“The Reverend Joy Brighterday, rector at St. Gianna Church, was shot late yesterday evening just outside her house, in the front yard, at approximately 7:10 p.m. She was within about 10 to 12 feet of her front door when, according to friends and neighbors, the shot pierced the normal evening quiet of the usually peacefully River Oak subdivision. The bullet evidently impacted Brighterday just below the right shoulder, according to reports from the scene of the crime.”

“As of this morning, just before going to press, authorities informed us that they do have leads in their investigation, which began immediately upon responding to no less than five 9-1-1 calls from the surrounding neighborhood. Police Captain Bernard Ruff also said they do have at least three possible suspects in the crime, although he did not release their names due to legal reasons as well as ‘to protect the integrity of the work investigators are now doing.'”

“Officers with the Splinterbit Police Department, EMS personnel, and members of the Community Health and Medical League (CHML) responded to the emergency calls, where they found Rev. Brighterday face down on her front walk leading up to the front door of the residence. One of the CHML personnel informed this paper that when authorities arrived, there was ‘quite a bit of blood, and she was having difficulty breathing. She was unconscious.'”

“Brighterday was treated immediately at the Splinterbit Medical Center’s CCU, prepped and then transported to the Grand Oak Memorial Hospital’s ICU where, according to information released to the Media by the hospital, physicians and medical staff began immediate, ongoing treatment. As of this morning, at approximately 6:00 a.m., the Grand Oak Hospital is not prepared to release any further information regarding Brighterday’s condition.”

“According to neighbors, the shot came from somewhere around the empty house just catty-corner across the street from Brighterday’s residence. Unfortunately for area residents, and tragically for the young rector of St. Gianna’s Church, the street light on that corner of the intersection has been ‘out’ for quite some time now. Various residents have notified the street department, mayor and city council several times, two individuals informed this paper. Now someone has been shot.

“‘It’s just unthinkable,” Brighterday neighbor Emmett Foghorn said. “Right here in River Oak, and all because we don’t have a working light on that damn corner! You know, I think that ultimately the mayor, the council, and the administration of the street department are responsible. This tragedy would never have occurred had there been good lighting all around.”

Mayor Igonna Buttlick offered no response to Foghorn’s accusation; however, he did say early this morning upon learning of the Brighterday shooting, “I am certain I express the heart-wrenching dismay we are all feeling this morning. Reverend Brighterday is and has been a most welcome, productive, and inspirational part of our community. It almost goes without saying that our hearts and prayers are with her and all of her friends, loved ones, and the members of St. Gianna Church.”

Effete put down the newspaper and pondered. She had nothing else to do until Lucent Keener arrived to take her to the Grand Oak Memorial Hospital. She felt so numb, she wondered if she even had any emotions left. So she pondered, analyzed. Three suspects? Well, of course, that wouldn’t be her and her two children; that would be silly. None of them would want to shoot their savior, Emmanuella. Besides, except for Rue, who was just inside the open door, she and Bane were clearly inside the house, Joy’s house.

Able and Moxie both had good alibis, if authorities even thought to consider them. Of course she knew right off the bat that her abusive husband was one of the suspects; he just had to be. What about Able’s parents, or specifically his father? They had lost their son to Moxie Keener, a parishioner of Joy’s, and Joy Brighterday had, in their mind at least, caused the divorce and near downfall of their super-hero, demigod pastor-master. How would they feel? How would he feel — Mr. Dillatante — and what might he feel and believe he was supposed to do? Effete knew the power of almost cultic fundamentalism and just how deeply adherents feel, how rigidly they believe, how absolutely dedicated they are to the man, whomever he might be, so it was no stretch for her. Someone has disrupted your family, taking one of your children to hell, assaulted your beloved church, destroyed your pastor’s marriage and quite possibly his reputation, too? Splinterbit could have an unexpected army of pissed off fundamentalists on it’s hands … Truly.

Someone else in the congregation at the Independent Fundamentalist Bible Church? What about that guy Able and Moxie had told Joy and her about? The man they and Blue had meet at the Frosty Parlor, who interrupted their discussion in order to protect Fen’s reputation? He may very well have been a member … an avidly dedicated member with just enough cognitive ability to make him dangerous. Fen had always been critical of Joy from the pulpit, so everyone in his church had known all along what a Jezebel she was; now recent events only confirmed such an idea … sunk it deeper into the psyche, made it more dangerous. It all — everything — made them more dangerous. Yes, some had left the church sadly disappointed — about two out of every 10 from what she’d heard — but that still left 80% of the congregation, most of whom would stay with their master-pastor till the bitter end. They were totally brainwashed, subservient, and entrenched.

Who could have shot Joy Brighterday? Effete asked the question, maybe to herself, maybe to God, maybe to both. Such a beautiful woman with such a beautiful soul… Yeah, I can easily imagine my husband doing her in, except he really is too much of a coward to go that far. No, although he might employ someone else… Yeah, that’s it! Effete was convinced she’d hit the nail on the head. At that moment, she almost felt a bit like Sherlock Holmes, and so she smiled at herself. Or maybe she was Watson. Good deduction! Effete could just hear Holmes saying. Brilliant deduction! Ah, but Joy Brighterday was still in the ICU at Grand Oak, and no amount of brilliant deductions would help her now.

Effete heard the honk of a car horn outside. Lucent had finally arrived.


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