Secret sins: murder in the church

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Secret Sins: Murder in theChurchKathy Bobo

Copyright © 2012 Kathy BoboAll rights reserved.ISBN:10:0615534171ISBN13:9780615534176

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products ofthe author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual events,locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Without limiting the rightsunder copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, storedin or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means(electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, future technological developments,or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the author. The scanning,uploading, and distribution of this book via the internet or via any other meanswithout the permission of the author is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchaseonly authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronicpiracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

DEDICATIONTo all the brilliant teachers I have had throughout my life and to my mother, Carolyn Howard.ACKNOWLEDGMENTSFirst, I would like to thank the one that made this book possible, God.PROLOGUE

Spirit Temple Pentecostal Christian Church had everything a proper bible thumping,Holy Roller could want, shouting, speaking in unknown tongues, Holy Ghost dancing,fainting and rolling around on the floor in fits of rapture, live music alongwithafabulous choir. It was also chock-full with everything else; such as, power, gossip, murder andbetrayal. The only thing larger than the congregation was their egos, and the number ofservices and pews increased to accommodate both.

It is 10:30 A.M and the Ushers are wearing white dresses. Sister Nadine Dalton is astately woman of seventy with salt and pepper gray hair, and she hands the collectionplate to a woman sitting at the end of the pew, and she passes it to the person sitting nextto her. This routine continued for about twenty minutes until they completed the ritual,and that is with almost thirty ushers. Some people dropped cash into the collection platewhile other dropped a collection envelope into the gold plate. This was not Nadine’sSunday, but the regular usher was helping a woman that got over-heated and passed out, sothe Mother of the Church, Mother Beulah Murdock asked Nadine to help. Nadine hands theempty tray to a young woman sitting at the end of the pew. When she got to the end ofthe last row, she noticed an opened collection envelope on the top and s a wal o t t e r yt i c k e to u tpart of the way. On perfect musical queue, the ushers marched in to thebeat of music to the end of the church to a waiting Mother Beulah with their collectionplates. Nadine whispers to Mother Beulah, “Someone put a lottery ticket in the collectionplate.”

Shocked, Mother Beulah demanded to know, “Who did it?”“I don’t know,” answers Nadine.Mother Beulah tells Nadine, “It’ll be okay. I’ll throw it away in the counting room.”Nadine shot Beulah a questioning look but remained silent. She knew all hell was about to

break loose and she wanted to the damn fly on the wall.CHAPTER 1Shawn

The incident was anything butagiftfrom God, and we will soon learn notallgifts comefrom God, and I’ll leave it at that.

It happened after Sunday morning church service. The finance committee ofSpiritsTemple Pentecostal Christian Church gatheredasnormal to count the money from themorning collection. On the finance committee is Assistant Pastor and Junkyard ProphetReverend Alvin Carney, President of the Broad of Stewards and Vice President of theBoard of Stewards, Melvin Sims. Jason Brennan, President of the Board of Trustees.

Treasurer, Nichelle Graves, Deacon Ray Murdock, and representing the Board ofDeacons and Deacon in training Tyrone Lane, My mother- in-law, Mother Beulah Murdockand myself. Everyone had a pile in front of them counting the contents when DeaconMurdock takes a lottery ticket out of his collection pile. In the past, we have gotten allkinds of things in the collection pails, IOU's and prayer requests, but never a lottery ticket.

Deacon Murdock has a bucket of cash in front of him, but instead of counting, heis reading the newspaper. Mother Beulah, “Put that paper down and count that money infront of you.” Ray folds the newspaper and lays it to the left ofhim and pours the bucket of cash onto the table. Cash in various denominations flowed fromthe bucket as coins rolled across the table. Ray gets things settled, he starts separating the billsbydenomination. Ray handles the cash in his hand like a professional banker and countsjust as quick. Raylikes all the headsgoing in the same direction, and hepausedandlooked at a lottery ticket buried in the pile of cash in his hands, “A lottery ticket,” says Ray.

Nichelle looks at the ticket in Rays hand across the table, “Give me the ticket, and I’llput it in the trash,” demands Nichelle.

Ray starts to pass the ticket to Tyrone, but looks at the ticket again, “Saturday, April7th, 2012…this is for last night’s drawing.”Rayopensthenewspaper.Inanobvious flippantattempt,Tyroneexclaims,“Just pass the ticket to Nichelle, and she’ll throw it away.”Ray jumps out of his chair and does a Holy Ghost dance, and he begins shoutingand speaking in tongues, "We've got a winner!" Everyone stops counting and looks atDeacon Murdock dancing with a ticket in his hand.Shawn demands to know, "What's the meaning at this?"Deacon Murdock hands Shawn the ticketand he looks at the newspaper and sure enough was a winner. A winning ticket worthOne Billion Dollars and even Shawn got into the spirit, "PRAISE THE LORD!"When everyone else in the room found out, they began shouting and jumping forjoy with sheer insanity. All were happy but, Nichelle. She urges everyone to calm down.Deacon Murdock grabs his daughter Nichelle and shouts, "This ticket is worth a cool OneBillion Dollars, and we'renot calmingdownanywaysoon!"Deacon Murdock releasesNichelle and informs her, "Can you imagine what everyone can do with their share of themoney?"Nichelle calmly sitsdown in her seat, crosses her legs and says, "This churchbelongs to Shawn, everything in this churchbelongs to Shawn, including the collection.”She couldn’t wait to tell everyone in the room, “None of you is entitled to one red cent."The room fell into a deathly silence, and Ray staggered in disbelief and releasesNichelle. Everyone gave Nichelle dirty, angry looks including her father, "I didn't raise youto be selfish.”Junkyardblessingand livecounting machine and said, “Can I get a Amen!”Mother Beulah with a bitter and angry expression on her face points her finger atShawn and tells him, "This is the work of the Devil, and we need to find out whom thisticket belongs to and give it back to them!"Dismissively, Junkyard Prophet says, “Let’s not call the Devil a no account dirty,stinking, no good SOB.”TyroneLanecutsoffJunkyardbeforehe hasthechanceto saysomethingunsuitable in a church. Tyrone leans forward in his chair with a serious expression on his facelooks at Mother Beulah, and tells her, "You're right, and this ticket spells trouble, and weneed to get it out of the church."Deacon Murdock approaches Shawnand starts to take the ticket from Shawn andsays, "No problem, I'll take it home with me."Junkyard Prophet is a few inches short of being seven feet tall and three hundredand fifty pounds rise to his feet, “You’d better not touch him or that ticket!”Prophetsays,"Amenthere's enoughforeveryonetoenjoyGod'shappilyeverafter!"Junkyardcontinued loadingcurrencyintotheWith a height of five feet six inches and one hundred twenty pounds, he looksup at Junkyard with a bit of trepidation, “I’m not some punk pastor. I can knock you onyour butt!”At first everyone stares and some people burst intonervous laughter while othersget angry,and MotherBeulahrisesfromherchair with her finger pointed at DeaconMurdock, "Ray, that evil ticket is not coming anywhere near my house!"Deacon Murdock gets angry, but with a smile, "Women should remain silent inthe church and even though you're my wife, I run that house, not you!"Shawn urges them, "Calm down, and for now I'll hold on to the ticket."TyroneLaneistheDirectoroftheState LotteryCommission,andhetellseveryone, “The IRS will hit an individual winner prettyhard in taxes, but if the churchcashed in the ticket it would be tax free.”Everyone listens carefully at Tyrone,but it’sJunkyard Prophet that breaks thesilence “Well damn! What’d you do? Fix the freaking lottery?”Tyroneonlyglaredathimwithouta response. Shawn takesthe ticket fromDeacon Murdock opens the safe after Nichelle’s revelation ripped the joy from everyone'sspirit and left it tattered into shreds on the counting room table. Shawn places the ticketin the safe locks the door, he asks the question, "Why someone would put a winninglottery ticket worth One Billion Dollars in a church collection plate?"GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

CHAPTER 2Junkyard Prophet

WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?Idroveontotheparkinglotandseena truckfromMurdockConstructionparked on thefront parking lot. Everybody has a key to the church but me and to tell you the truth, Idon’twant a key. In my opinion, to many people havekeys around this church. I looked around the empty parking lot as I get out of the car. Iwasabout to light a cigarette when Jason Brennan speeded onto the parking lot and jumpedout of the car in a cheerful tone, “Good Morning Reverend Carney.”I smiled at Jason and say, “Now listen boy, I’ve told you a thousand times to callbe Junkyard Prophet.”Jasongivesmeaquicksmile, “YesSir, Mr. Junkyard.”Suspecting that was the best I was going to get from Jason I decide not to press himany further because Shawn was pulling onto the parking lot at that moment.The three of us are walking to the front door as Jason walked to the front door ofthe church. Shawn glances aroundthe parking lotas we arewalking up thestairwaytoward the front door. I door turned the doorknob, and it was locked. “I guess DeaconMurdock locked the door after he went in?”Rev. Graves takes his keys out of his pocket and unlocks the door, and all three goin to a dark church. Jason flips the light switch on the wall and thechurchlightsup.ReverendGraves says,"Let’sget thisoverwith.Ihavesermonsto preparefor theReligious Convention that starts Friday Night."Jason said, "I've been looking forward to this all summer."TheReligiousConventionwasatremendousdealbecauseSpiritTemplePentecostal Christian Church is the largest church in the City of St. Louis with over fortythousand members. Reverend Graves comments, "I've got to be prepared."I said, “We’ll be broadcasting the opening night event live via the Internet, andJESUS-TV.They walked passed to alter and up the small stairway that leads to the pulpit.Behind the pulpit is a large baptismal pool and they froze dead in their tracks when theysee a body floating face down like a dead fish. Still wearing the bright orangesuit fromSunday's church service is Deacon Murdock floating face down.Jason runs into the office to call the police, buttheofficedoorislocked.Thechurch hasa State Of The Art Security System, and I can’t recall theofficeever beinglocked. Jason rushes back into the sanctuary and tells Shawn, "The office door is locked."“Iwasconcernedaboutthesecurityofthe ticket, so I consideredlocking myoffice before I left yesterday,” responded Shawn to Jason.I don’t like being around dead bodies, especially murdered ones. I looked for any reasonto leave, without much success. I believe the other two felt the same way. All three of usleave the baptismal pool area and are walkingin the direction of Shawn’s office. Shawnnervously fumbles in his pockets for the office keys. Slowly Shawn unlocks the office doorand opens the office door. The office looks as though Hurricane Katrina came through,but much worse. The door to the safe is hanging to one side. It looked as though it hadbeen blown open with something powerful. Shawn looks into the safe, “I can’t believethis!”“What,” I ask but doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure it out as Shawn beginpulling clean plastic bags of currency from the safe and laying them on the floor in front ofthe safe.I gaze at all those money bags, and I was in the counting room, and I know the finaltotal. There is almost $70,000 stacked on the floor in front of the safe. Shawn stands upstraight, and I bend over and look into the empty safe, and Shawn tells us, “The lotteryticket gone

.Detective Virginia Breeze

A uniformed police officer is stretching yellow tape across the front entrance of SpiritTemplePentecostal Christian Church. Two female officers stand along the barricade doingcrowd control. Television trucks, vans with attached satellite uplinks, and a News helicopterare flying overhead. The crowd of reporters and onlookers that included members ofSpirit Temple Pentecostal Christian Church has gathered along the barricade. Police Squadcars and theCrime Scene Investigator truck slowly drive through the crowd and stopsat the barricade.

Theofficers open the barricade and they enter, but as soon as they opened thebarricade, a camera operator rushed past the officers with a television camera. An officerran across the church parking lot, and forcibly took the camera from the camera operatorand forced him back behind the barricade.

The walls are painted from ceiling to the floor with various pictures of Christ anda large statue of Christ on one corner, Mary in another, Joseph in another, and the lastcorner a statue of Michael the Archangel. In the center of the room, a large cross with ak n e e l i n g altar in front. Shawn thought he was alone in the prayer room of Spirit TemplePentecostal Christian Church Shawn as he prayed as if he had any real prayer, “Almightyand merciful God lead and guild me in this time of trouble.” Shawn do not notice thestrange man at first, he was standing next to Michael the Archangel.

He introduced himself as, “I’m Tony Rome,andI’ve been sent hereto helpyou.”Tony extends his hand out to Shawn as he has to look up a commanding figure ofa man that stands every bit of six foot eight, and three hundred pounds as he shookhis hand. Tony is a man of means, and even though he was a burly man, he lookedterrific in his tailored suit and dress shoes. Still in all, Tony sends out a silent message thathe is not one to be messed with. Shawn asks, “Are you with the police?” Withouthesitation, Tony replied, “Not exactly.” Shawn prides himself for knowingall themembers ofhis church and Tony Rome was not a member of his church as far ashe could remember, and this puzzled Shawn.

Shawn looked at Tony Rome closely, but had no memory of the man that stoodbefore him, Shawn inquired, “Then if you’re not with the police then who are you with?”The door to the prayer room opens, and a female with medium complexion and shoulderlength black hair,a lovelyfigure enters, andsheintroducesherselfas, “I’mDetectiveVirginia Breeze, and I’m in charge of this investigation.” Shawn had intended to introduceTony Rome, but Tony he was gone.

Detective Breeze looks around the room and does not see anyone other than Shawn,

“Something is very wrong?” Shawn prayed in that room thousands of times, and he knewit like the back of his hand, and there are no windows, and there is not but one door and TonyRome did not go out the door. He couldn’t decide if he were seeing things, or if he had loss hismind. Shawn mind kept returning to the idea of the Knights of the Black Circle

Reverend Shawn Graves

 

The Graves Estate is tucked away in the rolling hills and meadows outside the citylimits of

St. Louis. An enormous 12 foot high gate is manned by two armed guards. The longblack asphalt, driveway is lined with trees, shrubs, grasses of various varieties like Joe PyeWeed, Ligularia, ironweed, napeta and golden aster. Only a trained eye can determine whenthe hand of God ends and where the hand of man artistry begins.

Shawn and Nichelle Graves own one of the finest luxury estates in St. Louis. Theirestate has an attached guest - house, and at last appraisal, it valued at a staggering thirtymillion dollars. The inside is replete with 16-foot ceilings, booked matched marble wallsand imported Italian fixtures. The grand hallway connects all the public rooms, making itan ideal location for entertaining. Nichelle is tremendously proud of her home and loves tobrag and show it off at any opportunity. She gloats about the sculptural staircase thatclaims on past forever until you reach the eleven guest bedrooms, gym, and theluxurious master suite.

Shawn is a St. Louis Cardinal fan and he had been a season ticket holder for fiveyears. His seats are behind home plate. Shawn has never had to pay for his season’stickets, but they come as a gift to the church. The next three Cardinal games are out oftown, so he sits on his reclining sofa and watches the game at home from his privatescreening room.

TheCardinalswereplayingtheHouston AstrosinHouston,andShawnispropped on his reclining sofa. It’s the bottom of the fifth ending, and the phonerings. Without much thought or even a glance at the caller ID, Shawn picks up thephone, “Pastor Grave.”

“It’s Daniel at the front gate, and you need to come out here,” says Danielfrom the front gate.“Oh. Why is that?”Daniel replies in a low voice, “It’s Mrs. Murdock, she has been beaten herup.”“What! I’m on my way!” Shawn hangs up the phone and lowers the legrest of the recliner.Nichellecomesincarryingthesix month old baby, Amber. Shawn isputting on his shoes, “The front gate...It’s your mother.”“Daniel just called and said she’d been beat up.”Amber starts toward the car, and their live-in nanny, Thelma comes in andtakes Amber from Nichelle’s arms and walks up the stairs in the direction of thenursery. Shawn and Nichelle were about to leave when the doorbell rings.Shawn rushes and opens thedoor, and Mother Beulah falls forward intoShawn’s arms. Shawn and Daniel carried Mother Beulah insideandlaidher onthe sofa. Daniel asks, “Shall I call 911?”Mother Beulah starts to come to, “What happened?”Nichelle tries to hold back the tears, “That’s what we would like to know?”

Mother Beulah

YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT RAY DID!I kept telling Nichelle, “I don’t want to go to the hospital!”But,Shawnwouldn’t hear of it, so he called our family physician, Dr. John Marshall. I couldtell from the moment Officer’s Jenkins and Kincade walked through the door thatthere would be more than a few questions, and of coursethe two Paramedicsarrive and add to the stress. Shawn has the build of a heavy weight boxer, andOfficer Kincade looks at me, and asks, “Who beat you up?”Officer Jenkins never took his eyes off of Shawn, and as the Paramedic wastaking the blood pressure cuff. The Paramedic says, “Wow!”I asked, “What the reading?” “168/200…we need to get her to thehospital ASAP,” says the Paramedic with a sense of urgency in his voice as hispartner loosens the straps with around the gurney.Officer Jenkins continues glaring at Shawn without blinking, and OfficerKincade restated his question more forcefully, “Who beat you up?”The Paramedics rolled the gurney close where I was sitting, and one of themasked me, “Ineedfor you slideontotheGurney and we’ll get you to UrgentCare.”I don’t intend to go to the hospital, but I am not sure how I can avoid it. Mysolutioncame through the door with the arrival of my personalphysician, Dr.JohnMarshall andVirginia Breeze.I looked at one of the Paramedic’s identification badge that hung from theside of his belt and it indicates his name as Steve Alton. Everyone in the roomknew Dr. Marshall from television. Dr. Marshall is a Chief Medical Editor at thelocation television station.I am truly surprised, or rather shocked to see Virginia because Virginia is ahomicide investigator. As soon as Officer’s Kincade and Jenkins seen Virginia theytried to usurp authority, “Detective Breeze? There’s no homicide here,” commentedOfficer Jenkins.Virginia quick tempered response, “You can wait outside...I’ve got this.”Officer Kincade and Jenkins never moved from the spot they stood, “We’llneed to take a report,” replied Officer Jenkins.Virginia said firmly, “That’s an order.” From the looks of things, I can tell thatVirginia doesn’t care for Jenkins and Kincade one iota, so I interject, “Oh Virginia!I’m so glad to see you!”Nichelle and I watch as the two Officer’s step just outside the living roomdoor, but I’m certain they can still hear every word with the door wide open.Nichelle walks over and closes the large solidly built cedar door, so now I know“They can’t hear squat now.”Paramedicsinterruptedandsaidto Virginia, “WeneedtorushhertoUrgency care right away.”Before Virginia could say anything Dr. Marshall commented,He looks at Steve and says, “Let me see her chart.”Under the circumstances, Dr. Marshall examinedme,buteven he couldn’tconvince me to go to the emergency room. Nope. Not me. Not today.“Of course Dr. Marshall,” and immediately Steve hands the digital pad he’sholding over to Dr. Marshall.Dr. Marshall asks, “What kind of supplies you have in the unit?”Steve replies, “Just about anything you need Dr. Marshall.”Dr. Marshall nods and tells Steve, “Let’s go take a look?”Steve informsDr. Marshall, “Noproblem. We can administer whatever she needshere.”Dr. Marshall replies, “I like a man that can think fast on his feet,” he tellsSteve as they walk out the door to the Paramedic unit. Virginia kneels on one kneenext to me and asks, “Don’t worry I’ll take care of everything just tell me whathappened.”When you’re as famous as my son-in-law Shawn Graves, so any and everythingthat happensisnews.IknewassoonasDaniel called the policethemediaorganizations swarmed the Graves Estate like vultures.Virginiaandhermother,NadineDalton had beenmembersofSpiritTemplePentecostal Christian Church for a long time. When the 9-1-1 call came through it was noaccident that Virginia arrived at the Graves Estate. From inside the mansion, I can hearthe helicopters flying overhead.Virginia asked, “Tell us what happened.”Everyoneknew Ray Murdock hasbeenseeing other women for years, and everyone knew about Jean Newton. Ray’s in his latesixties, and Jean Newton is 32 years old, and he’s been messing around with her on andoff for the past five years.We used to go to church together, but a year ago he had some work to do at the office,and told me to drive myself to church and he’d see me at church. Little did I know thatI would continue driving myself to church every Sunday from that point on.I’vehadthe same routineforthepast forty years,Sunday dinner. When I arrived home, there was a movinghouse, and movers were taking furniture from my house and loading it onto the truck.I didn’t say anything to anyone, but I wasthinking, “What’s got into Ray?”“You’ve wanted to redecorate the house for a long time,” commented Nichelle with asmile.changeclothesandpreparetruck parked in frontof myAs I was walking up the driveway toward the front door, and another truck pulled up.The truck was from The House of Fresno’s.“That place with all the imported and designer furniture,” expressed Shawn.That’s the store. The men immediately got out of the truck and I headed into thehouse. My house was empty, and there were men from Ray’s construction firm putting upnew wall paper, and there was new carpeting and drapery. The house was beautiful a sw e l l a s empty.A young man with a goatee walked up to mewith a clipboard, and asked “Mrs. Jean Murdock?”Nichelle shouted, “No way!”I declared in no uncertain terms, “I’m Mrs. Ray Murdock!”Mr. Goatee cleared his throat and looked at his clipboard and started flipped pages,“This order was placed by your daughter, Jean Murdock.”I don’t know how I felt, but I told him, “She is not my daughter!”At about the same time, Jean came down the stairs and looked at Mr. Goatee, “Great!You finally made it!”Shawn and Nichelle both laugh.Mr. Goatee recognizedJean immediately,“Ms. Newton…I guess that’s Mrs. Murdock now. It’s a pleasure to see you, your maid wasabout to show me where you wanted the furniture.”It was at that moment I lost all composure, and I looked dead at Jean and asked,“What are you doing in my house?”Ray’s construction crew exited the house and went outside, and looked at Jean on theway out and said, “Break time.”Being the socialite she is, she smiled politely and pointed to the living room, “Puteverything in there.”Mr. Goatee nodded and left the room, and I smacked Jean so hard that the soundechoed outside,and Jean fell backwardsonto the floor yelling, “Help! Help! Why won’tsomeone help me?”Ray came in and picked her up off the floorcrying, “You assured me that she would not be coming back here!”Two men from Fresno’s came in carrying a brown and gold sofa, and we waiteduntil they brought in everything. I wanted to leave, but something wouldn’t let me leave. Ithought about it. My father built that house, and I wasn’t going toletJean,Ray, oranyone take my home from me.Nichelle responded softly, “Okay. We understand that, so what happened next?”Ray reached in his pocket and gave the man two one hundred dollars bills and saidapologetically “I’m sorry for any misunderstanding.”Mr.Goateeinspectedthetwoonehundred dollarbillsasiftheymightbecounterfeit, then he said, “No problem. Thank you for shopping at the House of Fresno’s.”Ray workers came back into the house and headed upstairs, and Jean followed asshe tried to wipe the blood from her nose. Droplets of blood spotted her pristine whitedress. I could hear her talking to one of the workers as she was walking up the stairs, “Ijust paid six hundred dollars for this dress and now I’ll have to throw it away.”The worker told her, “There’s more where that came from.”“That true,” said Jean.As soon as everyone was out of sight I looked Ray dead in the eyes, “What do youthink you’re doing?”Ray looked at me and grinned, and then that’s when he attacked me. Hisgorilla-like hands gripped around my throat. And if his workers hadn’t rushed downthe stairs to pulled him off of me, I’m sure I would be dead now.Someone, and I don’t know whom, helped me off the floor and walked me to mycar. My purse was still on my arm, and I took my car keys from my purse. Ray ran outsideas I was about to get into my car, “You’re not taking Jean’s car no damn where!”Ray snatched the keys from my hand, and he started slapping and kicking at me until Ileft walking down the street. I cried for help, but none came.Virginia asks, “Didn’t the man with you try to help you?”I replied, “I don’t know where he went, but he had disappeared.”Virginia asked, “Did he live in your neighborhood?”“I’mnot sure,” I said. Nichelle comes to my houseeveryday,andsheknowseveryone in the neighborhood. As I look around, I don’t see Nichelle. I asked, “Where isNichelle?”Daniel is standing in the middle of the floor with his hands in his pockets, and hesays, “Nichelle left the estate of few minutes ago.”I looked at Shawn, and I can tell by that expression on his face that he knew whereNichelle went.Dr. Marshall stammered over the words, “I just gaveNichelleaprescriptionforMother Beulah.”IcouldtellthatthePoliceOfficersbrought the story. But I’ve known Virginiasince she was little and I don’t think she believed it, or if she did she didn’t let on. Virginiaasked, “Where were you going?”“Ray keeps all the credit cards in his pocket, so I could go to a hotel, so I washeaded to the only other place I could go.”Shawn answered, “Here?”I tried h a r dto hold the tears as I tried to say, “Yes. I continued walking untilsomeone stopped to help me, and it turned out to be the same man that helped me a fewminutes earlier.Shawn looked at Beulah and asked, “Who was he?”Beulah muttered to herself, “Tony something.”“Was it Tony Rome?”The mere mention of the Tony Rome sent Virginia mind back to the old days ofthe NSA. She knew Tony was considered a rogue agent, but there was one question thatkept twirling around in her mind like a hurricane is:What’s his connection to the church?

CHAPTER 6Detective Virginia Breeze

THE DAYBEGANWELL. A faircomplexioned young woman, Virginia Breeze is wearing a light pink and white silk robeand walking into the veranda carrying a cup of coffee. The room is maliciously decoratedwith green Ferns and Spider plants hanging from the ceiling. The patio furniture alongwithGrandfatherclock complement the veranda with every tick-tock. The six foot tallCandelabra Cactus only adds character to theSunroom.I hateblackcoffee.I havetohave my cream and sugar, and no I don’t eat donuts. It would be pleasant April morningif it weren’t pouring down raining. The long winter, helped to decrease crime, but the IceStorm, of 2011 helped keep St. Louis at a virtual standstill. High unemployment and thehot humid weather conditions will set the stage for the Major Case Squad busy season inthe City of St. Louis. Experience taught me that most, but not all of the crime will beconfined to one region of the city, North St. Louis. The City morgue bubbling over andgrabbing for more victims of homicides than Dodge City on its worst day and the funeralservices industry will be booming.A grandmotherly woman with burgundy hair and wearing a pastel dress and brown sandalswalks in witho f t h o s e f l o w e r y water bucketswitha spout. The woman doesn’tnotice Virginia stretched out on the reclining in the lounge chair next to the large cactus.She loving gave each plant a drink of water and speaks as though only she and theplants communicatedwith oneanother, “There you go.” She paused and gazes at theplant, “You’rewelcome.” Thewoman nearly drops and spills the can of water when shespots Virginia sitting in the corner next to the cactus, “Oh my God! You almost scared meto death.”“I’ll sorry Mama Nadine,” laughs Virginia, “Itbeen a while since I’ve sat out here…you have a green thumb.”

“Theplantspreferthehumidclimateof thisroom,”asshelaughsherself.Nadine sits down on the sofa. “I’m surprised you’re still here.”

Theclock tolls six timesandVirginia looks at the clock, “I have to go back toReverend Graves Estate and question Mother Beulah.”Nadine reaches for the television remote and Virginia, “I guess you didn’t watch thenews last night?”“I was watching an animated film with Liza and Madison after dinner and then wewent bed at about eight thirty,” states Nadine. “Why what’s going on?” she asks.I decided it would be better to hear it from me than one of the ladies from thechurch, “Reverend Graves found Deacon Murdock dead last night.”Nadine brings her palms together as she is about to pray, then cries out, “Say what?”“He was found dead in the baptismal pool yesterday morning.”Nadine leans back on the sofa, “I’ve never liked that thing. They call it a baptismalpool, but that’s an indoor summing pool.”Nadine has been a member of Spirit Temple Pentecostal Christian Church since the1950’s, but I became a member about a year before my husband Nicholas and I weremarried. Even though I had been baptized in the Catholic Church, the former pastor,John Graves insisted that I am baptized, but that was at the old church, not the new one.I commented to Nadine, “Yeah, I never noticed that until yesterday.”“Oh well. With your job you don’t spend as much time at church as I do,” shecomments, “I’d better check on Beulah and see how she’s doing,” mentioned Nadine.Virginia glanced at the Grandfather clock, “A quarter after six, and I have a longdrive to the Graves Estate.”Nadine looks at Virginia strangely, “What do you need to question Beulah for?”As soon as I leave I know those church woman will start callingmyhouse andrunning their mouths, and since I’d already told Nadine part of the story I may as well tellher the rest of the story. “Deacon Murdock beat Beulah up last night.Nadine lowers her head, “I don’t know why someone would stay with someone soabusive all those years.”I choose not to comment because I genuinely had no idea that had been goingon, or why the church would allow him to continue as deacon of the church. I wouldhave booted him out on his head a long time ago.

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