K is for Father Kirsten Who Knew Quite A Bit - #A2Z2018
Mat woke up with a start to the ringing of the alarm clock by his bedside at 5.30 AM. He had been dreaming about his daughter-in-law Lata. She had been kneeling in front of him with tears flowing down her cheeks. She was pleading with him, "Forgive me, uncle, for taking your son away from you. But please, please, save Lachchu!" Mat remembered the day Richard had brought her home to his house after a registered marriage. He had refused to even look at her. He was angry with her because she had refused to convert to Christianity. That day she had knelt in front of him and said the same thing. But at that time she had not mentioned anything about Lachchu.
Mat jumped off his bed immediately and sprang into action. He was running out of time. He cursed himself for sleeping. He should have left for Shimla last night. He packed his suitcase with a few clothes, some toiletries, and his iPad. He rushed to the garage, dumped his suitcase in the back seat of his car and got into the driver's seat. He was driving steadily along the mountain road in ten minutes. After fifteen minutes of driving, he turned left into a dirt road and drove half a kilometer to the point where the dirt road joined the main highway to Shimla.
He drove steadily, made good time and was at the outskirts of Shimla by 8.45 AM. He soon checked into a hotel and asked the clerk about the main church in Shimla. The man gave him directions. He reached the main church by 9.30 AM. He hurriedly looked at the deity of Christ, crossed himself quickly and looked at the nuns moving about the place. He approached a nun who looked friendly and asked her in his politest tone about the whereabouts of Father Kirsten.
She looked at him for a second and said, "He rarely visits the main church after he got afflicted with arthritis."
"Can you please give me his address? This is a matter of the utmost urgency. I will go and meet him at home. And his phone number too, please," said Mat. The nun went into the chambers and came back with a piece of paper. Before handing over the paper to him she asked him for his name and address. Mat hesitated, but realized there was nothing to it but to tell her the truth. He gave her his name and address. He thanked her profusely and left. She looked after his retreating figure with a perplexed expression.
He went back to his hotel, took a bath and then dialed the number on the sheet of paper given to him by the nun. A servant answered the phone. Mat spoke politely, "Can I meet Father Kirsten as early as possible? It is a matter of the utmost urgency. Tell him it is Air Commodore Mathew Williams from Kimnur village." Soon a clear, resonant voice came booming over the phone, "Yes, Commodore, come and visit me any time you feel like. Sister Lucia phoned up and told me about you. She gave me your address in Kimnur. When I looked at that address I immediately realized what could possibly be the nature of the help you need from me. Whatever it is I think we have to act very quickly. Please do come and meet me as early as possible."
Mat put the phone down and was just turning away when a sudden reflection in the mirror in front of him startled him. Just for a fracton of a second he had thought he had seen a figure reflected in the mirror. It had been there for just a fraction of a second. Had he seen a hooded figure in the mirror? No it could not be. He had been dreaming all kinds of things last night. And he had mysterious hooded figures in his brain now. It was probably his over-worked imagination playing tricks on him. He realized that he was slowly losing his mind.
He did not wait to have breakfast. He got into his car and drove straight away to Father Kirsten's house. He parked his car and punched the calling bell at the front door. The manservant opened the door and led him into a hall. Father Kirsten was seated in a wheelchair. A large portrait of Jesus Christ nailed on the cross hung on the wall behind him. He looked at Mat and pointed to the sofa. Mat seated himself and began, "I am extremely sorry to..."
"No need for the apology Commodore," interrupted Father Kirsten, "Get to the point straightaway for we may not have much time. It was a long time back when I was in that village. I have been expecting trouble from that house for a long while. So stick to your story and I will see what I can do to help."
So Mat told Father Kirsten his story without omitting any detail. After listening for twenty minutes father Kirsten leaned back in his wheelchair, his face grim. Finally, he said, "You know there was something wrong with that boy. As he grew up, he reached great heights of perversion and cruelty.
He used to visit the library in the village and kept picking up books on devil worship and human sacrifices. But one thing you had to say this for him; he was a brilliant painter. He used to devise the most devious means of torture and making human sacrifices from his imagination and made very vivid paintings of those methods. Even now I shiver to think of those paintings. That woman, Irene, was just a scheming seductress.
Cruel of course, but cruel like normal people are cruel. I really don't believe that Gabriel was that boy's father. I think someone faked that paternity test report."
Mat looked at Father Kirsten earnestly and said, "Father, I don't know how to approach this. You are a man of faith. I am just a flier. I need your advice on how to handle this."
Father Kirsten pursed his lips and brought the tips of his fingers together and thought for a few minutes and then said, "I think the clue lies in those paintings that boy made. I think the police records have some photographs of the paintings. Take a good look at them. And of course, you will have to go through all the other things the police found. You ought to talk to Lakshman Singh the inspector who handled the case. He was a good solid plodder but somehow he did not strike me as very bright and equipped to deal with this. And he was not satisfied with his own handling of the case.
Remember my words. Look for clues in human sacrifice and devil worship. Look at those paintings. Some of them are methods of performing human sacrifices which that boy had devised from his own imagination and are simply horrendous. Look for clues there. Now, go and act quickly. May God be with you."
Mat got up and turned to leave. Just as he was nearing the door the priest said, "Commodore, just one thing, I see you are wearing the cross around your neck. Please do not remove it at any cost." Mat assured him he wouldn't and left the priest's gate and got back into his car. He checked his inbox on his iPad and found that Vikram had sent him the case details and Inspector Lakshman Singh's current address to his email Id. Mat drove back rapidly to his hotel.
Author's Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.