He had just finished the second Mass and was in the office. He had a few things to do before he changed into his black cassock, made his rounds and then, visited Monifa. He couldn’t wait to see and be with her. He missed having her live close by at the dorm and going over to the rectory at nights. He understood why she didn’t want to be living there on campus anymore. After the horrific ordeal she had been through, who could blame her?
Not a day went by when he didn’t thank God for saving Monifa’s life and his. They both could have been killed by Gracelyn. He didn’t even want to consider what his life would be like if she had succeeded in taking Monifa’s life. He still had her request to visit her in prison and he was still debating whether or not he should. He would have to pray and fast about that.
The spiritual side of him impressed him to visit her but the emotional side of him rebelled. The woman had murdered Father Schmidt and Sister Augustin and would have murdered Monifa if he hadn’t rescued her. How could he face such a monster? He thought of Christ who had forgiven those who wanted Him dead and had gone to great lengths to make it happen. And their motive for wanting Him dead had been envy. Even Pilate had realized that.
What was Gracelyn’s motive for the two murders? Father Schmidt was going to send him to another parish and she thought the only way to prevent him from doing that was to take his life. She had to get rid of Sister Augustin because she had seen her put the substance which had killed Father Schmidt into his soup. She couldn’t risk the nun telling someone else about it. Gracelyn’s motive for wanting to take Monifa’s life was jealousy. She was jealous of the girl because he, Father Kiesler was in love with her and Gracelyn knew about their relationship. She had seen them together in the library and at the rectory and knew about their “secret place”.
He had no idea that Gracelyn was in love with him until she told him the night she revealed that she had been responsible for the deaths of Father Schmidt and Sister Augustin. Her declaration of love had shocked and repulsed him. He had never seen her as anything except a very efficient secretary whom Father Schmidt had often spoken very highly of. He used to like to tell people that he hired her. Little did he know that it would end up costing him his life.
Father Kiesler ran his fingers through his hair. Before he fell in love with Monifa and they became lovers, Father Schmidt and he got along well. They had their differences, of course but they never got in the way. And Sister Augustin seemed to like him and then, everything changed when Monifa blossomed into a young woman right before his eyes, stirring in him feelings he had never imagined that he would have as a priest. He had prided himself that he was much like the apostle Paul who valued celibacy.
In his first letter to the Corinthian church members, he stated that, “He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares for the things of the world, how he may please his wife.” When he had decided to become a priest, no once did he struggle with the idea of being celibate. Granted, he had known many pretty girls but none of them interested him. Worldly and physical pleasures failed to lure him from his deep and constant desire to serve God.
After his First Communion, he became an altar server at Saint Mathilde, which he loved because he helped the priest and deacon during the liturgy, especially with the Mass. He got to carry the processional cross and candles, the incense and thurible. He held the missal for the priest celebrant when he wasn’t at the altar, assisted the priest when he received the gifts from the people, washed the priest’s hands before the prayer was said over the gifts and removed items from the altar during communion. He assisted the priest celebrant and the deacon as needed. It had pleased him to wear the alb or the surplice during a liturgy. Perhaps it was these experiences which influenced him and motivated him to become a priest.
Being a priest was a stupendous thing for him and he was determined that nothing would jeopardize it. Then, he came to St. Albertus Magnus and his life changed. When he met Monifa, she was 12, a child. She constantly hung around him and he tolerated it because he didn’t mind her company. She was very bright and they always found things to talk about. He let her accompany him on his walks and soon found himself looking forward to them. And, then, she turned 15.
Celibacy became a problem for him because of Monifa. Being around her became tough because of the sexual feelings she aroused in him. He knew that as a priest, he shouldn’t be attracted to anyone, let alone, an underaged girl but he couldn’t help it. After many unsuccessful attempts to fight his attraction for her, he finally succumbed to it. He slipped her a note one day after making sure that no one was watching. In it he asked her to go to the rectory after everyone else had gone to bed for the night. She showed up and he took her to his bedroom where they made love for the first time.
They had been lovers since she was 15. The end of July would mark two years. If only they hadn’t been discovered in the library that night…Pushing back the chair now, he stood up and went over to the window to look out at the well maintained grounds below. Monifa would still be living in the dorm. Father Schmidt and Sister Augustin would still be alive. Gracelyn would not be in prison for their murders. And there wouldn’t be less students attending St. Albertus Magnus. So much had changed. So many lives had been affected because of his relationship with Monifa.
Sighing heavily, he moved away from the window. After straightening the papers on the desk, he left the office, locking the door behind him. Tomorrow, he would be interviewing candidates for Gracelyn’s job as secretary. Right now, he was going to visit Monifa.
Monifa stood on the balcony, looking out. Father Kiesler was going to arrive at any minute. She was gone that Mrs. Wisenthal wasn’t going to be there. It was awkward for them to kiss or do anything when she was around, even if she wasn’t in the same room. They were aware that she was there and so, they couldn’t do much except hold hands.
It would be nice to make love in a bed instead of in the driver’s or back seat of a car even though it was a spacious station wagon. Afterwards, they could take a shower together and then, have something to eat. They could sit out on the balcony afterwards and talk until it was time for him to return to the rectory. She hoped that he would stay for hours and hours.
She couldn’t wait for August to come for two reasons–she was going to turn 17 and Father Kiesler and she were going to spend the entire month in Quedlinburg. Since coming to Hamburg from Lagos, she hadn’t traveled anywhere, not even within Germany. It would be a welcome change.
Her heart skipped a beat when she spotted the station wagon coming towards the house. Smiling, she waved as it pulled into the driveway. The door opened minutes later and Father Kiesler stepped out. He looked up and smiled. She turned and ran inside the house and into the foyer to open the door.
As soon as he was inside and the door was locked behind him, they were in each other’s arms, kissing. Then, she pulled away so that he could quickly remove his shoes.
“Let’s go upstairs,” she suggested breathlessly.
“But what about Mrs. Wisenthal?”
“She isn’t here. She went to the fish market with a friend and won’t be back for a long time. We’re all alone.”
“All right, let’s go to your room.”
She grabbed him by the hand and took him upstairs to her room. In a matter of minutes, they were naked and under the sheets, making love.
A few hours later, they were sitting on the balcony, having dinner and talking about their trip to Quedlinburg. It was around 8:30 when he left. Monifa was in the living-room watching TV when she heard Mrs. Wisenthal’s key turning in the lock a half-hour later. Mrs. Wisenthal asked her how Father Kiesler was and then, she excused herself and went upstairs to change.
Monifa got the feeling that her hostess didn’t approve of her relationship with Father Kiesler which wasn’t surprising. It wasn’t only because he was a priest but he was a thirty year old man and she was a teenage girl. If only, he weren’t a priest and she was older. They could get married and have their own place.
Maybe she should go back to the dorm but even as she considered it, she knew that she wouldn’t feel comfortable there. Too many memories. Even though Gracelyn was behind bars, she would still feel like she was outside of her room. She shuddered at the thought. No, she would have to remain here with Mrs. Wisenthal until she graduated from St. Albertus Magnus.