Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis Chapter 4

Republisher’s Note: Ben Reade is following up on mysterious notes he found about the Santos family in his father’s things.

Mob’s Cardinal by Phyllis – Chapter 4

Her voice was as pleasant as always and any conversation that you ever had with Vicky was so matter of fact and business-like to the core. She was the CEO of Spaulding Shipping and Export in Baltimore. The business savvy that she used in her business dealings had caught the east coast guys off guard. She had learned to master the men’s business world at the feet of her half-brother Allan Spaulding. The rumors in Springfield had it that Allan had convinced the FBI to transfer her husband David to Baltimore. David had once told me that Allan feared her above all of his enemies. Regardless of Allan’s desires, the transfer had benefited David. The close proximity to Washington, D C. had provided David the golden chance to excel. David was now working at the Training Unit of the FBI. David and I had bumped into each other over ten years ago when he had signed up for sailing lessons. I had been his instructor. He loved the water and the freedom that being out on the water gave to him. One day, he told me that the real reason that he wanted to sail was to have something that he could share with Vicky. So I wasn’t surprised when Vicky told me that David was in Annapolis out on the sailboat. He was going to be there for at least several more days and didn’t have his cell phone with him.

The decision was already made; I would be heading back to Baltimore as soon as the funeral and reception was over in two days. The time in between leaving Springfield and getting to Annapolis was tense. The expectation of what laid ahead left me doubting my own actions. The mob of today was sophisticated. They had friends in high places either out of loyalty or working off debts. A mistake could and would bring a response. Their retaliation could be presented in various forms. You only needed to let your mind wander and the fear of God quickly surfaced.  The car ride from Baltimore to Annapolis seemed shorter that day. Fortunately for me, David’s boat was in the slip when I arrived. The yacht club was where I found David. He was at the bar having a beer. Since his instruction days, David and I had always found an easy topic of conversation to be sailing. So that was were I started with him that day. David turned around to face me after I called his name. Quick to extend his hand, he offered me his condolences. He had talked with Vicky and she had told him about Dad’s death. He had missed seeing me in Annapolis and wondered where I was keeping myself. The sailing community had heard that Dad was ill as reported by the Harbor Master. This opened the door to the real reason for wanting to talk with David. I told David about what I had found on Dad’s computer. The story that I was seeking was to gratify my own curiosity. David listened and I watched his face change from one of social interaction to one keen interest.

David said, “I’ll check around. It may take a couple of days but I will get back after I make some calls.”

Five days passed before David called. He said that we needed to meet and he preferred the exchange to be out on the water. The sailing would bring less attention to our chance meeting in case someone was watching either of us. The next day, we meet at my boat under the pretense of another sailing lesson. He whispered as he came aboard, ”Have you seen any new neighbors?”

“Nope,” was my response. I untied the boat from the mooring and engaged the engine into reverse as the Harbor Master pulled up along side of my boat. He wanted me to know that the navy was bringing up the nuclear submarine USS Illinois from Norfolk, Virginia. I might want to see it coming into the Naval Academy. I thanked him and said that I was only going to be out for several hours giving David a lesson. As we got under way, David made small talk until we were five miles down the Chesapeake Bay into more open water and far from any listening device. Then David told me what he knew from the files that were kept in the think tank at FBI headquarters. A warning simply to decide if following up with the Cardinal interview was worth attracting the mob’s attention. We sailed back up the bay to Annapolis in time to see the USS Illinois surfacing. I remember saying to David that I believed this was a sign from God to go for it. After we left my boat, I checked my answering service. The message that I was most interested in was the Cardinal interview was granted.

****

The request had come from a reporter from the Baltimore Sun. The thought only briefly crossed his mind as to why he was doing this interview for someone out of his diocese. This would be his first audience since returning from the Open Heart Surgery. He felt rested and energized and actually was looking forward to the interview. It would be good to get his feet wet again He had many ongoing projects and with God’s help they would each come to completion before God called him to eternity. He looked down at his appointment calendar and Michelle’s name was in its customarily place in the afternoon. This brought a smile to the Cardinal’s face. He looked out the window and hoped the weather would cooperate for sitting outside in the afternoon. This always brought pleasure to Michelle.

The knock on the door from his secretary signaled that Mr. Benjamin Reade had arrived. The name had some familiarity but he hadn’t recognized the name. The door opened and Mr. Reade came on through and approached the desk where Cardinal Santos sat. Ben had been given instructions on the proper protocol and knew that if the Cardinal extended his hand with the ring that he was suppose to kiss the ring. The Cardinal stood up and came out from behind the desk and shook hands with Ben. The Cardinal had a quick smile that put you at ease in his presence. He pointed to two chairs that sat in front of a large window. The view was one of a serene flowerbed and a birdbath. The recent frost hadn’t killed the roses that still were producing beautiful buds. At the bird feeder was a pair of cardinals. I mentioned the cardinals and Father Ray said, “That goes with the territory.”

Father Ray spoke first and said, “Mr. Reade, Baltimore is a long way to come for an interview.”

I commented that a Cardinal as popular as he and his recent encounter with a near death would be of great interest to the large Catholic community in Baltimore.

“Surely there is a more interesting subject than my health,” said the Cardinal. This opened the door for how I had been at the ICU with my father when he had been admitted to the hospital.

He said, “ You were at Cedars hospital when I had my surgery?”

“My father was a patient in the cubicle next to you,” I responded. It was the next day when I saw the article that I realized that it was you.”

The Cardinal responded to my statement, “How is your father? You know I don’t remember much about those first days after the heart attack.”

I told him that Dad had died early in the morning.

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry for your loss. Have you wondered why God took your father that night and let me live?”

“No, I can honestly say that I never questioned God.” I found my self so at ease with this man and I felt the need to be honest with him.  I asked him, “Do you remember my father? He was Fletcher Reade the editor of the Springfield Journal. I told him about how I had discovered the project that my father had been working on about Father Santos and the Mob Cardinal. What had peaked my interest in the story was the long duration of the story. I mentioned the dates: November 1998- September 2048. The Cardinal rolled his eyes up into his head and then the dark eyes came to meet mine directly.

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