As Sam Markham and Bill Burrell scrambled to gather their agents, as Rachel Sullivan frantically alerted both the local and state police to get their asses over to the remote Echo Point Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island, The Sculptor was already installing his Piet`a under cover of darkness. The rain had stopped earlier that evening, but the skies remained cloudy-the air humid enough to break The Sculptor’s face into sweat beneath his night vision goggles. The distance he needed to carry his Piet`a was much shorter than the distance he’d carried his Bacchus a few weeks earlier-a straight shot of only about twenty-five feet from the back of his van. But his Piet`a was much heavier than his Bacchus-was much more awkward and difficult for the muscular Sculptor to maneuver due to the delicacy of the painted starched robes. However, once he managed to carefully load the statue onto a dolly that he constructed over a year ago specifically for this purpose, The Sculptor ultimately had no trouble dragging his Piet`a down the flagstone path and up the steps into the Temple of Divine Spirit.
The Sculptor methodically unloaded his Piet`a into place directly beneath the temple’s oculus-that opening in the ceiling which The Sculptor knew would mimic perfectly the original visual dynamic in the catacomb which the Christians had renamed the Chapel of St. Petronilla. The “veil effect” he had created in the Virgin’s forehead with a strand of tightly tied fishing line was breathtaking, but The Sculptor paused only briefly to admire his work-dared to stand only for a minute in the cavernous temple with his night vision goggles and ogle over the aesthetic divinity created by the downcast, cloud-filtered moonlight.
Yes, the nameless material he had harvested from the streets of South Providence, the whore’s head that he had chosen to be his Virgin’s, had turned out perfectly-her youthful visage sad but serene, full of loving and longing but at the same time at peace with the knowledge that her Son will soon triumph over death. And the RounDaWay17 material had turned out brilliantly, too; it was perfectly proportioned to the Virgin’s body, and, as seen through the night vision goggles, reflected as planned the supernatural luminescence of the falling moonlight-just as Dr. Hildy described in her book.
Oh yes, The Sculptor could stand there gazing upon his Piet`a all night, but The Sculptor knew that that would be foolish, or at the very least would be a waste of time.
As The Sculptor had hoped, in addition to their regular duties, the local and state police-at the FBI’s request-had been spread out on stakeouts of churches all over Rhode Island -none of which happened to be near Echo Point Cemetery. And so The Sculptor took his time gathering his things back into the van entirely unaware that an FBI agent named Sam Markham had discovered the location for his latest exhibition. Back in the driver’s seat, The Sculptor relaxed for a moment before turning the key in the ignition-was just about to shift into drive when the reflection of flashing blue lights on the headstones caught him completely by surprise.
Bad luck, he said to himself. Someone must have called the police.
His heart all at once beating fast, The Sculptor removed his night vision goggles-knew the approaching headlights would temporarily blind him if he didn’t-and reached under the passenger’s seat. The Sculptor’s fingers immediately closed around his Sig Sauer.45, and when he again looked out the windshield, he could see the two police cars winding their way among the headstones from the opposite side of the cemetery.
Only two, The Sculptor thought. But he knew instinctively that more would follow-knew instinctively that he had only one chance.
Yes, The Sculptor said to himself. Only one chance to take them by surprise then get out of here.
The Sculptor climbed out the passenger door and quickly made his way around to the back of the temple, darting behind the headstones as he backtracked his way toward the road. The Channel 9 Eye-Team logo would be the bait-would hopefully lure the policemen out of their cars and thus buy him enough time to sneak up behind them and put a bullet in their heads. The Sculptor hid himself behind a nearby tree and removed a black ski mask from his back pocket, pulling it tightly over his bald head, his sweaty face.
Then he waited.
And soon, just as he expected, the two Exeter police cars-locals, thankfully-pulled up in front of the temple. The Sculptor could see from the flashes of light off the van, off the white marble of the temple and surrounding headstones, that each car held only one officer.
That was fortunate.
“You guys can’t be here,” he heard one of them shout upon emerging from his car. And as the two officers approached the van-their guns not even drawn-The Sculptor was upon them before they even had a chance to turn around.
As was the case when he went shopping for his material with the tranquilizer guns, The Sculptor did not pause when he shot them. However, instead of aiming for their necks, he pointed the red dot from his laser sight just underneath their police hats-one silenced bullet in each of their heads, then two more once they hit the ground just to be safe.
The Sculptor hopped back into his van and drove quickly away from the scene. He did not mourn the fact that he had just wasted good material or whether or not the police dash-cams had recorded the whole event. His face was covered, of course, and he could always repaint the van. He would have it safely hidden away again in the carriage house before the police had time to review the video. And so The Sculptor opted to take his chances on the highway rather than risk being cornered by the police on the back country roads. He had just kicked the van up to sixty-five when he saw the state police cars and the black FBI vehicles speeding past him down Route 95-in the opposite direction, toward the Echo Point Cemetery exit.
The Sculptor smiled. He had no way of knowing, however, that Sam Markham and Bill Burrell saw him, too-had no idea that they both cursed aloud when they spotted the Channel 9 Eye-Team van whizzing past, both of them furious at the local cop who had rolled this time.
“Fucking vultures,” the SAC grunted.
Oh yes, if The Sculptor had heard that little comment, he most certainly would have giggled.
Indeed, many of the local and state authorities would see The Sculptor’s Eye-Team van that night, but just as The Sculptor had hoped when he first painted the logo on its sides, their only wish had been to avoid it.