Through Glass Darkly
When Sergeant Cosgrove and Detective Ruiz arrived finally at the Breckenridge residence, the couple, who were quarreling about something William had allegedly done, appeared to hesitate several moments before answering the door.
“Arlene, you’re acting hysterical,” William tried calming his wife. “I merely gave her a fatherly hug. Why did you put that nonsense into Melanie’s head? After being cleared of that charge, how could you believe this of me?”
“It’s true, Bill, it’s true,” she wailed. “Why didn’t you tell me about your previous life. I would never of married a beast like you!”
It was a moment of truth for William Breckenridge. William followed his wife upstairs, just as the doorbell rang, their voices blaring over the friendly chimes. When Jake began rapping gently on the oaken door, the couple was embroiled in a heated argument about William’s past life.
Jake, suspecting that the suspects might be reluctant to talk to the police, dialed their telephone number on is cell phone, after knocking vigorously on their door.
“Come on Mister Breckenridge,” he yelled, as their phone rang.
“We’re being a little impatient, aren’t we?” he could hear Sam say.
When the phone was finally answered, he could hear a woman crying on the other end.
“Misses Breckenridge? This is Sergeant Cosgrove from Homicide. “We have an appointment to speak to you and your husband. Please let us in.”
“Wait a minute,” she muttered, as she fumbled with the receiver.
Soon they could hear the door being unlocked and the night latch released. A woman, Jake estimated to be in her mid-fifties with weepy-looking eyes, opened the door and motioned them impatiently in. As the two detectives entered the spacious living room, William Breckenridge was nowhere in sight. With guarded patience, Jake appraised the unhappy woman for several moments as they waited for Mister Breckenridge to appear.
“Are you all right ma’am?” he asked, scanning the scene. “Our session won’t take long.”
“You’re late constable,” she frowned irritably. “It’s almost three o’clock.”
“Sorry,” Jake replied truthfully, “we were side-tracked onto another call.”
“Well, I’m quite all right,” she sniffed, dabbing her eyes. “My mother’s ill,” she added quickly. “I just found out. Please have a seat. I’ll have Consuela bring us some tea.”
Coffee would have been more welcome to the two detectives, but the English upbringing of Arlene Breckenridge was given away those moments. Her reference to him as constable, a low level peace officer in Great Britain, seemed excusable in wake of her bad news. The horror of her discovery had left her in an apparent state of shock. Even so, the fact that her mother had been dead all these years made her lie that much worse. Had she known that the detectives already knew about William’s pedophilia, she would have been in a state of mortification as well as shock. The threesome stood nervously in the living room, until Arlene motioned to the easy chair and couch. The detectives seated themselves on the French provincial sofa, wondering when William Breckenridge would enter the room.
“Please tell your husband we’re here,” requested Sam, nervously clearing his throat.
A grandfather clock in the midst of the opulence and eclectic display, bonged three times. Glancing at his watch, Jake was reminded that it was now three o’clock, though his own timepiece still indicated five minutes to three. Time seemed to be running out for his wife—a thought that suddenly stabbed him as he waited for Breckenridge to appear. He had the fleeting urge to demand that Arlene’s husband ‘get his ass down here immediately,’ but then, just when he was losing patience completely with the simpering woman and the absurd tea service provided by Consuela, her maid, William Breckenridge arrived at the bottom of the staircase, a strained look on his ashen face.
His wife knows, Jake told himself, reaching in to turn on the voice recorder in his coat. Though Jake only used the recordings for his own research, such deception, Sam had reminded him, was against department policy as well as federal law. Jake had found that as soon as you placed the recorder in front of an informant, as you were required to do, he or she would suddenly grow circumspect in their answers or, displaying the opposite reaction, grandstand as some of the vagrants had done today. It was, Jake told Sam, a natural tendency for the guilty to lie, and the recorder didn’t lie. Lies, the rustic philosopher explained, were sometimes innocent exaggerations, omissions, revision of facts, or, for the guilty, deliberate untruths. Unlike the notepad, which he used only for writing down ideas now, every tonal nuance, contradiction, or exaggeration was captured completely on his device, especially if informants such as the Breckenridges didn’t know they were being recorded.
Sam gave Jake a worried look as the recorder hummed inside his coat.
“I’m very sorry, I took so long,” William mumbled, looking down at the carpet, his eyes rising dejectedly to his wife. “My mother’s ill. I was just talking to her on the phone.”
Arlene groaned. The detectives couldn’t help chuckling amongst themselves. Later, when he was home with Anna, Jake would play it just for laughs. Already, with the interview just beginning, the couple had been caught in a lie.
“Oh, both your mothers are sick,” blurted Sam. “That is a coincidence. Do they have the same bug?”
“I believe they call it the mad cow mother-in-law disease,” Jake commented with mirth.
“All right, detectives,” frowned William, “are you satisfied? We had us a little marital spat. I’m sorry you stumbled into this, but you are, after all, an hour late.”
“Well, you know the LA police,” Jake said wryly, “we’re always late.”
“What is it that you want?” Arlene cast him a jaundiced look. “Is it that business at the church?”
“You mean the potential murder of Cora Leeds business?” Jake parried sarcastically. “Let me begin our inquisition with the question ‘where were you both between nine and twelve pm this last Thursday night?”
“I was in my study, going over some papers,” William replied quickly. “Arlene was downstairs watching television.”
“Is that true ma’am?” Sam caught the expression on her face.
“Yes, yes, of course,” she nodded swiftly. “I believe it was a program on the History Yes, that’s what it was.” Channel.
“But I thought you elders had a meeting that night,” Jake eyed him gravely. “According to Dwight Higgins you were all supposed to convene at his house.”
“If you had taken notes properly,” William snarled exquisitely, “you’d know that I quit that crowd. Last Sunday was our last day as members of that church.”
Jake hadn’t yet heard about the quarrel following Adam’s last sermon that day. Suddenly it occurred to him that his attitude toward this man was influenced by the suspicion that he was a pedophile, not the fact that he was a suspect in the case. The fact that Breckenridge might have molested his own daughter, in spite of being cleared of past charges, had nothing to do with whether or not he murdered Cora Leeds. Since he had sensed from the beginning that Adam was the killer, all these interviews he and his squad must undertake, seemed tiresome—a complete waste of time…. And yet William and his wife might help him determine what kind of man was Adam Leeds. Was the reverend really capable of murder? What was his motive, other than the fact that she was a lush? These questions and several more flashed into Jake’s crowded head, as he phrased an introduction to his inquiry.
“Let me make things easy on you,” his gravely voice crackled, as the recorder droned. “I don’t think you’re a suspect Mister Breckenridge. I think the reverend murdered his wife. What I want from you is a character reference—good or bad—of Adam Leeds. Let me write down a few short questions. You can answer them any way you wish.”
After several moments, in which the sergeant printed a list, in his careful hand, William Breckenridge looked down at the small sheet of paper and gave his view of Adam Leeds.
“First of all,” he prefaced his statement, “I’ve always wanted what was best for Our Lord and Savior’s Independent Church. The previous pastor, Hugh Thomas, was my personal friend. But, after a year of following the guidelines left by Hugh, Reverend Adam Leeds’ message began to change. He introduced strange, philosophical ideas into his sermons, which, though appealing to some young folks, drove many of the old-timers in our church away—”
“Is this why you hated him?” Jake interrupted him softly. “Is that why many of you quit the church?”
“Yes, I hated him,” William Breckenridge admitted thoughtfully. “Mostly, I hated what he did to our church.”
“What about his wife, Cora,” Sam asked slyly. “Did you hate her too?”
“That’s a separate story,” frowned Arlene. “We can’t blame Adam for that.”
William now looked at the first question and shook his head. “I can’t believe, after all he went through, he’d suddenly murder his wife…. But if anyone had a motive, it was him. ”
“Adam’s the one, I’d kill,” Arlene offered bluntly. “He’s totally corrupted our church.”
“How very candid,” murmured Jake, as her hand fly to her mouth.
“We all felt that way briefly—Waterford, Royce, and myself,” William frowned at this wife. “After that cold wind blew through the church, we thought he was the spawn of Satan.”
Inexplicably, Jake felt a prickling at the back of his neck, as Breckenridge went on to explain the content of Adam’s last sermon: a veritable rewording of Norman Vincent Peale’s positive thinking—the catalyst that drove half of the remaining elders away. More important to Jake Cosgrove was the fact already learned from Detective Greer but given a different spin as it poured from William’s mouth. Cold wind… spawn of Satan, he rolled the expressions over in his thoughts. What a strange thing to say!
“According to Reverend Leeds brand of feel-good religion, Christianity was a philosophy like Zen or Yoga, in which the believer had merely to utilize a positive attitude toward life. He mentioned the word God only a few times during his sermon. It was as if his true nature had been fully realized that day. It seemed obvious, at last, that our pastor had crossed the line and was too imbued with new age enlightenment and positive thinking to preach the gospel in our church…”
William Breckenridge captured in his own cynical fashion the problem with Adam and the elders of his congregation. Whatever sins he withheld from the law, would have to wait for Judgment Day, Jake told himself, as he listened to William’s report. After leaving the Breckenridge household that evening, Jake assured Sam that they would spend only a short time with Todd Billingsley and his wife, but the sergeant knew that he must, at least on his own, talk to the other elders too. Sam and the other detectives in his squad looked upon this case as sleuths, as they questioned their informants and searched for facts, when, in fact, there was a greater picture or underlying meaning in it that stirred the old detectives quest for meaning in his life. His interest in the investigation, he reminded himself had nothing to do with the case. It was the same feeling Moses Rawlins, Wyatt Brewster, Jetta Carlson, Valentine Getz, Sid Barnes, and Randall Walker had… A distant drumming had begun in Jake’s soul. Had he clearly understood the motives of Walker and Barnes, he would have felt even more excited than he did now. With such a shallow foundation of Biblical understanding, he proceeded as he had always done, as a detective searching for facts, when, in fact, Jake Cosgrove was still searching for the truth.
Jake glanced at his watch, then looked sheepishly over at Sam as he drove them toward their next destination: Todd Billingsley and his wife. Already they were running late; it was almost four pm, when first squad’s watch would be officially over. Sam’s wife Linda seemed to lack the understanding of many police wives. Jake didn’t want to sow any more marital discord. Concerned also about intruding on the Billingsleys because they were running late, he told Sam to head back to the station.
“Don’t worry Sam,” he rubbed his jaw. “I’ll reschedule with the those folks. Tomorrow, if you don’t mind, I’d like to talk to some of those other churchman first. Dwight Higgins should’ve been the first one we talked to: he’s the chief elder of the church. I don’t think the first and second teams asked enough questions from the others. They won’t like it, but we’ll tell them that we need to do a follow-up on a few issues.”
“All right,” Sam sighed. “This is your show. But I heard you tell Breckenridge that you thought Adam killed his wife. What is the point of talking to those people if they’re not suspects in the case?”
“I need to get the inside dope on Leeds,” Jake replied, opening his laptop and checking his e-mails.
“Dope? I assume you don’t mean drugs; that’s an old Mickey Spillane word, isn’t it?” Sam laughed to himself.
“Yeah, I’m surprised you’d know that,” Jake nodded, as he read the first e-mail, “but he wrote fiction, Sammy. This ain’t fiction.” “Whoa, look at this!” He whistled under his breath, as Sam turned onto the freeway. “Randall Walker must’ve of read my mind. He ordered me to personally talk to the elders of Leeds’ church. I wonder if he knows we’ve being doing just that.”
“Oh, I think he knows,” replied Sam with a chuckle. “He wants you to handle the questions. Our people aren’t enthusiastic about this case, Jake. I have this strange feeling that Randall and Barnes are after something more in this investigation…. I wonder what it could be.”
“Me to,” murmured Jake as he continued reading his mail. “Putting my e-mail address on my business card maybe wasn’t such a good idea,” he muttered as he scanned numerous messages from contacts in LA. “Just look at the garbage in my inbox: complaints, nonsense, advertisements, and silly one-liners, like ‘Hey, Cos, why don’t you retire?’ ” “Looky here,” he cackled, “—this one sounds familiar…. ‘And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, with two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.’” “Hello!” His shaggy eyebrows shot up, as he recognized the next entry on the list. “This one’s from Dwight Higgins, chief elder of the church!”
As he was lulled by the road ahead Sam did a double take. Wagner’s Das Reinhold, rumbling softly from the radio, seemed appropriate now. Though not a collector of trivial facts as his partner, his memory was acute and he was insightful.
“What was that about a beast?” His head rotated to Jake. “Is that supposed to be Dade? Whose the dragon—Marie Roget?”
Looking up from his latest e-mail, Jake grunted, “That’s a good question, Sam. Someone seems to be warning me or giving me a clue.”
“But who would send a message like that, Jake? You think it was that old man?”
“Could be. He was talking about a beast.” He nodded at Sam. “All I have is a silly user name: Signs and Portents@gmail.com—no contact address or telephone number.”
He knew his partner shared his curiosity. The sergeant recalled the octogenarian on the street. With Sam’s intuitive questions, the timeliness of both his appearance and disappearance seemed more important now. Already the pieces to a puzzle that had little to do with a homicide or police work titillated his imagination. Sam, though a Roman Catholic, had listened abstractedly at times to Protestant televangelist on his radio at home, whose messages now carried a special urgency about the End Times.
In a font Jake had never seen before, Dwight wrote:
Dear Sergeant Cosgrove:
I suspect you’ll be paying me a visit, but I’ve taken the liberty to invite other like-minded elders and other members to my house, so that you’ll be able—what’s the expression? Oh, yes, “nab us all in one net.” We, the elders left in the congregation, are concerned about the welfare of our pastor and the future of our church. Please call me to let me know when you’ll be dropping by, so I can arrange for the others to be there
Yours Truly, Dwight Higgins
“Will that solves a logistical problem,” Jake grinned at the laptop. “I’m beginning to like that Dwight fellow; he just made our job a lot easier. The whole gangs coming tomorrow, including, I hope, Todd Billingsley who I assigned to us.”
“Good, we should be able to wrap this up soon and get on to real police business, ” Sam said wryly, glancing down at the screen. “…. Jake.” He frowned with concern. “What’re we getting ourselves into?”
“Oh, I dunno,” Jake tried sounding cavalier, “police work… adventure… maybe just illumination.”
The irrational excitement he felt leaving the Breckenridge residence had been magnified greatly by his partner’s questions and the up coming encounter at Dwight Higgins home, as he tried to fathom what this might mean. Where these men he’d meet tomorrow advocates or detractors of the late Adam Leeds? Would they paint a dark picture of their pastor or attempt to defend him against the accusations of the elders who quit the church?… Apart from detective routine, however, what was really at the bottom of this case?… Was it really Adam Leeds, the pastor… or Salem Dade, the counterfeit Christ?
After a delayed reaction, in which he pondered upon the two men, he finished his train of thought for Sam, inhaling and exhaling deeply as he searched for words and meaning in this case.
“All I know,” he murmured, looking beyond the road ahead, “is that this is important…. Its going to make sense to us, I think—but all at once, as if we just solved a big case, yet not this case, not Cora Leeds or some other homicide uptown… but something so incredible, it’ll be the biggest case of our lives. I have this feeling since we arrived at that burnt out house that I’m never going to be the same.” “I’m sorry Sammy,” he looked around at his partner, “but I think you won’t either…. You have the insight, the curiosity. Like it or not, you’ve been thinking a lot about this too.”
When Jake and Sam arrived at Dwight Higgin’s residence in Los Angeles the following morning, they were surprised to find him living alone as a widower in a modest apartment overlooking a main boulevard in the most congested part of town. Waterford, Breckenridge, and Royce all lived in palatial Brentwood estates, but here the chief elder—the most respectable man in his congregation—resided in a humble two bedroom abode. Directly at the top of the staircase, he greeted them most informally, wearing a western shirt and pair of Levis, a Pepsi clutched in one hand. Behind Dwight, also dressed informally and, holding cans of soda, themselves, stood the remnant of the elders of Our Lord and Savior’s Independent Christian Church. Almost immediately, after the detectives entered the room, Dwight officially introduced himself and then presented the other members in the room. Unlike the cold response he and Sam received at the Breckenridge’s home, they were given firm handshakes by Philip Lindley and Ian MacCallum, while the elders’ wives, Nancy and Brenda, respectively, reached out more daintily sporting warm, matronly smiles. Todd and Tina Billingsley, who seemed like munchkins in this group, also came forward, shaking the detectives’ hands jerkily at the same time.
Another couple, not quite as friendly as the others, and two young women, who looked out of place in this group, were motioned by Dwight to stand up and be counted as they hung back in the room.
“This bashful fellow is Timothy and his wife Ruth Tyler, who walked out last Sunday.” He motioned amiably to the pair. “Over here are two young ladies, Amy Sullivan and Jolene Frick, who also quit the church…. I invited other regular members, but most folks are shy around the police. ”
“Thank you Mister Higgins,” Jake shook his hand cordially. “So tell me, Amy,” he looked down at the freckle-faced girl, “why’d you quit?”
“Reverend Leeds stopped preaching the Gospel,” she answered bluntly.
“Reverend Leeds is an apostate,” Dwight said, taking a long swig from his can.
“Now Dwight,” Philip Lindley reached out and patted the older man’s arm. “You were in Adam’s court until you heard about that fire. There could be a logical reason for this disaster.”
“Oh yeah,” challenged Amy, “how do you explain the brimstone?”
“You fellows are in denial. It wasn’t a natural fire; it was supernatural,” Dwight’s voice rose querulously. “Our church never delved into eschatology, but the Lord has spoken. The smell of brimstone, reported on the news, should tell us that!”
Ian MacCallum and Todd Billingsley agreed, in muted conversation, with Philip Lindley, while Amy Sullivan looked up at the old elder with newfound respect. The old man and the young woman gave each other knowing looks, as Jolene clung timidly to her outspoken friend.
In defense of his suspicions, Dwight reminded them all of the arctic wind passing through the chapel. As he explained this phenomenon, Jake’s mouth dropped progressively. He felt that familiar prickling at the back of his neck. Sam whispered discreetly to Jake, “What’s eschatology? What does this all this mean?”
“From what I’ve picked up on the web,” Jake murmured from the corner of his mouth. “It’s got something to with doomsday prophecy and the end of the world.”
“Oh yeah, I heard that on the Trinity Network,” Sam nodded, reaching down into a tray Brenda MacCallum offered him filled with ouer d’ouevres, “The countdown to Judgment day: the goats versus the sheep.”
“Nicely put,” chortled Dwight.
In the ice chest sitting in the middle of the room there was not merely soft drinks but silver and gold cans of beer: Millers and Coors Light. Jake knew it was against policy, but a frosty Coors sounded good right now. He made a mental note to get himself blitzed if his investigation turned sour. For the time being, with the amenities waning, he concentrated on the line of questioning he should use. Should he be direct or indirect? What if he just came straight to the point? Deftly, without Sam seeing, he reached in and activated his recorder, pulling out his pen and notepad from the other pocket inside his coat.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he called out cheerily, “you’ve been very kind to detective Ruiz and I, but I need to ask you all a few questions.”
Ian MacCallum, he noticed, had shifted to beer, as had several other members of the group. Evidently, he told himself, there were no proscriptions in their church against drinking alcohol. Once again the thought came to him that this was a dysfunctional church…. So why not have a beer?
“Have any of you had any communications with Adam Leeds and his wife since the fire?” He called out to the group.
“No,” they replied collectively, shaking their heads.
“I had a nightmare about him,” Jolene blinked her powder blue eyes.
Jake looked around severely this time. “Have any of you heard the reverend in anyway threaten his wife?”
“Never,” most of them mumbled amongst themselves.
“If anybody,” remarked Tina Billingsley, “she threatened him!”
“Why do you say that,” Jake looked down at the diminutive woman, who was holding a can of beer.
“She acted up really bad during the service. She was a drunk and once puked in church,” Tina replied with a shrug.
“I heard about that.” Jake opened his notepad and read his notes. “That’s old news, ma’am. What about last Sunday? According to Mister and Misses Waterford, a cold wind blew through your church. How do you explain that?”
“I missed that one,” Amy sighed.
“It was a sign from the Lord,” Leona Bliss appeared suddenly in the room.
Dwight immediately introduced the tardy member and offered her a drink. Lorna selected a beer, popped the lid, and took a long draught.
“I dearly love Adam Leeds,” she confessed with a belch. “I hope he returns soon.”
“We all do,” Dwight replied dubiously. “He was our pastor, but these detectives think there’s been foul play.”
“That’s correct, isn’t it Sergeant Cosgrove?” Philip came forward now. “You do suspect
homicide, do you not?”
“Yes, I suspect homicide,” he said almost to himself, “but we’re investigating the
possibility that he killed his wife.”
“Surely you’re not serious,” blurted Leona glancing wild-eyed for support around the
“Well, it’s a might wee bit strange lassy,” called Ian from across the room. “Neither of
them shows up after a mysterious fire. Frankly, I think they was both snuffed.”
Jake glanced again at his notepad, looking out dreamily at the Los Angeles panorama outside the living room window. “What sort’ve minister was this Adam before he went over the deep end. Was he always a maverick at your church?”
“No always,” confessed Dwight. “After he replaced Hugh Thomas, he gave us conventional sermons before all that feel-good, psycho-babble crept in. He was a great speaker. We steered him back to center for awhile, but last Sunday he crossed the line.”
“How so?” Sam asked this time.
Amy stepped forward boldly now, with an internet printout in her small hands. Jake and Sam took turns reading the yellow highlighted areas of text that seemed to indicate that Norman Vincent Peale believed in Shintoism instead of Christianity and frowned.
“So,” muttered the sergeant, “… the pastor was caught up in new age mumbo jumbo—so what? I read all about that on the web, but that doesn’t make him a murderer.”
“It makes him an apostate,” Amy looked for support over at Dwight.
Surprisingly enough, Timothy and Ruth Tyler, who seemed like such introverts, suddenly came alive, charging hand in hand across the room.
“I may not agree with Waterford’s highhandedness,” Timothy declared loudly, “but I don’t blame he and the others for leaving the church. We left too. Unless we find us another minister soon, the congregation left to us by Reverend Hugh Thomas will evaporate into nothing!”
“So if he came back now, you people would probably vote him out,” Jake looked around at them appraisingly.
“No, we’d give him a hearing,” Dwight shook his head. “I’m very disturbed about what I’ve heard from my friends on the force, but I’ve always thought Adam had potential. Something made him even worse—his wife, but also what we see as a liberal interpretation of the scriptures that has lead him to philosophy and new age thought.”
Jake was certain that none of the members of the congregation of Our Lord and Savior’s Independent Christian Church had a strong enough motive to kill Adam and his wife and remained convinced, more than ever, that Adam Leeds had done the deed. This meeting, as had been the interviews with the disaffected elders of the church, was a routine step in this case. But the one person that seemed to dwarf all the others in culpability was not even considered a suspect in this case:… Salem Dade. Were his instincts correct? Did that counterfeit Christ fit into this scheme?
As the group chatted with each other about their own theories regarding Adam’s behavior, he found Dwight edging in closer and closer to him, as if he wanted to whisper something into his ear. The sensation made Jake feel uncomfortable, and he moved away without looking back, heading toward the ice chest on the floor. At that moment, quite unrelated to this event, Ian placed a cold can of beer in his hand.
“Go ahead laddy, take a swig,” he nudged the sergeant. “We won’t tell. What’s one beer?”
“Can’t,” Jake shoved it back irritably. “Listen,” he whispered to Dwight, “have you heard about Salem Dade—that Jesus look-a-like on skid row?”
“Yes,” Dwight nodded, frowning at the Scot, “my friend Sid Barnes told me about him. He thinks he’s a false prophet. I’m not so convinced. Why would he start in skid row?”
“Is that all he told you?” Jake’s voice was barely a murmur. “Did he mention the woman, Marie Roget?”
“No.” Dwight sighed. “He didn’t mention a woman, but he thinks there’s a connection between Dade and Leeds.” “I’m not so sure.” The elder glanced around self-consciously. “Please explain to me, why would Adam wind up down there?”
Dwight began talking about how the members of the church had, themselves, been corrupted by new age thought since Adam replaced Hugh. He and members such as Amy Sullivan had stayed on, hoping that the old format would return, but it only got worse sense Reverend Leeds took control. Jake felt strangely moved as he listened to this good man. Though he was ambivalent about this subject, Dwight had, in effect, told him that he was not the only one making a connection between Dade and Leeds. There were others. Adam Leeds had, in many of their minds, destroyed their church. Despite these revelations, Jake sensed that he, himself, still had the deepest insight about Salem Dade. The others did not yet know about Marie. Given the environs of Salem, they would also not admit that he and Adam were the same man. That familiar excitement he felt earlier overwhelmed him, squeezing the breath from his lungs. For a moment, as he listened to Dwight Higgins, he felt light-headed, as intangible bits of revelation swam in his mind. He knew that he had to pay Salem Dade and Marie a visit at the Fairmont Hotel, if for nothing else but to convince himself of his hunch—absolutely, once and for all.
He sensed that Salem and Marie had used some form of mind control on their group: hypnosis or simply drugs that day. He was aware, in the greater picture, of a meaning far more important than a pastor corrupting his church. He wouldn’t allow himself yet to see a supernatural power emanating from Salem and Marie, but the thought that others had already begun to see patterns and connections in the case filled him with both animation… and dread. He would be, as he had been in the army, the point man—the first to touch—what did the old preacher call it?… the beast.