A baffling mystery occurs at Saint Paul’s old Gothic Church. The eyes of a suspended ancient crucifix start to drip tears-not many, just a few on a sporadic basis during Sunday night services. Parishioners and local visitors are quick to cry, “Miracle!” The media, with powerful up-close recording equipment, suggests the possibility that the weeping is supernatural.
Hype swells. The church and its miracle cross become a national news issue. Coffers of what was once a poor, almost neglected looking, church rapidly fill with enormous amounts donated by believers, tourists, and the curious.
A church usher, a professor at a local university, offers to bring powerful scanning equipment to examine the long-hanging crucifix. Leaving for the evening, he settles into his driver’s seat. Suddenly, a huge, powerful, gloved hand yanks his head back against the headrest. He struggles for air. A hideous Voice shrieks, “Stop messing in Satan’s affairs.” The Voice tells the usher to drive to a nearby monastery cemetery. “Get out,” it shrieks. “Crawl up into the cemetery.” As the professor does so, he hears a terrifying-crack! He glances back to see his car ablaze.
Believers sidestep logic and the search for truth, thrilled with the idea that divine intervention is happening in their midst. Even the bishop refuses to allow the cross to be taken down for examination. “It has been hanging untouched for too many years. If it must be inspected, it must be examined in loco.“
A priestly delegate from Rome, a “Devil’s Advocate” as he calls himself, arrives at Saint Paul’s to try to settle the question of divine intervention, once and for all. When he first views the tears, this devilish Irishman finds them very convincing. To assure himself that no one is secretly tampering with the crucifix, he hides in the locked church to see if anyone or anything appears during the night.
A vague, dark figure emerges from the vestibule and goes up a side aisle into a utility room. The daring priest tries to get closer. Accidentally, he knocks down a kneeler. A cat and mouse hunt takes place. The wary priest escapes, but not before a bullet pierces his thigh.
The professor/usher refuses to bring any scanner after the ghastly incident in his car. An Officer Simmons, who helps with crowd control, calls Carnegie Mellon University for help. Because of national hype over the tearing cross, the renowned university is only glad to help. But scan results show nothing to indicate any device to cause tears. Pastor Kerr’s distress grows. People are convinced of a miracle. His church grows even wealthier.
A comical beloved nun sees flashes of light reflecting out of the church’s high attic window. She asks her friend, Martie, Officer Simmons’ wife, to climb the steeply spiraling, treacherous attic stairs with her to seek the cause of the flashes. As the nun reaches the top step, Martie hears a loud-slam. In horror, she sees the nun somersault backward down the deadly sharp-edged metal stairs. Martie finds her bleeding, broken corpse at the very bottom.
On a night when the church is closed for cleaning, a young curate, who believes like Pastor Kerr that the entire miracle spectacle is somehow bogus, stands on a twelve-foot ladder trying to examine the eyes. Not a tall man, the muscular young curate stands on the eleventh ladder step to reach the corpus. Suddenly, he loses his balance and falls, slamming his head against a pew end. He dies of a broken neck in the arms of Pastor Kerr, but not before uttering, “Cave … cave …” (beware … beware …)!
In Pastor Kerr’s confessional cubicle, a hideous voice confesses. It claims responsibity for the deaths of the nun and young priest. It demands huge sums of money or “other deaths will follow.” True to his vow to protect the Seal of Confession, Kerr cannot mention anything he’s been told in confession-not now, not ever. He pays the cleverly arranged blackmail via an exchange that keeps the extortionist’s identity hidden.
Tears of Deceit will be released next spring. But readers will surely wonder wherein the real deceit lies. Is the entire miracle some kind of forgery like Pastor Kerr believes because of the great wealth that comes to his church? Or is there a demonic plot to take advantage of real Divine Intervention so schemers can steal and extort the church’s new found wealth. In either case, Tears of Deceit will keep readers guessing.