Lilly hunkered down beside the vehicle and returned fire. Reverend Alf leaned against the tire and sobbed. “Lord Jesus, they tried to kill a brother,” he moaned. Lilly smacked him with the back of her hand and snarled, “shut up.”
Konan and the other officers exited the top floor and descended the stairs.
“Go get the van,” Bronowski yelled to Titus. “I’ve got these clowns.”
Titus ran from cover toward the backside of the hotel. Konan tracked him and fired. He missed. Lilly and the other officers provided suppressing fire on Bronowski.
Pinned down behind cover, Bronowski watched as Titus pulled out of the drive and gunned the accelerator. His friend disappeared into the night. Bronowski laughed and dropped his weapon.
“I give up. You got me,” he said, lifting his hands. “I surrender.”
Lilly took her second pair of cuffs out and handcuffed Reverend Alf Williams to the steering wheel. She joined Konan and the officers in securing Bronowski. Lilly wiped at the tears that threatened to spill from her eyes. Bronowski laughed and jerked his head at her.
“That’s why girls don’t play the game, darling. You’re weak.”
Lilly smiled sweetly, took two steps, and drove her knee into the weakest part of a man. Air gushed out of Bronowski’s lungs as his knees hit the pavement. She yanked Bronowski to his feet and shoved him toward the car.
Konan unlocked the handcuffs that held Reverend Alf and shoved him in the backseat with Bronowski. Lilly sat in the passenger seat while Konan drove them back to the precinct.
“I don’t want to share this seat with this, racist. I’m a man of God…”
Lilly whipped around in her seat and glared at the preacher. She raised her eyebrows and her lips pulled back into a fierce snarl.
“Don’t make me have my partner pull over for me to tune you up, preacher. We found you face down in a bowl of coke and surrounded by underage girls. Shut your lying mouth.”
Silence grew in the car. Konan knew how his partner felt. She felt betrayed by Reverend Alf. He spoke of unity, of love and compassion, and admonished others to live a life free of sin, only to find him in a situation where he violated everything, he claimed he stood for.
Konan could understand the reasoning for her disgust. As a person who had faith in a higher power, it always hurt to find out that a person you respected, such as a preacher, had human weaknesses and was as vulnerable to sin as you are.
Still, he would pay good money to watch his partner ‘tune up’ Reverend Alf. Konan felt the Reverend needed several kicks to the head, not necessarily the one attached to his neck.
He pulled into the parking garage and got out. He and Lilly escorted Bronowski and the preacher into booking. The desk sergeant grinned when he saw Reverend Alf handcuffed. He frowned at Bronowski.
“Caught yourself a preacher, did you?”
“Face down in a bowl of coke,” Lilly said angrily.
“You don’t say. Ain’t this the one that always…”
The officers took their mugshots, and the suspects were led to holding. Konan and Lilly took the lift to their office.
“How could a person who says he is a man of God turn and do the things this piece of garbage got caught doing?”
Lilly stormed off after Bronowski and Reverend Williams got sent off to holding. She needed to get outside, to clear her head and breathe air not polluted by the likes of Bronowski and Williams.
Konan followed her out. Lilly walked to the town square and sat next to a statue that memorialized the sacrifices of veterans of every war. She sat on a bench and crossed her arms.
She watched as Konan walked toward her and shook her head no. Konan walked to a coffee shop on the other side of the square and purchased two large coffees.
He carried one to Lilly and sat down next to her. She took the coffee and stared at the monument.
“How could he do it, Konan?”
“He’s just a man, Lilly. Flesh and blood.”
“That’s just an excuse. It’s like every person ever caught cheating. ‘I’m just a human being with human desires.’ It’s a load of bunk.”
Konan sipped his coffee and said nothing. Words would do no good. Lilly had put her faith in Reverend Williams, and then found his susceptible to the same sin that plagued everyone else. Verbiage wouldn’t fix that.
“You know what makes me mad though?”
“What’s that, Lilly?”
“The fact I thought he cared about all those people he claimed to try to help. I watched him and would think, I want to help like that. To be an advocate for righteousness, to stand for the weak and poor. Now, I find out he is a fraud and charlatan.”
“You know the problem with people, Lilly?”
“No, what’s the problem?”
“They’re only people. We’re susceptible to our wants, our needs, we go into relationships half-hearted, we stay in relationships that we know are toxic for far too long, and we put faith in people that are undeserving of our respect. Our nature is our greatest asset and our greatest weakness.”
Konan and Lilly sat on the bench and listened to the sounds of the night. The evening air was still, and a slight breeze rattled the dry leaves on the oak behind them.
It sounded like the dying wheeze of Lilly’s faith.