Frank took a shower and then put on a new suit. I made a cup of Death Wish Coffee for Frank.
“Okay Jack, see if you can find out what hospital the Monsignor was taken to. And change your clothes. I don’t want the Monsignor to place you earlier when you were my spy. He is no dummy.”
“Yes sir, he is at the same hospital we visited this morning.”
“Call them and see if he can have visitors yet.”
It took a few minutes to check on the Monsignor’s status.
“Frank, the Monsignor is in stable condition and is conscious. From the police report he had only superficial wounds and bruises. I guess it looked worse than it was as far as being life threatening.”
“Good, let’s go bring him some flowers and see if we can find out why the Monsignor is snooping our lead.”
With only a detour to the gift shop for flowers we went to the Monsignor’s room.
Frank entered quietly and saw that the Monsignor was awake.
“Monsignor Pietro, are you up to having visitors?”
“Mr. Huntington, what are you doing here? How did you know I was here?”
“That was what I were wondering this morning at the East Los Angeles Buddhist Temple.”
I could see the Monsignor’s heart rate went up. He kept a poker face, but he was genuinely surprised that we knew. Rather than wait for the Monsignor to answer Frank went onto a more comfortable question.”
“How are you feeling?”
“I am still a little shaken. Thanks for asking.”
“What the hell set off that guy?”
“Not much I can tell you. I had just started to ask him what happened at the temple and he grabbed a knife and started to go after me. I’ve never met someone so angry.”
“You haven’t met my editor. That was pretty amazing. Have you ever heard of any religious group turning against their religion in such a violent way?”
“No, never. The sister’s rampage was only against a few religious symbols, but they did not go after people.”
“What is the connection between the sisters and the temple?”
The Monsignor looked directly at Frank and said very slowly, “I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense. Both communities were happy and had absolutely no scandals or signs of division. Have you any idea?”
“No, I’m afraid I am in the same boat as you. I just thought the sister’s rebellion was so strange I told my Jack to tell me if there were any others like it.”
“Have you seen the actual the local coverage on this?”
“No. Jack only saw the original press report of the police being called in because of the disorderly conduct. He did not tell me of the later reports on how it turned into a riot.”
“Six people were killed. Before the temple burned down some of the members rushed into the cultural exhibit and broke the display cases where four samurai swords were on display. One of them killed the Buddhist minister. Some of the younger members used the swords to attack their parents and even one grandfather was brutally beheaded.”
“Christ. Oh, sorry Monsignor.”
The Monsignor only showed a small smile at Frank’s profane outburst.
“I saw in the graveyard where one of the murders took place. I think the victim must have tried to escape into the graveyard from where the rioting was going. Then again, it may have been someone killed by the vehicles used to ram the memorials.”
“I just can’t see how these could be connected. Both groups lost faith, but their reactions were so extreme compared to each other. Have there been any suicides?”
“I think it is a little early for that. It only happened two days ago.”
“True. Did your people ever find anything that could have caused the sisters to react as they did.”
“No. Nothing.” Again I sensed the Monsignor’s heart rate go up. It could mean nothing. Cardiac rhythms naturally varied, but I also sensed an increase in his sweat rate. While science has shown this is only nervousness or an uptick in some stronger emotion, it was not a foolproof indicator of lying. However, I would tell Frank later. I wish he had his ear bud on.
Frank gave the Monsignor a good long look and said, “I am a journalist. I exaggerate patterns into worldwide phenomenon. Half the time it is just journalistic paranoia. Most likely the sisters and the Buddhists are just coincidence, but I still have to wonder.”
“Two strange events separated by thousands of miles does stretch credulity, but there have been more than two, Mr. Huntington.”
It was hard to hear the last syllable because a loud alarm suddenly filled the air. Frank looked at me and I told him, “I have no information, Sir.”
A moment later, I still could not find any intelligence on the hospital’s network. However, I did sense a large number of people assembling by the room where Bishop Noritaki was.
“Sorry Monsigor, I need to go check it out.”
“Come back and tell me.”
Frank took off with me close behind. He looked back and said, “Jack, take the lead. Show me the quickest way to Noritaki’s room.
I increased my speed and overtook Frank. I made sure he could keep up. I knew the stairs would be the best way to get to Noritaki’s room. It was one floor down. When we entered the hall it was filled with several nurses and security people. Frank calmly walked over to one of the nurses and asked what happened.
“Oh, it so terrible. The man in 3310 smashed the window and jumped. Suicide.”
“Wow, that is surprising,” Frank said to the nurse, but gave me a look like it was not. If there was a relationship between the sisters and the Buddhists then I guess suicide would be expected. Frank turned away and started walking back towards the stairway. I naturally followed him.
He slowly walked up the stairs. I could tell by the slow pace he was thinking. Finally, he turned to me and said, “You know, Jack, if the priest is right about there being more of these religious reversals there must be a reason. What the fuck is it?”
“Well sir, in the thirteenth century there was. . . “
“Not now Jack” Frank said. I often mess up rhetorical questions. We approached the Monsignor’s door and Frank slowly opened it up. The bed was empty. Frank stared at it for a second and then looked towards the bathroom. The door was open and it was empty.
“It seems our Monsignor has flown the coop,” Frank said with an even voice that showed no sign of surprise. We then went to the nurse’s station and asked if the Monsignor had been released. The nurse sitting there looked at her computer monitor and said he should be in his room. Frank informed her that he was not there and she immediately picked up the phone and talked to someone. From what I could hear with my advanced hearing it must have been her supervisor. He told her to go check the room again. I saw Frank putting in his ear bud and I communicated that the nurse was to check the Monsignor’s room.
Frank gave me a quick nod and said aloud, “Well, I guess we can come back later and visit him.”
After that Frank started walking away towards the elevator. Once inside the elevator he said, “Looks like the Monsignor decided to leave quickly. I wonder if he was worried if he might be tempted to jump out of a window?” I knew that was rhetorical, so I kept my mouth shut.
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