The St. Louis Arch: Diocese Conspiracy
By Patrick Foley Plummer as Dick Johnson
I waited in Duffy’s for the moron. He had information and evidence that would shake the core of this Catholic town and rip the foundation from the Midwest’s most prestigious tourist attraction. I waited, smoked and sipped cheap Vodka. I was working after all.
He entered the restaurant with a tattered brown expandable file folder stuffed with worn manila folders. I could see papers sticking out. And dark blue folded pages. And yellowed newspaper clippings. I hated that and ordered another Martini.
Unfortunately he ascertained my presence.
“Mister Johnson?” he whispered with pathetic clandestine apprehension. “Are you Dick Johnson?”
“He’s dead,” I said, and threw back the last of the first drink. “But if you’re looking for the press, I’m it.”
He stuck out his tiny hand and declared, “I’m Herman Sheman.”
“And I forgive you,” I accepted his shake and wanted to crush it, but gave brief compassion to this possible story.
He looked around the bar, at the people eating at tables, at the bartender mercifully setting down my Martini and asked, “Should we go someplace more private?”
“This is my office,” I said.
“What can I get you?” Fred the bartender asked.
“I don’t drink,” he said.
“Pity,” I quipped, and lit another Marlboro.
“Do you have any fruit juice?” the little nerd asked.
Fred looked toward me like I’d turned gay.
“This is an interview, Fred,” I said in self defense. “Give the man some orange juice.”
“I’d prefer apple. Less acidic.”
“This is a bar,” Fred glared at him through his thick glasses.
“Just give him some soda with a lime,” I said. “On me.”
“Thank you, Mister Johnson, and thank you for seeing me.”
“My pleasure, what do you have there?” I indicated the thick brown parcel.
“This,” Herman paused dramatically, looked around Duffy’s again and whispered, “is evidence.”
I could barely hear him.
“You’re gonna have to speak up,” and added to my own mythology, “lost some hearing in ‘nam.” Which was true.
“Mister Johnson, you never know who is listening.”
“If you don’t want the public to know why are you talking to a reporter?”
He clutched the stuffed folder, looked at me with deplorable blue eyes and said, “It is with much trepidation that I finally bring this out.”
I softened, not because of his sincerity, but because the smell of a story overcame my belligerence. I pulled out the bar stool and beckoned him to sit. Once he climbed up his short legs couldn’t touch the floor.
“What do you want to bring out?” I asked and took the cheap wire notepad and Bic pen from my shirt pocket. I thumbed through the pages for a blank sheet. I looked him in the eyes and smiled attempting to gain his trust.
“It’s a fifty year old secret,” he said. “The Church would not want this out.”
“There are lots of things they don’t want out.”
“But this changes everything.”
“If you pull out a print of the Mona Lisa and start talking about secret codes I’ll kick your ass,” I warned him.
“This is bigger. This is real. This affects every woman born and raised in Saint Louis.”
I fired up another smoke and clicked the Bic.
I turned my good ear to him and said, “I’m listening.”
“I have the real plans of the Arch.”
“You mean the Arch Diocese?”
“No, the Arch.”
“You mean the Saint Louis Arch?” I added with some disappointment, “I thought this was about the Catholics.”
“So is it about a tourist attraction or the Church?”
“Both,” he said, and as he grinned, I counted his crooked teeth. “But it’s no tourist attraction. It’s a transmitter.”
“Is it speaking to God?” I gritted my teeth thinking that I had wasted my time with this idiot. Well, it wasn’t all bad. I could expense the drinks.
“It transmits Omega waves.”
“And what does that do?”
“Omega waves suppress women’s sexual desires.”
“So that’s why I can’t get laid.”
“Exactly,” he said and leaned toward me. “Every woman who has lived here since the Arch was constructed has been bombarded with Omega waves. It takes a while, sometimes years, but it erodes the woman’s desire for sex. It is the Catholic Church’s way of imposing morality.”
I wasn’t certain if it were the Martini or his earnestness, but I was beginning to believe him.
“Where is your proof?” I asked.
“It’s all in here,” Herman said, as he patted the file folder still on his lap. The lid had fallen off and the papers stuck out like a pile of garbage. He gently withdrew a thick blue folded paper.
“This is the original plan,” he said. I looked at the drawing and recognized the Saint Louis Arch immediately. He unfolded the blue print further, grinned and gloated, “And this is what lies beneath.”
The schematic of the Arch had what I expected. There was a drawing of an underground room where tourists could get into the claustrophobic elevator and ride up into the Arch. What I did not anticipate was the lower level.
“This,” Herman’s bony index finger pointed to the bottom level, “houses the transmitter that sends the Omega waves up through the Arch and broadcasts the sexually suppressive waves through out Saint Louis.” He tapped the blueprint. “And it is all controlled by the Bishop.”
I sipped and contemplated.
“Do you have any more proof besides an old blueprint? It could have been faked, you know.”
“I have verified the authenticity. And oh yes!” He quickly pulled a laminated page from the folder. “A memo from the Vatican.”
I stared at the Papal seal. My Latin was a little rusty.
“I’ll have to trust you on the translation,” I said with mild disappointment and ground my butt into the ashtray.
“I’ve had it translated. It congratulates the Jesuit who spearheaded the project.”
“Jesuit. That’s no surprise.”
“There’s more,” he started to whisper again. “There are other Omega transmitters. The Seattle Space Needle, for instance. And the Sears Tower in Chicago.”
“I’m from Chicago,” I countered, “I never had a problem with women there.”
“You from the ‘burbs?”
“Doesn’t transmit that far.”
I finished off the Martini with one gulp and then my entire story collapsed.
“Dick!” the fat, blusterous bore of a Priest said as he offered his consecrated paw to me.
When Herman Sheman saw the collar he panicked and grabbed the blueprint and plastic enshrouded Papal letter and stuffed them into the thick file folder.
“Where’ve you been keeping your self?” The obnoxious cleric, and sometimes drinking buddy, stuck his bulging belly between me and the story of a lifetime.
“I’ve been around.”
Sheman hopped off his stool and I screamed, “Wait!”
But I was too late, the little nerd scampered out the door of Duffy’s and into the cool St. Louis night. When I got outside he was gone and the story with him.