Chapters 2 & 3

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Chapter 2

November 24, 2000


As our eyes moved to the sidewalk, they were met by a strange sight.

Leaning on crutches, a small man with round, wire-rimmed glasses stared back at us with a small smile on his lips. Wrapped in a long, dark coat that almost touched the ground, his head was also covered by a dark, brimmed hat.

"I would like to hire you Mr. Celtic," he proffered suddenly as he started moving toward the porch steps. "At least, I'd like to discuss hiring you, if you have a few moments."

Still moving toward us, he started up the first step with a small clank. As my eyes were drawn toward the noise, I noticed that he was wearing some sort of leg braces. Glancing at May, she met my questioning glance with a shrug, but her eyes were dancing with excitement.

"Show the gentleman in Gabe," she grinned before her eyes moved back to the approaching man. "It's too cold out here to discuss business."

Nodding, I jumped up and made for the door, opening it and standing aside to allow our guest into the kitchen.

"Please come in," I smiled as I watched him pass.

"Thank you Mr. Celtic, Mrs. Celtic. I must admit, I'm already chilled to the bone."

As he cleared the doorway, May moved around me and pulled a chair out at the head of the table.

"Please sit here Mr...?"

"McGruder, Mrs. Celtic," He grinned as he offered her his hand, "Patrick McGruder."

"Do you like coffee Mr. McGruder," May asked while shaking his hand.

"I do indeed, thank you."

Turning then toward me, he again offered his hand.

"Gabriel Celtic, it is indeed an honor to make your acquaintance. I have heard much of your exploits...particularly that mess in the Vatican last year...spectacular work really, simply spectacular."

I studied the man's face suspiciously as I shook his hand. Although I could read nothing in it that would indicate anything but good intentions, I had to wonder how the man could know anything at all about our exploits at the Vatican.

No one knew!

That was a rash generalization of course. The Pope and some of his people knew of course, as well as some highly place bureaucrats in Germany, and probably a few other world leaders as well. But in one really knew what happened except the few people in my inner circle...only my family and friends that had been with me on that deadly day and a few others that had assisted us along the way.

It made me damn suspicious!

Before I could reply to his statement however a knock sounded at the door. Confused at the sudden high traffic so early in the morning I glanced at May, who could only shrug.

"Excuse me a minute Mr. McGruder," I mumbled distractedly as I released his hand and headed toward the door.

Not even seven o'clock in the morning and it was already like Grand Central Station!

Except for the time, I was not overly surprised at who I found standing on my porch.

Standing a stocky 5'10", the dark-haired man wore a light blue leisure suit straight out of the 70's, as well as an eye patch. Holding a mangled yellow cat on his arm, he immediately set it down on the floor before extending his hand to me.

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