This is the Eternal City. It was a cool morning and my partner, Bill Gannon, and I were on our way to see Capitano Al Dente at his office, just off the Via del Teologico Imbecelli, renamed a month ago to honor some cardinal in the Midwest for his loyalty to the current pope. I’d seen an LAPD flash message about that guy right after Bill and I arrived in Rome. We figured our colleagues in the Chicago PD had their work cut out for them.

“Y’know, Joe. My wife’s brother is a priest. Taught theology in Chicago up until last Christmas break.”

“Ya don’t say? Was he transferred?”

“Not yet, exactly. But he says Bellevue is pretty quiet so he’s catching up on his reading.”

“How’s that?”

“He was taken from the classroom right in the middle of his lecture on the Sixth Commandment. Cardinal’s orders.”


“Yeah. Things have gotten screwy the last five years. Before then, it was okay to teach that people could go to Hell for adultery. Now, in cases like my brother-in-law, you end up reassigned to a broken-down rural parish out in the sticks after 12 months in a loony bin.”

We wheeled into the parking lot and went in to see the Capitano.

“Buongiorno. I just-a got offa the phone weeth-a dee managing editor of the Associated Press. It seems the l’ufficio stampa vaticano faked a news release.”

“How’s that, Capitano?”

“Dee release claimed that 15 Nobel Laureates in Literature and five of dee NY Times Book Review critics signed a letter endorsing dat 11 book compendium about dee teologia di Papa Francesco. In one case, una signora Schwartzenbaum, added her own letter stating that dee 11 volumes represent the most-a inspiring religious concepts since Luther.”

“Figures. What can we do to help?”

“My cousin works inna Vatican City. He wants to talk-a to both a’you about dee phone call he’s-a got last-a night from a monsignore Americano, inna Chicago.”

We got the address. Bill drove and we entered Vatican City ten minutes later.

“Mi dispiace disturbarla, signori.”

“No problem. What can you tell us about your phone call from Chicago?”

“Eet was-a, how you say?, unusual. My friend an’ I were in seminary here in Rome, 30 years ago. He’s-a really, how you say?, laid back. But las’ night he-a tella me he needed three martinis before he call me. He say that-a thees Easter Bergoglio’s not gonna be in Roma. He’s a gonna be in Stockholm.”

“How’s that?”

“Si. Inna Sweden weetha that dumpy broad who’s call-a herself a bishop. They both gonna dress up in rabbit suits an’ pass out candy to Islamic kids in a district even Swedish cops won’t go into anymore.”

“You’re sure about this?”

“Assolutamente! My friend, he ees a very honest man!”

“Anything else?”

“Just-a that il Papa an’ da broad next-a go for an extraordinary presentation of dee Nobel Peace Prize to Bergoglio inna both literature and international relations.”

“Still in their Easter Bunny get ups?”

“He deedn’t say.”

“Your cousin, the Capitano, told us you have to work regularly with the foreign media. Any word from them?”

“Si. CNN and CBS are sending their evening news anchormen to do an hour-long interview weeth-a il Papa. They heard from their sources, somewhere here in Città del Vaticano, that Bergoglio’s old high school psychologist will sit in to explain that his prize student tested for an IQ of 215 but secretly ordered it not to be disclosed, y’know?”

“Yeah, ‘fraid I do. That kitschy humble bit and all. It fits his profile.”

“You gotta that-a right! What can we do?”

“First, my partner and I have to catch a flight to Buenos Aires. There’s a retired shrink we’re gonna have a chat with.”

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One comment on “DRAGNET In Rome (II)

  1. CTU HERE ! Thanks for giving us a heads up about Sweden and the Bunnies 🐰! We will send our most experienced sniper/Bunny hunter to help take care of the rabbit 🐇 problem !


    CTU out !

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