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A Priestly Affair

A Mystery Novel, written by Carl Schmidt

First Chapter of A Priestly Affair:
  First thing Tuesday morning, the phone rang.  “Our Lady of the Seas” appeared on the caller ID, but a man’s voice came over the line.

    “Is this Jesse Thorpe?” he asked.

    “Yes it is,” I replied.  “What can I do for you?”

    “I am Monsignor Francis O'Reilly.”

    I expected him to continue talking after introducing his name, but he was either gathering his thoughts, or he expected me to respond to his persona.  When the pause became a little too pregnant, I stepped in, “How can I help you?”

    “I have a delicate matter I would like to discuss,” he replied cautiously, “but I need your assurance that anything I say will be strictly confidential.”

    “At this point, you have my word,” I said firmly.  “If you choose to hire me as a private investigator, our contract will include a confidentiality agreement that spells it out for you in detail.”

    “I heard about your work solving the murder of our governor, but I have to say that it sounds a little like good news - bad news.  You tracked down the killers, but the whole story made the gossip columns for weeks.”

    “Do you know the name of my client in that case, Monsignor?” I asked.

    “No, I do not.”

    “That should give you some idea about my level of discretion.  I went to great lengths to be sure his, or her, name stayed out of the press.  There was nothing I could do to hush the news about the killers.  Crimes and criminals are public matters.”

    “Indeed.  Well… I would like to meet with you personally.  I see on your website that you are based in Augusta, but that you work here in Portland on Mondays and Fridays.  Can you come by the parish this Friday?”

    “Certainly.  I’ll be driving down that morning.  I can see you any time after ten o’clock.”

    “Let’s make it ten-thirty,” he said.

    While we were chatting, I pulled up the website for Our Lady of the Seas and noted the address.

    “Are you located on Old Beach Road?” I asked.

    “Yes, we have a nice view of the harbor.  The rectory is just behind the chapel.  I’ll be there when you arrive.”

    “See you then, Father O’Reilly.”

    Over the previous six months, the arc of my life had changed dramatically.  In June, William Lavoilette, the governor of Maine, was shot and killed.  The next day, I became embroiled in the case.  Then, five months later, I received a $20,000 reward for helping resolve it.

    The money provided a quick fix for the chill of late autumn Down East.  I flew off to Kauai with my girlfriend for a week in paradise.

    Back home, newspapers and television stations around the state picked up the story of my involvement and ran with it for the next six weeks.  When we returned from our vacation, the media circus was in full swing.

    It was now December 24th.  The holiday season had ushered a welcomed pause to my celebrity.  Life was back to normal…almost.

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