2007-03-09: Immortality



Guest Starring: Reverend Ezekiel Morris

Date It Happened: March 09, 2007

Summary: Ramon visits the Reverend recently cleared of his wife's alleged suicide during Valentine's Day week. His inquiries eventually lead him to the voice and purpose of a remorseless killer.


Somewhere in the Suburbs, Outskirts of New York City

Minister Ezekiel Morris's residence is a quiet, two story house in the outskirts of the city, a bit aways from the general hubbub of the New York City weekend life. There is a white picket fence, with a gravel walkway winding towards the front porch. The house looks custom-made, the porch reminiscient of the kind one would see in the deep South. It was, clearly, almost too pricey for a minister who was supposed to be helping the poor and indigent in a sprawling metropolis like New York.

There is an African american child, a little girl, swinging on the tire swing set up in a large oak tree situated in the front of the property. Running around it is a little boy who looks a little older than the girl. There are little plastic tricycles on the front yard, and a tall, African American man is on one of the chair situated on the porch, reading a paper and a cup of coffee on the table next to him. He is dressed in a simple, black turtleneck and a frock coat, occasionally looking up to watch his children play. He is in his late forties, with gold-rimmed glasses perched on his nose and a graying beard.

Ramon comes driving up in a taxi rather than the RTS van. In the taxi, he'd pulled out a pair of orange squishy industrial level ear plugs that he'd taken the time to buy. He pauses, and puts one in his right ear. Now all he has to do is pop one in the left when he thinks he might need it. But he'll have to hear the preacher speak to ask him anything. He's not terribly scared of the preacher, because the man is black, not a fat and balding white man. He takes some gum and uses it to stick the right earplug under the collar of his jacket, so it will be a quick thing to do. Then he gets out and comes walking up. "Reverend Morris?"

The minister looks up, slowly easing out of his chair and setting the paper and glasses on the table. "Yes, may I help you?" He has a pleasant baritone, but he looks tired. His dark eyes look haunted, and he looks like he hasn't slept for the scleras of his eyes look a touch bloodshot. He walks down the porch to meet Ramon halfway. Because if he was a salesman, he'll hear him out politely before showing him the gate. He turns to his children. "Jorem," he calls to the little boy. "Why don't you take Ariel inside and get some cookies from Mrs. Pinkerton?"

"Okay daddy!" the little boy says, and reaches out to help his little sister off the swing. Hand in hand, they totter off to the front steps to head inside the house.

Morris turns to Ramon. "And you are? I don't recognize you from my congregation."

"I'm not from your congregation. I'm Ramon Gomez." He pauses and he says, "I'm here because my wife was murdered the same way your wife was murdered. The police ruled it suicide, and though this time they may have taken you seriously and called it a murder, I'm here because I know they're not taking it seriously enough, or maybe other things have taken priority." The lines around his eyes deepen and he meets the Reverend's eyes. He tunes in with his ability, listening for surface thoughts. His desire to be polite extends only to his friends and family, not to people who might know something about the killer and yet refuse to give it up.

There is a jumble of thoughts - murder…he knew it, Jancia wouldn't kill herself. She was a devout woman who loved her children, and whenever he fought, she was always the rational one and they always worked things out. And regret. Regret for walking out on her on Valentine's Day while she drove off to the one place where she found peace. Pain fills the man's dark eyes, and the minister turns away from Ramon to cast his eyes to the oak tree. "Jancia….would never kill herself." It is a story that would remind Ramon of his own heartache and loss for the past two years. "And I would never kill her. I love….loved my wife. She was the mother of my children."

He pauses, and reaches a hand to wipe at the corner of his eye. "I apologize, Mr. Gomez. Where are my manners. Please come in." He gestures for the walkway.

"Thank you," Ramon says. His own voice is a little tight. Oh he remembers. He remembers so well, though he can only imagine the guilt of a fight. That, at least, he'd been spared. "I know you didn't kill her." He slides his hands into the pockets of his jacket as he follows the good Reverend into the house.

The house inside is simple - hardwood floors, living room, a cozy kitchen and dining room with stairs leading up to the second floor and attic. The minister shows Ramon to the living room, and calls for the children's nanny to bring them some iced tea. He gestures for Ramon to sit down, and he sits across from them. He watches Ramon carefully from across the couch, and he sighs, linking his fingers together. "So why are you here, Mr. Gomez?" he asks finally after a moment of awkward silence. "What would you need from me?"

"I'm here to find out what you know. What you saw. If anything. If there was anything strange. If she wrote something in her diary. If a fat, balding man joined your congregation in the weeks prior. If there were any break ins or fires." Ramon sits, and scrubs a hand over his face. "Everything the policia should have asked you or paid attention to, I'm asking now."

The Minister sighs, rubbing his eyes tiredly as he further sinks into the poofy cushions of his couch. He glances at the vase left in the middle of the coffeetable, though strangely it is devoid of flowers. When he speaks up, it is slow, and somewhat absent. "To be honest, Mr. Gomez, I do not know what to tell you. I don't recall too many strange happenings in my life until Jancia was killed," he says slowly. "Jancia doesn't keep a diary….I try to keep the lines of communication open with my wife. If she has a problem, she always comes to me. Which is why we fought on Valentines Day, and she drove off." He pauses. "….my congregation has a lot of men as it does woman, though I did notice someone who I didn't recognize. But after a few Sundays, he never showed up again."

Ramon keeps the 'listening' going on the whole time. "Most churches keep those…visitor cards right? Did you notice if he filled one out? Was he balding? Did your wife greet him at all? Did she do anything with visitors?" His glance flicks to the vase, but he himself leans forward, draping his elbows over his knees.

"No….she greeted him just as she greets everyone coming in, but I didn't notice him interacting with her in any way. I did try to talk to him once, but every time I tried to approach, he left." The Ministry frowns, trying to think. "He was….very unremarkable. He had glasses. I remember him squinting up at the front before putting them on." After a few more moments of silence, he speaks up again. "…it might sound very strange to you, Mr. Gomez, but I thought I saw that very same man standing outside my property one night. Sometime in early February. But when I looked out again, he was gone. I thought I had been seeing things."

"Nothing sounds strange to me anymore," Ramon rasps. Glasses. Bald, fat, glasses. Slowly but surely Ramon is building up a description. "Can you show me where he was standing?" Sometime in early February, before the man killed Janica. On Valentine's day. He seems to like holidays. Maybe that holds some sort of significance for him.

He stands up, and gestures for Ramon to follow him, moving into the kitchen. Ramon will find another person there, a Mrs. Pinkerton, white haired and rotund - but she gives off a Mary Poppins sort of vibe. The children are at the small kitchen table, sharing cookies and milk with one another. The minister's hand rests lovingly on Jorem's head as he continues on to the set of windows above the kitchen sink. The kitchen looks out into the backyard.

"There." He nods. "Right across the street from the fence, under the tree." He gestures to the tree standing next to the street sign from his property. "That was where I thought I saw him." He pauses, trying to think of more strange things that had happened. "And then the phone call. On the day she died. I thought it was her. It was dark when I came back and the phone rang, I thought it strange because it had been close to three am when I returned from my walk. I thought it was Jancia. But the person on the other side hung up on me."

"He thought /you/ were Jancia," Ramon rumbles. "He dialed the wrong number. That's how he does it. He always calls." He holds up a finger and walks outside, right under the tree. First he's going to search around. Then he's going to stand up and watch the house from that spot, to see what the killer saw that night.

"….Mr. Gomez, I don't understand. What do you mean that is how he does it?" The Minister asks, following Ramon out through the back door and onto the street. He crosses it, and stands near the other man as Ramon searches around. Considering it's March, whatever he could find of any significance has probably been washed away by the elements. But when he stands up, he'll find that through that view, one could see the kitchen clearly. The windows are wide, and when the drapes are up like it is now, he can see Mrs. Pinkerton bustle about the kitchen, taking care of the kids. He might have a flash as to how Catalina was in the years she was around, bustling about, feeding the family, through the kitchen window across the street in Greenwich Village.
Could it be that he likes to watch?

"He's a," there's one of those pauses. "Hypnotist." Ramon keeps watching for a moment, then looks at the Preacher. "Did you see a car? Does your church have security? Surveillance? Did your wife walk to this place she likes to go when you argue, or did she drive there?"

"….a hypnotist…?" The Minister wonders with a furrowed brow. He looks at Ramon, and he'll pick up some thoughts that goes along the lines of maybe he was a little loony. But he's been asking the right questions. The phone calls. And he could see himself in Ramon's eyes. After another moment of silence he continues, after watching the other man's face. "If there was a car, I didn't notice it. Forgive me, I didn't think much of it. But my wife…yes. She went to our parish. She took her car. It is a 1989 chevy that is in the garage - it was returned to us after I had been cleared."

"Which means he had to have a car," Ramon rumbles softly. "So lets find where he parked it." He starts to think. It would have to be concealed, yet somewhere he could watch the house from. So he starts walking, looking for just such a place. "Because he probably followed her that day. There's no way he could have found out where she was otherwise I don't think. Where /did/ she go?"

There are plenty of places, there is streetside parking, and there is the back. However what would be most likely is the front, where a clear view of the woman's car could be seen parked in front of the garage next to the Minister's black Dodge. There is little concealment there, but at the same time, that is the only place where anyone who intends to follow the minister's wife would have a clear view of her leaving the front door, getting in her car, and driving off.

"As I said," the Minister says, following Mr. Gomez and looking more confused, but he shakes his head as he tries to pull out details from his head of that night. "She went to the parish. She goes there whenever she and I have an argument. The place gives her peace. She is a devout woman, my wife. Whenever she is angry she goes to the building to pray and give her a clear mind to think things through."

"Oh the church. I didn't realize that's what you meant," Ramon rumbles. "That bastard killed her in the church itself? In the sanctuary?" Anger for that alone now roughens his tone. This was the spot, so he pauses to search it as well. And looks up, to see if there are any traffic cams on this street that might have caught something.

The street is residential and the nearest cam is at the stoplight a few blocks away, so no recording. At the spot, there is nothing save for tire tracks - the trail had gone cold, thanks to the elements. If the police had pursued the lead right away, there might have been something to salvage, but there isn't. The woman's car, which was present around the vicinity in where she was killed, however, is within easy access.

The Minister nods. "She was found in my office," he murmurs. "In the parish, at the back. With a kn…" He takes a deep breath. "With a knife through her heart. They say she inflicted the wound herself, but as you can see, Mr. Gomez, I don't believe that. The police don't know my wife."

"No. She didn't kill herself. May I see her car? Look around it?" He paces around a little bit, furious with the police. "Reverend, I'm going to need your spiritual help. I'm having a real hard time loving my enemy right now, and I'm having an even harder time loving the police."

The Minister nods. "Anger is only human, Mr. Gomez. Especially if it is on behalf of someone you love." He looks up at the sky. "I am hoping my Lord wouldn't cast me aside on Judgment Day for my own, at Jancia's loss. But all we can do is do the best we can, and hope, and pray. I believe so long as you try to do what is right, Jesus will continue to intercede on your behalf to the Father." He looks over at Ramon, and gestures for him to follow him. When they get close to Jancia's car, he withdraws the keyring, and opens the driver's-side door.

While the leather interior is rather worn, it is kept neat and clean. The beige carpeting within is somewhat scuffed. There doesn't seem to be any evidence of foul play in the car itself….but Jancia's cellphone could be seen sitting on the passenger's side front seat. It is black, and powered down.

"The police said they found her phone in the car," he says with a nod to it. "It had been on the floor. They released it to us as well but I…" He pauses. "I couldn't bear to bring it inside the house."

"Lets go charge it up." Ramon says softly. He looks at him. "He usually calls with a calling card from a public place but maybe…did you maybe listen to her messages at any point? Do you know if those idiots, the police, did?" Even after he /told/ Xander they mishandled this? How could this happen?

The Minister shook his head. "No…I didn't, admittedly. The car was only returned to us a week ago, and with….dealing with the lawyers for her last will and testament, trying to take care of my children by myself, battling with social services to keep them because I was a murder suspect and losing a few congregation members because they suspect me, I….." His shoulders slump. The man continues to truck on, but the loss of his wife clearly brought on a set of new and very real problems for the tired man. "I'm sorry, Mr. Gomez. These are my problems."

He takes the phone. "I have her charger inside," he says, and they move back to the house. Upon getting there, he sits in the living room, and plugs it in. He flips the top open, and hands it to Ramon. It was his show. The man seems to know what he's doing. If ever Ramon hits call history he would, indeed find the calling card. A local number at the very top.

But there's something else. Above the local number, there is a notice: Voicemail Left.

Ramon listens to all of it in silence. "They're problems I recognize," he says gruffly. "Talk all you want." And then he looks up at the preacher. "What's her voicemail password?" If he doesn't know then Ramon is going to have to get creative, but he's prepared to.

"3700," Morris remarks, taking a seat as Ramon fiddles with his cellphone. He looks at the vase again. "Jorem's birthday," he remarks softly.

The phone rings when Ramon dials voicemail. The automated voice in the background could be heard. 'Please enter your password, then press pound,' says the electronic woman's voice. When Ramon dials 3707 and the pound sign, there is a pause. The voicemail progam will tell Ramon that there are no new message, but there is an option to review past messages on the dead woman's phone.

Ramon pulls out a pen and his pocket dayplanner. He's going to jot down the messages, dates, and times. Then he reviews the saved messages, little caring if he hears some aspect of personal business. He'll forget that five minutes after he leaves. Its the Persuader he's after. His mouth is set in a grim line and his eyes are tight.

It would be easy because there is only one message in the saved box. It seems that the woman is meticulous in deleting her messages after she hears them. Which would indicate that in the last message left, she didn't have the time to, or was distracted. But the accessed message plays. A little after three in the morning, the day after Valentine's Day.

"Hello Jancia. Happy Belated Valentine's Day…." the voice is deep, and gravelly, the whispery quality giving it a smoky, but sinister quality. The voice is definitely a man's.

"Our hope of immortality does not come from any religions, but nearly all of those religions come from that hope," the voice continues. "I am calling you today because you and I are to embark upon our Grail Quest together for after all, those whosoever believe in Him would achieve eternal life. We will help each other to that end by a fruitful exchange of favors. I will provide you with the means to achieve your own immortality, while in the methodology of you doing so, you will help me achieve mine."

"I am ever so grateful for the assistance you have bestowed upon my associate," continues the voice. "You are indeed, a spiritually beautiful woman and your altruistic nature would have been, perhaps, the key to saving this world. I am afraid I am a selfish creature after all, and your sacrifice today would not be saving the world, but me. There is a box in your husband's office I want you to have. It contains within it a token of my appreciation….and I would very much like you to wear it."

"You will sit in front of your husband's desk, and with the knife I have provided, you will insert it into your beating, gracious heart. As you feel your life slipping away from your lips like gossamer wings, I would like for you to think about your soul, the time that you could have had remained upon this cursed Earth, and find joy and relishment in the idea that in your death, you are saving a life."

"Goodbye, Jancia."

Ramon writes the date and time, but after that his pen falls from nerveless fingers and he doesn't write a thing. He just listens, and in listening his face grows paler and paler. His jaw grows tighter and tighter. He closes the phone then, and stares into space for a long moment. Then he opens it back up. He forwards the message to his own cell phone, saving a copy. Then he passes it wordlessly back to the preacher.

"Was there anything?" The Minister murmurs as the phone is passed back to him. He looks at Ramon, watching the man's expression - he doesn't have to say anything in return, really. He could see it in his face that the man had found something, and it was something distressing. He clutches the cellphone tightly in his hand, unconscious, grief returning in full force. Someone out there hurt and killed his wife, and now that there seems to be proof of that in his hand, grief starts to swell.

Ramon didn't erase the message. He pulls out his number though, and gives it to the preacher. "If you need help. I've been through it. So if you need help." He steps back. "Thank you." He takes another step back. "He's not going to continue. This man isn't going to continue."

Reverend Morris rises up from the couch and takes the card, the cellphone dangling wordlessly in his hand. "…what…" He swallows and rubs his eyes. "What do you intend to do, Mr. Gomez?" he asks quietly. He is a man of God, after all. He has to ask, but the grieving husband in him wars with his beliefs and conscience. Deep in his heart of hearts, he knows…..and he isn't sure if he had the willingness to stop him.

Ramon rubs a hand over his face. He looks up at the Reverend. "I'm going to stop him." But how far he's going to go in stopping him, he hasn't decided yet. He's not a killer. He's not. In spite of his joking about blowing off balls. But trust the police or the government to do something about this man? No. So he's going to stop him.

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