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Dump Miner - Chapter Three
Father Leo returns to Resource and Welfare Facility 4499 with Cardinal Superbia.


A limousine pulls up to the front gate of the facility that transports Father Leo and the Cardinal Superbia. The guard at the facility gate approaches the vehicle and spies into the rear window of the limousine. Bishop Lamb is expecting them and the guard has been fully briefed prior to their arrival. It is a rare day when a Cardinal graces any facility. The guard waves the limousine through the gate without hesitation and calls ahead to Bishop Lamb’s office to announce that their guests have arrived.

Guard:
Bishop Lamb, the Cardinal and the Priest have arrived at the gate… Yes your Holiness, I just sent them through… Thank you.

Sitting in his office Bishop Lamb picks up a pile of currency from his desktop, stuffs it into an old envelope, and then calls for an altar boy. The altar boy enters without haste.

Bishop Lamb:
After we show our guest to their rooms, I want you to take this envelope and put it in the good Father’s luggage. It is private…a note… just for him.

altar boy:
Yes, your holiness.

The altar boy takes the envelope and puts it in a pocket under his tunic. Through the office window, Bishop Lamb can see the Cardinal’s limousine pull up to the walkway of his mansion. The Bishop turns his attention back to the altar boy.

Bishop Lamb:
It is time to greet our guests.

The Bishop and the altar boy swiftly move towards the front door arriving as the bell rings. Cardinal Superbia is standing there with Father Leo directly behind him. The Bishop throws his hands in the air and then lowers himself to one bended knee. Cardinal Superbia extends his right hand and the Bishop quickly kisses several of his rings then rises and extends his hand to Father Leo who receives the Bishops gesture with reserve.

Bishop Lamb:
Your holiness, welcome to my modest abode, let me show your to your rooms, welcome.

Father Leo never breaks his eye contact with the Bishop. He can tell something is wrong. The altar boy remains motionless keeping his eyes to the ground until the Bishop addresses him.

Bishop Lamb:
Get their luggage and bring it to their rooms, and don’t forget what I told you.
Bishop Lamb returns his attention to the Cardinal and Father Leo as the altar boy dashes to the limousine’s trunk and retrieves a mountain of luggage.

Bishop Lamb:
Your holiness…Father Leo, can I offer you any refreshment before we get to work?

Superbia:
That would be lovely.

Bishop Lamb:
I have a wonderfully special wine that was given to me as a gift by Cardinal Gula. This would be the perfect occasion to drink it.

Cardinal Superbia:
If it is from Gula, I am sure it is a treat.

Bishop Lamb:
Please, let us retreat to the receiving room.

Bishop Lamb waves his hand and leads Cardinal Superbia and Father Leo through the mansion. When they enter the receiving room, a nun is opening wine and fills mismatched but very elegant wine glasses to the brim. She serves the wine on a tray in the three equally elegant but mismatched crystal glasses and gracefully serves each guest silently then whisks herself from the room.

Cardinal Superbia:
Well, that is service. Almost like “Heaven”.

Bishop Lamb:
We aim to please.

Bishop Lamb and Cardinal Superbia enjoy a light laugh while Father Leo seems unwilling to let his guard down. The Cardinal and the Bishop both sip their wine. Father Leo holds his glass to the light and looks at it suspiciously.

Bishop Lamb:
Father Leo, you have been so quiet. You are not drinking your wine, is there a problem?

Father Leo:
No, the wine is just fine thank you.

At that moment the altar boy that Bishop Lamb gave the envelope of money enters the room and catches the eye of everyone. The conversation pauses.

Bishop Lamb:
Is our guests’ luggage in order?

altar boy:
Yes your holiness.

Bishop Lamb:
Everything?

altar boy:
Yes your holiness.

Bishop Lamb:
You are excused.

altar boy:
Thank you your holiness.

Bishop Lamb:
Let me show you where your suites are located so we can get on to business. Please follow me.

Bishop Lamb opens the door to the hallway and directs the two men out. They follow the Bishop down a long corridor towards their quarters. This time, the doors to rooms are shut. Bishop Lamb stops in front of one of the closed doors and waves to Father Leo while opening the door with his free hand.

Bishop Lamb:
Father Leo, this will be your room.

Father Leo meticulously takes note of the location of the room as he looks through the open door and spies his luggage on the bed. He notices that one of the straps is unbuckled but does not give it much thought. Then the group continues walking, as they approach another door the Bishop pauses.

Bishop Lamb:
And for Cardinal Superbia, we have only the nicest room in the mansion.

Cardinal Superbia:
This is just wonderful your hospitality is notable.

Bishop Lamb:
Oh, thank you, your holiness. Your escort does not seem to share your enthusiasm. Is there something on your mind Father Leo?

Both Cardinal Superbia and Bishop Lamb direct their attention to Father Leo. Father Leo stands motionless, not saying a word; he keeps an intent stare on Bishop Lamb. Father Leo can tell that something is wrong, but can’t put his finger on it. An Americo citizen about to face a full audit from The Church should be more fearful. Just the threat of an audit usually would cause even the most unyielding Reagan to sweat a bit above the upper lip.

Father Leo:
I am here on business not pleasure.

Cardinal Superbia:
I think he may be concerned with a conversation we had on the ride over here.

Bishop Lamb:
There is no need for concern, I am sure everything will turn out just as expected.

Father Leo:
Then may we get down to business?

Bishop Lamb:
Oh, you are so impatient. Well let’s get started. Please follow me.

Bishop Lamb leads Cardinal Superbia and Father Leo to his office, opens the door, and they all enter. Cardinal Superbia and Father Leo take seats while the Bishop walks to his desk. Reaching under the desk he produces an old weathered briefcase. He sets the case on the desk and slowly unfastens the latches. After leisurely unfastening the left latch, Bishop Lamb pauses and smiles. Then he slowly unfastens the right latch, making sure that everyone in the room is aware of what he did. Right before he opens the lid of the case the Bishop abruptly pauses and pretends to think to himself.

Cardinal Superbia:
Is there a problem?

Bishop Lamb:
Oh my, I almost forgot. While tending the field, one of the flock recently came across a simply wonderful gem ring that I was saving for Cardinal Luxuria. But he never visits, and seeing you have a naked finger (pointing to Cardinal Superbia’s hands) I think it should be for you.

Cardinal Superbia:
For Luxuria you say? He does have so many wonderful rings already. Leo, what do you think?

Father Leo looks at Bishop Lamb and then reluctantly gives the answer that he believes the Cardinal would like to hear.

Father Leo:
Yes, Cardinal Luxuria has many rings.

Bishop Lamb:
Well then would his holiness please follow with me? I want to be the first to see when you put the ring on.

The Bishop pauses and looks at Father Leo.

Bishop Lamb:
You don’t mind, do you?

Father Leo knows better to stand between a Cardinal and a gift. He does not hesitate in his answer.

Father Leo:
I will wait here your holiness.

Bishop Lamb and Cardinal Superbia depart the room. Father Leo, now alone, opens his B.I.B.L.E. and prepares for the audit. After a few minutes of waiting Father Leo starts to become board and his interest is drawn to the briefcase on Bishop Lamb’s desk. Curios he walks to the Bishops desk and looks at the briefcase. The Father stands staring at the case and then turns to return to his seat. As he turns the door to the office opens and the Bishop and the Cardinal return, both admiring the large gemstone ring on the Cardinal’s finger.

Bishop Lamb:
Does this mean we are dating?

Cardinal Superbia laughs at the Bishop’s joke with full acceptance, but Father Leo is not enjoying this. He thinks that Bishop Lamb is just trying to put off the inevitable. Bishop Lamb saunters past Father Leo and picks up the briefcase off the desk.

Bishop Lamb:
Now on to the main event!

Bishop Lamb opens the unlatched case and exposes that it is full of old moldy currency and empty plastic zip-lock bags. Cardinal Superbia’s eyes widen with the site of the cash.

Bishop Lamb:
And not to forget this grand find of $520,000.00 of mint United States Treasury bills circa 1982 to 1985.

The Cardinal takes the case and counts the money as he speaks.

Cardinal Superbia:
I am proud the accept the $520,000 dollar donation on behalf…

The Cardinal stops speaking and gives his full attention the case of money. He shuffles through the bills and then looks at Bishop Lamb with a twisted stare.

Cardinal Superbia:
Wait, wait, wait. There is only $370,000 here. What is going on? Is someone trying to make me the fool!

Bishop Lamb looks at Father Leo with an evil grin, pauses, and then speaks slowly with purpose.

Bishop Lamb:
It must have been stolen.

Father Leo (surprised):
Stolen!?!

Bishop Lamb:
Yes, stolen. Thieves are not uncommon here in the facility.

Cardinal Superbia:
We must find who is responsible, if word of this gets out…it would not reflect well on The Church. Oh no, this would unquestionably not reflect well on me!

Bishop Lamb:
Your Holiness, we will clear your good name. Who had a chance to steal the money? Let’s see… I put the case on the desk… Opened it… Nothing was missing… Then we both went to get your new beautiful ring… So it certainly was neither you nor I, your Holiness.

Cardinal Superbia:
Yes, agreed.

Bishop Lamb again looks at Father Leo with an even larger and impious grin. All his years with The Church has made Father Leo quite a good profiler and judge of character. Father Leo did not trust Bishop Lamb as far as he could see him. His thoughts flash to his room and the image of the open strap on his luggage. Like being struck by bolt of lightening Father Leo realizes what is happening. He is being set up.

Father Leo:
Excuse me, your Holiness, I must use the facilities.

Bishop Lamb:
Are you all right?

Father Leo:
It must be something in the air. I am not used to the smell.

Father Leo rushes to his room and starts to frantically dig through his luggage finding the planted currency just as the Cardinal and the Bishop enter the room with a facility guard. Cardinal Superbia sees Father Leo holding the currency and he starts to shake with anger. Bishop Lamb’s lips curl into an enormous twisted smirk, trying to retain his joy for a plan so well executed.

Father Leo knows there is no explanation that will suffice, he has many times made others swear on the B.I.B.L.E. for lesser crimes knowing that guilty or innocent the line of questioning that is asked usually leave no other conclusion expect that of guilt.

Bishop Lamb:
Well, it seems we have caught a child in the cookie jar.

Father Leo:
No, your Holiness, I was not…

Cardinal Superbia:
Bite your tongue!

Bishop Lamb:
His guilt shines like rays of light through a broken stained-glass window. He is holding the stolen money in his hands!

Cardinal Superbia shakes his head and tries to hold on to his composure. He stares at Father Leo with contempt, than looks at the guard standing at the door entrance.

Cardinal Superbia:
Wait outside and close the door. I will call for you if I need you.

The guard exits and closes the door behind him. Cardinal Superbia sits on the bed and takes the money from Father Leo’s shaking hands. Bishop Lamb can hardly hold his excitement and almost giggles to himself. His plan could not be working out better.

Cardinal Superbia:
Leo, you would steal from me? You would blatantly break one of Americo’s Commandments in front of god? In front of god? In front of me!

Father Leo cowers and looks at the money in the Cardinals hand and realizes that there is no way out of this trap. He falls at the Cardinals feet weeping and begins begs for his life.

Father Leo:
Dear Heavenly Father, I beg you to see that I …

Cardinal Superbia opens his robe and puts the currency in one of its pockets. He cuts Father Leo off mid-sentence.

Cardinal Superbia:
Who do you think you are! This is incredible! Of all people to steal from me! Father Leo you where one of my altar boys, oh Father Leo, what to do? What will the others think of me, what will they say? What will they say?

Father Leo:
Your holiness, I did not…

Bishop Lamb:
Yes, what will they say? What will they say?

Cardinal Superbia:
Leo, oh Leo, you are one of my oldest friends in The Church. I thought I had trained you better than this. I am so ashamed for you as well as myself.

Father Leo:
I am being set up!

Bishop Lamb:
Listen to his lies; caught red handed! He is no better than a dump miner. He should be made to swear on the B.I.B.L.E.

Cardinal Superbia:
That is true, you could be made to swear in this. I am so ashamed. If word of this gets out The Church will be a laughing stock, I will be a laughing stock. What to do?

Bishop Lamb looks at Father Leo and smiles.

Cardinal Superbia:
Leo, since you are one of my oldest friends I am going to make an exception, I am not going to report this, let’s just say the money was never found.

With that Father Leo collapse into a puddle on the ground grovels at the feet of the Cardinal, raising his head only to kisses the Cardinals feet.

Father Leo:
Oh thank you your holiness, thank you.

Cardinal Superbia pushes Father Leo aside and adjusts his robe. The Bishop’s smile droops. If the Cardinal let the Father off with just a warning then his troubles will just start anew, surely Father Leo would retaliate against him and that outcome would mean certain death.

Bishop Lamb:
But you cannot let his obvious disregard for one of Americo’s Commandments to go unpunished.

Cardinal Superbia:
That is true.

Father Leo:
Your Holiness, if you just do a little investigation into this, I am sure that we will find the truth, the truth that will clear my name and your reputation.

Father Leo looks at Bishop Lamb with a knowing look, but he knows he cannot make unfounded accusations or the consequences could be just as dire.

Bishop Lamb:
But then they will all know, entire Party will be aware that you where made to look the fool.

Cardinal Superbia:
That is true.

Bishop Lamb:
Let me take the blame for the missing money, I will state in the report that it was stolen. You could not carry any blame for that.

Cardinal Superbia:
You are a good soul Bishop Lamb.

Bishop Lamb turns and points to Father Leo wagging his finger.

Bishop Lamb:
But this one! This one cannot be trusted! He would obviously tell the others of your weakness if you allow it.

Father Leo stands in fear and shear shock knowing that his life could be taken at any moment. He can see Cardinal Superbia thinking about the situation, the Cardinals face contorting in pain until he slowly explodes. Father Leo knows Cardinal Superbia all too well and hangs his head waiting.

Cardinal Superbia:
You are right! Father Leo you are no better than the dregs that wallow in the mud at this facility so you shall join them. Your punishment for this crime of theft is that you will be excommunicated from The Church. You should live with the scum you emulate. Guards!

The two guards rush into the room.

Guards:
Yes, your holiness.

Cardinal Superbia:
Father Leo has decided that he does not want to live under the protection of The Church’s umbrella. Strip him of his of any Church property and cast him to the dumps. That is where he belongs.

The Bishop moves very close to the Cardinal, putting his arm around him he speaks with reassurance.

Bishop Lamb:
With his fellow dump miners. You are very wise, your holiness. He will learn humility here. That is a very beautiful ring.

The guards drag Father Leo out of the Bishop’s office while Bishop Lamb continues to gush over Cardinal Superbia’s new ring

 

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