I took off my shirt and threw it in the trash. Bummer. Izods are good shirts. Luckily, I had a T-shirt on underneath
He looked at my T-shirt. “Dwayne,” Chulo said, “let me get this straight: You wore a T-shirt under your polo shirt.”
“Well, yeah. Luckily.”
“You were getting dressed this morning, and you said to yourself, ‘Self, I should wear a T-shirt under my new Izod just in case a fat bishop bleeds all over me.’ Is that right?”
“Leave me alone, man.”
I strongly suggested he clean up the stairs before we both went to jail, which he actually set about to do. I locked the box office and took over listening at the back door. I could see why he had his ear pressed up against it; it was pretty thick, and I couldn’t hear a thing.
The door opened up front. Mr. Ferris walked in. I all but ran back up.
“Dwayne, what are you doing?”
“Oh, nothing, Mr. Ferris. Just checking the door. I thought that maybe Juan might have left it unlocked. It’s good, though.”
The boss unbuttoned his coat. “Did Officer Penna come and get that envelope?”
“Yeah, a little while ago.”
“Where is Juan?”
“He’s cleaning up downstairs. Some customer made a real mess. The usual.”
Mr. Ferris asked about business and if there were any problems. I said still slow and no. Chulo came back up, and as he rounded the corner down the hall, the sight of the boss standing there made him lurch as if hit by a snowball.
“Heard you had quite the mess, Juan.”
Chulo looked at me, looked at Mr. Ferris, looked at me, and, looking back at Mr. Ferris, said, “Yeah.”
“Well, everything looks under control here. Call me if anything—” He looked in the corner where the big rat was standing on his haunches. “Juan, I thought I told you to get rid of the rats.”
“I tried, Mr. Ferris. This one put up a good fight.”
Ferris picked up the broom Chulo had leaned in the corner a lifetime ago and took a swing at the rodent. The rat ran in front of us and under the box office door. I would never have guessed he would fit. Ferris fished his keys out and unlocked of door, broom at the ready. There was the rat standing on top of the tarp-covered dead bishop. Ferris entered the box office practically tiptoeing, as if sneaking up on the beast who was staring at him, whiskers wiggling. Ferris took a mighty swing and missed by a mile. The rat disappeared into some invisible hole in the far corner.
“That little monster,” Mr. Ferris said, shaking his head. “What’s this?” He poked at the tarp with the broom.
“It’s just some trash I need to take out, Mr. Ferris,” Chulo said, both of us leaning in the office door.
“Why is it in the box office? Why is it wrapped in a tarp?” He poked at it some more, and again and then again. He handed the broom to Chulo, who could do nothing but take it from him. Ferris leaned over, pulled on the ropes, and peeled back the tarp. He recoiled in horror and stumbled back against the shelves, tape head cleaner bottles bouncing off the floor, pink dildo bouncing off his head.
Mr. Ferris spun to face us. “What did you do?! You killed an old man!?”
“No, no! We didn’t kill him, Mr. Ferris. Really!” I said, holding my hands out as if pleading.
“He killed himself by accident!” Chulo yelled, moving closer.
“Stay back!” Mr. Ferris held his hand out like a traffic cop.
We had him cornered in the office, and the big guy’s eyes were darting around for an escape route.
“No, man, it’s cool,” Chulo pleaded.
“It—I mean, he—is a bishop,” I said. “That’s what Chulo says!”
Ferris still stood wide-eyed, signaling halt, but at least he looked at me. “What? You mean his name is bishop?”
“No, that’s his job. You know, Catholic,” Chulo said.
“You’re telling me there’s a dead Catholic bishop on my office floor?”
We both nodded.
“And he killed himself.”
We nodded again. We told Mr. Ferris everything. The big thump. The stairs. The cardboard. Officer Penna. Everything. Well, we did leave out the joint part.
He finally put down his stop hand, which had to have been getting tired anyway. “If you’re bullshitting me—“
“Really, that’s the whole story, sir,” I said.