Pulpit love, a short story, Part 5
Pastor Karl Hoffner got off Interstate 10 as soon as he entered the State of Alabama, somewhere between Pensacola and Mobile. He needed to fill up the tank of his van again. After about ten hours of driving, Paradise Pines, his place of residence for some five years now, was far behind, He couldn't believe how easy and exciting things had been. True, it took him three sessions overlooking an unsuspecting Father Phillip's shoulder, to gather the complete combination of the safe. Who wouldn't trust another man of the cloth ? Tricking the door lock to get inside the financial director's office was child's game too. He could have taken more money, the whole quarter of a million if he had wanted to. But it wasn't all about the money. Father Hoffner was not exactly who he appeared to be. First, his real name wasn't Hoffner. He was born Lazlo Chemansky, son of an Eastern European expatriate, He had changed his name to Hoffner during the war in Bosnia, where he had picked up the dog tags and papers off the dead body of a French Legion's chaplain. That had been easy too. The Bosnia war to Father Hoffner had been a fun theater of operations.. It had been such a mess but a real opportunity for ruthless and adventurous people like him. Over there, he had killed other people and joined the ranks of savages who had raped local women. More than once ! Well, it was hardly rape anyway, he thought. The poor girls were so terrified of being killed, they were willing to do anything to just stay alive. So, Hoffner had jumped on the bandwagon and killed and raped like other unmerciful warriors of mostly any side. And like a young wild dog that has just discovered fresh blood, the taste of it would never go away...
Esther Borrowitz was not the happiest of campers ! She got into her Nissan, still fuming from her recent encounter with Capella. She had completely lost her cool and she knew it. But hadn't he be the complete butthole though ? She hated him so violently right now ! She put on her seat belt and started her little car. She spun her wheels as she was leaving the parking lot of the police building. As she got to the street, she forgot all about the stop sign there, and just ran through it. The timing was bad, really, as she collided with an oncoming policel car returning from a routine patrol. Somebody is having a real bad hair day today !
Stephen Capella stopped at the entrance of the Windy Meadows community. He flashed his badge to the senior security guard. Instead of unbarring the powered gate, the man opened the sliding window of the concrete shack sheltering him. He wanted to know who Capella was going to see, and all Capella was willing to tell was :
- "Police business, please open the gate!" This went on for a couple of minutes and rapidly escaladed into a pissing contest. Finally, the detective had enough, He stuck the blinking blue light on the roof of his unmarked car, got out, locked the door, and slowly walked away towards the residences, passing through the side pedestrian entrance right by the closed gates :
- "Sir, you can't leave your car here, you're blocking the access !"
- "I just did, police business". Still walking and never turning around. A couple of minutes later, he spotted Ms. Randolph's white Saab convertible parked in her driveway.
Cynthia Randolph looked at herself in the mirror of her bathroom. She had been crying most of the day and it showed. She tried to hide the damage to her puffy eyes to the best of her ability. She was just about a couple of months away from the big 4-0, but looked at least five years younger. Gorgeous hair, baby blue eyes, well, with traces of red today, and a body many a movie star would envy her. How a man could possibly walk away from such beauty was hard to conceive. She had just finished brushing her hair when she heard the door bell ring. A quick fix to the side of her head with an elegant move of the right hand and she headed towards the hallway.
- "Hello again, Detective", attempting a smile. Then she looked at the driveway. "Where's your car?"
- "Oh, I left it at the gate"
- "Oh no ! Don't tell me old George gave you a hard time?" Capella smiled.
- "Come to think of it, I think it might be the other way around"
- "Please, come on in !
Marigold Randolph slowly opened her eyes. She had a massive headache. This is the worst hangover ever, she thought. She looked around for a second, didn't recognize anything she was familiar with. She didn't bother and fell back asleep...
Cynthia Randolph led Detective Capella through her living room, beautifully decorated in English country style :
- "Please sit down" she said to the policeman. He selected a comfortable looking armchair upholstered with a floral chintz fabric. She sat in the brown leather Chesterfield sofa opposite him. He told her the latest developments, which wasn't much, really. He kept for himself the discovery of the hair at Hoffner's house. He would tell her after he'd get the lab results on it. No need to alarm her needlessly. For now, all he needed was a DNA sample from one of the missing sisters to compare to the hair they already had. Cynthia made a fresh pot of coffee, and they shared it, with fresh scones she had baked earlier. It was a nice break in both their lives : him, the overworked, under appreciated detective and her, the terrified mother of two missing girls. She asked him :
- "Detective, do you have a family ?" With a suddenly sad voice he answered :
- "I used to. I was married and had two children. Terry was my wife, a buoyant Irish redhead with an attitude, and then we had Cara and Harvey. Cara was fourteen and Harvey 12 when the accident happened. All three of them were killed in a massive car crash on I-95 six years ago now. His eyes started watering at the painful thought. He normally never answered questions about his private life for that very reason. It was way too painful.
- "I am sorry, I am so sorry ", she said. She got up from the couch and came to sit on the arm of the chair were Capella was sitting. She laid her hand on his back, right between the shoulders and rubbed for a moment, as if she had the power to erase the pain away. The detective quickly composed himself :
- "Could we look at your daugthers' rooms now, please?"
- "Sure, let's go !". They climbed the stairs. Cynthia opened a door to her left, and got out of the way to let the man in.
- "This is Hattie's room, and Marigold's is on the other side of the bathroom. Both rooms communicate, and they share the bathroom between their two bedrooms. But I'll let you do your work, I'll be in my own room across the hall if you need me !
- "Thank you, I won't be very long. I just need to look around for a few minutes". As soon as he was sure she had entered her room, he rushed to the bathroom. On a white porcelain shelf above one of the two sinks was a hairbrush. Bingo ! Capella quickly pulled an evidence bag from the side pocket of his jacket, and lifted a couple of hair entangled with the purple plastic brush. The bag quickly disappeared in his pocket.. Then, he proceeded to examine both strangely similar bedrooms, before crossing the hall and discreetly knocking on Cynthia's open door. She was laying on her king size bed and had dozed off.
- "Sorry, Detective, looks like I fell asleep on you. I couldn't even close my eyes for a minute last night, and I'm starting to feel the effects:. Capella could see the darker spots under her eyes, but he thought to himself : "this is one beautiful woman!". He was casually leaning against the door frame on the outside of her room and as Cynthia passed right by him to exit her bedroom, she accidentally brushed her left breast against Steve's arm.
- "I'm sorry" she said, suddenly blushing.
- "Don't be, Capella answered, the pleasure is all mine". In a tone that wanted to be as natural as possible !
Karl Hoffner was getting a little tired of driving, but he kept going. He wanted to reach his final destination as soon as possible and settle in his new venue. But for the time being, he had to keep driving, now across Louisiana. He had alwas wanted to go to New-Orleans, a great place to party he had heard, but it wasn't going to be today, he had more pressing irons in the fire...
- "I am so very sorry, Officer", Esther Borrowitz said to the cop whose car she had just rammed into. And then, she pulled the crying act. But the policeman remained unphased, so she tried something else, just a little white lie :
- " I just came out from visiting my boyfriend, Detective Capella and...
- "Mam, you could have just visited the Emperor of Japan as far as I'm concerned. Do you have any idea how old that car is ? Six weeks, I've been driving this brand new cruiser for only six weeks. Before that, I had to wait a whole year and a half so the City could sqeeze the stupid car into the budget. I have babied that damn thing better than any car I ever had. And then comes you, rushing out of here like a bat out of hell and running a stop sign. This is gonna hurt, lady ! Can I see your license and registration, please ? And he moved his right hand forward, waiting like a begger. Tears hadn't worked. Pulling ranks hadn't worked. What had this world come down to, Esther thought. Then, she started crying again, only this time it was sincere.
To be continued...
Copright 2012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns.
Another story by Austinhealy :
- The Power of Two, a short story inspired by life
One person alone can change a lot of things. But when two men who don't even know each other and live thousands of miles apart team up, they can pull a miracle.