in the morning. Dressed in black from head to toe, he moves through the foliage like a leopard. His prey: the rich residents of Belgium Hill and
Luxembourg Crescent. His conscience is clear; Standard Union and Allied Mercia will pick up the bill. These people have insurance coming out of their ears.
He slides open a side window, and clambers inside the property known as 'The Beeches'. The layout is familiar; he moves around quickly picking up items of value and placing them noiselessly in his black briefcase. Sometimes, it’s just too easy.
No more than four minutes later, he’s outside in the night air again, his luggage bulging with duty–free; a good night’s work.
A fine athlete in his youth, he vaults the surrounding wall with ease, and is back on the deserted pavement. In the distance, a dog barks. He never pays a visit to a home with canine protection; too risky.
As he brushes himself down, a narrow beam of yellow illuminates his face.
‘Police’, says the young voice holding the torch. ’Step out of the shadows.’
He does as instructed, quickly evaluating his options. Fight or flight? Fight or flight?
‘Is that you … Father O'Rourke?
‘Tommy? Tommy Harrison?’
‘I heard you’d graduated Hendon. Your mother was telling me after Mass a few weeks back.’
'I didn’t expect to see you at this hour, Father.' apologises the young constable. ‘You see there’s been a string of burglaries on the area.’
'One of my parishioners had a stroke. His wife called me; distraught, the poor dear.'
‘I really am sorry, Father.’
‘Nonsense! You were just doing your job, Tommy. If it wasn’t for this,’ the priest goes on, pointing at his dog collar, ‘I could easily be your burglar, all dressed in black like Johnny Cash.’
He doesn’t have the time or the inclination to explain. Rain is beginning to fall, and he has phone calls to make, goods to move.
‘See you on Sunday, Tommy?
Pc Harrison looks down at his shiny boots. He’s drifted away from God since school; maybe this is a sign.
‘Sure,’ he replies. ‘I’ll be there.’