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Fallen

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“There are two kinds of Catholics, devote and fallen. I fell.” -- Frank Pembleton.

 

Tim waited until Frank had finally gotten the car out of the parking space before he sprung his question on him. “So hypothetically speaking, if I were to say be gunned down in the line of duty, you wouldn’t go to my funeral either?

Frank looked over at Tim as he stopped at the traffic light. “Would this hypothetical funeral be held in a church?”

“Yes.”

Frank shook his head. “Then, no, I would not attend your funeral.”

“But you’re my partner,” Tim tried to keep his tone neutral but failed miserably.

Frank snorted. “True. And as such. I would do whatever was in my power to bring your hypothetical killer to justice.”

Tim glared at Frank. “So you’d put him in the Box and hammer a confession out of him, but you wouldn’t walk into a church for me?”

Frank pulled into the parking lot of the next stop on their “arrangements” list. He turned off the motor and turned and looked at Tim. “I would think you would be more concerned about your killer being caught and convicted than whether or not I’m at your funeral.”

Tim undid his seat belt and turned to look at Frank as if looking Pembleton in the eye would somehow change the stubborn mule’s mind. “As my partner, you should be at my funeral. Give the eulogy, maybe. Be a pall bearer at the very least.”

Frank sighed. “As your partner, I am honor bound to protect you in the field and to avenge you in death. And I am prepared to do both of those things. I am not prepared to cross the threshold of a church for you or anyone.

“Even Mary?” Tim knew it was a low blow, but sometimes you had to play dirty.

The volume of Frank’s voice rose exponentially as Tim knew it would. “Mary? Really? You’re bringing my wife into this now? To answer your question, no, not even for Mary. But you see, Mary knows my struggle and would never expect me to choose between her and my beliefs.”

Tim had forgotten that Frank knew how to play dirty too. In fact, he was the one who taught Tim. “Somehow, the fact that you wouldn’t even attend your wife’s funeral doesn’t make me feel better.”

“I didn’t say I wouldn’t attend her funeral. I said it wouldn’t be in a church. There’s a difference.”

Tim took a deep breath and exhaled. “You do know that you’re a stubborn jackass, right?”

Frank almost cracked a smile. “It’s been mentioned before. There are many ways to honor the dead, Tim. Not just by attending their funeral.”

“That’s all well and good, Frank. But it doesn’t make your decision right.”

“But it doesn’t make it wrong either. Do you know anything about the Jesuits?”

Tim wondered where Frank was going with this. “Not per say, no.”

“Well if you’d been taught by the Jesuit Priests like I was, one of the first lessons you would have learned comes from St. Ignatius.”

Theology lesson it was then. “And what would St. Ignatius have to teach me?”

Frank looked Tim in the eye. “That the whole purpose of ‘Spiritual Exercises’ is to conquer oneself and to regulate one’s life in such a way that no decision is made under the influence of any inordinate attachment.”

Well that was distressing. “So the fact that I’m your partner means nothing?”

Frank sighed. “No, it means something. It just doesn’t mean that I would at this moment walk into a church for you.”

Time for a little philosophy of his own. “But isn’t this little grudge match you have going on with God influenced by an inordinate attachment?”

“Possibly, but I told you a while ago, Bayliss. There are only two kinds of Catholics and I’m the kind that fell.”

“Yet you still believe in God enough to not be willing to set foot in His House even to attend your partner’s funeral.”

Frank pulled out his pack of cigarettes. “Last time I checked Tim, you were still alive.”

“So what you are saying is that at some point in the future after you and God call a truce, then you’d be willing to attend my funeral?”

“Perhaps, or I could just hypothetically shoot you myself to be done with the conversation.” Frank cracked the window and lit his cigarette.

“You do know that in the end, God is going to win, so why not just come to Crosetti’s funeral?”

Frank took a long drag on his cigarette. “In all the time that you’ve known me Bayliss, have I ever struck you as a hypocrite?”

Frank had him there. There wasn’t a hypocritical bone in Pembleton’s body. “No.”

“So, why would I start now?”

It didn’t have to be hypocrisy. It could be common decency. “Because our colleague, our friend is dead.”

Frank took another drag. “That’s true, but do you really think Crosetti is going to care whether or not I go to his funeral? He’s not there.”

“But our other colleagues will be.”

Frank smiled like he’d just found someone’s tell in the Box. Tim didn’t like that smile focused on him. “Oh. Now I see. What you’re saying is you want me to go to Crosetti’s funeral not to honor his memory, but rather so that you don’t look bad in front of the rest of the squad.”

Tim really needed to remember that getting into pissing matches with Frank Pembleton always ended badly for him. “That’s not fair.”

Frank smiled again. This time more reflective than menacing. “Bayliss, you’re not my keeper and my actions or inactions in this case bear no reflection on you. Feel free to remind anyone of that fact if they ask where I am.”

Tim knew when he was beat. Time to change the subject. “Do you think Barnfather will change his mind about the Honor Guard?”

Frank snorted and flicked his cigarette out the window. “I think you have a better chance of seeing me at the church.”

Yeah, those odds seemed about right to Tim. “It’s not fair. Especially to Beatrice. Steve was a good cop.”

Frank nodded. “He was, but the higher ups don’t care about that. All they care about is the department’s image.”

“There’s nothing we can do is there?”

Frank smiled again. This time Tim couldn’t read it. “There’s always something we can do.”

Tim nodded. “Yes, if we want to lose our job in the process.”

Frank laughed and opened his car door and got out. “Non est ad astra mollis e terris via.”

Tim followed suit and asked over the hood of the car. “More words of wisdom from St. Ignatius?”

Frank shook his head. “No, the Roman philosopher Seneca.”

Tim really needed to hone up on his Latin if he wanted to keep up with his partner. “What does it mean?”

“There is no easy way from the earth to the stars.”

That was strangely profound. “Amen to that, partner. Amen.”