Alphonse isn’t a hobo with a heart of gold, but in twenty years of riding the rails, he’s earned a reputation as a kindhearted soul always ready to help. When he helped the Sadlers, a young couple seeking a better life in small-town 1950s Indiana, he never meant to stay. But stay he did, keeping a close eye on the Sadlers and their two young sons—and an even closer eye on the town’s new priest, Father Brennon.
On the surface, Brennon seemed perfect for the job, but Alphonse had crossed paths with Brennon in the railyard jungle and knew better. Brennon didn’t recognize the old hobo, but Alphonse never forgot Brennon or his crimes.
The summer the Sadler’s son, Francis, turns 13, the death of a prominent member of the congregation is blamed on decades of accumulated pigeon droppings in the church’s bell tower. Brennon assigns Francis the thankless task of cleaning and maintaining the tower, work that often continues into the night. When Alphonse’s worst fears are confirmed, he discovers that Francis has blocked out the terrible details of Brennon’s abuse. Alphonse must find a way to protect Francis while revealing the truth to the Sadler family, ultimately driving Brennon to leave town in shame.