Gypsy Sins

Gypsy Sins by John Lawrence Reynolds Read Free Book Online

Book: Gypsy Sins by John Lawrence Reynolds Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Lawrence Reynolds
almost two centuries, and, if the impact of its neo-Gothic magnificence had been diluted over the years by newer, more dramatic churches in Hyannis and Falmouth, the integrity of the building remained as virtuous as ever.
    Set atop a gentle hill where Mill Pond Road met Main Street, St. Luke’s steeple boasted a mammoth-faced clock whose gilt-painted Roman numerals could be read from several blocks away. In contrast with the church’s classic and inspirational exterior lines, St. Luke’s interior decor was almost humble: old polished oak and weathered pine were its most dominant building materials, and the Gothic windows, while perfectly proportioned, shone clear and devoid of elaborate stained-glass scenes.
    Passing through the church’s oversized outer doors, the three couples—Ellie Stevenson hissing at her husband, Parker and June Leedale with their hands thrust in their topcoat pockets, Bunny and Mike Gilroy hand in hand like high school lovers—entered an alcove stretching almost the width of the building.
    Warped wooden stairs descended from the near end of the alcove to basement meeting rooms. At the far end of the alcove, a windowed door led to the minister’s private office. To the right rose seven oak steps ending at three sets of highly polished oak doors which led into the church proper. The architect’s goal was transparent and successfully achieved: entering the building from the outside world, worshipers arrived in the darkened alcove, a quiet and sparsely decorated midpoint, before proceeding to the inner chamber up the steeply angled stairs to emerge into the elevated and brightly lit place of worship.
    Cresting the stairs and swinging open the doors, the three couples paused for a moment and blinked at the magically subdued light flooding through windows whose lower portions had been swung open to admit the cleansing autumn air. Pristine white-painted walls and ceiling reflected the sunshine throughout the interior, casting a soft, beneficent glow.
    Sixteen empty rows of pews, finished in the same honey oak as the alcove doors, stretched to the altar, the rows separated by two wide aisles.
    In front of the centre row of pews, an antique brass music stand displayed a framed photograph of Cora Meriwether Godwin, nee McGuire, retrieved from her home by June Leedale. The photo had been taken thirty years earlier, when the mischief of a carefree youth began yielding to the respectability of scarred middle age.
    Reverend Willoughby beamed his warmest smile at the six mourners, spread his arms with palms up in a gesture of welcome and blessing and indicated the front pews. The organist segued smoothly from Bach to Handel.
    â€œSure, right in front where we’re trapped the whole bloody time,” Ellie Stevenson muttered before laughing nervously. There was much whispering between the couples as they arranged themselves in the centre of the front pew.
    From the open windows a light autumn breeze stirred the air of the church, bringing with it a welcome sense of life and normality. Somewhere out on Mill Pond Road a dog barked, and birds chattered beneath the eaves of the church.
    Reverend Willoughby smiled and nodded at each in turn, his lips compressed. “I am afraid we represent the totality of the mourners here to mark the passing of Mrs. Godwin, our dear, departed sister,” he said in his melodic voice. There was no sorrow in its tone. Nor in his expression, as he scanned the faces of the six men and women seated directly beneath him; the smile continued to beam, resting perhaps a beat longer on Bunny Gilroy than the others.
    Clasping his hands together, he brought them to his chest before turning to Jerome Harper and nodding like a conspirator. Then he swiveled his narrow gray-haired head back to the small group in the pews and opened his prayer book.
    A single high note, airy and delicate as a ribbon riding the wind, rose from the organ and hovered among the Gothic

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