Fr. Chrys was not having a good day at all. Not only had he been treated to another bone-chilling confession from Veronica and Justina, he’d also gotten a call from Charles that the autopsy investigations were still inconclusive.
They haven’t found any incriminating evidence that might make the cause of death anything but natural. But as he’d pointed out, the results for the tests of poison weren’t yet out, so until they were, nothing could be certain.
Nothing could be certain except that a teenage girl was dead and her body was being subjected to scientific pokes and prods instead of being committed back to Mother Earth. Restless, Fr. Chrys sprang off his chair and started to pace the small office.
This was what frustrated him most about the Nigerian Police and their ill-equipped investigation system and laboratories. Everything was done at such a snail pace as if they had all the time in the world and worse still, the results were most often doubtful. It’s been forty-eight hours for God’s sakes since her death and all he was getting were platitudes instead of answers, or at least a body to bury.
He let out an explicit curse, then exhaled, stopped his prancing and leaned his back against the door. Willing himself to relax, he made the sign of the cross and silently implored God’s forgiveness for the swear word and his uncharacteristic temper.
It was all these scary confessions he’d been getting lately. The fact that the children, for that was what they were—mere children. Children, who have not only entangled themselves with the sins of the flesh, but who were also overcome by hatred and covetousness.
They had all plotted against her. They had all considered her their common enemy.
What happened to the lessons of love and forgiveness he’d strove so hard to instil in them? Had none sank in at all? This was supposed to be a house of God but now it appeared no better than a den of sluts and heathens.
Fr. Chrys felt the guilty prick just beneath his breastbone at his uncharitable thought towards his own children. Shuddering, he absently made another sign of the cross. He shouldn’t think such of them. They were only human and not perfect.
The knock on the door was brisk, and made him jolt visibly before he exhaled and straightened his body.
“Yes, who is it?” He asked when the knock came again.
“It’s me, Dominic, Father.”
Panic surged at the announcement from the other side of the door. What, another confession? “Dom, what is it?” He asked.
“Please I’d like to speak with you, Fr. Chrys.”
Oh God, here it comes again, the torture of listening to them confess their hideous crimes and sins. He drew in breath, striving to calm his already jumpy nerves as he unlocked the door. “Come in, Dom.” He invited with a feeble smile and turned to return to his chair. “Just give me a moment for a brief recollection. Then we can begin.” He reached for his Stole.
Dominic stared at him as he slipped the purple linen scarf round his neck. “I haven’t come for a confession, Fr. Chrys.” He said.
“No, Father.” Dominic shook his head.
“Oh. Then why are you here?” Fr. Chrys frowned.
The question surprised Dominic but he only lifted his shoulders. “To talk to you.”
After a moment’s pause, Fr. Chrys nodded, returned the Stole on the wooden stand. “Sit down, then.” He gestured to a chair, waited until the tall, lanky boy sat. “So, what do you want to talk about?”
Dominic thought Fr. Chrys was acting a little strange. It was like he didn’t want him there in his office; which was odd since he usually invited them over and talked with them. He supposed it must be the whole Dana’s death drama that has got him on disquieted. In any case, that was what he’d come to talk to him about.
“It’s about Dana, Father.” He responded to Fr. Chrys’ question.
Of course it is, Fr. Chrys thought desperately. “What about Dana?” He queried aloud, his voice surprisingly calm. “Did you do something to her too?”
“Huh?” Dominic was taken aback. “What? Do something to Dana? How?”
Fr. Chrys only stared back at his baffled expression. “That is what I’m waiting for you to tell me, Dom. What did you do to her?”
“I… absolutely nothing, Father.” Dominic stammered out, perplexed. Had Father found out about the nasty girl’s escapades with Anthony and Cyprian? And was now suspecting him of the same? “I never did anything to her. With her. I never even liked her.”
The last statement had left his mouth in his defensive mode before he could think it through and he instantly coloured at the thought of Fr. Chrys knowing he hadn’t loved Dana as he loved himself—like a good Christian would.
“Of course you didn’t.” Fr. Chrys pursed his lips, gave a careless nod. “So, if you didn’t do anything to her or with her, then what are you here to confess?”
“I’m not here to confess anything, Father.” Dominic was more than a little bewildered by his fixation on confession. “I just wanted to ask you if the Police has finished with their investigations and when would Dana be buried.”
He stared at the boy, and Fr. Chrys saw, clearly now, the utter bewilderment in the boy’s eyes and felt, first, the flush of embarrassment, and then the distinct feeling of relief.
The boy hadn’t come to confess any hideous crime. He had come to talk to him, like he’d done many times before. But in his state of fear and panic, he’d started to play hard-nosed cop with him instead of the priest and counsellor he was. Lord have mercy! This was exactly why he wanted this matter laid to rest. It was beginning to make him act out of character.
“Oh, I am sorry, Dominic.” He offered an apologetic smile. “I thought you’d come to…” He shook his head and let the rest go. “I’m sorry. This whole sudden death and autopsy investigation just has me all wigged out. I don’t understand it at all.”
Dominic nodded, understanding. “I am wigged out too, Father.” He confessed. “It’s all so confusing and worrisome.”
He was more than a little wigged out and not at all because he was going to miss Dana or anything. It was really the black cloud of mourning and sorrow the whole incident had brought over the home that had him worried. He so hated depressive moods.
“So, when are the investigations going to be over?”
“Frankly I don’t know, Dom.” Fr. Chrys replied, suddenly weary. “Charles—the CSP in charge of the case—spoke with me earlier and from what he said they are not certain at the moment when they’ll be done. Possibly within the next few days.”
“And what have they found out so far?” Dominic wanted to know.
“Nothing.” Fr. Chrys answered with a raise of his shoulders. “So far, nothing indicates any form of foul play. But they are still investigating, so we can’t conclude yet.”
Dominic nodded. “So we can’t bury Dana until they are through?”
“Unfortunately not, Dom. We can’t lay the poor girl to rest and allow her soul…” He broke off at the tentative knock on the door. “Who is it?” He asked impatiently.
“Sister Clara.” Came the low-voiced response.
“I should go, Father.” Dominic was already on his feet. “Thank you.”
“We will talk later, Dom.” Fr. Chrys promised with a smile, and then shifted the smile on Sister Clara when she entered. “Have a seat, Sister Clara.” He said to the willowy slim Reverend Sister garbed in her navy-blue pleated habit. “You don’t know how relieved I feel that it was you at the door and no other.”
Though he chuckled, Sister Clara only managed a weak smile.
“You won’t believe the things this unfortunate death has brought to light, Sr. Clara.” Fr. Chrys continued, not quite paying attention to the troubled expression of the woman seated in front of him. “You will be utterly astounded to know the things that have been going on right under our noses and yet we knew them not.”
“I know, Father. That is why I’m here.” Sr. Clara clasped her trembling hands together.
“You knew about the goings-on?” Fr. Chrys gaped at her.
“I knew, Father.” Sr. Clara said. Then she raised her head, held Fr. Chrys’s gaze and added. “That is why I wanted her dead.”
The hand which was supporting his head fell off and his mouth sagged. “Wh…What!”