What caused him to leave a beautiful girl and disappear? Cleansed by Fire. Chapter 5 – 4
April 1, 2013
A VG Serial: Cleansed by Fire
Chapter 5 – 4
Father Frank smiled at them, trying to ease the tension.
“Thanks for the help. Now, go on and finish your warm-up. I don’t want to be the cause of you getting behind schedule. I’m okay, and you’ve told the detective what he needed to know. I want to talk to the detective for a few minutes.”
The boys left quickly, happy to be away from the questions, and in a minute or two, they were running and yelling as if nothing had happened.
Father Frank turned to Mike. “Do you know anything about this Earl guy?”
“Nothing. I’ve seen his black Trans-Am cruising the streets the last few days, maybe a week. He’s new on the scene. Never done anything to cause us to stop him, or check him out.”
“How about now?”
“I will today. By slugging you, he’s gotten on the radar. And with what the kids said about Earl’s interest in drugs, we’ll have to keep an eye on him. I’ll see what D.M.V. has on him, and go from there. He’s probably in our database.”
A shout went up from the basketball court as Carlos sank a three-point shot. “How was that, Father?” he yelled.
Father Frank nodded his approval and gave the boy a thumbs-up. He turned back to Mike.
“Any news on the church fires?”
“Not much. Got someone out from the State Fire Marshall’s office in Tyler. He determined the fires were definitely arson. Of course, after the second church fire in less than a week we’d already decided they were arson. He brought in the accelerant dog out of Longview. Found diesel was used in both fires.”
“An arson dog.”
Father Frank nodded. “I saw an officer with a dog at Calvert Baptist.”
“Dog’s a big help. He can tell if an accelerant was used. And with his super-sensitive nose, he can spot the point of origin,” Mike said. “Saves a lot of work and time for the officers.”
The men stood in silence for a minute, grim expressions on their faces.
“I’m more than a little interested in both the church fires. And Earl,” said Father Frank. “I really don’t like to see him talking with my kids. You will let me know what you find out?”
“Sure.” The detective shifted his feet and assumed a more relaxed position. “And you have to tell me what happened with you. I was at UT Arlington when you played there. Then, after your sophomore year you left. You had an opportunity to be a star. Already were on our campus.”
Father Frank laughed. “And nobody knew me five miles away.”
“Not true. I remember watching you make an incredible steal—quickest hands I’ve ever seen—then race down the floor and sink a three-point shot at the buzzer to beat SMU. Absolutely amazing. The Mustangs had a two point lead and the ball with four seconds to go, and you beat them. I couldn’t believe it. Neither could SMU.”
But the priest couldn’t keep a tiny smile from creeping onto his face, pleased—and amazed—that someone remembered what was undoubtedly his best play in two years of college basketball.
“I said that was the most incredible play I’d ever seen and what a great player you were. This absolute drop-dead beauty sitting in the seat in front of me turned and said she dated you.”
The image of Ginger Hamilton materialized in Father Frank’s mind—a long-legged, slender, black-haired beauty whose eyes always seemed to be excited over some mystery they concealed. Frank had thought of her as simply elegant, a true lady.
Frank and Ginger had been very compatible, at ease with one another, yet with a sexual tension that kept two hearts racing. She had been a strong temptation not to follow his vocation. But God’s call overpowered Ginger’s.
A few months ago, he heard from a college friend that she had married an engineer last year and moved to Oregon.
Mike turned serious. “You were becoming a star, you had a knockout girl, and you disappeared. What happened?”
Father Frank cocked his head to one side. “I got a better opportunity.”
Mike wrinkled his brow and looked at the priest.
Father Frank grinned. “I got the chance to do God’s work. As much as I loved basketball, and still do, God’s work is a far better opportunity. No question.”
Chapters of the serial are published on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday.
You can learn more about Cleansed by Fire and other James H. Callan novels on his Amazon Author Page.