P.S.I. Part IV -- Finding Maria

Chapter 4 -- Popery Aloud

Chapter 1 -- The Shrine
Chapter 2 -- To Build or Not to Build
Chapter 3 -- The Alcove
Chapter 4 -- Popery Aloud
Chapter 5 -- The Scream

In the stupor of his post-shift fatigue, Mike surveyed his new Alcove.  He might have felt at home, but the raw emotions of the dream were always simmering within him.  The present moment was no exception.  Brin had built in the Alcove in the dream so he wouldn't have to climb the stairs to the master bedroom.  He found himself in another pool of emotional gunk.  Why did he have to be in this situation, anyway?
Wrong question, he heard Betsy say within.  You're also tired.  Get some rest.
Sorry, he thought.  There she was again, taking care of him from afar.  His attention was drawn to the corner, where a bedside table did not stand--yet.  Since his favorite picture from the dream didn't exist, he would have to make do with another.  He looked across the hall to the Shrine, which was lit.  Perhaps the color shot would do.
How did he remember her best?  Always leaning over him.  Betsy was portrayed as leaning in the color shot.  Why not use that one?

He was so tired, he figured he would punt the picture location switch until he was sure he wouldn't break a finger with the hammer.  Off to the recliner.  Meowzie always amused him with her ability to precisely navigate the chair--or him--to reach the top.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, the owner of Betsy's Revenge, Josiah Hague, met Mr. Papenfus in an accidental meeting at the Lexington horse sales at Keeneland.
"I've got a new training job outside of Bardstown now," the trainer said after an enthusiastic handshake with Johnny Gage's skinnier "twin."
"Oh, yeah?  Where at?"
"Sturgeon Farm, where Betsy's fan club is based."
"They must be on cloud nine right now.  Oh, my gosh, what a plum!"
Both men chuckled.  "E-yep," said the trainer, hitching his pants as he straightened up.  "One of them had to breathe into a paper sack, she got so excited when she heard I had been hired."
"I hear you!  Do they all plan to be jockeys?" asked Hague.
"Yes, indeed!  I've got them trotting the barn in short stirrups right now.  They have to get their 'flyin' legs' first."
"And their endurance."
"I wouldn't mind stopping by sometime--if the girls don't mind."
"I'll put the idea to them.  Here's my card," said Pop, as he withdrew a business card from his breast pocket.  Hague handed his own to the trainer.
"How's the fire business?" asked Pop.
"Slow!" Hague chuckled.  "I'm actually on break right now.  I need to get back to the district.  I can't hear the roof siren from here."
"Better vamoose then," said Pop.  "Call me when you can, and we'll see about that meeting."

Back on the West Coast, the phone startled Mike out of a deep sleep.  Betsy's mom was talking, but nothing was making any sense.  Something was going on about Betsy.
"Who is wanting to do what?" Mike exclaimed.
"Our archbishop's representative wants to talk to you about Betsy," Elizabeth explained calmly.
"Whatever for?"
"You've heard of saints?" she asked, choking on the words.
"That's what Marco suggested.  I know catholic churches are named for saints, but I don't know anything about who they are."
"They're examples for us to follow."
"Well, Betsy's certainly a good example to follow."
"There's a process that they have to go through to get there.  It's called canonization."
The word sounded big, and Mike started feeling the gravity of the situation.
"Marco told me I would have to start thinking about my relationship with her because they would ask me about it."
"Yes, they will.  Admittedly, there's not a lot to tell because she was there so short a time."
"She's still with us."
"Agreed.  I gave them your information.  I hope that was okay."
"That's cool.  I'm off the next four days.  Now's a good time."
"I hope you can get back to sleep.  I would have called back but I'll be out-of-pocket for the next couple of days.  Chief's got a convention and I'm going with him."
"Understood.  Have a great time, and don't worry about me."
"I do, Mike, I always do.  Oh, by the way.  Did you ever get through all the stuff we gave you?"

"I never got past the interview with Bobby," said Mike.
"You never heard what happened--other than the race was fixed," said Elizabeth, trying not to choke up.
"It was fixed--I remember that.  The jockeys all lost their licenses and were banned from the sport."
"Her gear. . ."she started.
Mike caught a chill.  He had wanted to talk about Betsy's gear, but didn't know how to breach the subject.
"Her saddle's still in the evidence bag.  We're keeping it in the cool of the basement, along with what she was wearing.  Mr. Papenfus didn't want his silks jacket back.  He let us keep it."
"He may want it back now."

Awash in mortal dread...