"I guessed where you'd be when you weren't at the house," Messenger said quietly. "Remember, I called you as soon as I heard about Maria. The police have only issued a series of brief press releases up to now despite the media speculation. When you told me what had happened I just found it totally incredible. So, I'm one of few people right now who knows most of the details," he paused. "Look, Mike, this is not just a social call, old friend. I need to see you."
"It would be great to get together again. It's been a long time. What's the urgency?"
"We've had a disturbing post on the site. I haven't made it public and I'm not going to yet."
"It sounds mysterious."
"It's more than that, Mike. It's grim. And it concerns you."
Delaney remained silent for a long moment. Then he said.
"What do you mean?"
Messenger paused this time. "Mike, it's about Maria."
Delaney stiffened, suddenly deadly serious and intense. "Go on," he said.
Messenger seemed to be struggling for words. "It's probably a hoax or a weirdo crank. But there is something about it that makes my skin prickle."
"Bob, get to the point."
"It's a confession, Mike. He claims to be the one who murdered Maria. The post includes an audio clip. I remember you mentioned the tape recording but this is the first time I've heard it. Mike, he knows details that you never told me about. It just might be genuine."
Delaney said nothing for a long moment. He walked around the office. He was thinking hard. A well of emotion was bubbling under his usual iron self-control. Maria Montalban had been the most important thing in his life. She had changed his world beyond recognition. And she had been carrying their child when she met her untimely and gruesome death at the hands of a maniac, someone whom Delaney would passionately like to find.
"Who else knows about this?" he asked Messenger.
Laura was Bob Messenger's loyal and long serving personal assistant. Delaney knew her and trusted her.
"What about the police?" he asked.
"No, not yet."
"What's your gut feel?"
"You've got to see this for yourself. Who knows? It could be a crank. It could be a cop with a grudge. It could be someone who's uncovered a little information and is just making waves but the confession tape details have never been made public and this sick individual knows things that give me the impression that it just might be authentic. How else would he have the recording? And I think you were right. Whoever murdered Maria was not the same person that torched your house."
"I know. I've salvaged everything I could from Maria's office, which is what they were trying to destroy, and I've cleared the wreckage. I just haven't been able to go back since the funeral."
"I understand, old friend. So, what do you think?"
"Okay, I'll meet you in Chicago. And thanks for the call, Bob."
Delaney scribbled down details of the time and the launch venue and replaced the receiver. However hard he tried, he could not prevent the here and now, with all its stabbing pain and heartache, from overwhelming the deeply meditative states he was able to reach. The wounds were still too raw; the memories too recent; the feeling of bereft loss almost impossible to bear. He would never be a saint or a sage that was for sure.
Only advanced human beings like Brother Rama could ever hope to achieve that state of mental and spiritual development beyond the confines of religion and science. But he had made himself a promise, if not a vow, that he would endeavour never again to take another human life. He deliberately blocked out the memories of those deaths he had already been responsible for. That was then. This is now. And they all were mostly, in crude terminology, bad guys; even though his conscience told him they had as much right to life as he did.
The phone call from Bob Messenger had fanned the burning rage inside him. He knew that one day he would find Maria's killer. He would track down the one who had murdered his wife. He would never give up. And when he did find him, there would be no agonising over right and wrong, no anguished discussion or metaphysical musings. He knew he would be in for the battle of his life. And not just a physical battle with someone that had infected his soul with hate. When it came to it, and he was face-to-face with his wife's killer, would he be able to keep his pledge?
Or would he take his revenge and enjoy every moment?
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish