A telephone rang in the middle of the night.
James picked up the receiver. “Hello?”
“Father Briar?” a man’s voice said “I hope I have not awakened you.”
Sleepily, James looked at the wall clock. It was eleven thirty. He had been asleep only half an hour, and he felt like a zombie.
“This is Villot,” the man on the phone said. Cardinal Villot continued, his voice quavering. “I apologize for this late phone call, but this is a matter of the highest importance.”
James still felt fuzzy. An emergency? Turning on the lamp, his eyes focused on the front page of the newspaper on the bedside table.
JOURNAL DE MONTREAL
Thursday, March 16th
Brother Andre’s heart has been stolen
Montreal Christian community is shocked.
Details page 3.
James grumbled. He could not believe what he just saw. For nearly forty years the heart has been preserved and has occupied a place in Saint Joseph’s Oratory. There, pilgrims could contemplate it and feel closer to Brother André. Most likely, some religious fanatics had stolen it to make a “coup d’éclat” but why?
“Briar...” the Cardinal lowered his tone to an urgent whisper. “We do not have much time. You must come back to Rome. The Supreme Pontiff is in great danger.”
“I will leave Montreal on Sunday, your eminence.”
“Meet me at the great altar.” Villot’s voice gained an aggressive edge.
James hung up before the Cardinal could protest.
James was fully awake now, looking at the large mirror in the bathroom, pouring cold water over his aged face. He didn’t like seeing the results of a hardworking life in the glass. His sharp green eyes looked hazy. Around his temples, the gray highlights were advancing making their way into his black hair.
Last week, he had held a conference about mythology of miracles throughout times at McGill College. And tonight, the closing lines from his own lecture began to haunt him.
It is the only place in North America you can see someone’s heart exhibited in public. It’s better than a wax museum, and it is cheaper too.
Three loud knocks on the door of his hotel room broke the silence.
James walked slowly, carefully. He grabbed the newspaper and rolled it like a sort of weapon, then looked at it and felt silly. Looking through the eye hole, he saw a shadow moving quickly in the hallway.
“Kids…” James lowered his head, feeling relieved he didn’t have an unpleasant encounter. At his feet, he noticed an envelope was lying on the low quality rug.
Sitting on the side of the bed, he could felt his heart beat accelerating as he began to read.
I am so sorry I didn’t contact you earlier. I wasn’t strong enough.
Since our last fight a lot of things changed in my life.
I know you already heard it before and this is nothing new to you,
This time I succeeded. I was able to complete the program,
All my demons are gone now, I am clean, reborn.
I want you to be proud of me.
Do not try to contact me, I am not ready.
I will always love you,
Exhausted, James lay down in his bed, firmly holding his daughter’s letter in one hand. Tears ran down from his eyes. He couldn’t believe what he just read. After five years without any news from his only child, he was happy that she was still alive.