TC016A

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Scissors, paper, rock, two out of three times, and Deputy Bob Lurz had to be the one to climb into the garbage truck at the place where 6th made a little jog north and 7th took its place. Paul Bergin lived on N Street and 6th. Deputy Bill Holsinger stayed out of sight and drove down to L and 7th to pick Bob up when he was done.

The fellow driving the truck and the fellow dumping the cans were duly dep- utized. At O street Bob was told that Paul Bergin was making a last minute addition of a grocery bag to the can already out on the street. Two more pickups and Bob had this grocery bag in his hands.

"Jesus Christ, Bob, you reek!" gasped Bill when his partner piled into the truck with the evidence.

"All in the line of duty. Look what we got." He let Bill peek inside at a wooden knife block. The handles were the same as the murder weapon. One blade was missing.

"So it's Deacon Paul Bergin for sure," said Deputy Bill. "I'm with the sheriff on this one. When the perpetrators make catching them this easy it's no fun at all."

"There should be nothing fun about any of this, Bill," his partner admon- ished. "Kimberly Zinter is dead."

At the sheriff's station the deputies, Roddy Walker, and even Special Agent Mark Felt donned gloves before the knife holder was removed from the gro- cery bag. Photographs were taken. One blade was removed and photographed next to the tagged murder weapon for comparison. The knife handles were not identical, but that was to be expected in a hand-crafted set. Everything was dusted for fingerprints and photographed as well. Felt began to inter- rogate the deputies as though he were some pricey high-caliber city lawyer Paul Bergin might retain.

Felt: "Are you sure this came from Mr. Bergin's house, Deputy?"

"I counted four stops after I got in the truck. There are three houses on 6th between the Bergin place and where I crawled inside."

"But did you actually see that you were in front of his house?"

Bob: "No, Agent Felt. I was inside the garbage truck."

Deputy Bill shook his head when Felt glanced at him. He had also been well out of sight.

"But the driver of the garbage truck and the pick-up man both said they saw Paul Bergin throw this bag in his trash can."

Felt: "Sheriff Walker, I'm pleasantly surprised by what you've managed to get so far, but do you see the glaring hole in our case?"

"I can give you their names if you wish, Agent Felt. The trash men were deputized for this operation. That gives them legal standing."

Roddy: "It also gives them elevated responsibility, Bill, and I hope you explained that to them when you swore them in."

"That doesn't matter, Sheriff. Please pick them up and see Judge Porter again. We might have just enough now to fingerprint Mr. and Mrs. Bergin."

Roddy walked over to look at photographs pinned to a cork board. "And if his boots and tires match what we posted here, Special Agent Felt, then we will have a little bit more than just enough."



Felt nodded. The case was only starting but moving quite to his satisfac- tion.

The Zinter homocide investigation experienced the first headwind from Judge Karl Porter when he declined to allow the sheriff to bring the Bergins in for fingerprints as he had previously ruled for Robyn. He mused, aloud, that the case was becoming a fishing expedition. If Agent Mark Felt was disappointed it didn't show. "Let's go visit the Bergin place anyway," he told Sheriff Walker outside the courthouse. "I want to see if I can shake something loose."

"Do you want Bob and Bill to tag along?"

"No, I need them to make a phone call. Tell your men to get the number of Bergin's plates, then have them go up to the temple and take photographs of his tire treads."

"Oh, we already have Bergin's plate on file," Roddy said. "He doesn't think the wartime speed limit of 35 miles per hour applies to deacons."

Agent Felt smiled in admiration. "Sheriff, this is one of the smallest towns I've ever seen, but the way you run your department is a G-man's dream."

When they arrived at Paul Bergin's home Mark Felt took copious notes begin- ning with the fact that no vehicle was present. Felt thought the most striking thing about the woman who answered the door was how singularly unattractive she was. If she hadn't worn a dress Mark might have thought Deacon Paul himself was standing there. He cleared his throat and identi- fied himself and Sheriff Walker.

"Yes?" she snapped. "How may I help you?"

"Is Mr. Bergin at home?"

She shook her head. "Paul works at the Temple. I'm his wife Ruth."

"Perhaps you can help after all, Mrs. Bergin. It seems a young woman was attacked with a knife recently."

"Good God, is she well?"

"It's hard to say at this point," said Felt. "What I can tell you is that we think we have the knife that was used in the attack. It has a very unique wooden handle. It's hand-crafted, you see. Only a very few sets were sold, Ruth, and we think you might have one of them."

Ruth gasped. "You can't think that I, that Paul did this."

"Not at all ma'am. A criminal investigation is much like tracing out every rabbit trail even when they just come to a dead end. If you show us your own kitchen knife set then the sheriff and I will be on our way."

"We never bought our knife block," Ruth said. "It was made by Owen Bergin when Headwater was first settled and has passed down from father to son ever since."

Felt made a note of that on his pad, then broke into a smile. "You see? I knew we must be wasting our time."

"I'm sorry, Ma'am," said Sheriff Walker, "but we had to be sure. Still, do you mind if we take one little peek at what you do have?"



Mark Felt admired how Roddy caught his little game and slid right into his role without clashing gears. And Ruth went inside to fetch it.

The fact that Ruth didn't know she was missing her knife set was recorded in Felt's notebook. As he expected, she returned empty handed and Felt re- corded that too, not so much that he didn't know it, but for the affidavit he would have the sheriff type up for Judge Porter.

"I don't understand," Ruth said. "I used a knife from the block just this morning when I made breakfast for Paul and the children, but now everything is gone."

"Oh no, Ruth, that's just what I didn't want to hear," Roddy said "But I'm sure there's a good explanation."

"Ruth, do you mind if the sheriff and I come in so all the heat in your house doesn't escape through the front door?"

She thought about that for longer than Felt liked but in the end Ruth nod- ded and opened her screen door to let them in. She asked them to sit on a couch.

Roddy thought Ruth's home was very similar to Kim Zinter's place in size and design but different in almost every other way. There were no decora- tions at all, no paintings, no rugs, not even a single knick-knack. Only two books were in sight, a Bible and the Holy Buron. Another difference: when he visited Robyn she was playing music, but here it was silent. No record collection, no Victrola to play them on. Roddy marveled how reli- gious folk were so keen on a life in the hereafter when their life here on Earth was so miserable, by choice.

"I see you don't have a radio, Mrs. Bergin."

"There's only one station in town, Sheriff, and more often than not they play race records. Paul says that's the devil's own music. Why, even the children in the Temple high school are playing that garbage if you can imagine."

"The girl who was attacked sang in the Temple school band," revealed Felt. "Do you know somebody who might have stabbed her because she sang race mu- sic?"

Ruth's eyes said yes but she shook her head no.

"It was very generous inviting us to come indoors, Ruth," he said. "I have no right to ask this of you, and don't believe for an instant that we real- ly think you attacked the girl, but if I could just get one print of your thumb I could compare it to what we found on the knife and completely elim- inate you as a suspect in this case."

The sheriff had to restrain himself from whistling in admiration at Agent Felt's performance, it was so beautifully done. Ruth would be thinking of self-preservation in the face of her own husband framing her for the crime. And Roddy thought that wasn't far from the truth.

"Will you have to take me down to the station for a thumbprint?"

"Not at all," said Felt, and he used his pencil to make a thick dark spot on a page in his notebook. "Are you right or left handed?"

"Right, of course," Ruth said, as though southpaws were somehow immoral. And so with Ruth Bergin fully and freely willing, Special Agent Mark Felt rubbed her right thumb in the spot of graphite, then flipped to a fresh page in his notebook and rolled her thumb across it to get a perfect print. He dared not close the book until it was lacquered.


"This schoolgirl who was attacked, she was Erik Zinter's kid, wasn't she?"

Felt stood up from the couch still holding his notebook carefully open. He said, "I've been careful not to say too much and upset you, Mrs. Bergin.

"I suppose it couldn't be helped," she sniffed.

Sheriff Walker scrambled to his feet at that remark and politely asked Ruth what she meant by making it.

She said, "I think only a believer would fully understand me, but Erik was putting our most holy relic to common purposes, digging coal! Our God is a sovereign God."

Roddy made eye contact with Agent Felt, who raised his notebook a bit and shrugged. He already had what he came for. Roddy said, "So God wasn't con- tent to take Erik's life for what he did? He had to take the life of his daughter as well?"

Ruth was shocked. "She's dead?"

"Yes, Ruth, she's dead. What a terrible thing for Clara, don't you think, losing her entire family? But whoever did it has a death wish. He elevated it to a federal case. It was already the Chair if I caught him..."

"...but the Bureau always gets its man," Felt finished.

Judge Karl Porter was directly descended from Alfred and Caroline Porter, who were part of the first wagon train to set down roots in Headwater. In any other town of the West, where family trees actually fork, this would be like tracing one's family back to the Mayflower.

From his corner office on the second floor of the courthouse Judge Porter could look down upon his ancestral family home on the north bank of the river. Most of the land of the homestead had long been sold off for the homes and apartments of the northwest quadrant of town. The courthouse was five blocks away from the sheriff's office on the same little island in Squaw River that formed the heart of the town. The sheriff himself was in Porter's chambers making another run at Paul Bergin, and this time, Porter suspected, he just might get him.

The judge glanced once more at the Affidavit in Support of Arrest Warrant submitted by Sheriff Walker. On a personal level he didn't like where this investigation was going. Paul was the deacon of the Church and the Bergins, just like the Porters, were Headwater Old Guard.


The Church of Green Dome had secrets, the judge well knew. Something hap- pened last summer to bring three agents of the Bureau sniffing around. Af- ter a few weeks they had abandoned their trailer outside of town but the death of this girl brought them back with a fourth man. FBI Special Agent Mark Felt was seated at the table next to the sheriff. The judge already learned, the last time these two men appeared before him, that Felt had assumed responsibility for the case. He asked Agent Felt why his name did- n't appear on the Affidavit.

"Your Honor, when I assumed overall direction of the case for the Bureau the Sheriff had already acquired a quantity of evidence. The Affidavit be- fore you summarizes the entire case to this point and only Sheriff Walker could testify as to how all the facts were obtained."

"And do you foresee a time when the Bureau will no longer be acting in co- operation with local law enforcement here in Headwater?"

"Certainly, Your Honor. The individual or individuals responsible for the crime will likely be transported for arraignment in Kansas City."

Judge Porter said, "Then with the view of hastening that blessed day please lay out your new evidence."

Mark Felt nodded at the sheriff.

Roddy opened a briefcase and removed a knife in a cellophane bag, a page from Felt's notebook, and two closeup photographs of these.

The sheriff said, "Your Honor, Mrs. Ruth Bergin, the wife of Paul Bergin, was kind enough to allow Special Agent Felt to take an impression of her right thumb and as you can see, it perfectly matches the single thumbprint we dusted on the weapon found at the crime scene."

"What in the name of God would make Mrs. Bergin give you her thumbprint, Sheriff, and why isn't she named as a suspect?"

"I think, Your Honor, the answer to both questions is the same. She was shocked to find her set of kitchen knives had gone missing, on garbage day."

Judge Porter growled while he chewed on that item for a moment. Yes, the sheriff, or Agent Felt, or both, would have led poor Mrs. Bergin to think her own husband was framing her for murder. Still, what's done is done, and it was legally airtight. "What else do you have?"


The sheriff reached into his briefcase and removed two more photographs. "Your Honor, Paul Bergin's vehicle is parked at the Temple and is under surveillance by my deputies. You can see here that his tire tread matches the tracks we found at the scene of the homicide."

The judge looked at the photographs and remembered that under wartime ra- tioning Paul Bergin could only own four tires plus one spare. Karl realized the sheriff had enough to justify an arrest warrant. He could hardly refuse after signing one for Robyn Zinter on much less.

"The court finds probable cause to believe a felony offense, to wit, the unlawful killing of Kimberly Zinter with malice aforethought, has been com- mitted. The arrest of Mr. Paul Bergin at any hour of day or night is so ordered." Karl Porter's law clerk began typing it up. "Special Agent Felt, will it be sufficient to confine your search for more evidence of the crime to the home of Paul Bergin?"

Felt replied, "No, Your Honor. If Mr. Bergin was a layman his house would have been enough. But as a deacon he has access to the whole Temple."

"Very well, these are the rules of the People for your search, but I'm signing the order: Let's assume Bergin is hiding evidence in the Temple. When you make the arrest you will have his keys. Any door that is locked, but his keys can open, you may enter and search."

"Thank you, Your Honor. The Bureau accepts this limitation on the search."

"Proceed with caution, Agent Felt," he said. "The Church of Green Dome is the very life of Headwater, and the Church is already going through its most difficult passage in nearly eighty years."

"The words of Dr. Wahkan and Sheriff Walker have already sensitized me to the plight of the Church, Your Honor," said Felt, "and I will take great care. But if those troubles somehow led to the killing of Kimberly Zinter, I don't know how even more trauma can be avoided."



Special Agent in Charge Clyde Tolson was waiting in the second-floor court- room with Special Agent Sullivan when the sheriff and Felt emerged from the judges chambers. "It's not carte blanche," said Felt when he handed Tolson the documents, "but it's the best we could do."

When Tolson finished reading he said, "Edgar knew what he was doing when he put you on the case. For six months we couldn't get one foot in the Temple door."

Felt hoped he only heard that wrong. It sounded like Tolson didn't give two floating turds for the dead girl.

The town of Headwater, true to its name, sits at the source of the Squaw River. Paved road starts there, as does the railroad. No one ever spends the night in Headwater because no one ever passes through. Even the FBI had to crane off a trailer to have a place to sleep.

The Church had steadily lost adherents since peaking in 1917 but there were still many congregations scattered across America and even in Europe. When families of the deceased came to Headwater for the Last Rite often the only place for them to stay was the Temple itself.

The C Wing had six modest rooms which were offered to visiting families for their brief stay of a day or two. Klaus Hansen had never given them much thought. As far as he knew or cared the beds made themselves, so he was startled to find Dory and Jerry cleaning the rooms.

"What is this?" he demanded.

"It goes with the position of Extraordinary Lay Minister of the Final Rite," Jerry replied. "Somebody has to get the rooms ready."

"What's she doing here?"

"Cousin Dory is pitching in."

"I only want to see Red Wingers here on Wednesdays."

Dory and Jerry, being Red Wingers both, made as thought to leave, but Klaus said, "Not you, boy."

"I'll pick you up at five, cuz," said Dory on her way out.

When she was out of earshot, Klaus said, "Where's the Golden Gift?"

"It's somewhere in the Temple, as we agreed."

"How do I know that's true?"

"This is the Temple. Liars have no part in the life to come."

"Show it to me."

"Mike told me I could only bring it out at need."

"Fuck Mike, boy, you need to show it to me."

Jerry unlocked a supply room. A red cookie tin sat on a shelf.

It was empty but Jerry thought it was perfect. When che reached outside of the universe it always looked like somebody chopped hez hand off with an ax, which would need explaining. Jerry produced the relic and to Hansen's eyes it looked like che pulled it out of the tin.

"How do I know that's not just something you whipped up in metal shop and painted gold?"

Jerry squeezed the relic. The hissing shifted down in pitch as the black rip in reality grew, drinking in the light and air of the room. Hez pony- tail tossed in the growing breeze.

Klaus Hansen had never been so close to the Golden Gift in operation and was entranced with the sheer otherworldliness of it. Jerry was amazed at hez self-restraint for not slicing the man in half where he stood.

Dory saw the sheriff's deputies smoking and joking outside.

"Hello officers," she said.

"Afternoon, Dory," said Deputy Bill. Neither he nor Bob could guess why she was grinning and not even trying to hide it, but she knew why they were there and what was coming. Meantime she got into Peter's station wagon, which was her car now.

Four hundred feet below the temple, on the north side of Green Dome, was Peter's house and that was Dory's too now that he and Jaroah were in heav- en. Hunky and Robyn waited for her there. It was quite a step up from a tree house. They could see the FBI trailer from there.

Dory drove the '41 Chrysler Town and Country down the icy nine percent grade to her love nest and fell into Hunky's tree limbs. Robyn rolled her eyes and said, "Could you hold off long enough to drive me down to the li- brary? I want to leave a surprise for Special Agent Felt."

"Alright, Jerry," said Hansen when the thrill of the Golden Gift wore off, "put it back in the can and lock this room back up."

When it was done Klaus told hem to hand over the key and the look on his face seemed to dare hem to show even a twinge of insubordination, but he got nothing back. "Who else has a key?"

"Deacon Paul," replied Jerry.

As though summoned by an evil spell Paul Bergin joined them, looking some- what distraught. "Ruth just phoned," he said. "The sheriff and an FBI agent visited our home."

"Let's take this to my office," said Hansen, making a gesture to hush. Klaus took him by the shoulder and led him away.

"What did Ruth say to get rid of them?" he asked when they had more priva- cy.

"Get rid of them? She invited them to come inside!"

"Jesus, Paul, what did she tell them?"

"She didn't tell me that. But she did ask me why the knife block she used this morning was gone."

"How did you handle that?"

"I said I didn't know anything about it. The knife block is at the landfill and no one will ever find it, but Ruth said she let them take her finger- prints, and that makes me wish the knife was squirrelled away with the clothes and other stuff."

"


"What's done is done," Klaus said. "Even if they found the knife and trace it to Ruth, so what? She had no motive to kill the girl. She probably doesn't even know her."

"What if they come here next?"

"Now is a good time to be out in Headwater tending to the flock, Paul."

When Paul went out to his parked car he saw the same deputies Dory had greeted only a few minutes earlier, but he did not stop to chat with them. Instead, he tried to get back inside the Temple. Sheriff Roddy Walker and Special Agent Mark Felt intercepted him at the door.

"Sheriff, would you do the honors?"

Roddy said, "Paul Bergin, you are under arrest for the murder of Kimberly Zinter. Hold out your right arm please."

Paul was too shocked to move, so Roddy grabbed his jacket sleeve, cuffed his bare wrist, then made Paul face the wall. After both arms were cuffed behind Paul's back Roddy patted him down, removed his wallet, and unlatched the carabiner key chain looped to his belt. He handed both of these to Felt, then handed Paul himself off to his deputies. "Fingerprints, new home, not a word, boys."

Special Agent in Charge Tolson was just coming up with Agent Sullivan. "Do we knock?" Felt asked them.

"No need," said Tolson. "This is a public house of worship." He pulled the huge doors open.

"Jerry Shybear," Bill Sullivan said when he saw who was standing inside.

Tolson knew Jerry from Sullivan's reports but had never actually seen hem.

"Aren't you supposed to be on some island shooting Japs right now?"

Jerry shook hez head and dug out hez draft card. "The Army didn't think I was man enough, Special Agent Sullivan. Navy too."

"Jerry, what are you doing here today of all days?" Roddy asked.

"I'm here every day now, Sheriff. There's been some changes. I'm the Apos- tle of the Church."

Only Felt could find his voice after that news, simply because he missed the import. "We have a search warrant."

Jerry said, "Uh-oh, I better tell the Prophet," and che jogged backwards up the broad carpeted hall through the center of A Wing, facing the sheriff and the FBI agents, until nearly reaching the drum-shaped Sanctuary in the center of the Temple. Che knocked on one door.

"Mr. Hansen, some gentlemen are here to see you."

Klaus stepped out of his office, prompting the sheriff to say, "You're the Prophet now? What happened to Peter Twofeathers?"

"I've been given to understand he is dead."

"Not dead," said Jerry. "He lives in heaven now."

"Jerry, are you talking about another homicide?" asked Roddy.

"No, Peter and his wife Jaroah volunteered to go. So did Kim if you think about it."


"We need to talk," said Felt, "but first, we have an order to search the Temple for evidence pertaining to Kim's murder."

Klaus demanded to see the order and Tolson let him read it. He glanced at the keys in Felt's hand. "Where's Paul."

"On his way to county lockup," Roddy said.

"I will hold you fellows to the letter of this search warrant," he said. "Only rooms locked with those keys."

The offices of Klaus and Jerry were unlocked and so off-limits, but the agents went through Paul's office like a tornado and yielded a pair of boots in a desk drawer. Roddy bagged them, tagged them, and locked them in his truck. Three other rooms were filled with exhibits.

After examining the contents the sheriff offered Felt an explanation. "B Wing is set up like a museum of Church history. Or at least it was. This looks like the material that was on display there."

"Only the history of the Kuwapi," Jerry said. "We're in the New Reich."

"That's a damned shame," Felt said, holding up a broken arrow. "Some of the relics are damaged."

They moved to the hallway that ran around the circumference of the Sanctu- ary and did a third of a turn to the right, checking for more locked doors, before entering C Wing.

The room that Jerry and Dory were cleaning was not locked. The other guest rooms were searched and found to be devoid of any evidence.

"What's behind that door?"

"That's a dry hole, Agent Sullivan," said Jerry. "It's just my broom clos- et." Che locked eyes with Klaus. Nevertheless, Special Agent Felt found the appropriate key. Like Jerry said, there was nothing within but cleaning supplies. Felt shook the red cookie tin sitting on a shelf but heard noth- ing, and opened it to make sure it was empty. Klaus seemed both puzzled and relieved.

After that the sheriff and three Bureau agents headed down the wide carpet- ed stairs to the basement cafeteria. The Prophet, lagging behind, asked Jerry, "How did you know they would search?"

"I didn't know, Mr. Hansen, my newly-wed wife did. Robyn knows all, sees all."

There wasn't much of interest downstairs, which was open and airy, even in the kitchen, but the supply room was locked and everyone gravitated to there. "Is this the room from your report?" asked Tolson.

"Mecca," Sullivan said.

Tolson gestured for Felt to pop it open.

Mecca turned out to have the same broken piano, hymnals, mason jars, and stacks of Green Dome coloring books that Jerry had seen before when he took Robyn and Dory in the supply room. Bill Sullivan pointed at the plywood board at the back wall. "Flashlights, gentlemen."

The board was moved aside, and presently the three G-men were standing around the rock cairn that formed the uttermost summit of Green Dome. Tol- son said to Sullivan, "If the kids were in such a hurry to clear out when Paul caught them why are all the stones back in place?"


"That is a very perceptive question," Sullivan said. He began looking for the easiest stone to move. Felt didn't like the sudden turn in the murder investigation into an area where he hadn't been briefed. Tolson's agenda was intruding. A stone fell and Tolson went in.

Felt heard Tolson utter an oath that was most unbecoming of an FBI agent. After Sullivan ducked inside the cairn items started getting tossed out: a dress, shoes, bloody clothing, rubber gloves. Felt shouted for them to stop but Tolson was frantic. "There's nothing here!"

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