Back in Sedona after sleeping in late recovering from the previous night’s activities, Zeta was talking to Aakifah after breakfast about lab equipment deliveries. She handed Zeta a copy of a purchase order placed by Mr. Justus Marcus for one Takahashi FET-200 Fluorite ED Triplet telescope on an EM-3500 mount, price $167,450.00 and another purchase order with Dome Observatories Inc. to build a custom dome to the specifications of Ms. Zeta Barrington. “Justus wanted me to give you these and mention you can modify the telescope and observatory dome orders in any way you choose, just contact the manufacturer’s representative listed on each order, they’re expecting to hear from you.”
Zeta was speechless. “Oh how I love that mutated SOG,” she said to herself. “This is wonderful, just wonderful Aakifah, thank you, I’ll call them today. And how is everything going with you?”
“Oh, just fine Zeta. My responsibilities as Mr. Marcus’ executive assistant keep me very busy, and I’m glad the lab equipment shipments are just about complete. He always requests that I call him Justus but I knew him as Mr. Marcus for so long in Morocco that I tend to revert.” Triton walked into the room with his usual regal stride and noble appearance. Zeta knelt down, and they greeted each other warmly.
“Remember Aakifah, I’ll help you with anything you need Aakifah with the lab.”
“Oh, thank you. The construction is progressing nicely, and the contractor is confident of completion on schedule. Zeta, there’s something I want to share with you. Mr. Marcus, Justus, has told me I can be open and to trust you completely.”
“Sure, whatever you want Aakifah. I’m extremely flattered and humbled he would say that.”
“Well, Justus is very generous with his finances.”
“Yes, I have noticed that.”
“For instance, today I’m making payments with online banking to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Shriner’s Hospital for Children, Children’s Charities of America, Boys and Girls Club of America, YMCA, Alzheimer’s Foundation, American Cancer Society, Navajo Relief Fund. And see, the list goes on, look how long the list is.”
“Why that’s wonderful. He’s quite the philanthropist,” Zeta praised feeling her heart swell with love for this guy with the great pitching arm.
“Yes, it is wonderful, I’m just concerned if it’s feasible. He does this every month. It’s several million dollars and the account goes down and then eventually money comes into the account again, but I wonder if he can keep this up.”
“I see what you mean. Well, I don’t know a great deal about Justus’s finances but I do know he does possess an exceptional and unusual skill set for acquiring and maintaining assets, so I don’t think you need to worry at all.”
“Thank you, that’s a great relief Zeta. I guess it’s just that in London and Morocco I saw so many high rollers crash and burn, that I’m worrying needlessly. Oh, and Justus is out with Chief Hartley and said he’d be back later this afternoon.”
Zeta sat down on the living room couch sipping a glass of ice tea and called her mother. “Hi Mom, how’s everything going?”
Zeta was glad to hear a more positive tone in her mother’s voice as she talked about Mark doing great and that he’d started jogging on the new spring running prosthetic Zeta had bought for him. “I think I might run faster on two springs,” Mark joked with his parents. Then Zeta’s Dad talked to her for a few minutes and said the weather there was good, but a little more chilly than normal, and he was looking forward to summer and fishing on the pier and taking a charter fishing trip off Mexico for some big Albacore and Yellow Tail Tuna. Zeta remembered some trips she’d gone on and what a battle it was landing a big tuna, and what a great meal the fresh filet was.
Then her Mom got back on the phone and told her Father Blasucci from St. Brigid Church in Pacific Beach had been stopping by regularly to visit. “Oh, I always liked him,” Zeta said. “Such a good and dedicated priest.”
“He always knew your Dad wasn’t much of a believer, and it never seemed to bother him. I just up and told him the last time he was here that I didn’t believe anymore. I just flat out told him the truth. I felt I should be honest with him. He’s such a down to earth man who is dedicated to helping people with their problems. You know what he said to me, do you know what he said to me Zeta?”
“What did he say, Mom?”
“He said oh Mrs. Conner, that doesn’t matter. Pope Francis just said to the whole world that an atheist would go to heaven if they do good and live a life doing good works.”
“I nearly fell off my chair, but I told him I think our heaven and hell are right here on Earth. You’re Dad who was only half listening said what did you just say, Father? Well, Father Blasucci repeated what he’d said again. We continued talking about some other things, and we had some warm apple strudels that I’d just made, with vanilla ice cream. He had two strudels. I tell you Zeta that man can eat. I don’t know how he stays so thin. ”
“He’s still young, fit, and has a high metabolism, Mom. That must have been a real unexpected response from him, about you being an apostate now. I’m sure if you told Father Murphy he’d have set up an excommunication proceeding and tried to burn you at the stake,” Zeta quipped. “Father Murphy was always one mean priest.”
“Oh I know, nobody likes Murphy, he’s a miserable old bastard. Still chain smokes and loves his scotch. I don’t know why the Bishop hasn’t shipped him out of the Parish. Anyway, just as soon as Father Blasucci left I Googled Pope Francis atheists, and sure enough Father Blasucci was telling the truth. There it was in the news back in September.”
“Maybe that could be considered some progress. Evolving from Inquisitional burning atheists at the stake, to declaring atheists can go to heaven.”
“Well, now your Dad can keep having his Sundays free, which he loves, and go to heaven too. It’s a win-win deal for him Zeta,” Mrs. Conners laughed.
They talked a while more and then “I love you, Mom and Dad.” “We love you too,” ended the conversation.
When Justus returned, he was greeted at the front door by a very loving Zeta. “I don’t know if Santa came late, or early, but I have some copies of orders for some nice toys any astronomer, especially one whose name starts with a Z, would appreciate,” as she wrapped her arms around Justus and gave him a big thank you kiss. “You can’t buy me Justus, but you’re sure welcome to try.” Justus laughed and said, “How would you like to take a quick trip over to St. Michael’s Arizona on the Navajo Indian Reservation?”
“Today, today, where, how far?”
“We don’t need to leave for a couple of hours. Charter jet will have us there in about half an hour. It’s only 200 miles from here. We land in nearby Window Rock and drive just a few miles to St. Michaels School. Aakifah can give you the background story,” Justus said as he kissed Zeta and then ran up the staircase.
Zeta went into the office off of the great room where Aakifah was working and asked, “Aakifah, can you please fill me in on whatever Saint Michaels is?”
“Certainly, Sometime ago Justus…”
“Excuse me, but is Justus always going here, going there, coming back, leaving again? I need to know.”
“No this is not normal for him. If things continue going at this current pace, that would be a new normal.”
“Unless. Just great. Unless. Oh well, continue about Saint Michaels.”
“Justus was on an outing, he calls some of his trips outings, I don’t know why. And he always likes to deliver his contribution in person, and I don’t know why.”
“Yes, I’m a familiar with him mentioning an outing.”
“Somehow he met a nun at Saint Michaels Mission Indian School for Navajos, and adopted the school as one of his philanthropist causes.” Aakifah took a brochure out of a desk drawer and handed it to Zeta. She read to herself, “Saint Michaels Mission School comprises grades K through 12 with a current enrollment of 252 primarily Navajo Native American students. The school provides students with a high-quality education and is sensitive to their Native heritage. Construction of the Mission began in 1896 using financing from Rev. Mother Katharine Drexel, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.”
Aakifah continued, “The brochure doesn’t tell the whole story. The Gallup New Mexico Diocese that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy several years ago included Saint Michaels. The bankruptcy was caused by a henious pedophile priest scandal that included Saint Michaels. The Diocese Bishop was also involved in the cover-up.”
“That’s just terrible Aakifah,” Zeta said.
“I know it hurt a lot of people. Now I hope you understand why I was so worried about the monthly financial expenditures. I thought he might be trying to save the entire bankrupt Diocese.”
“I understand, and I’m so glad I could relieve your concern.”
“There’s much I don’t know or understand about Mr. Marcus, but I do know he saved my life. There is something mysterious about him, but he’s a very good and honest person.”
“I can assure you Aakifah he’s not a criminal, a lawyer, politician, or a Wall Street crook.”
“You know after what I went through with my husband in Morocco, I completely doubted my ability to make sound judgments about people, especially men.”
“No need to feel alone in that regard, I had a bit of a rough time myself, but he’s out of the picture now, off the shelf. I think sometimes we women have to learn some things by painful trial and error, especially with men.”
“Oh, that’s so true. When I studied the history of civilization, it became apparent to me that the road of history is paved with bricks of dried human blood. And in my short life Zeta, I’ve experienced firsthand that people can be wonderful and amazing or disgusting and despicable, and I believe Mr. Marcus is the former.”
“Yes, he seems to be. I’ve always been curious about the mysterious, even when I was a kid,” Zeta replied with an intriguing look.
Justus returned in the late afternoon and said Hartley had updated him on Alpha Vee activity in the area. On the way to the airport, Justus told Zeta the Alphas were still most active around the most famous vortexes, Boynton Canyon Vortex, Cathedral Rock Vortex, Airport Vortex and the Bell Rock Vortex. There were also reports of unexplainable livestock mutilations. Hartley also said the female investigator was getting closer to gathering intelligence about who was behind the Phoenix XNA lab.
“My charter pilot has an Eclipse 500 that seats five plus the pilot and cruises at over 400 miles per hour. We should touchdown at Window Rock Airport in close to a half hour.” Zeta felt like a jet setter again when the powerful jet thrust pushed her back into her seat as the plane shot down the runway and became airborne, flying out over the pristine red rock and green forest scenery east of Sedona.
It was a fast thirty minutes and upon landing they were taken by a mini-van to the School. “Reverend Mother O’Leary is looking forward to seeing you again Mr. Marcus,” the sprite elderly Navajo driver said as they drove away from the airport on the short 3-mile trip. “I’ve been doing volunteer work for the school this year he added. We need many volunteers since the Diocese declared bankruptcy.”
With no traffic to deal with in the town of less than 3000, they arrived at the school in just a few minutes. “What a beautiful school facility,” Zeta said as the buildings came in sight. There were several large two and three story brick buildings with red tile roofs. Cars were parked outside the student chapel, and the program featuring winners of a poetry contest and the school choir singing was just beginning. “This reminds me of my catechism days,” Zeta whispered as they found an empty pew.
On the chapel wall near the pew was a large oil portrait of a nun wearing the traditional habit, with three Navajo children. It was an exquisite oil painting, and Zeta could see the artist’s signature and a date of 1896. There was a small engraved plate on the bottom of the ornate gold frame that said, “Reverend Mother Drexel.”
The program lasted forty-five minutes, and Zeta was impressed with the singing and the quality of the poetry that was replete with Navajo imagery and nature metaphors. Zeta was transported back to a time before white men ever set foot in the Window Rock area, while a beautiful sophomore girl, with long raven black hair and exquisite brown eyes, captured Zeta’s rapt attention when she recited her poem,
Great Spirit Soaring Eagle
Creates star spirits
The human spirits
The tree spirits
All would be
The Great Spirit
Zeta thought to herself, “Spirits, entities, everything, desire more knowledge and power.” Each word the girl spoke became an elegant sacred bird that flew from the Navajo beauty’s lips. Her voice was the sound of another time, a distant world, now heard in this place. “Is this my imagination?” Zeta wondered gazing at each flying feathered word.
“Justus, I see words.”
“That’s ok, it’s fine, relax and enjoy your enhanced sight and sound.”
A nun thanked those in attendance and ended the program with a prayer. As they were leaving their pew a cheerful voice said, “Justus Marcus, there you are, a sight for these eyes.” It was the Reverend Mother O’Leary coming from the back of the chapel. She greeted Justus, and he introduced Zeta. “Oh, it’s so good to see you, both of you. I hope you’re going to stay for dinner. We have spaghetti al dente with the most delicious rich herb Italian sauce, garlic rolls to dip in spicy virgin olive oil, and a fresh tossed salad.” “Yes, we are staying and have an appetite to match your inviting entree. You’ve made my mouth water just hearing the menu,” Justus replied.
The evening’s program was for high school students and their parents, relatives, and friends. The cafeteria reverberated with the clatter and chatter of a good time with good food. The food was vanishing fast from the buffet. Reverend Mother O’Leary was going around visiting with various students and parents. “Zeta, did you have a headache after the night vision experience on Wizard Island?” Justus asked.
“No, nothing. I felt fine.”
“Then you may have a permanent residual effect. Shut your eyes, then open them just a little and blink three times in rapid succession.”
“Now, here?” Zeta asked coughing on some food. “I’m eating, this sauce and garlic bread are delicious,”
“Yes, here now. Please finish your bite, drink some water and give it a try.”
“Don’t tell me. This place is full of SOG’s?”
“No, no, just give it a try.”
Zeta chewed and swallowed then drank some water. Then she did the night vision routine, this time blinking three times. “Oh my god!” she thought she said just loud enough for only Justus to hear, but a little girl with a look of consternation on her face was sitting nearby and quickly tapped her mother’s shoulder saying, “Mommy, Mommy that lady is swearing!” Zeta looked away embarrassed, and as she did, she noticed something different with her vision.
The room appeared darker, and it was harder to distinguish people’s facial features. Then she was abruptly startled. Reverend Mother O’Leary was a couple of tables away talking to a student, and she was glowing with a light jade green radiance about her.
On and above her head Zeta saw a bright iridescent halo. “Holy shit,” she said only to herself this time, “Maybe those pre-renaissance religious artists didn’t just make up the halos they painted.” She rubbed her eyes and looked again and there was clearly a circular aureole ring of light surrounding the Reverend Mother’s head.
“Justus, I think somebody may have put something, something like LSD or peyote in this spaghetti sauce. I saw that girl’s words, and now the Reverend Mother looks like, like a pre-renaissance oil painting.”
“You saw those words before the spaghetti sauce. Just enjoy your new extended vision. You can turn it off if you want, just close your eyes tightly for at least 3 seconds.”
As everyone finished eating, the group started leaving the cafeteria. Justus and Zeta went outside and walked a short distance up a hill enjoying the crisp, fresh air. Shortly after they were joined by Mother Reverend O’Leary who, by her apparel, was not obviously a nun. She ceased wearing the habit after Vatican II and tonight she was dressed in a warm blue skirt, sweater, and a white blazer jacket. With her glow and aureole light surrounding her head, she was like a lightning bug in the night that only Justus and Zeta could see.
She chatted with Justus about the students and the school and then he gave her an envelope. She said, “Thank you so much and God bless you, Justus.” They walked her back to the student dormitory and said goodbye.
Walking away from the dormitory Zeta said, “You know that oil portrait of the nun and children on the chapel wall Justus?”
“Yes, it’s a beautiful, priceless piece.”
“Did you notice the striking resemblance of the young nun in the portrait dated 1896 to Reverend Mother O’Leary?
Justus paused a moment, then said, “Zeta, the young sister in the portrait is Reverend Mother O’Leary.”
On the way back to the airport riding with their good-humored Navajo chauffeur he asked, “Did you folks have an enjoyable time at the school tonight?’
“Oh yes, we sure did,” Zeta answered.
“You mind if I listen to some country music?” he asked.
“Not at all,” Justus answered, “We might even have you stop the van so we can get out and do some two-stepping.”
The chauffeur laughed and said genially “Why you’re ok buddy, right darn ok.”
Riding in the back of the minivan and with the country music playing Zeta knew they could talk privately and asked, “So how did you and the Reverend Mother get acquainted?”
“We go way back, way back?”
“Oh let me guess, she’s a good entity, a good angel from back in the First Estate, transmuted here?”
“Splendid Zeta, she founded the school and after thirty years left to do something else, but a few years ago that horrible pedophile priest scandal hit the Gallup New Mexico diocese. It involved six counties in New Mexico, three in Arizona, and seven Native American reservations. Initial lawsuits in 2013 outlined the sexual abuse of these native children by six priests that occurred from 1942 to 1977, but the sexual violence even continued into the 1990s.
“That’s just sickening.”
“And as in other dioceses in America, the diocese was also charged with a cover-up. They knew the priests were sexual criminals and just moved them around. Most of the crimes took place in Flagstaff, Winslow, Holbrook, and the Verde Valley. The Gallup New Mexico diocese became the 9th diocese in the United States to file for bankruptcy as a result of the lawsuits.”
“So how did this involve you and the Mother Reverend?”
“She knew about a priest in this area that for years had, and still was, molesting young boys and there just wasn’t anyone willing to come forward and testify against him, so she contacted me. He was very effective when terrorizing his victims about what would happen to them if they ever said anything to anyone.”
“Contacted you by cell phone?”
“So if I get the gist of things, you First Estate types can communicate in, well, unusual ways.”
“Yes, we can, in the gamma-ray range of the electromagnetic spectrum.”
“Hmmm,” that’s impressive. “So what about the scum bag priest.”
“Zeta, you know there are good forces and evil forces everywhere, and the most evil of the evil masquerade as good so they can prey on the most helpless and vulnerable.”
“And I had no problem with introducing that scum bag to Triton. The priest had a regular habit of taking a nightly walk out in the desert where he lived. We followed him and then Triton gave a growl that scared the priest ghostly white, and he took off running. Triton just stayed on the priest’s heels nipping his legs bloody as he ran several miles and then finally collapsed exhausted. I looked at him and said, ‘This is for the kids.’”
“Triton then silenced the terrorized priest by ripping off his genitals and tearing open his abdomen. I just kept repeating to him, ‘This is for the boys.’” Then Triton injected dissolving saliva with tearing bites to the writhing priest’s buttocks, arms, and face.
“There were no last rites for the vile cleric when his body went into tremors and seizures. He screamed while he was dying from loss of blood and shock. I took his clothes, shoes, and socks off, and went to Window Rock and tossed them in the McDonalds dumpster. His disgusting body was left to dissolve away. It wasn’t complete payback justice for what he did, but it was at least something. Better than free room and board paid for by taxpayers.”
“So just another outing with the standard protocol?” Zeta asked, and gave him a hug and kiss then said, “Justus, you’re my kind of guy, and on behalf of those kids, I thank you, I’ll thank you again, when we get back home.”