The Rectory, residence of the Rev. Peter Alcuin, stood a block north of St. Halistan’s on Alta Drive. It was a small two-bedroom house in half-timbered English Tudor style, with a steeply sloping roof of uneven shingles, a quaint chimney of black and yellow stone, a low six-paned picture window facing the street, and a covered porch built on the pattern of a London Beefeater’s sentry box. For reasons neither Rev. Alcuin nor anyone could explain, this humble building had been left completely unscathed by the earthquake that leveled the church tower and opened the gaping holes in the pavement on Iglesia Street.
Nothing could have offered a more striking contrast with Rev. Alcuin’s office at the church than the interior of this neat little dwelling. Morgan had always wondered how both places could possibly belong to the same man. He wondered again as Peter opened the front door and escorted him into the house on Monday afternoon.
The living room was as immaculate as it was snug and homey. Everything in it, from the maroon tweed sofa to the mahogany end-tables to the crystal and porcelain ornaments lining the knick-knack shelves, was spotless and shining. There was a comfortable fire burning on the red brick hearth. The beveled mirror above the mantel-piece was polished to bright perfection. Matching glass-covered book cases stood like sentries on either side of the room, and two high-backed easy chairs covered in dark green twill faced one another across the fireplace. Rev. Alcuin conducted Morgan to one of these seats before occupying the other himself.
“They told me you’d be here,” said Morgan, dropping his backpack between his feet. “I know Monday is your day off, and I’m really sorry to bother you again. But I just had to come as soon as school let out.”
Peter rested an elbow on each arm of the chair, put his fingertips together, and smiled. “Always glad to see you, Morgan. What’s on your mind today?”
“A couple of things. Any news about Eny?”
The Reverend’s smile faded. “I’m afraid not. I’ve been in constant contact with George and Moira. They call me almost hourly. But nothing’s turned up yet. The police didn’t even issue a Missing Person Report until Saturday afternoon.”
“Standard procedure. At least that’s what they said. But you know George. He’s like a bulldog when it comes to protecting his little mija. He won’t give up until he’s got the FBI on the case.”
“She’s frantic—as I’m sure you can imagine. Keeps talking about the black crow and the Morrigu and the Sidhe.” Peter paused and stared pensively out the window.
“What do you think, Reverend?” asked Morgan. “Do you suppose she’s right?”
“I don’t know, Morgan,” said Rev. Alcuin, shaking his head sadly. “All I know is that we’ve got to pray. And keep on praying. Pray without ceasing.”
“That’s what my mom says.”
“Yes.” Peter turned and looked Morgan straight in the eye. “We’ve seen a lot of strange things around here lately. I believe in God, so I guess I shouldn’t have any trouble believing in the supernatural. But I’ll admit that the events of the past few months have thrown me for a loop. I’m new to this kind of thing. At this point, my mind is open.”
“In that case,” said Morgan, unzipping his backpack, “you may be interested in hearing the second thing I have to say.” He paused; then, leaning forward in his chair, he said, “I’ve found something.”
(To be continued …)