The Package

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Chapter Forty-Four: Greece - Thursday Morning

After taking the ferry from Brindisi, Italy to Igoumenitsa, Greece, Cardinal Petrelli and his driver, Father Angelo, drove with few breaks. Travelling on diplomatic business for the Vatican was a rare event for him but above suspicion. He had informed His Holiness of an urgent matter in Istanbul concerning the provenance of an ancient relic. He couldn’t leave the Eternal City without notice for his absence would be too conspicuous to ignore.

His Holiness wouldn’t endorse my journey if he knew what I was up to, I’m sure.

Cardinal Petrelli gazed out the window of the car while the Greek countryside rolled by. Wind whistled past them as they plunged in and out of verdant valleys, several cordoned by cloud-capped mountains. They stopped more than a few times on the rollercoaster ride to allow flocks of sheep to traverse the road from one field to the next. The unexpected ring of his personal smartphone jolted him out of his meditative state. He withdrew it from his pocket and checked the Caller ID. “Impossible,” he swore under his breath. He hesitated to answer it…Maybe the caller is an associate of his.

The instrument rang like an alarm bell in the tense atmosphere of the sedan.

Cardinal Petrelli made eye contact with Father Angelo in the rear view mirror.

He yielded at last and answered the ringing phone, disguising his voice. “Who is this?” he said in Italian.

“Guess who, Red Bird?”

He sucked in his breath and fear crept into his belly.

“You made your move and now I will make mine. Capisce?” the voice said, deathly calm.

The line went dead. Somewhere in the future lay a fateful meeting with his nemesis, a meeting that would decide both their fates. Cardinal Petrelli believed good always prevailed over evil. This certainty brought him a measure of comfort despite the knot of worry in his stomach.

“Who was it, Your Eminence?”

“An enemy of the Church.” He added, “But not for much longer.” He hoped he sounded more convinced than he felt. Fury boiled inside of him. Holy Mother, grant me revenge against those who seek to destroy your Church. He looked at his phone. Could it lead the police back to him? He removed the SIM card and pocketed it, then he lowered the window and threw away the phone. No loose ends.

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