D Is For Damien: Chapter 2
CHERNOBYL CALLED ON a family friend to sit for the kids, then hitched a ride downtown to the church. There were only a couple Catholic churches in the city, and St. Anthony's was where Father Damien "worked"; Choby wasn't exactly sure what he actually did there all the time, but decided it must be important. After he was dropped off the first thing he did was look up. The church was a huge, blackened building, forbidding looking to any who wished to enter. It must have been very old. At least, it looked like it. The bell tower was in front with a stained-glass window below; he knew that in the back of it was an even larger window, in front of which hung a giant crucifix. He'd been in there before on a sunny day and the sight was amazing; he'd felt like he was walking through rainbows. However, the weather was starting to cloud up already, and the air had grown slightly humid. He could tell rain was coming. He walked across the parking lot, for he saw Father Damien's station wagon parked next to the church, as well as a pink convertible, and standing near it were three people. He recognized two of them as his friends Damon Barrymore and Amy. The third was a nun.
"Hiya," he called, jumping a speed bump and heading their way. He cast a look at the pink convertible; he knew that car and he hated it.
"Hi," Amy, the owner of the offending car, said.
"Hi, Choby," Damon replied.
Choby said, "And I haven't had the pleasure."
Amy stepped aside to introduce Choby to the nun. "Chobe, this is Sister Annemarie Kaczynski. Sister, this is Chernobyl Cat."
"Pleased to meet you," Sister Annemarie said as they shook hands.
"Likewise," Choby said, tipping his Shriner's fez. "You still got that big stained-glass window in there?"
Sister Annemarie looked puzzled, as if wondering where it could possibly have gone. "Well--yes."
"Good." Choby turned to the others and put his hands on his hips. "Listen, I just got the freakiest phone call from Damien and he's all talkin' about Father Damien bein' missing. The twenty thousand-dollar question is, what am I missing?"
"Dami left a while ago," Amy answered. "He didn't say much. Doesn't want a leak."
"He seems in a real tiff about the police."
"Tell us about it," Damon said, rolling his eyes. "Remember, we were right next to him through the whole thing."
"Well he's acting fishy, even for Damien. I say he's holdin' out."
Sister Annemarie's eyes widened. "You mean not telling us everything?"
"Totally un-Catholic, I know," Choby jibed. "What do all you guys know?"
"He came here for an early wedding," Amy said. "Some couple from Topinabee, I think."
The sister nodded. "After the ceremony he left. I think he was going to meet some young fellow, tall, rather nice-looking person, can't recall his name right now, so I thought he'd be back. We were going to go to breakfast together; you know, talk over things. We're good friends, so when he didn't show up I started to get worried, and I came out and saw his car. About an hour had gone by and Father Damien's not one to just leave without telling anyone, so I called Damien."
"Unreal," Choby murmured. "This really is not FD's style." He snorted. "There anything weird around the car?"
Amy shrugged. "We looked, but I didn't see anything."
"I'm good at looking for details," Damon added. "I do it all the time with my photographs--" Choby knew he was a rather good amateur photographer "--so when I looked I didn't see anything either. It's like he just disappeared."
Choby snorted again, puzzled. "Did Dami say anything about where he was going?"
Sister Annemarie shook her head.
They all paused, unsure what to do.
"It sure has gotten cloudy all of a sudden," Damon said, looking upwards. "Since no one's had breakfast yet and it looks like our good weather's all spent up, why don't we go to the B&C before it gets bad?"
The others murmured their agreement and departed from the church.
They got to the restaurant just in time to escape the rain that came pouring from the forbidding sky. It seemed as if nature had called off the warm spell to announce the priest's disappearance. Amy shrieked that her hair was getting wet while they ran inside, shuddering and shaking off the rain that had managed to hit them on their mad dash to the porch. They shook their hands off and entered, sitting down at one of the booths in the upper section, near the dripping windows, and ordered breakfast.
"It's all real fishy if you ask me, and I don't mean because it's Friday," Choby muttered, wiping off his fez. "FD would never, ever leave unannounced. He just wouldn't. I know FD!"
"What are you two, on a first-initial basis?" Amy asked, irritated. "What does he call you, C? Lord, your name keeps gettin' shorter."
"Something is definitely wrong," Sister Annemarie agreed with Choby. "He never misses our breakfasts, either."
Damon offered no comment. He was too busy watching a slick red Lamborghini Countach drive into the lot and park nearby. He knew that car. There were only a few people in Cheboygan rich enough to own it, and only one person who actually did own one.
"Drat it, you've got more ice in your water than me," Amy growled, eyeing Choby's glass.
"Do not!" Choby retorted, rolling his eyes. Amy always had to complain about the amount of ice in his glass. "It's the exact same."
"It is not! You always get more ice."
"Well, maybe the waitress thinks me cuter."
"The w--! Why, you jerk! You tip them to do this, don't you?"
"Guys," Damon said quietly, "look who's here."
Everyone craned their necks, looking down into the lower section. The one person entered, looked around to see if it was empty enough to be safe, then went to a booth and sat down.
"Damien," Choby whispered. "Damien's here."
They stared as if they were a group of disbelieving fans, which they knew was the reason Damien had looked around before taking a seat. He didn't seem to notice them, and just looked through a menu the waitress dropped off for him. A moment later a man in a hat and suit jacket came in and, seeing Damien, made a beeline for his booth. Damien did notice him, and stood as he approached.
"I don't want you nosin' after me all the time, Morris!" he hissed.
"Who's that guy?" Choby asked.
"A flatfoot from the cop shop," Sister Annemarie replied.
The other three turned to look at her.
The nun looked mildly bewildered. "A--a detective from the police station?" she said.
That settled things, and they turned their attention back to the lower level.
"I want the scoop here, Dami," Detective Morris said. As he faced Damien the others could see he was about an inch or two shorter; the difference in height made them look almost comic. "Are you in some sort of trouble, or not? I helped you before. I can help you again."
"My lawyer, Temple, helped me out before," Damien snapped, irritated. "You were just there for the ride. Now go away."
"Oh, so now I'm worse than all those pesky fans?"
"Morris, pesky is the word for you!"
"You tell 'im, Damien!" Choby cheered softly.
"Fans I can abide," Damien continued. "At least they're showing some respect while they're tearing you to shreds. Then again, you wouldn't be able to relate to that."
Morris looked insulted.
"But cops and snoopy gumshoes like you I can't stand! You step all over people as if they're nothing and you invade their lives too often!"
The detective's eyes narrowed. "Something's up here, Dami, and I want to know what it is."
The singer threw up his hands, his golden eyes glittering in the dim light. "Why do you care, Morris? I've been fightin' with my girlfriend Kat. Naturally I'm upset. She has PMS and I have KPMSS!"
"KPMSS?" Morris echoed.
"Yeah," Damien replied. "Kat's premenstrual syndrome syndrome."
"Great excuse," Damon commented.
Morris finally saw that he wasn't getting anywhere this way, so as Damien settled back down into his booth he started off, calling back over his shoulder, "You'll be seeing more of me, Damien. You just believe that."
"Sure thing, Morris," Damien replied, gazing at the menu.
"And that's Detective Morris to you!"
"Sure thing, Det Morris."
Morris snorted and left, the door swinging back slowly after him.
"Told him off," Choby said proudly.
"KPMSS," Damon murmured. "I oughtta use that."
Choby gave him a funny look. "Damon, you don't have a girlfriend named Kat. Jeez, you don't even have a girlfriend."
Choby ignored Damon's reproachful look and turned to Sister Annemarie. "Hey, Sis, does Dami have any idea who might've kidnapped FD?"
"I'm not sure what he was saying," the nun replied, hesitantly, "but I think he mentioned something...um, something like Scorpio?"
"Scorpio," Choby whispered, his eyes widening. "God, I forgot all about them. That was over a year ago!"
"Huh?" Damon said, confused.
"Scorpio," Amy said thoughtfully, for the third time. "Scorpio. Hey, wait a minute, I think I remember hearing about that."
"The eighth sign of the zodiac?" Damon said, frowning. "What's astrology got to do with anything?"
"Not Scorpio as in the daily horoscope," Choby replied. "Scorpio as in the cult. Scorpio is this cult Damien's family somehow has connections with."
"A Satanic cult," Amy clarified.
Sister Annemarie crossed herself and whispered something.
Choby continued, "But I wonder where he got that idea--"
He was cut off when they heard a boom of thunder, louder than what they could hear through the windows. They looked down towards the entrance and saw another person, whom they didn't recognize, enter, looking around. He also noticed Damien and went to join him in his booth. Damien appeared none put off by this, and even started talking, though so quietly no one could hear him from upstairs.
"That's him! He's the one!" Sister Annemarie whispered, shaking her hand with subdued excitement. "The one whom Father Damien was going to meet. I've seen him several times before and he must have talked with Damien too. Maybe that's where he got the Scorpio information."
"What the heck," Choby muttered. "This keeps gettin' weirder and weirder by the minute."
"I smell a rat," Amy added.
Damon did a take with his water, nearly splattering Amy. "And all this time I thought they had top service!"
"Do you know his name?" asked Choby.
"Oh, I know it, I'm certain I do, I just can't recall it at the moment but it makes me think of...Luther--Luther Broderick! That's his name."
Choby turned away again and examined him from a safe distance. He was rather tall, as the sister had mentioned, and also extremely handsome, with blond hair and icy blue eyes. Choby was relieved for some reason that he never looked up at the group; he seemed intent instead upon what Damien was saying.
The Shriner sneaked a look at Amy. Sure enough, she was staring at Luther too, but instead of the dreamy, faraway look she got in her eyes when she saw someone cute--which was very often--she appeared highly suspicious. Good ol' Amy, he thought. You know when to pick 'em.
Several minutes passed while the two downstairs talked. Only once did one of the group, Amy, say anything, and that was to mention how odd it was that Luther didn't seem to be wet from the downpour. Then they fell silent again until Luther and Damien stood, exchanged a few more words, then went towards the exit. They now clearly saw Luther start to open an umbrella as they went out, holding it slightly in front of him and very closely so not one drop of rain could hit him, and then they were gone. The four looked at each other, then turned to the window. The two doors of the Lamborghini were closing, and after a moment it slowly pulled out.
"Weird how he held the umbrella," Amy murmured. "As if the rain scared him."
"Something," Choby said gravely, "is definitely up here."
Cynthia and Timothy wanted badly to go to the movies--there was a kids' show playing--and Ez was willing to go with them, but there was no one to take them but their sitter, Teresa. While she pondered what to do, Harvey stood nearby, with an angelic smile. Finally Teresa gave in and told Harvey to be good until she got back in about a half hour so she could drop them off, and Harvey promised he would (there was nothing to get into trouble with, anyway). So he was left alone--alone for once! What a feeling! He went up in his room, feeling very much like an adult now, and sprawled out on the floor where he paged through his magazines. He stayed that way for what must have been at least fifteen minutes when a thump downstairs drew his attention. Was Teresa back already? He went to the air vent, put his eye to it, and peered down. A blond man he'd never seen before entered and looked around quickly, then left the room. Harvey could hear him shout, "Where did you say the phone was, Damien?"
There was the sound of an engine revving and a muffled reply.
The man came back into the room and, locating the phone, picked it up and dialed a number. Harvey was so close above that he could hear the dial tones. There was a buzz, and then a murmur. Luther--for that's who it was--looked as if he'd struck something, and spoke.
"Hello, Derrick?" he said. "Yeah, it's me, who else would know the number? Is he still there? He hasn't gotten away, then? Good." He covered the receiver, looking around, then turned back. "Listen, Derrick, his nephew's right outside, and says he's looking for him. Make sure he's tied good. One false move and he'll get it. One wrong move and we're in for it."
Harvey swallowed, feeling a lump of fear rising in his throat.
"You got the poison? In the needle?"
Harvey gasped and started so suddenly that he dropped his magazine onto the vent. It rustled noisily. Luther's glance shot up above his head, and Harvey nearly stopped breathing.
Luther was looking right at him.
A tense moment passed, Luther staring up into the vent, Harvey stock still. Finally, Luther turned back to the phone, whispered, "I think someone's in here, Derrick. Remember to check on him again. See you later," and hung up. He looked around once more, including at the air vent--his eyes narrowed slightly--but it was too high up and at such an angle that he couldn't see the seven year old poised behind it. The look he got on his face chilled Harvey; it looked like the man would kill him if he could see him. It was all Harvey could do to avoid screaming and running. Finally the man turned away and left.
Harvey let out his breath in a long sigh of great relief. Thank goodness Luther hadn't seen him! He really felt that guy would have ended up killing him. Then two thoughts crossed his mind--first, the man had seemed to be talking about Father Damien! And second, the man had come with Damien, so he must be leaving with him, too! Horrified, he ran to the stairs and dashed down, spinning around the corner, zooming through the living room and kitchen and utility room and porch, and tearing out the door into the bright sunlight. The rain had broken.
The cry burst from his lungs--"Damien!"
Too late; he was just in time to see the red Lamborghini, with its unsuspecting driver, pull out of the driveway and speed away.