The Vanishing Corpse, Part 16

Detective Bruno knew his way around the station house so well, that he could walk with his head down, and his mind on a million other things, and still find his way to his desk without incident.

Anyone stupid enough to not clear a path and stay out of his way, deserved whatever bodily harm was inflicted upon him if he got in the way of the Bruno steamroller.

Because of this, Captain Hamel knew to announce his presence.

“Hold up, Bruno,” Hamel advised.  “You don’t want to deal with the piles of paperwork that come along with hospitalizing your superior.”

Bruno stopped immediately, as did Wally, who was a few steps behind him.  They were in the hallway outside of the bullpen, which meant Hamel was not only out of the sanctuary of his office, but also out of his element.

“What are you doing out here, sir?” Bruno asked in confusion.  “And how the hell do you always know when I’m coming?”

Hamel smiled.  “I use my sixth sense from the Star Wars movies you clowns are always teasing me about.”

Bruno sighed.  “The Sixth Sense is Bruce Willis…”

Hamel shook his head emphatically.  “No, Bruce Willis is Die Hard.  Jeez, Bruno, get your movies straight.”

Bruno looked to Wally for sympathy, and the rookie just shrugged.

“What was the urgency for us to come back so quickly?” Bruno decided that changing the subject was the better course of action for his sanity.

“You’re not the only one who gets the heebie jeebies when it comes to dealing with authority figures from the Catholic Church,” Hamel explained in hushed tones like he was afraid of being overheard.  “That scary nun, and an equally frightening Monsignor, are currently in my office demanding an update on your missing corpse case.”

“Technically, it’s the kid’s missing corpse…”

Wally hung his head in shame.

“I don’t give a rat’s ass who lost the corpse,” Hamel grumbled.  “Just deal with the holy rollers and keep me out of it.”

Bruno nodded.  “This actually works out cuz I was gonna go at the old penguin with some more questions, and I ain’t keen on doing it on God’s turf.”

Hamel motioned in the direction of his office.  “Go deal with them.  Use my office, and if I were you, I wouldn’t refer to her as a penguin to her face.”

“I won’t, sir,” Bruno assured him.  “I’m gonna make the kid do it.”

Wally’s jaw dropped, while Hamel just rolled his eyes and headed off in the opposite direction of his office.

short storySister Mary Catherine and Monsignor Bannon were seated in front of Hamel’s desk when Bruno and Wally entered the office.  They made no move to rise, and instead, shot angry glances in their general direction.

“Good to see ya again, Sister,” Bruno said in ways of a greeting as he walked around behind the desk.  “Who’s this?  Your lawyer?”

Wally chuckled, but the guests did not.

“This is Monsignor Bannon,” Sister Mary Catherine explained curtly.  “He is the Pastor at St. Sebastian’s Church, and like me, he is very upset that we haven’t heard anything from you about the incident that took place on the Church’s property.”

Monsignor Bannon, who looked like a grizzled cowboy who had traded in his ten gallon hat and jeans for a crucifix and an all back ensemble, said nothing.  He just conveyed anger through a series of glares.

“The reason I haven’t updated you is twofold,” Bruno explained with a smile.  “First, we’ve been busy trying to solve the case.  Second, you lied to me, and I ain’t a fan of that.  That makes you a person of interest, and the Pope himself can’t force me to reveal information to someone who might be a suspect.”

Her face turned a deep shade of red, and her eyes narrowed in anger.

“How dare you speak to me like this!  In front of Monsignor Bannon no less.  And don’t use slang, Detective.  It makes you sound like an uneducated hoodlum!”

Bruno turned to Wally, who stood to the right of the desk, and laughed.

“Get a load of her,” Bruno said to Wally.  “She thinks she’s calling the shots, and I’m some little Catholic School boy quaking at the sight of the big, bad nun.  This ain’t Catholic School, Sister, and when you lie here, you ain’t gonna get smacked on the ass with a ruler.  Here, you get sent to jail.”

Monsignor Bannon stood up.  “We’re leaving.  We’ll see what the Mayor has to say about your behavior, Detective.”

Bruno pointed at the chair.  “Sit down.  You ain’t leaving until I get the truth out of your sidekick.  And that’s not a request.”

Wally took that as his cue to walk to the door, and stand in front of it like a bouncer.

Bannon decided to sit.

“You lied,” Bruno accused as he looked down at her from behind the desk.  “You weren’t searching Charlie White’s pocket for some rosary.  You were looking for something else, and you made up that story to explain away why your fingerprints or DNA might have been found on the body.”

Sister Mary Catherine said nothing, but seemed to shrink a little in her chair.  At the very least, the aura of the “Scary Nun” had been erased, and she was nothing more than a little old lady with some difficult questions to answer.

“Is the Detective correct, Sister?” Monsignor Bannon put her on the spot.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.  Maybe she said a silent prayer, or maybe she silently cursed Bruno for putting her in his position.

“I was looking for a business card I’d given him the day before,” she confessed.

Bruno smirked.  He loved when he right, and loved it even more because it was a nun that he had caught in a lie.

“What kinda business card?” he pressed as he put his palms on the desk and leaned in to make himself appear even more intimidating.

“It was for the real estate agent that I knew was paying some other transients to sleep in the parking lot in hopes of driving down the property values,” she said softly.

Bannon’s eyes widened.  “Heaven help us!”

Bruno shook his head.  “I ain’t buying it.  A random business card ain’t gonna look suspicious, and it ain’t gonna point any fingers at you.  Keep going…”

short story, Modern PhilosopherSister Mary Catherine looked at Monsignor Bannon and then over at Bruno, like she was trying to figure out which man’s wrath she feared more.

“I’d also written the agent’s home address on the back of the card, given Mr. White a hundred dollar bill, and suggested that if he truly felt compelled to burglarize, he should consider taking his talents to the agent’s home or office.”

Monsignor Bannon made the sign of the cross and muttered a prayer under his breath.

Bruno smiled and nodded.  “Don’t it feel good to confess your sins?  For your penance, say three Our Fathers and ten Hail Marys.”

That earned him a stern look from Bannon, but Bruno smirked anyway and eased himself into Captain Hamel’s desk chair.

“I take it you didn’t know about her bad habit?” he asked Bannon with a chuckle.

“I had no idea,” Bannon replied without hesitation.  “The Church would never condone such awful behavior.”

“But it would happily sweep it under the rug, or transfer it to a new parish on the other side of the country, am I right?”

Wally chuckled.  Sister Mary Catherine bowed her head.  Monsignor Bannon glared while the vein in his forehead throbbed.

“What’s the real estate guy’s name?”

“Miles Fitzpatrick,” she answered weakly.

“You ain’t off the hook yet,” Bruno warned.  “You also lied when you told me that White had been committing burglaries around your parish for years.  Up until a few months ago, he was a mechanic with no criminal history.  What was that about?”

She sighed again.  “Since I didn’t find the business card in his possession, I panicked and wanted to establish a pattern of behavior.  In the moment, I feared that his death might have been linked to an attempt to carry out the dirty work I had paid him to undertake.  Wouldn’t that make me an accessory to murder?”

“But I thought you said it looked like he’d died of natural causes?” Wally piped in from his position at the door.

“Another lie,” Bruno explained.  “Sister Mary Catherine was hoping we’d take her word for it, write off the death of a homeless person as unimportant, and not bother to look into anything she said because in her mind, all cops are lazy and/or corrupt.  Ain’t that right?”

“Just like you believe all nuns to be cruel and heartless,” she snapped back as she momentarily regained some of her previous bravado.

“Maybe I did, Sister,” he admitted, “but now I’m gonna think all nuns are liars.  There ain’t gonna be any more updates on this case, but I would appreciate it if you didn’t leave town in case I’ve got some more questions.  Understood?”

Sister Mary Catherine nodded.

“Use your words please,” Bruno scolded.

“Understood, Detective,” she replied without making eye contact.

Bruno nodded at Wally, who opened the office door and stood aside.

The nun and the Monsignor scurried out of the office with their tails between their legs.

“That must’ve felt good,” Wally said with a sly grin once they were alone.

“I’m definitely going to Hell now, but not before we solve this case,” Bruno vowed.


About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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13 Responses to The Vanishing Corpse, Part 16

  1. kristianw84 says:

    I LOVE this!!! Sister Mary Catherine told so many lies. I knew she was withholding something, but I had no idea she would pay off a guy to do her dirty work. I also laughed at Bruno’s “Bad habit” comment.

    I’m excited to find out what Miles has to say.

    • Austin says:

      I’m so glad you’re liking it. As you know, I’m making this up as I go along. It was never my intention that Sister Mary Catherine was lying, but as I wrote more chapters, it became obvious that her story about Charlie’s past didn’t gibe with the information I was sharing. So, I had to make her a liar and add that story about the card, the dirty work, etc. Writing is fun!

  2. markbialczak says:

    Way to use your words (and experiences) Austin. Great stuff.

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