The French Cathedral
The Sweet Smell of Roses: St. Therese of the Loire
Saint Therese: The Incorruptible, Part One
Her eyes were wide open, when he put his large hand on her mouth, nearly gagging her. She was so startled, her instinct kicked in and she began to wrestle him to the ground, kneeing him in his guts and in the balls as hard as she could. Would anyone help her in the dark parking garage? God, please don’t let him rape me, she thought, as he suddenly released his grip on her mouth and relieved the pressure on her stomach. While she was still wrestling with him, he began to give in and speak to her in hushed tones, telling her that someone was trailing them and that they had to get into her car and move as fast as they could from here. When she glanced at his face, she saw that it was Malek and drew a breath of relief.
“Georgina, get moving, where are your keys? Get them out without making them jingle. Someone is coming down in the next elevator,” he said gasping as he saw the elevator, down-light come on out of the corner of his eye. They want what you took from the museum lab last night. They are looking for you and me!”
The truth of what he said gave her a fear she’d never known. She had arranged for the body of St. Therese, the incorruptible, for further research at her own lab in California, where her boss, Dr. Jerome Lavelle, couldn’t have the last word on what should be done with the corpse of St. Therese. After all, she thought, no one knew about the recent find of St. Therese of the Loire Valley except her, Dr. Lavelle and her husband yet. Or so she thought. Scholars, researchers, noetic scientists, theologians, Catholic and paranormal followers of all kinds would kill to get this kind of information, let alone the only unknown or uncatalogued incorruptible corpse, which, for all practical purposes, had not yet been discovered or so they believed. The Mountblacks were an unassuming couple, gifted in their respective fields and; therefore, driven into a high-end social scene that included professors, corporate businessmen and women, scientists, well-known archeologists, Bishops, high-level Masons and politicians, especially those from the Democratic party, and a few Republicans, even though the Mountblacks were privately libertarians.
Yes, there were rumors, but Dr. Lavelle hushed those rumors with stories of the Loire Valley dig bringing up nothing but a bunch of unidentified bones in the chateaux burial yard. The dig was performed on a small grant provided for by the Sorbonne to look for the remains of the De Pallisards, an unusual line of French royals who lived near the architecturally intriguing, medieval chateaux, Amboise in the 17th century. This most elegant, delicate and original chateaux of the Loire was designed by women, though its origins lay in the midst of male dominated turmoil. Its strategeic position was to left bank of the Loire on a rocky outcropping made for the different royal inhabitants defense.
They reached the car and got in just as Jerome’s man ran onto the cement platform after exiting the elevator. Georgina almost ran him over as she sped out of the narrow, winding garage. When she came to the security guard to gain exit, she just smiled and waved as the exit bar lifted up.
“What in the hell did you think you were doing?” Malek asked angrily. “I mean why now, why this? I know I had a hand in the whole business, helping you load the glass coffin into the UPS truck you borrowed from your brother, but I never meant it to go this far,” Malek said in an almost thrilled manner. “I love you Georgie and you know there is nothing I wouldn’t do for you,” he said trying to mitigate the circumstances. “All the same, this may be illegal and with my past drug addiction to pain killers and the consequent court cases, I’d rather not get involved with a 350-year-old corpse who still smells like roses”, he said nearly laughing at himself for the adventure they’d now gotten into. “Seven months in jail for pretending to be a doctor by falsifying my own prescriptions wasn’t my cup of tea, Georgie,” he said despondently.
She recalled their drama of addiction, the missing him while he was in jail, the lonely nights, the recorded, collect phone calls coming from the Joliet Jail for Men, and her sorrow for his disease and how it made her feel sad and disgusted at the same time. Those memories brought back her feelings of ambiguity about Malek, their ten-year marriage and their young son, Roman.
Fortunately, the educated people with whom he worked seemed to elevate him in their minds as a great, on the edge, archeologist all the more recognized for his work in piecing together our human ancestry, and the famous digs he’d supervised in France. He hated that drug addicts were vilified and stigmatized, still, in the modern age. Malek often mentioned to me how he thought people would eventually liken the modern-day treatment of drug addicts to the inhumane acts dealt to mental patients for their mental recovery at the turn of the 19th century. I agreed with him and we, with our mutual sense of dark humor, laughed about the horrid use of electric shock therapy, thinking it wasn’t too far off from jailing people, keeping them from their families where they really could recover, and the humiliation for a disease they had no power over.
Malek looked behind them as they drove to see if anyone was following them. No one there, he surmised with relief. Before Georgie turned onto Lakeshore Drive, she noticed a 2009, blue Mercedes following them at a faster and faster speed. “Melek, look behind us in the lane to the left. Do you see what I think it is?” she asked picking up her speed.
“Yep, my dear. Pick up your speed but don’t go so fast that they’ll be onto us knowing.” He said as he pulled out his cell phone to male a call to Georgie’s brother. “What the hell man. How far have you gotten to San Diego with our precious treasure?” James gave him his GPS position and said he’d be at Georgina’s lab by the next morning, that he’d take care of the details in a very commonplace way, like making a delivery as usual. “Okay James. Listen, the less you know, the better for you and the family. So, do the delivery and take off back to Illinois ASAP, before your next UPS assignment next Monday,” Malek told him with authority.
The Mercedes started to swerve over to our lane and, with dexterity, was behind us again and trying to drive us off the drive. The air was cols that night and we sat there calmly planning a way to get this monkey off their trail Before they knew it another car was following them. This time, they were pointing rifles out of the windows of the Cadillac SUV they were driving. “Oh God, Malek! What should I do?” Georgina screamed, all the calmness evaporating into panic.
“Drive off onto the ramp leading to the Lincoln Park Zoo. They may miss the ramp if you take is fast!” he said as he churned his head around to see what had happened to the Mercedes. It was not to be seen and the more pressing matter was the Cadillac SUV posing the biggest threat.
“I am going to make an illegal and get a cop’s attention, as far as they know, we’ve done nothing wrong.” She said while he nodded in agreement.
“Do it!” Malek said, adding that she should make as many traffic violations as possible to get that SUV off their tails. The Cadillac was 5 cars behind them, when the Chicago PD stopped them for an illegal U-turn. They were safe for now. The Cadillac SUV and the Mercedes were gone for the moment. While the cop wrote out the ticket, they asked him to please guide them to a moderate hotel, making up a story that they were out-of-towners, explaining that was why they had made the illegal U-turn in the first place – looking for a hotel for the night.
END PART ONE