Snyder entered the unlocked church and slid through an empty foyer and sanctuary. He went around to the rectory. Father Goodwin sat behind the desk in the office. “Hello, Snyder. You made it out of jail, I see.”
“Where’s Father Bernard?”
“He said he was going downtown to get a couple things.”
“I can catch a bus that way. Which store?”
“He didn’t say. You’re better off waiting. He’ll be back in two hours.”
Two hours? I’ll explode.
Snyder ran out to catch the bus. It had an actual human driver, an overweight black guy, and two passengers, an elderly Hispanic couple holding hands, lost in each other’s eyes.
Snyder asked, “Hey, did a Catholic priest get on the bus?”
The driver nodded. “Yeah, I picked the guy up twenty minutes ago.”
“Let me off at his stop if you remember.”
“Well, there’s where he got off and where he goes.”
“Take me where he goes.”
Snyder slipped an old American bill into the driver’s hand. He frowned. “A five?”
“I just got out of jail.”
“I’m feeling generous today.”
After several stops, at one of which the old lovers got off, the bus halted outside the public harem that had been Dread’s “surprise.” The structure looked like a cross between an inner city boarding school and a convenience store.
The driver opened the bus’s doors. “This is your stop.”
Snyder walked to the driver. “There has to be a mistake.”
“Nope. For two and a half months now, he gets on the bus, gets off two blocks from here, and walks over. Apparently, it’s not becoming for a priest to get off at the public harem, but walking right into it is fine.”
Snyder stared at the hateful place. “This can’t be. It must be another priest.”
Out of the public harem stepped Father Bernard with a sickening smile. Snyder made eye contact. Father Bernard’s smile faded.
Snyder ran to the back of the bus. “Close the door. I’ll get off at the end of the line.”
The bus jerked into motion. Snyder buried his face in his hands as hot tears streaked down.
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