In the Silence

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A federal prosecutor was flying in from Washington, D.C. while David was being held in isolation. Two hours had passed since an FBI agent briefed David that Paul's body was already on its way to California. David was not sure what was going on and was yet to be charged with any crime. His worst fear was that a cover-up was already taking place.

After two more hours in the interrogation room, David walked up to the two-way mirror and yelled, "I have to use the can." In less then a minute a Pueblo police officer came into the room to escort David to the restroom. They passed the captain's office and surrounding the desk where his pink boombox and Cindy's Dictaphone sat David saw five men dressed in suits who were involved in a heavy discussion

Back in the interrogation room, David had just crossed his arms and was resting his head on the table when two of the men entered. One of them had his hands full carrying David's laptop computer, Clipper Chip, the gymbag and some other piece of equipment. The older, taller man extended his hand to David. "I'm Tom Powell, the federal prosecutor assigned to this case. Are you David McIntosh?"


"Good answer, David. Let's not try to fool each other here. I'm going to get right to the point. First of all, I'm sorry about your friend Paul Miller. His records showed him to be a good person, a decorated veteran, and exemplary priest."

"Thank you," David responded, somewhat distracted by the other man who was plugging wires into a case he had just opened at the other end of the table.

"Being in possession of a stolen Clipper Chip is a federal offense. We can put you away for twenty years," That immediately riveted all of David's attention. "What you have uncovered at the Department of Statistics could be very embarrassing for the government and some high officials. If you are willing to take a polygraph test right now, we may be able to cut you a deal."

"And what if I don't agree? I could go to the press."

"I'd think twice about talking to the press. Do you think they're going to report that they neglected to check up on the statistics and facts that Mr. Henderson has been feeding them for the last seven years? We also checked your military records. You didn't have a good experience with the press even way back then."

David thought a while. "I didn't plant that bomb that killed those ATF agents."

"We figured that all along. Those tapes you made proved us right."

"The only reason I bought the Clipper Chip was so that I could get my military record straightened out."

"I might be able to help you with that. That is, if you are willing to take the polygraph test."

"And if I pass, I can walk out of here?" questioned David.

"Maybe. I can't promise anything until you take the test."

"I'll take the test. But I want a promise that I can make it to Paul's funeral, no matter what, pass or fail."

"Let me make a call." Tom Powell went into the adjacent room and David heard him ask for the Attorney General of the United States. The other agent got up and pulled the door closed.

Tom returned. "No matter what. We'll make sure you make it to Father Paul Miller's funeral."

It took only a few minutes to get David hooked up to the polygraph machine. The examiner started with the usual routine questions: name, where he had lived, how he obtained the Clipper Chip, and even asked about the Dishonorable Discharge. David's answers were quick and straight, knowing the tougher questions were yet to come.

"Was last night the first time you ever saw or met Mr. Henderson?" asked the examiner.

"Yes." David felt himself starting to sweat.

"Is there anyone besides yourself and your deceased friend Paul Miller who knows or knew what the Department of Statistics was actually doing?"

"No, I only told Paul. Neither of us knew until last night."

"Just answer yes or no, please," said the examiner. "Are you or have you ever been involved with the Department of Statistics outside of tapping into their data line?"

"No!" David snapped. Here it comes. I knew it. They're going to ask about using the Clipper Chip to tap into the banks. Embezzling the $650,000 is what they'll pin on me.

But suddenly and blessedly the examiner switched off the polygraph machine. "He's telling the truth. He never met Mr. Henderson before last night."

"Good," said the prosecutor. "Now I need to talk to David alone."

The examiner unhooked David from the polygraph machine and left the room. Tom Powell stood up walked over, and made sure the door was shut. "David, you're free to go. But I want you to listen and listen well. Don't go public about what you found out about the Department of Statistics. Don't mention Mr. Henderson or Kirk Smith to anybody. Do you understand?"

"Yes sir!" David replied in military fashion.

"I'm going to have a statement prepared for you to sign. Say, how about if I send in some lunch? I know you must be tired and hungry."

From the ID hanging from his pocket David knew the bearer of the sandwich and coffee was a plain clothed Pueblo policeman. David had less than half the sandwich eaten when Federal Prosecutor Tom Powell returned with a piece of paper.

"Here, read and sign this statement."


While signing the statement David asked, "What happens to Mr. Henderson and that pervert Kirk?"

"Right now Mr. Henderson is in the hospital. When we brought him in last night, he broke the mirror in the bathroom and used it on himself to commit suicide. In trying he almost cut off his whole hand. Don't worry, we'll take care of him," assured Tom Powell.

"And what about Kirk?"

"Well, you had beaten him up pretty badly. But when we put him in lock up somehow the other prisoners found out about the child pornography we found while searching his apartment. He's not in the best of shape at the moment. I think he's going to sing like a bird, just to save himself."

"I'm free to go?" David asked.

"Yes. I'll have one of my men drive you to the airport. The funeral is Friday."

"What about my truck? Can't I drive that?"

"The local authorities found a stolen gun in it, they confiscated your truck. They told me the truck was not even registered to you. I had to pull a few strings just to let you keep the cash in the gymbag. I don't even want to know where or how you got the bank wrapped bills. There's also a video tape and a suitcase of clothes that you can take."

An agent drove David to the airport, purchased a one-way ticket for San Francisco and then made sure David boarded the plane. The plane was hardly was in the air when David reclined and closed his eyes. The gymbag under the seat with just over a thousand dollars in it was all David had to his name. The loss of Paul along with everything else was finally hitting home.

The pilot's voice came on over the loud speaker. "We will be landing in San Francisco in twenty minutes. It's been windy all day with overcast skies. Improving weather is in the forecast for tomorrow. Thank you for flying with us." Click. The pilot signed off and the FASTEN SEAT BELT light came on.

If this plane crashed all my problems would be solved. But then all these innocent people would die . . . My best friend died helping me. I don't have a thing — no job, no transportation, hardly enough money to last a couple of weeks. What Marcea went through was my fault. I don't even know where I'll stay tonight. I did promise Paul, that . . .

"Sir, you will have to fasten your seat belt and bring your seat forward," said the flight attendant.

David raised the seat and pulled the belt across his trim waist. Pushing his head back into the seat, he closed his eyes. God, how could all this happen? I just don't understand any of it. It seemed as though You were right there for me most of the time. But how could you let Paul die? Now I have nobody . . . This is strange, almost as though I can hear Paul. "David put all your trust in God. Remember what I told you. Listen . . . "

"Sir, you will have to exit the plane now," said the flight attendant.

Once David got off the plane he went on to the baggage claim area, got his one suitcase and headed to the courtesy phones. He had just started calling hotels when he heard his name being called over the P.A. system. "David McIntosh, please return to departure area C9."

Knowing it was a setup, David didn't hesitate a minute. He started rapidly walking back down the concourse. I'm not going to let them shoot me in the back. I know how these guys work. But I'm just too tired to . . .

David spotted Monsignor Grant hurriedly limping toward him. "David, I'm so sorry about Paul. I know how you must feel. I got stuck in traffic and almost didn't make it here. I had them page you, I was so worried I'd miss you."

"Thank you, Monsignor. I know Paul was your friend also."

"The funeral is planned for Friday. Paul requested in his will that you gave the eulogy. Did you know that?"

"Yes, we discussed it."

"You can stay at the monastery for a few nights if you like."

"That would be good. I don't have any other place to stay and don't have much money."

The sliding doors parted and the smell of exhaust fumes and squealing tires in the busy passenger pickup area snapped David into big city reality. Monsignor Grant wasted no time getting out of the airport terminal area. At the first stoplight he said, "The story of Father Paul's accidental death made the front page."

David sensed Monsignor Grant was subtly probing rather than merely stating what he believed to be facts. David had questions of his own. "Thanks again for picking me up. But how'd you know what plane I was on?"

"I called back the detective in Pueblo who made the arrangements for Paul's body to be flown out. He gave me your flight number."

"Oh." David noticed the paper on the front seat and picked it up. The headline read: LOCAL PRIEST DIES IN SIGHT-SEEING EXCURSION WHILE VACATIONING IN COLORADO. David read the story twice, then turn to the National News section. Halfway down the page he found it: GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE EMPLOYEE KILLED BY FELLOW EMPLOYEE. The story made Scott Thomas out to be a hero who was shot while trying to expose Kirk Smith of sexually harassing female employees. David refolded the paper, laid it on the seat and sat quietly.

To get David's mind off Paul, Monsignor Grant asked, "How are you at being a handyman? They need some work done around the monastery. I know they can't pay much but if your interested, let me know."

"I would like to help out for a while. I'm not planning to return to Colorado for a long, long time."

"Is there any reason why?"

"I can't talk about it."

Monsignor Grant knew there was more than what he had read in the paper. And when Paul's body was brought to the funeral home by the FBI, he knew something wasn't right. Thirty plus years of being a priest teaches one to just let some things go, take somebody's word. The two men only exchanged small talk the rest of the way back to the monastery.

David slept hard and was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by the movement of the monks in the hall. He found some paper and a pencil in the top desk drawer and started working on Paul's eulogy. At 6:00 there was a knock on the heavy wood door and David was informed breakfast was ready: He had yet to put down a single word.

Breakfast was served during the ordered period of silence. It felt odd for David to sit at a table with a bunch of men and not talk. Afterwards, David returned to the room; still no words came to mind for Paul's final tribute. Two hours later he got up from the desk and decided to walk around the monastery. The old stone buildings with their heavy wooden beams had a feeling a truth, similar to that of a massive old courthouse. Outside, David walked out between the overgrown scrubs and trees and spotted a monk working in the vegetable gardens with an old hoe. It was a picture that had no date to it; the whole setting of the monastery seemed to freeze time. David sat on a stone bench and watched. I wonder what makes these men commit to such a simple lifestyle. Maybe it's because this place is so serene and quiet, the outside world seem so unimportant. Just then a warm dry morning breeze blew. It had such a cleansing purity to it and, inhaling deeply, David closed his eyes. It was if through the sound of the wind he could hear and feel Paul comforting him.

"There he is." David's tranquil state was broken suddenly. Opening his eyes, he saw Bill and Mary heading toward him. Mary opened her arms for David. "I'm so sorry about Paul." Tears burst from her eyes. After a long embrace, they let loose of each other.

Bill grabbed David with his massive long arms. "I've missed you. It's so good to see you, son."

Taking one step back, David looked at them both. "It's great to see the two of you. It has been a long time,"

"What has happened to you? It looks like you have lost over fifty pounds," Mary said as she looked David up and down.

"I haven't lost that much weight. While I was on the road there wasn't much to do, so I would stop at different athletic clubs and work out. And you know how old that restaurant food gets."

"What do you mean 'on the road'?" asked Bill. "I thought you were still working around Denver. The newspaper said that the accident happened at the transmission site up on Mt. Antero."

"Bill, it's a long story. I can't go into it right now."

Bill knew there was more than what he read in the paper and it had something to do with the men who closed down his business. Plus Bill was still the only one who knew David had made the anonymous contribution to purchase the convent last Christmas.

Mary broke the long, uncomfortable silence. "Marcea sends her condolences. And the children send their love, especially Danny. He can't wait to see you."

"Danny! How's he doing?" asked David with a small smile.

"He has turned into quite the computer expert. You would be amazed at what he has taught Robin, a young girl that comes to stay overnight."

"And how is Ann?"

"Oh, Ann is turning into a wonderful young lady. She is saving her money for a horse. She and Sister Madeline are horse buddies. They go riding every week," said Mary.

"And their mother, how's she doing?" David asked, finding it hard to even say Marcea's name.

"Marcea has become quite the business woman. She started an overnight inn for special children. I've never seen her happier. She has her own apartment now and just bought herself her first new car. The mayor had her speak at a luncheon because her using the old convent for a place for the special children to stay overnight has been a huge success. She's meeting a lot of influential people. I think someone wants to fly her down to Los Angles to look at another convent."

Mary was rambling on when Bill interrupted. "Marcea has asked about y'all. I'm sure she'll want to see you after the funeral."

"I'm happy for her," said David, feeling like now he'd be somewhat of an intruder in Marcea's life. But no one could avoid how the word 'funeral' shook them all back to reality. "Mary, can I ask you for a little favor?"

"Of course, David. You know you don't have to ask. What is it?"

"I need my suit taken in a little before the funeral tomorrow."

"Why don't you go put it on? Then I can see what I'll have to do."

David took them back to the monastery study room where they waited for him to put on the suit. When David returned Mary started marking the suit for alterations. "You have lost a lot of weight. Are you sure you're not sick?" asked Mary, using a piece of chalk to mark the suit.

"I've have been feeling a little run down. But I'm sure that's from being on the run and . . ." David stopped abruptly and changed the subject. "Wait a minute while I go take this off."

David soon returned with the suit on a hanger. "Thanks for doing this for me, Mary," he said handing her the suit.

"You know you don't have to thank me. But we should get going. I'm on lunch duty at the day school."

"I'll bring your suit by tomorrow morning. I can give y'all a ride to the service." Bill offered.

"Thanks Bill, I'll need a ride. I don't have any transportation."

After David walked Mary and Bill to the massive wooden door, he stayed behind in the study to look through some of the books in hoped of finding something he could use for Paul's eulogy. One leather bound book, David's first choice, had ornate pieces of artwork with gold corners. A few of the books were on doctrine, some on liturgies, one was even an original Encyclical — a futile search for the right words amongst so many.

The iron hinges sang out and David twisted around in the chair. Monsignor Grant had come in and now sat in a chair across from David. "I was looking for you. I though you might want to know about the Mass of the Last Rites and when you deliver the eulogy."

"Monsignor, I mean Timothy, I don't think I can do the eulogy. I just can't find the right words and don't know what to say. I want to tell the truth . . . "

"David, you should always tell the truth. You'd be showing Paul disrespect if you didn't."

"But Timothy, I'm having a hard time sorting out what is truth and what is not. Remember last week when we talked in this room? I know Paul vaguely explained to you that I thought some people were changing facts and statistics. What I found out scares me. I think the ATF and FBI — maybe the whole government — might be involved in a huge cover-up. Sorry but that's all I can tell you."

"David, don't worry so much. If there is a cover-up, they'll be discovered. Look what happened in the Catholic Church when they tried to hide all the misconduct of those priests with children. Pray for truth; it will always overcome."

"Monsignor, what you just said is all part of it. What makes you think so much misconduct really took place in the Catholic schools? How do you know it even happened?"

"David, every time you look at a newspaper or turn on the television some talk show or news program is covering it. I've seen the facts myself."

"But how do you know the facts or statistics are correct? Suppose there is a conspiracy trying to make it look like all these schools that had taught and still teach good morals and values are actually run by a bunch of child molesters. Suppose it's part of a plan to destroy the good they are doing. How do you know for sure that there are a higher percentage of pedophiles at these schools, than say a school that doesn't teach any values?"

Monsignor Grant smiled. "David, you sound just like Paul. We debated this argument many times. His position was that the news media had an agenda to use trumped up statistics and sensationalism to destroy all that was moral in the world. My position was that it was admirable that they uncovered these terrible things. Granted, the media seems to dwell on certain news, making it seem to happen more then it actually does. But there has been misconduct within my church, and thank God these news people had the guts to report it. The church I have dedicated my life to needs to cleanse itself of these evil sins. Now, due to all the reports of child molesting and other sins, we are keeping a closer eye on these evils within our faith. We need to thank the news media and all those talk shows because they have helped us in becoming a better church."

David buried his head into his hands. What Timothy is saying makes sense. But what Paul told me also made sense. I know that the statistics and information were being changed and altered. They could be putting out false information right now. Where is the truth?

Standing to leave, Monsignor Grant put his hand on David's shoulder. "David, I will see you at the funeral tomorrow. After I read from the Bible, if you gave me a nod and you don't stand up, I'll deliver the eulogy for you." At the door Monsignor Grant turned around and said, "Just always tell the truth and forget about everything else. Remember, God is in control of all of this."

David went over to a stand where an old book was, flipped it open and put his finger on these words: 'Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few'.

David read the passage over and over; it echoed what the Monsignor had just told him. Forget it. Nothing makes sense. It's like when Paul told me to listen in the silence. I think that's some phrase priests and monks coined to sound philosophical. I'll let Monsignor Grant deliver Paul's farewell. He'll be better at it.

Feeling as if a terrific weight had been lifted off his shoulders, David left the study and again started meandering around the grounds. Coming upon a wrought iron gate covered with ivy and vines, David pushed it open to continue his exploration. Inside, a heap of fresh soil was piled up neatly on a piece of blue plastic. Next to it grass sod was stacked up like a small wall ready to be put back into place. David shuttered, then fell to his knees in front of the six-foot deep hole. His tears wouldn't stop, each one draining his strength as they fell from his face onto Paul's grave site.

"Why God? Tell me why! I'm listening. There was so much more I wanted to tell Paul, especially how much I loved him. Now it's too late. He's gone. I miss him. Why? Tell me why."


David had been up for three hours before Bill came by with his suit. The tailoring job Mary had done looked like it had been done a by professional. Bill and David were solemn, hardly speaking to each other as they drove to the small church in Davis where Paul had requested his funeral mass be said. This was the church that Paul had first come to listen to Monsignor Grant.

They turned into the small gravel parking lot and David's heart stopped — he caught sight of Marcea. She was carrying in a basket of food. Mary, Sister Madeline and Sister Katherine were also carrying food trays. Bill hurriedly parked and jumped from the car to help the women. David stayed in the car, out of sight, almost concealing himself.

I forgot Paul had asked me, to make sure his funeral was festive. Good, it looks like the women are handling that. But I should have brought some wine or something, or helped in the planning . . . From inside the car David watched the small church parking lot fill, family and friends hugging and consoling each other. More people came with food, and three sharply dressed men came with a big flowering cherry tree and a park bench in the back of a truck. David watched them take turns digging a hole in a patch of lawn right next to the church, then plant the tree. It took all of them to carry the park bench and place it in front of the tree Their mannerism made David wonder who they were; in fact the scene intrigued him. When the impeccable trio finished, they sat on the bench and put arms around each other. Then David focused on what was carved into the back of the bench: IN MEMORY OF PAUL MILLER, A FRIEND TO ALL.

Upon reading the inscription, David experienced an overwhelming knot of guilt. Here I'm Paul's oldest friend and I didn't do a thing. I'm not even going to deliver the eulogy as he asked. I hope this gets over fast. David glanced at his watch, opened the car door and got out. He was just slipping on some dark sunglasses when he saw Marcea emerge from the church and head right toward him. I can't face her now, not the way I let her down. First Paul now . . .

"David, I don't know what to say. You must miss Paul terribly. He always talked about you. He told me how you two were best friends ever since grade school. David, I'm so very sorry," Marcea said, wrapping her arms around David and laying her head onto his chest.

Standing rigidly, David gently pushed Marcea back and turned his head to watch the limo arriving. Mrs. Miller was dressed in black and was clutching Mr. Miller's arm, devastation written on her face. The rest of Paul's immediate family followed into the church. David took a deep breath. "Marcea, I should go. Maybe we'll talk later." David hurried away almost rudely and slipped into the side door of the church.

From a vacant seat toward the back David positioned himself at the end of the pew, wanting to be inconspicuous but still able to nod to Monsignor Grant. Then a noise in the rear of the church caught David's attention. Eight men had just lifted Paul's coffin off a metal dolly and were preceding down the aisle. Five of the men were priests; the other three were the men who had planted the tree. David glanced down as they passed by him.

A few minutes into the ceremony David finally looked up toward the altar. Two girl altar servers were draping a white cloth over the coffin. Afterwards, one of the priests placed Paul's chalice on top. A hymn was sung while Monsignor Grant sprinkled Holy Water and spread incense. There were some more Last Rite rituals before the Bible readings. Then from the podium, Monsignor Grant looked directly at David.

Unable to nod, David hesitated, then left the pew. He walked up the aisle, gliding his hand over Paul's casket as he passed. Once at the podium he cleared his throat. "It's hard for me to stand here and pay my last respects to Paul. I tried to write something, anything, and just could not find the words. I asked for advice from Monsignor Grant and he said to just tell the truth. He said that is what Paul would want. I even flipped open a Holy Book yesterday and stuck my finger on a page, hoping some meaningful passage would be there to use. Paul deserves better."

David stepped aside, about to let Monsignor Grant take over, but then stepped back. "There is one thing I could say about Paul. A mutual friend of ours just reminded me about this before I came into the church. When Paul and I were just young boys sleeping out under the stars in the back yard, we shared our beliefs about God. That night we put small cuts into our hands to become blood-brothers. It's strange, but I still feel part of Paul is inside me as I stand here. That summer we became best friends. Through grade school our friendship grew and we went on to play high school football together." A smile came to David's face as he glanced toward the coffin.

"Paul was a gifted athlete. His last minute diving catch, made with a broken collar bone, won us the State Championship. Paul had a football scholarship, but choose to serve his country instead. He enlisted in the Army during the height of the Vietnam War. Paul came home a decorated but wounded war veteran. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Metal of Valor, but none of these medals would bring back feeling into his shot up left arm. All hopes of a football career were ruined." David took his eyes off the coffin and looked toward the Miller family.

"Paul and I parted ways after the war, for almost twenty years actually. During that period a lot happened in Paul's life. I think the thing that surprised me the most was Paul's becoming a priest. Last fall Paul flew out to Denver to visit. We were having lunch when I got an emergency call to do some work on a radio tower site up on Mt. Antero and took Paul along. I wanted to show him the view plus it would give us some time to talk. I got wet while working up on one of the radio transmission towers. The truck battery went dead because I left the headlights on. One thing lead to another and we had to spend the night up there. If it had not been for Paul building a fire that night, I most likely would have frozen to death. Paul saved my life."

David rubbed his chest, a phantom pain — the memory of Paul's kicking him. "That next morning, while still stranded up a Mt. Antero, Paul and I got into a discussion about lifestyles. I got a little hot headed and we got into a fight." David smiled. "A big mistake on my part — I had forgotten Paul was a martial arts expert." David paused and the congregation laughed breaking some of the tension. Everyone was looking at him, listening. "This next part is going to be hard for some of you to believe. But I'm going to take Monsignor Grant's advice and tell the truth. And I know Paul would accept nothing less."

Complete stillness filled the church. "That night on Mt. Antero when I was cold and scared, I used my computer to tap into what I thought was a wire service to get us some help. What I tapped into put myself and others into a very dangerous situation. I cannot say much more than that. But I've learned the truth of that old adage: Don't believe everything that you hear or read, especially what's in the newspaper. The truth is, Paul saved my life again last week up on Mt. Antero."

Now whispering filled the church. David looked over his shoulder for Monsignor Grant, who was now sitting with all his fellow priests. David pointed toward the six priests sitting in a row of chairs lined up on the altar. "You know, I just said that it surprised me about Paul becoming a priest. But the sight of these six men sitting here reminds me of a kind of a vision I once had of Paul, a vision so much like Paul. He was helping a troubled man find God. You see, this man had done a lot of wrong in his life and thought God had abandoned him. Paul told him that God wanted to forgive his sins; all he had to do was confess his sins so that God could hear them. I was also there, sort of eavesdropping with a radio or something. I heard this man confess his sins and then Paul said something that made me realize that I wasn't hearing so much about sins as I was about forgiveness. It was all about God's love. Paul used his skills as a priest to show this man how he could save himself. The man later died, at peace and in a state of grace. It was awesome, what Paul did. Now that I think about it, Paul seemed like a priest all his life. All he did was want to help people. Paul loved everyone."

David stopped and looked toward Monsignor Grant. There were no more words the Monsignor could add to Paul's eulogy. David stepped down from behind the podium.

Walking back, David stopped and stared at the chalice on top of the casket. A strange, almost sick sense of humor brought a smile to his face. "There's one last thing about Paul I had forgotten, till I looked at this cup. Paul wouldn't want us to be sad. I'm sure he would want us to make this a joyous occasion. I once heard Paul preach that we don't die, but pass on to a better life, that dying with God in one's soul should be a celebration. When Paul and I were young men we tipped a lot of cups. Back then we thought that we were invincible. For some reason I still feel Paul here. He's right; our souls are invincible."

David picked up the chalice and held it up. "Paul, I'm just starting to see that the real celebration you talked about comes through this cup. Thank you. We'll miss you. We all love you."



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