Petition by Prayer

“Ah, but you see, Inspector, the crime was committed at a time in which I had no abilities. I could not be guilty as you assert.” He felt almost smug. There was no way this mere copper, this public servant, would be able to snare him. No way at all.

“There being no way and no provable way are two different things.” replied the lawman. “I think you are guilty, but I acknowledge I cannot prove it.”

“Indeed. I was under the knife in an operating theater with a whole surgery staff in attendance.” He gestured to the door of his hospital room while looking directly at his adversary. “Goodbye, Detective.”

Detective Irvin Delano shuffled to the door slowly. He was in no hurry and knew his languor would irritate his suspect. The murder he was investigating was an odd one, similar to the locked room paradoxes inspected so often in critical thinking classes of universities. The circumstances of this crime demonstrated clearly that no one had access to the victim, he’d been in a highly guarded penthouse of a massive skyscraper. He was locked in and there were absolutely no signs of entry or egress. He was in what was called a panic room; no windows and a single solid steel door bank vaults would envy. There were not even air vents, the air supplied by large tanks within the room to prevent attacks using gas. The scene, when discovered, had all of the manifestations of spontaneous human combustion –which was urban myth. Yet the victim had been torn limb from limb after being immolated, and grotesquely, portions of him eaten as he was taking his final breaths. It was a gruesome scene. Horrific in all detail as much as being a conundrum.

In truth, the accused, one Benito Enrique Ramos wanted the victim dead. And desperately so. He had been operated on to receive a new heart because his old one had been destroyed by a bullet from the now dead man’s gun. Other bullets had killed his wife and two young daughters. He been conscious and watched as his family was slaughtered in front of his own eyes. His motive for revenge was strong as any could be, yet he claimed to be a man of peace, a purveyor of the word of God. He was a minister. Yet Reverend Ramos was Delano’s primary suspect even though the reverend had been in surgery at the time of the killing. No one else had such strong motive for such a gruesome murder.

The dead man’s name was Frankie. Frankie Mulvaney. He was one of society’s members who departure from life would leave no vacuum. He was a petty criminal, performing small crimes of robbery, hold ups or burglaries for the most part. But he’d been surprised in the midst of his latest caper. The robbery of the church rectory. He was after the silver and gold in the religious appointments collected over generations. Gifts to the church from absolution seeking benefactors. Returning from a shopping trip, the family had entered the their home attached to the church and been shot at by the interrupted crook. Frankie had graduated to the big time, but had also managed to escape and avoid the efforts of the police to locate and arrest him for his crime. A crime that was, by happenstance, captured on video surveillance cameras installed in both the church and rectory. Trust in God, but be vigilant for those who didn’t had been the thinking. It was prophetic thinking at that. After the ugly deed, he had fled the premises and driven to his crime lord’s home to beg protection. In an unusually benevolent moment, the man who benefited most from Frankie’s activities permitted him to hide in his panic room. Almost no sooner than the heavy door slammed shut with only Frankie inside, the police, hot on his trail had arrived. Faced with pressures of prosecution, the crime boss had pressed the unlocking mechanism button, throwing Frankie under the police bus, so to speak. Whatever awful thing took place in there in mere moments. It was a mystery of the truest form.

The Detective ambled slowly from the hospital. taking each concrete step one by one, deep in thought as he left the building on the way to his car. Back inside, the Right Reverend Ramos knitted his hands in prayer. “Thank you, Beelzebub.” he whispered.

“Think nothing of it.” replied the demon.

* * *

As we navigate the stages of grief, who’s to say who it is we bargain with, once we reach the bargaining stage.