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D Is For Damien: Chapter 4

Removing The Masks

AMY DREW BACK from the room with horror, and cried out.

"Father Damien!"

She dropped to her knees and bent toward the priest. He was curled up on the floor of the closet and looked nearly unconscious; he didn't speak or move as she undid the gag around his mouth and untied his hands and feet. Only after she was done and started to help him up did he finally open his eyes, cough, and shake his head dizzily.

"Father Damien!" Amy said again, as she took his hands and pulled. "What did they do to you?"

The priest coughed again, standing weakly. He put a hand to his head, as if it hurt. "No-nothing much. They d-didn't need to. The air in that room is eno-enough to stifle anybody."

"Let's get you out of here. Who knows when they'll come back!" Amy said, putting her arm under his shoulder. Together they left the storeroom.

As they walked along the dim hallway, scuffling along as quickly as they could, Amy looked at him. He seemed to be getting better already, blinking and glancing around, though he still looked weak. "What happened? At the church? Who grabbed you? Was it Luther?"

Father Damien nodded, not even asking how she knew. "It--it was him. He's trying to trick Damien into thinking he's on our side. The truth of the matter is, he's with them--with Scorpio."

She knew it. She knew there'd been something weird about that guy. "He's involved with them?"

"Not only involved. He's the high priest."

Amy stopped and Father Damien nearly tripped over his own feet. "High priest? They have priests in devil worship, too? And high ones!" She shuddered, moving on again, even faster this time. "What do they do, eat snakes?"

"I'm not sure. For all I know they do--and probably worse."

They finally reached the door leading out and Amy pushed it open, leading him into the glaring sunlight. He squinted, almost blinded, and tried to look around. "To think I'd ever be so happy to feel the burning heat after being in that awful place!" he exclaimed. And then he made out Damien's car, a red blur nearby. "Damien? Is Damien here also?"

"Uh-huh. And Choby and Damon. Boy, will they be happy to see you! We were all worried to death! Dami! Hey, Dami!"

Damien, who had been resting inside his car to escape the heat, stuck his head out the window. In under five seconds he was out of the car and already throwing his arms around his uncle, nearly lifting him off the ground in a giant bear hug.

"Uncle!" he exclaimed. "Where've you been!"

Father Damien managed to disengage himself without doing serious damage to his ribcage and smiled weakly at his nephew. "I've been around. At least it feels like it. I feel like I can sleep for two weeks!"

"They didn't poison you?" Chernobyl asked.

Father Damien looked at him, puzzled, and then at Damien. "Poison?"

Damien looked at Choby also--only his look was much different. "Poison?" he echoed, his voice rising. "No one told me anything 'bout no poison!"

Choby smiled sheepishly and scuffed his foot in the dust, raising a cloud. "I didn't want to alarm ya, Dami. I know how much you and FD get along. But Harvey says that Luther mentioned some sort of poison, and a needle. It might have somethin' to do with why they wanted FD."

Damien turned back to Father Damien, grasping his shoulders. The look on his face now was one of worry. "Who does he mean by 'they'? Was it really Scorpio again?"

Father Damien nodded sadly. "They're back, and by no means have they given up yet. This Luther Broderick, whom you've undoubtedly already met, is their high priest in this community."

Damien went pale, taking a step back. "Luther? But I know him! He's always been a little weird, but I never thought--!" He cut himself off, and then sighed and hung his head. His voice was bitter now. "But I suppose anything can happen. Like a wolf in sheep's clothing. Or more like a goat in sheep's clothing." He looked up again. "What did they do? They didn't hurt you, did they?" He started checking his uncle's arms for breaks.

"No, thank God for that. After I attended that wedding, I went out to my car. Luther was there, waiting for me. I'd met him once or twice, before, and he'd said he wanted to talk about something, so I went over to him. We talked for a few minutes, when I noticed his necklace. It was an M with a tail, the sign of Scorpio." He shivered, despite the heat. "I asked him then what was going on, and I guess that alarmed him, because the next thing I knew he was coming at me and then I was tied up in this little closet Lord knows where with my head splitting. That was when I heard the water pump kick on, and I thought there might be someone out there, so I decided to take my chances and try to get their attention. Luckily for me it turned out to be Amy, and we escaped."

"Speaking of escaping," Choby interrupted, "I say we make like Jane Fonda in an exercise video and split before those guys find out we're here."

"All agreed!" Damien said, and he and Father Damien got into his car, Amy, Choby, and Damon getting into Amy's. Both cars started up, pulled out, and sped off, leaving dust spiraling in the air.

Once they had left the place behind, Damien turned to his uncle. His fingers were wrapped tight around the steering wheel and his voice was strained again. This whole day had gotten off to a bad start. "Okay, tell me everything. What did you learn about Luther?"

The priest made eye contact, and Damien knew it must be bad. "He's not what he appears to be, Damien. He says he wants to help us get to the bottom of this Scorpio thing, and what happened to your sister Lilu."

Damien said nothing.

Father Damien was glad he didn't. "But he's not really with us. He's with them--with Scorpio."

"How 'with' do you mean?"

"The high priest 'with.' I overheard some of them walking by after I was locked in that room. From the way they were talking about Luther, he must at least be the leader around here. Also he wore the Scorpio sign. There's almost no denying that he's 'with' them. And I believe he knows more than he lets on. A lot more."

"If he knows about Lilu," Damien said softly, "then he must. Because that didn't get a lot of news coverage. The cops were too scared of causing an incident in 'peaceful little Cheboygan.' The only people who know about that very well are you and the witnesses--the cops and me."

Father Damien nodded and didn't pursue the conversation. Instead he just let Damien drive.

Back in the convertible, Choby leaned over the front seat and tapped Amy's shoulder. She cocked her head to show that she noticed him, the wind blowing her sandy blond hair back. "Hey, Amy," Choby said, "pull in at the police station."

"The cop shop?" Amy said. "Why?"

"I wanna know what Dami was doin' there earlier when we came into town."

Amy frowned and looked ahead, at the road. The Lamborghini was far ahead of them, too far ahead to notice if they pulled in at the police station. She most certainly didn't want Damien to know they were snooping after him. She pulled in, parking not far from where Damien had earlier, and shut off the engine. Choby climbed out and went inside, leaving Amy and Damon to wait outside for him.

There was one policeman at the counter, reading some kind of file and shaking his head. Choby went up to him. The officer looked up, seeming slightly annoyed by the interruption. Choby read his nametag. Jones. "Hiya, Officer Jones," he greeted. "I came here to get some info."

"You and everyone else!" the policeman sighed, exasperated. "Lord, what I'd give to have listened to my mother and become a lawyer. They have all the fun. Or maybe I should move down to Detroit. That oughtta be exciting." He put the file away, muttering, and turned back to Choby, hands folded. "All right, what do you want?"

Attitude man. Choby coughed, more to clear his head than his throat. "There was a friend of mine here a while ago, maybe you remember him, maybe not--"

"Tough-talkin' guy? Baseball hat? Tank top? Shorts? Cross necklace?"

Choby stopped, somewhat surprised. "Yeah. That's him. You know him?"

"Know him!" the cop laughed. "That's a hot one. Of course I know him. Damien and I are practically pals." He sneered when he said this last word.

Choby was getting confused now, though he tried not to show it. "Well, I was just wonderin' what he was doin' in here earlier?"

The cop shrugged. "Gettin' info, just like you. Creepy stuff. Something about animals with their hearts cut out. Thought he might be interested in holding the place up."

Chernobyl nearly jumped, though the last statement had been spoken pretty casually. "Hold up? What are you talkin' about?"

"Why, haven't you heard?" Officer Jones asked with mock surprise. "Ol' Dami's got a criminal record."

"Criminal record! Officer, are you sure you got the right Damien?"

Officer Jones snorted. "How many Damiens could there possibly be in a place like Cheboygan?" He searched through the file cabinet again, pulling out another folder. "Got his file right here. Let's see--aha. Three counts of breaking and entering, five counts of assault and battery, and one count of armed robbery."

"Armed robbery!!"

"Yep. Actually, he was only an accomplice. Must've chickened out and hit the alarm, turned himself in. Got a year parole, the lucky sucker, for helping find the other guy. Landed himself in jail for a while before that, though."

Choby put a hand on the counter to steady himself. He rubbed his forehead, bewildered. "I can't believe this guy was just named Mr. Charity!"

"Yep," the cop said again, leaning on one arm and yawning. "Strange, huh? Went from burglar to pop singer. Few years ago he was sorta like a lone rebel. He'd take a fight anytime. By the way," leaning forward, "he got any girlfriends?"

"Yeah--no--well, sorta. There's Kat. Another singer."

"Better keep your eye on him, then."

Choby glared at the policeman, a scowl forming on his face. "You watch your mouth. Even with his so-called record Damien would never do a thing like--like that!"

"Just in case--"

"Banish the thought!" Choby cut him off, and headed for the door, surprising Amy and Damon, who were just coming up to check on him. He stormed over to Amy's car.

"What's goin' on?" Amy asked, as she and Damon tagged after him like two little kids caught eavesdropping at a door.

"Let's go home," Choby replied, meaning Damien's house. "Pretty soon I'll bet somebody's gonna have a bone to pick with 'Ol' Dami.'"

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