Jun 28, 2005

The Jump Rope Murder, Installment Four

This is the fourth installment for Short Story Wednesday. If you missed the first three you might want to catch up by going

Later that day the sheriff knocked at the parsonage door and the portly Reverend Burns opened the screen.

“Evenin’, Sheriff. Come right on in.”

The reverend, holding a big glass of iced tea in one hand, ushered Sam into the parlor.

“Still hot, even in September,” the reverend chatted.

“Yes, this is strange weather. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the heat.”

“Where’re you from?” The reverend sat on a gaudy floral sofa.

Sam sat across from him in a velvet side chair. “I’ve lived all over, but mostly Colorado Springs.”

“What can I do for you, Sheriff?”

“Well, as you probably know, I’m investigating Father Pendleton’s murder.”

“So, it was murder, eh?”

“Strangled with a jump rope.”

The Reverend took a gulp of his drink. “Would you like some tea? Sister,” he called toward the kitchen. “Sister, get the sheriff an iced tea.”

“Who’s Sister?”

“Oh, my sister Margaret lives with me. I’ve called her that since childhood.”

Margaret, a plump, gray-haired woman with the scent of baby powder shuffled in and handed the sheriff a cold glass. Then she shuffled dutifully out.

“Anyway, as I’ve asked questions around town, the subject keeps coming up about your argument in the square on Sunday.”

“Well, I wouldn’t call it an argument, exactly--just a friendly rivalry.”

“I heard you told Father Pendleton God would take care of him, or something like that.”

The reverend’s normally ruddy face went pale. After a heavy sigh, he spoke. “I guess I’ll eventually have to let you in on our little secret anyway. When I first came to this church the paltry congregation was the most apathetic group of so-called Christians I’d ever seen. St. Michael’s was the same way. Father Pendleton and I got to talking one day during a town council meeting and decided we needed to spice up this community."

He shifted his rotund body on the sofa and continued. "So we devised a plan to pit the Catholic Church against mine in a sort of competition."

His face became more animated as he talked. "We formed baseball teams, conflicting membership drives, simultaneous socials, etcetera. It worked like a charm! Soon everyone in town and the neighboring counties was going to either one church or the other. When membership would start to lag, the Father and I would cook up another little competition.”

Exasperated, Sam asked, “You mean the fiasco Sunday afternoon was a set up?”

The reverend sheepishly nodded. “But, you don’t have to tell anybody, do you? If they find out it’ll mean my job!”

“For God's sake, man, the Catholics think you killed him!”

“Well, I didn’t!” The reverend stood up and set his glass on the mantel.

“Where were you at 11 p.m. on Sunday?”

“In bed asleep like I am every night. Sister can vouch for that.”

Sam shot him another question. “Do you know anyone who would want Father Pendleton dead?”

The reverend thought for a moment. “If I were you, I’d look for the owner of that rope.”

The Jump Rope Murder.


Bill said...

Heh-heh.. "If I was you... I'd look for the owner of that rope"

:LOL: that comes from the 'duh-huh' school of common sense, and is so true, yet it struck me so funny as I read it!!

The story continues to intrigue me :)

Karyn Lyndon said...

I thought that was a funny line, too. Sometimes my characters surprise me with their wit and common sense...lol

Glad you're intrigued, Bill. There are only two more episodes to go...THEN what will I do on Short Story Wednesday???


Duke_of_Earle said...

Well, THAT's an easy one. Write another story!

This one is so good, you're going to have people flocking to your blog to read the latest episode of "Pulp Propagation," or whatever.

I know I will be.


Karyn Lyndon said...

Oh sure...sounds easy enough. But I'm having to spend all my time "steaming up" freaky friday for you.

Duke_of_Earle said...

And for you that's a problem??

I don't THINK so!