Ten

As they approached the crime scene, Father Tully surveyed the territory. It was a mixed bag.

The housing ran from neatly kept bungalows to empty flats with out panes or doors. Once, years ago, this had undoubtedly been a working, middle-class neighborhood. One whose front porches had held gliders. In spring, summer, and fall, neighbors had gathered to talk, to listen, to learn, and to live. Neighbors who had never heard of the phrase “drive-by shooting.”

But that was a time whose return no one could hope to anticipate.

Tully’s car, flasher blinking, pulled up to the new bank building.

“What’s happened to this neighborhood?” Father Tully asked. Yesterday’s tour had featured nothing like this.

“Gangs. Drugs and might make right.”

An extensive area was cordoned off by bright yellow ribbon signifying a crime scene. All unauthorized people were to observe the restriction and stay out.

“Remember: you’re a spectator.”

Father Tully followed Zoo, stepping over the tape.

Several detectives from the lieutenant’s Homicide Squad were on the scene. Two of them, Sergeants Phil Mangiapane and Angie Moore, walked toward the newcomers. They hesitated when they saw a man in clerical clothing accompanying their leader. Angie Moore was the first to note a resemblance-albeit slight-between the two men.

Moore and Mangiapane had intended to bring the lieutenant up to date on what they had learned. The completely unexpected presence of a strange clergyman gave them pause.

The lieutenant perceived this. “Sergeants Mangiapane and Moore, meet Father Zachary Tully.”

The name stopped them in their tracks.

Mangiapane was the first to extend his hand. “Father Tully? You couldn’t be … no you couldn’t-”

“I’ll betcha I could,” said the priest.

Mangiapane’s hand stayed extended even after the priest had shaken it.

Angie Moore, perhaps because she’d had a bit more time to adjust to this incredible event, seemed entirely composed. “Glad to meet you,” she said as she shook Zack’s hand.

With a note of pride in his voice, Zoo said, “Father Tully is my half brother. We have the same father. Until a couple of days ago each of us didn’t know the other existed. My brother’s a priest … a Catholic priest. He belongs to the … uh …”

“Josephite order,” the priest supplied.

“And,” Zoo said, “he’s gonna be here for maybe a couple of weeks.”

By now, Mangiapane was able to close his mouth. “A Catholic priest! Who could …? Is this for real?”

“It’s for real, Manj. Now: what’ve we got?”

Angie Moore was by far the more self-possessed. “It looks like robbery armed and murder.”

“It was the bank manager?”

“Yeah,” Moore said. “This was supposed to be opening day. Sort of letting the neighborhood welcome the bank and the bank making itself at home here.”

“Opening day,” mused Zoo. “Okay, give me what you got.”

“This is a new branch of Adams Bank and Trust,” Mangiapane said.

“That I know.”

“Well,” Mangiapane, undaunted, proceeded, “the general staff have been working with each other for a while. They were specially trained for this neighborhood. The manager,” he consulted his notes, “Allan Ulrich, was named only a couple of days ago. Yesterday he met with his staff for the first time … to give them a rundown of procedures and stuff like that.”

“He-Ulrich, that is,” said Moore, “decided he would be the person to open up in the morning, Monday through Friday. He was supposed to arrive at 8 A.M.-and, according to the cameras, he did.”

“Cameras going all night?”

“Yes,” Moore said.

“Go on.” Zoo looked at Mangiapane.

“The staff put up the decorations” — he motioned toward the bunting on the walls and the helium balloons lightly grazing the ceiling-“late yesterday afternoon. Everything was ready for opening day. Like Angie said, Ulrich was here right on the button at eight.

“A little while after that, the film shows that he went to the door. That’s just out of camera range, so you can’t immediately see who came in. But then you see Ulrich backtracking into the lobby. He’s got both hands raised. Then the perp fires-one shot. Hits Ulrich in the forehead, between the eyes. His knees buckle and he hits the floor.

“Then the perp moves in. It’s either blind luck, or the guy knew where the cameras were aimed. ’Cause he pretty well stayed out of the picture. Just some shots of a shoulder, his back. But then he got into the control room and killed the power: the cameras go off then.”

Moore offered some backgrounding. “They had a signal set up. Ulrich planned on coming in an hour before the other employees. He would be here at eight. The rest were supposed to arrive at nine. And the bank would open for business at nine-thirty.

“When Ulrich had gotten everything set up, he was to raise the blind in his office. That was the signal: The employees would know it was safe to enter. When the first of them got here this morning, Ulrich’s car was in the lot, but the blind was still down.

“They phoned the bank. There wasn’t any answer. So they called the police. But the police were already on the way: the monitoring system that protects bank security had caught noises that sounded like someone trying to break into the safe.

“A couple of patrolmen got here and checked things out. The perp was gone. Impossible to know exactly when he left, but it had to be before the employees got here. And the employees were here five or ten minutes before the cops got here.

“Of course they found the body. And some marks on the vault. Looks like the idiot thought he could get into the vault by hammering the lock open.

“As soon as they found the body the patrolman called us. And … we responded. You weren’t summoned because you were tying up the Marcantonio shooting.

“And that’s pretty much where we are, Zoo.”

“One more thing,” said Mangiapane. “Just before the perp shot Ulrich, the manager seemed to lunge at the perp. Maybe he was trying to be a hero.”

“It wasn’t a good moment to become a hero,” Moore added.

“You’d think he’d know better,” Zoo commented. “Money isn’t worth a life. Those are words to live by in this day and age. If you got something somebody wants, and the somebody is waving a gun, give him what he wants real quick. We might be able to get the thing back. But we can’t bring a guy back to life.” The statement was made for the benefit of his. brother, but when he looked over his shoulder, there was no sign of Zack.

“Okay …” Zoo looked about. What was his brother up to? “The body’s been picked up?”

“Yeah,” Mangiapane said. “Doc Moellmann himself is doing the autopsy.”

“Okay. What’s going on now?”

“Rughurst’s over there,” Mangiapane inclined his head to where the FBI was on the job, as was usual in similar cases involving banks.

Zoo smiled. “We know S. A. Rughurst, don’t we?”

Mangiapane and Moore nodded.

“Our guys,” Moore said, “are interrogating the employees. And over there in the corner is …” She looked at her notes. “Nancy Groggins. Married to Joel Groggins, the construction guy.”

“Yeah,” Zoo said. “What’s she doing here?” And, under his breath, “And what is my brother doing talking to her?” This definitely was not what was meant by being a spectator. “Make sure that our guys get around the neighborhood. See if anybody saw or heard anything.”

“Right, Zoo.” Both Mangiapane and Moore headed out to do that very thing.

Lieutenant Tully strode toward Nancy Groggins-and his brother.

The employees, to a person, were visibly affected by what had happened. Some fought back tears. Others wept openly. Nancy Groggins dabbed at her eyes with a small lacy handkerchief. She looked up, blinking, as Lieutenant Tully approached.

“I was just trying to console Mrs. Groggins,” Father Tully explained.

“Are you an employee here, ma’am?” Tully asked.

“I … well … I guess I am now.”

“How’s that?”

“She was the other person who was being considered as manager of this branch,” Father Tully explained. “I mentioned her earlier, didn’t I?”

Zoo directed a pained look at his brother. It seemed to say, I don’t tell you how to say Mass, do I? The priest backed away slightly.

“Yes, ma’am,” Tully said. “How is it that you may be an employee here?”

“Mr. Adams phoned me just a little while ago. He asked if I would consider taking Al’s position-at least on a temporary basis … until things settle down.”

“And you told him …?”

“I said of course I would. For as long as Mr. Adams wants me to stay.”

“Aren’t you a little nervous about that decision? After all, the bank hasn’t even officially opened and already there’s been a murder.”

Nancy nodded and, without looking up to meet Tully’s eyes, said, “We all knew this was a dangerous section of the city. That Al’s death belabors the fact doesn’t change things. I volunteered for this assignment and I’m as ready now as I was before.

“Besides” — she raised her head-“Mr. Adams said he would provide security guards-at least until the neighborhood gets used to us. And maybe longer, if that’s what it takes. I don’t think anyone-even Mr. Adams-knows what the future holds now.”

“You seem to have an awful lot of faith in Adams.”

“You don’t know the man.” Her tone made it a question.

Zoo shook his head. “I know who he is. But not that much about him.”

“A wonderful man,” Nancy attested. “Wonderful man. You know, I was talking with Al just last night-” She halted, noting confusion on the lieutenant’s face. “I’m sorry: Al is the man who … the man who was shot.” She dabbed at her eyes again with her handkerchief. “He was so enthused about opening this branch. It is a thrill. You put your own stamp on the operation. It’s something like having a baby.

“Anyway, while we were talking, Al said that even as late as yesterday, Mr. Adams was trying to help Al and his wife with their marriage … get them to a marriage counselor.”

“Oh?”

Nancy Groggins instantly realized that Lieutenant Tully’s one-word question was not an idle one; the information she had just given Tully-that the Ulrichs had marital trouble-could be considered a motive for murder. Her eyes widened. “I didn’t mean … it’s not that …” She halted, in some confusion.

“Yes?” Lieutenant Tully prodded gently.

“Well, what I meant was, that just shows how concerned and involved Mr. Adams was with his employees. Even with an opening as important as this, he had time to try to help his people personally,” she concluded lamely, but loyally.

Lieutenant Tully gave no indication that he had already made a mental note to check out the widow as a possible suspect in this death. He merely asked, “So, what happens now?”

“There’s been a press conference called at the bank’s headquarters later this afternoon. My appointment will be announced. Mr. Adams will handle that, of course.

“Pretty much the rest of today we’ll try to adjust to what’s happened. We have counselors coming in to talk with our people. Mr. Adams’s idea, as usual.

“Then, tomorrow and Sunday, we’ll come together, get acclimated, map our strategy, and get ready to open on Monday.

“The mayor was supposed to be here Monday for the official grand opening. We’ll just combine what should have happened today along with what was planned for Monday. That’s about it.”

“Okay,” Tully said. “Thank you very much, Mrs. Groggins. And,” he added, “lots of luck.”

As the lieutenant turned, he motioned with his head for his brother to follow him. Almost out of the side of his mouth, Zoo said, “Zachary, stay close to me. We can’t have you wandering about in a crime scene. And don’t volunteer any questions or opinions. I don’t have any problem with you. Right now you’ve arrived out of left field. You’re the lieutenant’s brother, so you’re tolerated.”

“Gotcha.” Father Tully fell into step behind his brother. Like a faithful, humble wife, he thought.

The lieutenant crossed the floor to greet the FBI agent.

Rughurst’s grin was sardonic. “Is the Detroit Police Department supplying priests for criminal investigations? So now you’ll have a prayer?”

Tully smiled. “Special Agent Harold Rughurst, meet Father Zachary Tully.”

“Tully?”

“My brother.”

“This is a long way from Halloween.”

“My long-lost brother.”

“How come we’ve never heard of you, Father? Where’ve you been hiding?”

Responding to a question directed to him personally couldn’t violate his brother’s admonition of noninvolvement, thought Father Tully. “I’m a Josephite priest. Currently, I’m stationed at a small parish in Dallas. We-the lieutenant and I-just discovered each other a short time ago. Because I’ll be here in Detroit only a little while, I’m trying to get as much of my brother as I can. That’s why I’m here with him now.”

“Well,” Rughurst said. “Welcome to Detroit, Father. I guess this pretty much convinces you that Detroit comes to its reputation honestly as the country’s murder capital.”

“Coming from Dallas, actually, I don’t find this so extraordinarily different.”

The agent returned his attention to Lieutenant Tully. “Nice work on that freeway shooting.”

“Thanks.”

“How’s the officer … Marcantonio … how’s he doing?”

“Pretty good. He’s a lucky guy. If it hadn’t been for that Bible in his pocket …”

“Yeah, I read about that.” Rughurst glanced at the priest. “Maybe prayer is helping after all.”

“It couldn’t hurt.” Zoo was eager to get back to this case. “You here from the beginning of this one, Rug?”

“Practically. I got here while the techs were working. Your guys have the tapes-at least up to where the perp cut the power. They don’t look like they’ll be much help. But you never know what the experts can squeeze out of them.”

“How’s it look to you, Rug?”

“It looks like the price you pay for opening a bank in this god forsaken neighborhood. Like opening a candy shop in a building filled with chocoholics.”

“The mayor liked it.”

“Sure, it looks good for the city. Return, renaissance, whatever the hell. But this is still a trouble spot. How come there wasn’t any police presence?”

Tully shrugged. “They didn’t want it. Adams’s idea. Thought it would create the impression that the bank people were afraid … like they expected trouble.”

“They’d have to be nuts if they didn’t expect trouble.”

Quixotic is the word they’re looking for, thought Father Tully. But I’m not going to give it to them.

“You saw the tapes, Rug: whaddya think? The perp look like a local?”

Rughurst massaged his chin, which was cleanly shaven. “Yes. Looked like he was wearing an old sweater and maybe jeans. Couldn’t see much of him from the waist down. And a cap covering his ears and pulled down low over his eyes. What I can’t figure is why Ulrich opened the door for him.”

“Maybe he had his piece out and Ulrich decided he’d stand a better chance with the perp inside where he might be able to wrestle the piece away. I mean, if the guy’s holding a gun on you and all that’s between you is plate glass, you can be pretty sure if you don’t open the door he can waste you from outside.”

“Yeah, could be, I guess. In fact,” Rughurst added, “the tape does show Ulrich making a move on the perp. That’s when he bought it.”

“It makes sense all right,” the lieutenant agreed. “But the way this scenario is playing out, Ulrich could’ve opened the door because he didn’t want to be inhospitable to one of the neighbors.”

Rughurst burst out laughing, but stopped quickly when a few of the grief-stricken employees looked at him sharply. “If it was a neighbor, his feet weren’t touching the floor.”

“Spaced out, you think?”

The agent nodded definitively. “Whoever heard of taking a bank vault with a hammer?”

“That what he used?”

“That’s what it looks like. He must’ve had a sawed-off sledge. He bashed the vault pretty good. But all he did was make dents. He must’ve been pretty high. Probably still is.”

I know the answer. They don’t know about the threatened executives. But how am I ever going to get them to listen? This playing detective was fun, actually, but in this situation very frustrating. Father Tully made a mental note to ask Bob Koesler about it-either on his return or during one of his inevitable phone calls.

“Well,” Zoo said, “we’d better get on with this. The media will be breathing down our neck.”

“Can you blame them?”

“Not this time, I guess. This is made to order for them-all this prepublicity and all.”

The two officers, agreeing to keep each other posted, parted with a handshake, Rughurst nodding a pro forma good-bye to the priest.

Zoo and his faithful shadow crossed to Sergeant Moore, who had just ended an interview with one of the employees. “How’s it going, Angie?”

“We’re making good time, Zoo … but we’re not coming up with anything significant.”

“Anybody remember someone hanging around this building over the past couple of days?”

Moore frowned. “Yeah. Trouble is there’s been a lot of that. The locals were fascinated with this new toy on the block. Not very many are gainfully employed, so watching the comings and goings here was almost better than TV … at least it was live entertainment.”

“Nobody even a little extra suspicious?”

“Oh, a couple. We’re following up on them. A lot of our people are on the street, so we’ll probably come up with something soon. It’s just frustrating for now. Whoever did this was so dumb-”

“Or high.”

“Or high,” Moore agreed. “If he was on drugs, even if he’s down by this time, he’s probably still up emotionally. In any case, it shouldn’t be that hard to collar him. That’s what’s frustrating. We are so close and still so far.”

“Hang in there,” Zoo encouraged. “I’m going back to headquarters. Let me know if anything breaks.”

“Right, Zoo.” Sergeant Moore nodded. “Glad to meet you, Father.”

“Same here,” the priest responded.

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