1st Place – November 2019

The Brotherhood

By

Gary Christenson

The shooter, known professionally as Doc Sunset, centered the crosshairs of his rifle scope on the forehead of Father Francis Alonzo. He breathed slowly, observing the parade from the 6th floor bedroom window of a young woman’s apartment. She sat in a chair, tied and gagged, in the living room.
Doc Sunset wore gloves and a hairnet and had changed his appearance with a wig and makeup. Right or wrong, I’m doing this. The pedophile priest must die, even if God disapproves. I owe this to Roger, a fellow sniper and a member of our brotherhood.
Already in his emotional shooting zone, he calmed his heartbeat, slowed his breathing, and waited to squeeze the trigger of his .308 sniper rifle.
***
Earlier that morning Father Alonzo, handsome and heavy, rolled out of bed and muttered, “Another hangover. Gotta cut back on the vino.” Several hours later he mentioned to his assistant, Father Jonas, “I’ll drink another bottle of that robust Montepulciano tonight. Probably two.”
Father Jonas helped him dress in white vestments for his appearance at the annual Memorial Day parade. That altar boy, Andrew, is young and attractive. I must invite him to a special prayer session. Maybe tomorrow.
During the drive to the parade staging area Father Alonzo lusted after several children walking on the Chicago streets. I handpick the boys and girls I use for my pleasure. They’re sweet and it’s difficult to resist their charms. Besides, I know they appreciate the attentions I lavish on them.
Along the parade route the popular Father Alonzo waved to the crowd, smiled sincerely, and accepted their roaring adulation. Ignoring several hushed-up scandals with youngsters, his reputation was stellar. Most people believed he was a compassionate priest and pillar of the Chicago religious community. Maybe I shouldn’t restrict myself to children. Several women in their early twenties hinted they’d like special prayer sessions. I’d enjoy their developed bodies. They’re more experienced than the pre-teens and need less guidance. But I love the wide-eyed innocence of youngsters.
He acknowledged the crowd and savored their cheers. God may frown upon what I do for pleasure, but I spoke with a Bishop who had more sexual conquests than me, and he prospered. Life will remain good if I discourage tattletales. God loves and protects me.
The priest’s open convertible rounded a corner and drove along a wide street crowded with thousands cheering the marching bands, fire-engines, musicians, and hundreds of motorcycle police as they crawled toward the end of the parade route.
***
Doc Sunset waited for the moment of truth when Father Alonzo’s car drove into range. Like those I killed in Iraq, he is another target, nothing more. Roger nailed a pedophile who molested my little brother. I’ll return the favor and take out a degenerate, someone who molested a child related to Roger. We take care of each other in the brotherhood.
Besides, it improves the world when we terminate these creatures. There’s no cure for their sickness. Maybe we are sinners, but we do what we do to benefit children and their families.
His finger squeezed the trigger between heartbeats. The rifle kicked against his shoulder as the .308 messenger of death streaked toward its target. The acrid smell of death wafted to Doc Sunset from the spent cartridge. He steadied the scope back upon the priest, face frozen in shock. A bullet-sized hole marred his forehead. Father Alonzo fell forward and plopped onto the front seat. Blood and brains spattered behind where the priest had waved to the crowds. After seeing the priest’s head explode, people screamed.
The shooter removed the scope, disassembled the rifle, and placed the pieces into a padded case. He grabbed the brass casing and policed the room for evidence connecting him to the shooting.
Emerging from the bedroom he glanced at Maria, the owner of the apartment. She sat motionless, tied to a chair in the living room. Her eyes followed his movements, but her face betrayed little.
He said, “Father Alonzo is dead. My debt to Roger is paid. You’ve seen my face, but it doesn’t matter. Tell the police I won’t look like this again. I’ll telephone them and suggest they release you and take your statement. Thanks for the use of your apartment, but I could have managed anywhere. I hope you find inner peace.”
Maria nodded her head and took a deep breath. A smile crossed her face.
Doc Sunset checked the hallway outside the apartment. Finding it empty, he walked to the stairway that led to the basement and an easy escape. He left Maria’s door unlocked.
Later he removed his wig, makeup, contact lenses and outer clothes. From a poor section of the city, he called 911 on a payphone and played a recording. The disguised voice told the operator, “Father Alonzo was shot from Room 607 of the Meadowbrook apartment building. The occupant of that apartment is tied and gagged in her living room. She would like to be released.” He hung up and drove from Chicago to his country home in another state.
***
Police Detective Johnathan Mulberry and his partner knocked on the door to apartment 607 and entered with their handguns ready. A tied and gagged woman faced away from them. They cleared the apartment, room by room.
Her face twitched with fear. Mulberry untied the gag. Maria burst into tears and choked out, “Thank you.”
In the police station at the end of the unhelpful interview, she repeated the shooter’s comment about not being seen in that disguise again.
Mulberry glanced at his partner and frowned. He said, “Thanks for your statement. I hope the experience didn’t traumatize you. An officer will drive you home.”
Maria smiled. “I’ll get over it.”
After she left the station, Mulberry commented, “Another unsolved professional murder. We’ll never get this guy unless God hands us a lucky break.”
***
The next morning Doc Sunset read a news story about the executed priest.
‘Father Alonzo, a popular priest in the Holy Mary parish, was killed yesterday morning during the Memorial Day Parade in Chicago. A bullet smashed into his head from a considerable distance. Police reported the shooter allegedly fired from an apartment in the Meadowbrook Building on the parade route. The motive for murder is unknown. Police officers described it as a professional hit.’
He smiled and clenched one fist, knowing he had repaid his debt to Roger and the brotherhood.
God forgive me, but what I did was proper. Father Alonzo, you disgusting slime, you deserved to die. I know what you did to Roger’s cousin Maria years ago. As a priest, you abused your authority and molested countless children besides her. I hope you burn in hell.
***
Maria opened her bedroom window that overlooked the busy Chicago street. Sunlight, traffic noise and honking horns filled the air. The smell of freshly baked bread tickled her nose. She stretched her arms above her head and smiled, letting the sun warm her face. I love it here, especially now.
She brewed coffee and read in the morning newspaper about the death of the popular priest. Alonzo, you psychopath, you got what you deserved. I respected you as a man of God. Instead you secretly raped me many times starting at age ten. You’ll never molest another child. Yesterday, an unnamed comrade of my cousin Roger, a sniper back from Iraq, put a bullet into your brain. I appreciate what he did for me, other children and their families.
She sipped her coffee and smiled. “Please God, now that Father Alonzo is dead, grant me peace from my childhood demons.”

Writers’ workshop and writing group