judge had sent Dave, doing a kindness for his mother who lived in the area. The house was victorian style, no visible bars or restraints. The rule was that anyone who escaped—or tried to—would be shipped to a different, more institutional setting. The home director met me at the door and ushered the two of us into a waiting area. He explained the procedure, which consisted of me staying put in the waiting room and Butch visiting with Dave in a separate room, where he would be chaperoned by an adult attendant standing out of earshot.
The director and Butch left, while I picked up a magazine. Little more than a half hour later they returned.
"So?" I said, once we were in the car.
"Isn't my visit supposed to be confidential?"
"Yes and no," I said. "Yes, by my agreement with you, you are to keep the visit confidential with respect to the seminarians and almost all others. No, you do not have to keep the visit confidential from me, and that's also by agreement."
"My deal with you is that you could visit Dingo Dave with the understanding that you are a member of the team, the only team that is interested in finding out the real truth about what happened. You understand that?"
"You are free to keep your visit confidential from me—that's your choice. But I would take that as your decision to not be part of the team. Does that make sense?"
"What if I think it is in Dave's best interest to not share what he said with you?"
"That could be the case, but it would make it tough for me to rely on you to do anything else."
"You're relying on me?"
"Isn't it obvious? I can't talk to Dave. You can, and you did."
Silence. Then, "He didn't do it."
"What makes you say that?"
"He's not a liar, Dad. He admitted what he did and denied what he didn't do. I believe him."
Good point. I suggested that we accept, for the moment, that Dave was telling the truth. In this case, we would accept that he he could have poisoned Father Fox but didn't, that he created the collages that went up on the priest's door, that he placed an envelope containing something into Father Grieshaber's mail cubby. This was quite believable, but it left me with two questions for Butch
"First," I said, "Why did he do those collages?"
"He did them for his brother," Butch said.
On a simple level, this seemed obvious, based on what the two admitted to. But it didn't explain why. What was going on in their heads? Dan clearly had an issue with Father Fox, but Dave didn't have him as a teacher and didn't appear to interact with him. And why would he help his brother out in this way? Butch agreed to pursue this on his next visit.
"Second," I said. "Who gave him the envelope, which we assume contained the threatening note?"
Another good question. "Yea, maybe," said Butch.
"So it could be complicated. Maybe Dave helped his brother out, participated in some way, but he wasn't the instigator."
"Yes, but ..."
Butch finished my sentence. "Dave was the one that stuck it to the door."
"But you don't think he worked alone," I said. "Why not?"
"Didn't the collage make fun of Father Fox as a queer?"
"Homosexual—and we don't know that."
"You don't know if the collage made fun of him as, uh, homosexual?"
"No, I mean, yes we know it did," I said. "But we don't know that Father Fox was a homosexual."
"Oh, okay. The thing is Dave didn't care that much about the homo, uh, homosexual issue. It was just something he got from his brother. For Dave, it wasn't that big a deal. Dave didn't have him in class. I don't think Dave ever said 'hi' to him."
"So that's why you don't think he was, let's say, the instigator of the collage. Okay, I think the detectives believe his brother was involved in that, so it makes sense. What about the threatening letter?"
Butch look puzzled. "He told me he might have done that."
"Might have? That's weird."
"Well, he said he put something in Father Grease's mailbox for someone—he didn't know what it said and he didn't know who he did it for."
"Really, Dad. You're doing a grammar lesson?"
"So he delivered the message," I said. "Maybe he didn't know what the message said, but he had to know who gave it to him."
"He's protecting someone," Butch said.
"Whom," Butch said.
"Got me. Good one. For whom did he do it."
"He wouldn't say."
"Okay, good. Perhaps his brother again. Or someone else. We're onto something. Nice work. Remember. mum's the word. Not even to your sister, especially not to your sister. I haven't brought her into this game—yet."
By the time we got back to South Bend, I was convinced that Dave's brother, Dan, was the instigator of the collage episode and was motivated by his fears about homosexuality. I was equally convinced that someone else was involved in the threatening letter, someone who might be the clue to Father Fox's murder.