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June 11, 2004
Thomas Kelly entered the Days Inn Hotel on Clark Street across from the Lincoln Park Zoo. He was a tall man with snow white hair and a ruddy complexion. He walked with a cane, which he leaned on heavily, as he traversed the lobby to the front desk. A man and woman in jogging outfits were on their way out of the hotel and noticed Kelly. The woman remarked that he bore a striking resemblance to Senator Ted Kennedy.
The desk clerk was talking on the phone when Kelly came up to her station. Placing her hand over the mouthpiece she said, "I'll be with you in a moment, sir."
He smiled and replied with a lilting Irish brogue, "Take your time, darlin'. I'm in no hurry."
A few moments later she hung up and said, "May I help you, sir?"
"I'm looking for the Reverend Father James Lochran."
"Yes, sir. Just one moment and I'll ring him for you." She picked up the house phone and punched in a number. Thomas Kelly watched her as enough time passed for the telephone at the other end to have rung at least five times. The call being finally answered caused the clerk to frown.
"Father Lochran?" She paused and then said, "Are you okay, sir?" Another pause. "There's a gentleman at the front desk to see you." She looked at Kelly. "Could I have your name, sir?"
He told her and she announced him.
"Father Lochran's in room eleven oh seven. You may go up now."
He started to ask her what was wrong, but he already knew. With a smile and a wink at the clerk, he headed for the elevator.
Thomas Kelly knocked on the door to room 1107. After a moment, the sound of the chain being released and locks being undone carried out into the hall. Then the door opened.
The man standing at the threshold to room 1107 was short, balding, thin, and quite drunk. The room had recently been made up, but cigarette smoke hung heavily in the air and there was a strong smell of whiskey present. "Good day to you, Thomas."
"And to you also, James."
Slowly, Lochran turned and walked unsteadily back into the smoky room. Kelly followed him, making sure he shut the door securely behind him.
James Lochran made it to an easy chair over by the window, which provided a panoramic view of Lincoln Park and the western shore of Lake Michigan below. On a table next to the chair was an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts, a package of Salems, a half bottle of Bushmills whiskey, and a single glass. An ice bucket rested on the floor beside the chain Collapsing into the chair, Lochran picked up his glass and raised it in salute to Thomas Kelly: "God bless all here."
Kelly took a seat on the bed facing Lochran. He placed his cane across his lap.
"Amen to that, James, but you're not supposed to be on the booze. After all, you're posing as a Catholic priest."
Lochran took a pull of his drink prior to saying, "Some of the biggest drunks I know are priests, Thomas."
"You also have a job to do in a couple of hours. It wouldn't be proper for you to show up in your current state."
Lochran lit another cigarette, coughed as he got it going, and said, "A shower, a bite to eat, and a little mouthwash will have me as good as new."
"I heard that's what you told them in Denver before you passed out and didn't show up at all."
Lochran glared at Kelly. "So I made a mistake, Thomas. After being in this business for twenty years I'm entitled to one."
Kelly, using his cane as a brace, got slowly to his feet. "Do you mind if I join you?"
"Now that's the ticket. Let me get you a glass."
Lochran got up and crossed to the washroom. He flicked the light on and was reaching for one of the hotel glasses when he heard a noise behind him. He spun around in time to catch the full force of Kelly's cane right in the center of his forehead. James Lochran, priest impersonator, fell backward to land hard against the toilet bowl. His skull had been split open and his eyes were already glazing over in death.
Thomas Kelly stepped over him and examined his handiwork. There was no need for another blow. There never was. He could have killed Lochran in the bedroom, but it was much harder to get bloodstains out of fabric than was the case with the cold porcelain and tile of the bathroom.
Looking down at the body of his onetime comrade, Kelly said, "I actually did you a favor, James. The booze would have killed you in a great deal slower and more painful manner." The assassin emitted a sigh. "Now I'm going to have to take your place myself, and I'll be a damned sight better priest than you've ever been."
He returned to the bedroom and picked up the telephone. Dialing 9 to get an outside line, he made a local call. After one ring the phone was answered: "Human Development Institute"
"I'd like to speak to Dr. Walker. Dr. Wendy Walker."
"I'm sorry, sir" a male voice said, "but Dr, Walker is no longer with the Institute. I can provide you with a forwarding address"
"No" Kelly said, "that won't be necessary. Thank you for your time."
He hung up.
Thomas Kelly returned to the washroom and retrieved the clean glass which James Lochran had gone in search of as the last act of his life. On the telephone, in code, Kelly had requested a cleanup team to respond to the hotel to remove the body and every trace of the man's presence, including checking him out and paying the bill. When the operator at the Human Development Institute had offered to provide him with a forwarding address for Dr. Wendy Walker it was an acknowledgment of the cleanup order.
Now Kelly picked up the bottle of Bushmills and poured himself a neat shot. Before downing it he raised the glass and said, "God bless all here."
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