Barker had to wade through the gathering crowd. He was almost shocked no riots had started. Usually, by now the church doors would be swung open. The Priest would ramble about some nonsense. Then the gates would be opened to those whose pockets ran deepest.
Instead, the white doors stood closed. The white building vacant; aside from one scared Priest. Barker parted another small group.
They didn’t bother with him. Their attention was on those doors. Rumblings were starting in small pockets, but mostly it was a calm wait.
Barker moved up the stairs and into the smallest section of the crowd. Here the crowd started to push back. This would be the section of individuals who had paid to enter. Barker pushed them back, flashing his detective star.
Some saw the badge and moved. Other’s grumbled and stood their ground. Barker didn’t care about their protest. He pushed on the handle of the church. It was locked from the inside. He pounded on the door with his paw.
“Open up, Tiam! This is Detective Barker.” The crowd behind waited with baited breath. “Tiam, I need to speak with you now…” the door began to open. Tiam stood with stress apparent upon his face.
“Hurry in, detective,” he said, not bothering to look at the growing crowd. Barker threw his paw into the air. “All will be explained soon,” he announced and moved into the depths of the chapel.
“Have you found the gem?” the Priest looked disheveled. Barker thumbed his collar. “You have a nice home, Tiam,” he said moving towards the golden lined pews.
“Excuse me?” the Priest said. Barker turned, running his paw across the backing.
“Oh, I was just commenting on your living residence.” Tiam looked confused.
“I am not sure why you are talking about my home detective?” he said, rightly confused. Barker nodded. He then reached into his pocket pulling out a small, folded paper.
“I took a trip out to your neighborhood. It is a nice place. Good neighbors, I assume?” he said, flipping the paper into his other paw. Tiam’s eyes followed the paper.
“The neighbors are fine, yes. I am not sure what this has to do with the Water Lily?” he said. Barker closed his hands around the paper.
“The doctrine of the Water Lily church does not allow for marriage by a Priest, correct?” Barker asked. Tiam nodded his answer. “I thought as much. It also does not allow for relationships, correct?” again, Tiam nodded. “I see, and yet, I found something quite interesting in your residence.”
Barker paused and opened his hand again. Tiam’s face looked even more stressed. “How does your congression feel about same-sex relationships?” Barker asked. Tiam didn’t answer. “You see, I am for them. I say to each their own. If one loves another, then love away.” Barker fiddled around with the paper again.
Tiam was silent. His eyes glued to the paper in Barker’s hands. “The people outside, do they feel the same?” Barker asked. He started to unfold the item in his hand. He could tell by the look in Tiam’s eyes, that he recognized the writing.
“I do not know how you got that, but this is my personal property,” Tiam said, his paw rising to grab the paper. Barker refolded the paper and placed it in his pocket.
“I thought as much. Now the way I see this situation concluding is one of two ways.” Barker relaxed his shoulders and leaned against the pew.
“The first way and I do prefer this. The first is you go silently with me. You admit to stealing the gem. You go away into protective care. You live your days out in some remote location.” Barker tapped his pocket. “Or two, and really this is gruesome. I walk out those doors and convince a thousand people you stole the gem. Because I don’t need anything more.” He patted his pocket again. “A foreign Priest, with a foreign lover; it is basic work. The crowd will be able to place the evidence together on their own.”
Tiam shook his head. “I didn’t do it.” He said. Barker shrugged his shoulders. “No one ever does.” He said. Tiam adamantly shook his head. “They will believe I didn’t do it!” he was bordering hysterical.
Barker patted his pocket again. “I am afraid not Tiam. People are very unforgiving. Better to count your losses. I’ll tell you what. You go in quietly I will even let the brown cat walk free. No one will be the wiser of your relationship.” Tiam stopped his head shaking.
“You will keep silent about him?” Barker shrugged. “I can do at least that.” Tiam paused a moment. Barker pushed off from the pew. “We can go through the back way. I am sure you will be wanting to avoid the crowd.”
A few minutes under the twenty that Barker had asked for, Tiam the cat walked through the back door of the church. Waiting outside was detective Psitticus with a look of shock on his face. Barker passed the cat to the bird. “You will find him very open to questioning,” Barker said. Psitticus nodded and took the cat.
“Remember your promise, detective.” The cat said. Psitticus paused. “Promise?” he asked. Barker shrugged and turned away. “I will calm the crowd. Move them on their way.” He said. Then he turned into the rays of the sun, walking back towards the front of the church.
The Canes Files