I can feel it in my nerves. Every part of my body is yelling ‘Liar! Liar.’ I can feel that Shiri has known about me. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have behaved that way last week. And she wouldn’t have switched off her phone on me. I am hoping she calls me, just but to tell me that she is fine. I sure pray she does because I can’t bring myself to call her, God knows why.
This week I have been going through the newspaper articles about my case, the massive trial record – pages and pages of media conjecture and speculation. They never tell the truth, even when the truth is in the open. They only know how to apologize to the public for misreporting. They end up telling everything but saying nothing.
You know, I keep the articles because I can’t lay my hands on the case file. I know it’s an encyclopaedia of testimony, motions and misguided judicial rulings, that I am still innocent, a suspect. But the me in me knows better.
The case has taken six years now. I was almost convicted two years ago, but an appeal and sprouting of another witness changed everything. This makes me think of the actual events of the day when the Angel of Death frowned on Bishop Luigi Locati.
Bishop loved being alone during his free time. After touring the Samburu community in the neighbouring Garbatula, he returned to Isiolo at around three o’clock. As usual, he went to the chapel for his private prayers and adoration. One hour tops. He found me in the sacristy preparing for the evening mass.
He said hi to me. Sweet man, loquacious, loveable. Smiled and parted me on the shoulder before going to his quarters. All along what I was thinking was that the time had come. I had already received the green light.
God, I did not like it. He was a good man. I even liked him. He was a friend.
But somebody wanted him gone, out of the way, and I was the one to eliminate him, kill him. What he was doing was detrimental to the Church. Apart from trying to expose the embezzling of funds from Vatican, and the politics in the Church (climbing up the ladder to the Pontiff is pegged to who’s who and who knows who), he was planning to go public about some funding by the Church to militia in some parts of Africa.
Obviously, he had to go! Everything had been taken care of, by me. Sleeping with your enemy for five years ain’t a walk in the park.
At 7:30 that evening, I joined him for supper, according to plan. The clink and clank of cutlery against the china and ceramic ware was the only sound amidst some Latin gospel in the background. It happened without warning. Not even did our sixth sense help. A volley of arrows and spears pierced through the glass windows like early morning sun rays. I dove head first across the dining table. I hoped I was in time to get him down, to let him see that I was there for him.
I took my bishop and the plates down. We hit the floor with a crash as the first shot whished over our heads. Several more shots followed in quick succession. Then eerie quite.
The Bishop was shot. Blood was gurgling in his mouth. I had the presence of mind to shield my bishop, protect him, risk my life for his. This would really help decades after I am long gone during the investigation for the cause for my sainthood, it’s a heroic deed, right? He was still alive, but laboured sounds escaped from his heaving chest. I tried to do my best, CPR, all I could to save the bishop, administer first aid – according to plan.
Our eyes met. His gaze was waxy, but then his mouth twitched into a forced smile. He tried to say something. His mouth quivered. He was still trying to talk.
“Thank you, Father, for being around. Thank you for trying to save me,” he said, though forcefully.
“Just hang on, you’d be fine.”
“I don’t think…” every breath was a fight for him now. Was this how it ended now, I thought, without him knowing the truth?
“I won’t make it,” he said as he tried not to breathe his last. “You’re a good man. Carry on with my mission in this community…” blood bubbled out of his mouth. He took in a hard breath. He was in my arms. “God bless you, Fr. Frank.”
I felt his limbs go slack, the body giving in to the departure of the soul where it’d been trapped for over half a century. Then he went limb, body gave in to defeat. He was dead, gone, without seeing the gun in my hand.
“I’m so sorry, Bishop,” I muttered to his already lifeless body. “I am but an instrument.” I left him there to go and do damage control.
That is how the bishop died, but I am innocent till proven guilty, doesn’t the law of the land say so?
I glance back at the last article. It has a photo of me and the other co-accused priest in the dock. God, he is innocent. I am guilty, as charged – I hatched the plan, and executed it.
Bishop Luigi Locati was a victim of tribal clashes that’s so rife in Isiolo, Kenya. How the hell did I have a hand in his death? How will they nail it on me?
I shouldn’t be suspected of killing my bishop simply because I was with him and I was not killed along with him, or even shot.
Maybe the good Lord had smiled on me that day.