Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Now Playing: Dangerous Calling
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Episode Nine concluded with:
The two men carried their latest victim far into the grove until they reached an area wide enough for a grave. They dropped Wooster onto the ground. Coogan placed two fingers on his neck.
“Is he still alive?” Fargo asked.
“Not by much. He’ll probably be gone by the time we dig a hole for him.”
Fargo chuckled, “I almost hope he ain’t.”
“Ain’t never buried no one alive before. Might be kinda fun.”
Rance Dehner looked at the fine church which stood in the middle of Dallas. The stained glass windows and towering steeple were, in a way, inspiring. On those Sundays when he was in the city, Dehner attended a small Baptist church which met in a decent but unimpressive building. Still, the detective was glad that this magnificent church was a part of Dallas.
Rance was about to enter the church through one of the ornate wooden doors when his boss stopped him: “Karl’s study is on the side of the building.”
They entered a well-cared for path that took them to a side door. Bertram Lowrie, the owner of the Lowrie Detective Agency, knocked lightly. Lowrie belonged to the church, which he praised as being “the closest thing to The Church of England available in Dallas.”
The door was quickly opened by a distinguished looking man, who was probably in his mid-forties. “Good to see you, Bertram, please come in.”
Both men stepped into the pastor’s study and Bertram Lowrie introduced his “associate” to Bishop Karl Larkin. The bishop resembled Lowrie in a superficial way. Both men were silver haired, tall and slim. But Karl Larkin carried a bit more weight than Lowrie, who looked bony and emaciated, though he was an agile, strong man. Larkin’s face was fuller and evenly proportioned, unlike Lowrie who had a hawk nose.
Dehner noted that the pastor’s study did, indeed, look like a study. All four walls were lined with books, most of them in English but some in Latin and Greek and a few in German.
“I’m afraid this rotten sinner has committed some shameful acts. I am in need of a detective,” Larkin said.
Dehner smiled broadly. “‘Rotten sinner’. Those are words designed to make this Baptist feel right at home.”
There was light laughter all around as Larkin sat down while pointing his guests to two chairs in front of his desk. For an awkward moment, no one spoke, then Lowrie broke the silence with a genial question. “Karl, why don’t you tell us about this wretched sin that is plaguing your conscience?”
Bishop Larkin nodded his head. “I’m from Boston and have a good friend in that city: Jeremiah Howell. Jeremy is a seminary dean and a good man. But he has some odd notions about the West. He thinks of the West as a place to send students that he can’t find anything for in the East.”
Bertram Lowrie grimaced. “Dean Howell, I can only assume, was the man responsible for sending us young Jim Goodman.”
Karl Larkin returned the grimace. “No, Bertram, I must accept that responsibility. I allowed Reverend Goodman to come here.”
Lowrie’s grimace turned to a mischievous smile. “Ah, Karl, but when you discovered what an incompetent he was, you found a graceful way to dispatch him.”
The bishop sighed, stared at his hands for a few moments, then looked back at his visitors. “I’m not proud of what I did.”
Dehner asked his first question. “What exactly did you do, Bishop Larkin?”
Larkin now spoke in a matter of fact manner. He wanted to lay the problem out. “For several months I have been corresponding with a Mr. Frank Dunning. He is the mayor of Antioch and the lay leader of the Methodist Church there. They are getting ready to construct a new church and can now support a full time pastor instead of relying on a circuit preacher.”
Dehner stifled a smile. “And you sent them Reverend Goodman…”
“As I said, I’m not proud of what I did. Those people obviously need a man of sterling quality and I sent them a bungler. I was thinking only of myself, trying to gracefully get rid of an associate who was a headache.”
Bertram Lowrie looked a bit confused. “I understand your remorse, Karl. But why do you require the services of a detective?”
The Bishop picked up a telegram that lay on his desk and began to read. “‘Goodman here. Took gun from outlaw. Maybe saved lives. Town grateful.’ It is signed Frank Dunning.”
Dehner lifted both hands in a questioning manner. “Sounds like Goodman’s fitting in just fine, what’s the problem?”
Larkin replied in an emotionless voice. “Jim Goodman couldn’t take a stick from a rambunctious seven year old boy.”
Bertram Lowrie’s voice was also a monotone. “As a deacon in this church who had to deal with Reverend Goodman’s frequent blunders, I can vouch for the accuracy of Karl’s assessment.”
Larkin tossed the telegram back onto his desk and picked up another. “This message came from Boston. ‘My daughter Amanda left home to marry Jim Goodman. Please advise of his location. Urgent.’ It is signed Cynthia Olson.”
“The foolish romanticism of the young,” Lowrie sighed. “The girl probably reads the Bronte sisters.”
The Bishop’s voice became forceful. “I want to make up for my past, selfish actions. Something has gone wrong and matters could verge on getting much worse. Bertram, could you send an operative to Antioch and ascertain exactly what is going on?”
“Mr. Dehner will be leaving on the first available train.”
Dehner nodded in agreement and wondered at the odd nature of his assignment. He was to investigate a young preacher whose personality seemed to have changed overnight and deal with a young woman who was a hopeless romantic.
The detective had a feeling his trip to Antioch was going to be very eventful.
Tomorrow: Episode Eleven of Dangerous Calling