“I’m just kidding Ace. It’s a figure of speech,” he knew he should stop talking but kept going because Ace always made him nervous. “The confessional is private. You never know which priest it is and they don’t know who you are.” He was betting on the fact that Ace Scanlin had never set foot in a confessional. Or a church for that matter.
At his daughter’s wedding later that year Toby noticed Ace staring at Father John and felt a sudden wave of nausea. When the priest died of an apparent heart attack three days later, Toby told Ace. He didn’t seem surprised. On the contrary, he thought he saw him smile.
It was right about the time the huge “Apostrophy” development project got approved. It had taken three years and Ace had been the developer’s main contact in the county. There was a lot of opposition from the neighborhoods and some members of the commission. But Ace had smoothly addressed the many engineering challenges of the project with assurances that details would be worked out later and that all the normal development requirements had been met.
This wasn’t true, of course. At a staff meeting the drainage engineer told Ace that Apostrophy’s planned flood control measures were insufficient and the transportation planner said the traffic impact statement was a joke. But the Chief Engineer, frightened and baffled by Ace’s threats, gave his approval and the project went forward. Nothing was worth putting his family at risk of a crazy man, even if it was just talk. He decided to tell the county’s lawyer about it the next morning but Ace had already quit. He didn’t need the job anymore.