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DONG, DONG, DONG! The Greenmeadow church bell tolled, signaling it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon, time for the afternoon mass. William Layser, the priest of Greenmeadow Church, sighed and walked to the door to greet the families that came in through the giant wooden doors. By now, the church was hot and stuffy from all of the families piling in the pews. The fact that it was the peak of summer didn’t help the temperature in the church either.
When everyone had gotten in, Priest William closed the door and walked up the long narrow aisles of the church, up to the front.
“Welcome all once again!” Priest William’s voice echoed through the giant wooden church.
Priest William spoke and told stories about “Jesus in disguise” and had people share their experiences. While a slim woman wearing a blood red dress was speaking, Priest William noticed a man slumped down in his chair with a hat covering his face. Next to him sat a man with soft, pale skin, and brown eyes. Priest William recognized neither of them. When the woman in the red dress finished speaking, Priest William spoke up and said, “I believe we have two newcomers today! Will they please come up here and introduce themselves?”
Priest William looked straight at the two men until the pale, soft-skinned man poked the other man who was slumped in his seat. Priest William signaled them up. They hurriedly made their way through the narrow aisles.The two men held hands as they walked towards the priest. "Odd?" Priest William thought. "Are they brothers? They sure don’t look like it." The men walked up to the priest, still holding hands.
“Would you like to introduce yourselves?” Priest William asked.
“Sure,” replied the pale-faced man.
He took the microphone with his free hand and said, “Hello, my name is Ross Haymer and this is Harvey Haymer. And we are...”
“GET OUT OF OUR CHURCH!”
A man in a red polo stood up and said once again,
Harvey and Ross looked mortified.
The man in the red polo shouted, “They are sinners! They do NOT belong here. They need to be banished! They... are... GAY!”
The words hit everyone in the church like a bomb.
Priest William politely spoke in the microphone and told the man in the red polo to take a seat. Priest William whispered to Ross that he should leave so he doesn’t start anything else.
Ross and Harvey shuffled out of the church with their heads hung low. When the couple got to their car, Harvey muttered, “I told you we shouldn’t have gone there. They don’t like homosexuals here. We should move.”
“Well I’m going to give the priest one more chance so tonight, I will go to confession.”
“No, you can’t! They will eat you alive!” argued Harvey.
“They won’t,” Ross said to Harvey sternly.
“Whatever,” Harvey replied, annoyed.
That night Ross left the house at 6:30 to go to confession. When he arrived at the church, he saw no lights on, nor any cars in the parking lot. Ross drove up to the front door, got out of his car, and saw a sign posted on the front door that read,
“Due to church repairs, confession will be postponed to next Friday at 5:30. Sorry for the inconvenience. Thank you!”
Ross rolled his eyes and turned to go to his car, then, THUNK!!! Ross crumpled to the ground in a heap and a small pool of blood started to form beneath his head.
Three Hours Later
Harvey glanced nervously at the clock. 9:30. Confession should have been over by now. Harvey had had enough. He grabbed the phone and called Ross. The phone rang five times and then went to voicemail. Harvey slammed the phone down on the table and decided to call the police. What if something happened to Ross? Was some homophobic person out to get him? Harvey called the police and filed a missing person report. Harvey never got a call from the police nor Ross for the rest of the night.
Harvey never slept that night. In the morning, his eyes were red and puffy and his clothes were all wrinkled. Finally, twelve hours after calling the police, they finally hooked Harvey up with a detective. The detective's name was Ian Doyle. Detective Doyle showed up on Harvey’s doorstep and asked him if he had a car. Harvey told him Ross took it with him when he went to confession yesterday.
“There was no confession last night,” Detective Doyle said with an arched brow.
“Hop in my car. We’re going to check out the church,” Detective Doyle stated.
Harvey got into the front passenger seat of Detective Doyle’s squad car and muttered a silent prayer that Ross was okay. Detective Doyle drove them to the front door of the church. That’s where they saw a the small puddle of dried blood.
“This is definitely a serious crime,” Detective Doyle said. “We need to rope off the church so no one tries to come in.”
Harvey and Doyle got to work roping off the church. When they finished, Harvey asked Detective Doyle if they should take a look inside. Doyle said that was a great idea, so they walked inside to investigate. Doyle gave Harvey some latex gloves to put on. Doyle then told Harvey to tell him if he found anything. Then, the church bell rang faintly.
“Doyle!” Harvey yelled. “There’s someone else in here!” He walked around the church and found several tipped pews, fallen candles, and toppled bibles. It was obvious there had been some kind of struggle.
Drops of blood were found scattered all around the place.
Doyle and Harvey ran towards the bell tower. Doyle took out his pistol and Harvey gripped his pocket knife. The bell gave one more faint ring and then went quiet. Doyle and Harvey crept up the stairs, weapons ready. They stopped outside the bell room. Doyle whispered, “On the count of three run into the bell room and catch anything that tries to run. One, two, THREE!” The two men stormed into the room, but all they found was loose ropes.
Then, a cough came from above. Doyle and Harvey looked up in unison to see Ross, hanging by his neck on a bell rope above. Ross seemed to be almost dead. All the color was drained from his face and he sported an angry wound on the top of his head.
“We need to cut him down!” Harvey yelled. “You hang onto the ropes and I’ll cut it.” Harvey cut through the rope with his pocket knife. Ross slowly came down and collapsed into Doyle’s arms.
“We need to get him to a hospital, NOW!” Doyle exclaimed.
Doyle and Harvey rushed Ross into the squad car and started driving Ross to the hospital.
“So, how are you guys related?” Doyle asked.
“Well, we aren’t blood related,” Harvey replied.
“Then how are you related?” Doyle asked, this time more insistent.
“By… marriage,” Harvey replied sheepishly.
“Oh... okay,” Doyle replied quietly.
All three men were quiet the rest of the way to the hospital.
After Ross was placed in immediate care, Doyle insisted that they go back to the church and search for more clues.
After arriving at the church for the second time that day, Harvey asked if they should dust for fingerprints.
“Already have,” Doyle responded. “Whoever it was wore gloves.”
“Smart,” Harvey replied.
The two men examined the entire church, took samples of the blood, and put everything that was displaced in a plastic bag. After everything was taken care of, Harvey and Doyle drove to the hospital to check on Ross.
Doyle and Harvey walked into Ross’ hospital room. Ross lay on his bed with bandages around his neck and on his now shaved head. Ross seemed to be getting more color in his face now. "Good," thought Harvey, "his blood is circulating again."
Ross grunted, startling Harvey. Harvey backed away from the bedside to give Ross some more space.
“Where am I?” Ross asked, disgruntled.
“You’re in a hospital, Ross,” Harvey answered. “You were mugged at the Church last night. Do you remember that?” Harvey asked.
“I don’t remember anything except that I went to confession last night,” Ross said quietly.
“Do you remember who did this to you?” Harvey questioned.
“Not really, but I do remember white gloves over my mouth,” Ross answered quietly.
“You need to get more rest. You were hurt pretty bad last night,” Harvey whispered.
Harvey stroked Ross’ arm and then left when Ross fell asleep.
“We need to find out who did this right now,” Harvey ordered Doyle.
“Okay, we need to get our suspects in line first,” Doyle said. “I will go to the 3 o'clock mass today and find some possible suspects.”
When the mass rolled around that day, Doyle went to the church and examined everyone who could have possibly done this. It had to be someone who loathed anyone who was gay, someone who wanted Ross and Harvey far away from Greenmeadow.
Today, Priest William was talking about the battle in Jerusalem. Priest William ran across the front of the church, reenacting the scenes of battle. Priest William’s silver cross necklace jingled as he jumped back and forth in front of an eager audience. His white gloved hands wielded an imaginary sword as he leapt across the front.
When the mass was over, Doyle had three suspects: Robert Chance, the man who had yelled at Ross and Harvey the other day at the church, Angelica Lindsey, who had seemed very annoyed when Harvey and Ross walked up to the front the other day, and finally, Priest William, who was very religious all the time.
Doyle drove to the hospital where he found Harvey sitting next to Ross in his hospital room.
“I have three suspects: Angelica Lindsey, Robert Chance, and Priest William,” Doyle exclaimed eagerly. Doyle then went on to tell him who all the suspects were.
“We need to find them and examine any evidence on them,” Harvey said.
“Alright, let’s go,” Doyle said.
The duo decided to go to the church first to find Priest William, who had just finished the 3:00 mass. Harvey and Doyle marched into the church and found Priest William in the front of the church blowing out candles.
“We need you to come with us now,” Doyle said sternly, taking out his I.D. badge.
“What did I do?” Priest William asked innocently.
That’s when Harvey spotted white gloves on Priest William’s hand with one dark, red, blood drop on them. Harvey tackled Priest William to the ground and pinned him. Harvey yanked the gloves of Priest William’s hands and tossed them to Doyle.
“I think we know who mugged Ross,” Harvey growled through gritted teeth.
“Well,” Priest William said, “I’ve always hated your kind!”
With that, Priest William spat in Harvey’s face, and with a sudden burst of strength, Priest William broke free of Harvey’s grip. Priest William took off towards the bell tower with Harvey and Doyle on his tail.
Priest William stopped at the ledge of the bell tower. Below him was a mess of ropes that was sure to strangle him.
“You don’t have to do this!” Doyle warned.
“YES... I... DO!”
Priest William thrust himself off the ledge of the bell tower and hit his neck on one of the ropes. A sickening CRACK! could be heard when Priest William hit the rope. His limp body fell to the ground with a THUD!
Priest William was evidently dead. Doyle called for backup on his radio and took Harvey downstairs.
“Are you okay?” Doyle asked, concerned.
“Yeah, just a bit shaken up,” Harvey said. “I’m gonna go pick up Ross.”
“Alright,” Doyle said. “Until we meet again.” The two men shook hands and parted ways.
That night when Ross was up and around at their house, Harvey told him about everything that had happened — from meeting Doyle to Priest William taking his life.
“On second thought, maybe we should move,” Ross said with a smile.