It shouldn’t be too hard for you to believe, Dear Reader, that news travels fast in a small town. Therefore, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the manner and timing of the death of the Lisping Barista was discussed over coffee at the town’s Dunkin’ Donuts in extreme, lurid detail just a few hours after it occurred. However, it would interest you to learn that the town’s resident Saint had been arrested for the crime and was currently sitting in the town jail, the Ponytailed Cop’s only suspect. How did the finest, most loving, generous, and altogether most holy person for miles around get implicated in such a heinous crime?
The Saint had been up early that morning, bringing a chicken salad sandwich to the Leatherman, whom she learned had been transported out of Kenilworth to his cave at Gillette’s Castle. The Leatherman, she would have found, was no longer there. She left the sandwich anyway and returned to the parking lot the long way, so she could enjoy the view of the river from the Castle’s portico. There, at the foot of the stairs, she found the dismembered body of the Lisping Barista.
Had a pack of dogs, belonging to the Crazy Dog Lady, not been breakfasting on the body, the Saint would have done what anyone would have done: she would have run up the stairs to the Castle, which was just opening, to report the crime. However, the Saint decided it was best to first protect the body from further mauling of the dogs by dragging it back to the Leatherman’s cave and rolling a boulder in front of the entrance to keep them away. Even though she was a slender woman, with no great strength, and a saint, without the slightest bit of aggressiveness, she began to wrestle the body away from the dogs out of a tender deference for the dead.
This task, as simple, but grisly, as it sounds, was not easy; for the dogs were as intent on keeping the body as she was intent on taking it from them. By this time, they had gnawed through the joints and divided the Lisping Barista into six pieces, one for each dog. She began by pulling the arms away from the Labs, who regarded it as a game, seizing the arms with their teeth, growling, and dragging their feet as if they were playing tug-of-war. One by one, she dragged each Lab to the cave, where she twisted the arm away, and quickly rolled a boulder over it. She repeated this with one of the legs, which the Setter had behind a bush. The second leg was possessed by the St Bernard. Because the huge dog weighed more than the thin Saint, she saved that leg for last, having a plan to use the Leatherman’s sandwich to lure him away.
The Dachshund had been allotted the head and was chewing on the Lisping Barista’s face when the Saint found it. She was able to grab the head by the ears and get it away from the Dachshund who hung on to the nose for all he was worth until the cartilage gave way. Then the Dachshund began to complain and got all the others barking, all except the Beagle who had his mouth full of liver. All of this barking alerted the staff who were preparing to open the Castle and an early family of tourists, who had brought their kids out on the portico to see what was the fuss.
The mother of the tourist family held her hands over her kids’ eyes and stood spellbound as she watched the Saint carry the head into the woods and return to drag the body. The kids squirmed free, figuring that anything their mother didn’t want them to see, had to be pretty interesting. Her husband ran out into the parking lot where he remembered a cop’s car had been parked. Inside was none other than the Ponytailed Cop who was enjoying his morning donuts in a place where the taxpayers of Kenilworth would not expect to find him. The Cop tried to claim that he had no jurisdiction there and offered to radio the state police, but the husband kept on talking about murder and his kids and something about a severed head. At last, more out of curiosity than duty, the Ponytailed Cop took one last bite of his donut, emerged from his car, and went over to see what the man was talking about. There he caught Kenilworth’s Saint dragging a body into the woods, looking so guilty that he had no choice but to arrest her.
If you were there at Dunkin’ Donuts, Dear Reader, to overhear the good people of Kenilworth describe the arrest of their resident Saint, the other thing you would have been curious about was why no one came to her defense. She was roundly recognized as being a saint throughout the town. No one, by that point, had escaped her generosity. They were mostly in awe of her. Indeed, when the news first broke, no one could believe it; but then the Saint’s landlady came in and told us the rest of the story.
As soon as she found out the Saint had been arrested, the Landlady broke into her room to look for clues. She was half afraid she would find other dead bodies in the room. A proper old lady, she did not think it would be suitable to harbor a serial killer. The other half of her was afraid she would not find bodies and be deprived of a good story. As it turned out, she did not find any bodies, but she did find something so horrifying, so inexplicable, so perplexing, so radical, dangerous, and appalling that she still had a good story and went right to Dunkin’ Donuts to tell it.
Apparently, the Saint, who had gotten up very early that morning to bring the Leatherman his sandwich, planned on returning in time to clean up the crucifix on her dresser smeared by dog shit. You will remember that this was a peculiar religious practice of hers. She did not intend any disrespect by it. On the contrary, by smearing the crucifix with dog shit, she meant to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifice that dying on the cross involved, recapturing the original meaning of the cross. You’ll also remember that she cleaned it up every morning, so as not to offend her landlady’s sensibilities. As it happened, she didn’t do that this morning. First, she was in a hurry to bring the Leatherman his sandwich; and then, she was helplessly in handcuffs in the back of the Ponytailed Cop’s car. So, the very thing the Saint most feared about her religious devotion came about: it was revealed to everyone and no one understood.
“There was always something strange about that girl,” one said.
“She should have had her head examined years ago, while the Therapist Emeritus was still around to do it,” said another.
“It’s never a good thing to take religion too seriously. You’re bound to lose touch with the real world,” we all agreed.
And, indeed, the Saint seemed to have lost her mind; for when she was questioned about her role in the crime, she refused to utter a word in her own defense. It was not enough for her to be a saint, she was determined to be a martyr.