As Clement cautiously approached the limousine, the goon grabbed him and shoved him inside. “You heard the man. Get in,” he grumbled.
Clement landed on a soft leather seat. His eyes struggled to adjust to the darkness around him.
“I apologize for my security. He occasionally gets overzealous,” said the commanding voice.
The goon slammed the door behind him. Clement scrambled to open it from the inside, but it was locked.
“Clement, we really need to talk.”
“Do you make it a habit to kidnap your citizens, Mr. Mayor?” demanded Clement.
The Mayor chortled. “Do you make it a habit of incarcerating my closest advisor?”
“You can’t mean Emperor Don.”
“One and the same,” said the Mayor. “He also happens to be my cousin.”
The revelation sent Clement reeling. Then a light in his brain flickered.
“Wait. You know what’s really going on between George and Don. Why not just kidnap George?” asked Clement.
The Mayor looked out the window. “It’s complicated.”
Clement’s eyes narrowed. “Simplify it for me.”
“It’s about money.”
“I’m following you so far.”
“George and Don’s father, my uncle, was a fantastically wealthy business man. He left a sizable inheritance for both his sons. As it turned out, one wanted the money far more than the other,” explained the Mayor.
“This is all squabble over money?” asked Clement.
“I told you it was complicated. Pay attention. Did you know Don was clergy?”
“He’s a priest?”
“Not Catholic, but married to the ministry just the same,” explained the Mayor.
“How’d he wind up on the streets?”
The Mayor sat up in his seat. “Don left the church to better serve the people. He used his wealth secretly as a means of making an impact.”
“Like a modern day Francis of Assisi,” noted Clement.
“Whatever. That means nothing now. By helping George put him away, you not only took away the city’s greatest servant, you gave George the entirely of their family’s wealth,” accused the Mayor.
“One thing doesn’t make sense. If Don is so humble, why did he call himself Emperor?”
The Mayor grimaced. “It was a joke. He was tired of watching other churches build what he called ‘Spiritual Empires’. He thought they were contrary to the message of the Gospel. When he left for the streets, he claimed to be the ‘Emperor of Nothing’. George made the name stick, claiming it as proof his brother was mentally unstable.”
Clement sat back in wonder. He looked at the Mayor, who was visibly disgusted.
“I’m really sorry,” mumbled Clement.
The Mayor sneered. “If you think that helps you’re a bigger fool that I thought.” He called out to the driver, “Pull over.”
The limousine slowed to a stop. Clement didn’t recognize where he was.
“You have to fix this. Let me rephrase that. You’re going to fix this. Do you understand?”
“You testified to get Don put away. Recant your testimony.”
“You want me to purger myself?”
“In a word, yes. Now get out.”
The car door opened and the goon dragged him into the street. The door slammed and the limousine drove away.