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. â€œHello, Snyder. You made it out of jail, I see.â€
â€œWhereâ€™s Father Bernard?â€
â€œHe said he was going downtown to get a couple things.â€
â€œI can catch a bus that way. Which store?â€
â€œHe didnâ€™t say. Youâ€™re better off waiting. Heâ€™ll be back in two hours.â€
Two hours? Iâ€™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 otherâ€™s eyes.
Snyder asked, â€œHey, did a Catholic priest get on the bus?â€
The driver nodded. â€œYeah, I picked the guy up twenty minutes ago.â€
â€œLet me off at his stop if you remember.â€
â€œWell, thereâ€™s where he got off and where he goes.â€
â€œTake me where he goes.â€
Snyder slipped an old American bill into the driverâ€™s hand. He frowned. â€œA five?â€
â€œI just got out of jail.â€
â€œI’m feeling generous today.â€
After several stops, at one of which the old lovers got off, the bus halted outside the public harem that had been Dreadâ€™s â€œsurprise.â€ The structure looked like a cross between an inner city boarding school and a convenience store.
The driver opened the busâ€™s doors. â€œThis is your stop.â€
Snyder walked to the driver. â€œThere has to be a mistake.â€
â€œNope. For two and a half months now, he gets on the bus, gets off two blocks from here, and walks over. Apparently, itâ€™s not becoming for a priest to get off at the public harem, but walking right into it is fine.â€
Snyder stared at the hateful place. â€œThis canâ€™t be. It must be another priest.â€
Out of the public harem stepped Father Bernard with a sickening smile. Snyder made eye contact. Father Bernardâ€™s smile faded.
Snyder ran to the back of the bus. â€œClose the door. I’ll get off at the end of the line.â€
The bus jerked into motion. Snyder buried his face in his hands as hot tears streaked down.
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