Max took the stairs two at a time and ran to Fahad’s door.

Knock Knock

Fahad answered the door. “What do you want? It’s after eleven!”

“Sorry to bother you, Mr. Fahad, but Mrs. Cara sent me to ask you something,” Max said with all innocence. The calculating criminal was hooked. He opened his door wider.

“Well, what is it? What does she want?”

“She said she was going to come by earlier, but she got held up.”

“I knew something must have come up!”

Max’s confidence grew. “She told me to ask if you could come up to room ninety-nine and meet her there. She said please hurry.”

The just-conned killer slipped on his shoes and followed Max out in the hall. Fahad stopped for a second and stared dazedly at the gas lights in the hallway.

“Mr. Fahad, they are filming a movie here tonight so everything looks a little different. She said to ignore it and meet her in the nursery, uh, I mean, room ninety-nine.”

Fahad followed Max as if he were in a dream up the stairs. At the top on the third floor, Max turned left and Fahad turned right. He smiled to himself as he watched the bad guy disappear into the nursery, saw Isabella and the babies.

“Sorry to disturb you. Just ignore me. I’m waiting for someone. We’ll be out of here before you start filming.” He seated himself in a corner in a chair.

Max ran to the room where the nuns had gone earlier and came face to face with an image he had only seen carved in stone in the park on Camp Street.

“Y-y-you’re M-M-Margaret H-Haughery the b-b-bread…”

“Yes, little man, I’m the Bread Lady of New Orleans.”

Looking into her eyes, a boy who had been abandoned by his mother and whose father had been isolated in a world of vengeance, face to face with the patron saint of orphans herself, he burst into tears. Somewhere deep inside, the mad little man, a dam burst. She wrapped her arms about the crying boy and hugged him like her embrace bestowed magical healing – which it did in so many ways. Finally, his sobs subsided to her soft voice saying, “It’s okay. You’re safe. Let it all out.”

He stepped back and the nuns, who were much less compassionate, said, “What’s this all about? Who are you? You are not one of our kids!”

Max whipped his eyes. “I… There’s someone in the nursery.”

“Oh, it’s just Isabella. She loves those babies,” the Bread Lady said.

“No, it’s a…” Dang, what’s the phrase? “A Dweller on the Threshold!”

“WHAT?! How do you know?” Mother Superior shouted.

“‘Cause I followed him here. He’s a killer!”

Margaret’s face became cold as her mind went to protecting the babies. “The book, the bell, and the candle!” she commanded.

Mother Superior barked orders to the other nuns. “Get the oracle! We’ll need his name!”

“Fahad Wazeer AlGhamdi. That’s his name,” Max supplied.

The nuns froze and stared at Max.

Margaret spoke up. “I have touched your soul, Maximillian. I know you are good, but why is this dweller in my nursery?”

“He is evil. He murdered his wife Zahava AlGhamdi. I swear it.”

The licorice-skinned nun they called the oracle entered the room and said, “He speaks the truth.”

Margaret grabbed her signature floppy hat, “Come! Let’s send this abomination back to the darkness!”