Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Cassie flipped her hair over her shoulder, a gesture Elizabeth had seen her do a thousand times.
"Oh, Lizzie! You're always such a worry wart! I don't understand why you make yourself sick over every little detail! There's absolutely no connection between us and Rivera. Sure, I knew him, but so did every person in town. He worked at the church and the Country Club, and they owned the restaurant. It's not like he'd been hiding under rock, or anything."
"It's just... this time...well, it was an awful lot of money, Cassie."
"I've told you a million times. The amount is inconsequential. Just follow the plan... like we always do, and it'll be fine. Did you do what I told you?"
"Yes. I went twice a week and withdrew the amount you told me, always on a different day, and always to a different teller. It's empty now...I took the last of it Thursday."
" Did you wear the disguise I gave you?"
"Of course, but I felt stupid. People were always holding doors open for me, and offering me a chair. It was ridiculous."
"And it's because of that so called 'ridiculous' disguise that we've got nothing to be afraid of, Lizzie! Remember that the next time you doubt me. Where's the money?"
"It's right here in this blue case." Elizabeth picked up the heavy bag, and passed it to her cousin.
Cassie undid the locks, and opened the case. Giving it a cursory shuffle, and counting the piles, she gave a satisfied grunt. Lovingly patting the money before closing the top, she shoved the bag under her bed. "Looks like it's all here. So what's the problem? Why didn't you stay at the B and B like I told you. I would have come for you when I could, like I always do. Dr. Patterson and I have been making some decent progress. I can't help that I'm stuck inside, Lizzie. It's real bad this time. You could at least feel a little sorry for me, you know." Cassie crossed her arms, and gave Elizabeth her best pout.
" I do feel bad for you. Honest, I do! But it was so lonely there, Cas. I stayed in my room, except for the bank visits, and meal times. And when ever I went down to the dining room, the other people would try to chat me up. I never knew what to say to them. I had to keep making up stories, and was afraid I couldn't keep track of all the lies I was telling. I started to write it all down. Then, when that Rivera thing happened..." Elizabeth paused, remembering that awful morning, and the lost rosary. She started to open her mouth to tell Cassie about being at the church the morning of the murder, but quickly decided against it. Now was not the time to set her cousin off. " I just couldn't stand it anymore. I had to get out of there. So, I checked out this morning, and went to the train station, like I was leaving town. I even bought a ticket, so it seemed like I had a destination. When it got dark, I took a taxi close to here, and then walked over."
"And you didn't go anywhere else, or talk to anybody?"
" No, Cassie, no one." she lied. "I pretended to read my book, and wait for my train."
"Geez, Lizzie, why didn't you just go? Why did you come back here? It causes all kinds of problems for me."
"I'm tired of all this sneaking around. It sucks being by myself all the time. It's boring, and it makes me nervous being out of the loop. Why can't I just stay with you, Cassie? she whined. "I promise I won't be a pain. I just don't want to be alone anymore. I could be a help. You know...go to store, clean the house, and run errands and stuff."
"Don't be ridiculous! We can't be seen together. No connections...remember? You have to stay out of sight until we can wrap this whole thing up."
"Can't I stay here? It's a big house. No one will see me."
" You know, Elizabeth, you can be a real pain in the ass. I guess you could use one of the bedrooms on the third floor. No one goes up there. You'd have to promise not to come down during the day. I can't have Dr. Patterson, or anyone else, for that matter, seeing you. Are we clear on that?"
" Oh thank you, Cassie. You're the best ever." Elizabeth rose to hug her cousin.
Pushing her away, Cassie slid the off the bed. "I'm exhausted. Let's get you settled, so I can get some sleep. I have tons to do tomorrow."
Elizabeth followed her up the stairs to the third floor, and to a room at the end of a long hallway.
Cassie opened the door, and leaving the lights off, pulled the shade down on the only window in the room. "You'll have to use only a night light for now, and keep the shade drawn at all times. I can't have people seeing lights, or someone walking up here, all of a sudden. At least until I can figure out what to do with you."
The room was cramped and tiny, and in the dark, looked rather unwelcoming. "It's kind of..ahh.. small, Cassie, and so far from your room, and the kitchen"
"Beggars can't be choosers, Elizabeth. If you want to stay with me, you're going to have to live with it, at least for a few weeks. At least there's a bathroom right next door. Pretend your Anne Frank." she giggled. And with that, Cassie shut the door behind her, leaving Elizabeth alone in the dark.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Cassie McKreedy was so lost in the e-book on her ipad, that she almost missed hearing the pounding on her front door. Reading the time at the top of the screen, her annoyance at being bothered turned to apprehension, as no one with good news shows up at your door at 11:30 pm. "Hang on...I'm coming!" she shouted down the hallway.
Throwing on a robe, she padded across the stairs in bare feet, flipping on several lights as she passed by. She peered through the oak door's peep hole, and frowning, unbolted the lock. In the glow from the street light, Cassie could tell the blond woman standing on her porch was near tears. She grabbed the woman's arm and roughly pulled her inside, slamming and locking the door behind her.
"What the hell are you doing here? I specifically told you it was too risky to come here right now! You gotta be a frickn' idiot, Elizabeth!"
The young woman's lower lip quivered. "I had nowhere else to go! I couldn't stay in that B and B by myself anymore. Oh Cassie...I'm so scared. What if somebody finds out? I can't go to prison. I'm not cut out for that kind of thing. Please...we have to do something! Get out of here...go some place where people don't know us!"
"Chill, already! It's going to be fine. I'm handling it on my end. Let's go upstairs. With the lights on, the whole neighborhood can see us through the front window. You must of woken the entire street up with that pounding. Where's your luggage?"
"It's still on the front porch."
"Oh for heaven's sake!" Cassie unbolted the door and quickly dragged the suitcases into the foyer. "You didn't have the taxi drop you off here, did you?"
Elizabeth sniffled, and wiped her eyes. "No. I had him drop me three blocks away, and I walked here."
"Well, thank heavens for little favors. Come on, we'll talk in my room." Cassie grumbled, turning the lights off, and leaving them both in darkness.
Elizabeth followed her up the stairs, dragging the suitcases behind her. Cassie's take charge personality made her feel better already. It had always been that way, ever since the two were small children. Cassie would create grand schemes and games, and Elizabeth would let herself be talked into them, her fear turning into joy at being included in Cassie's magical, make-believe world. She often wondered if it was this same creative genius, her ability to lose herself in fantasy, that caused Cassie's agoraphobia issues. In the whole scheme of things, it mattered little, as in Elizabeth's eyes, Cassie walked on water.
Even though one woman was a brunette, and the other a blond, looking at them a person could easily tell they were related. Both girls had lively green eyes, slim figures, and the same turned up nose anchoring their face. They could pass for sisters, and often were, though in actuality, they were only first cousins. Reaching her bedroom, Cassie flopped across the mattress, and patted the end of the bed for Elizabeth to sit."
"Now, Lizzie," using her cousin's childhood name, "tell me what has you so spooked that you'd risk everything to come here?"
Elizabeth leaned against the headboard, and sighed, "Oh Cassie, I'm so afraid! With Rivera dead, some one's bound to find out!"
Sunday, June 24, 2012
the quiet restaurant. The last customer had long departed, and the night shift had finished their work, and gone home to their families. Thinking about the empty house that awaited her, Marita was in no hurry to leave. She poured herself a generous tumbler of tequila, and leaned against the wall.
On the table in front of her, next to the half empty bottle of Patron Silver, stood the ashes of her late husband in a tall gold and white urn. The funeral director had delivered it earlier in the evening, tisking at the lack of ceremony and decorum that accompanied Marco's send off to the here after. She probably should have planned some type of memorial, but honestly, couldn't see the sense, or the expense, of it. Neither she or her husband were very religious, and they belonged to no church. She might of held some type of gathering at the funeral home, but knew that the few people who would come would be employees of the restaurant, who felt a business obligation to pay their respects. None of them knew Marco very well anyway, and had he been able to tell her, he would have surely scolded her for what he perceived as a waste of hard earned money. No...it was fitting that she should be the only mourner here at Su Casa. The restaurant had been their life, and they had sacrificed everything to make their dream a reality.
The tequila began to make her feel weepy and emotional. Marita sat down and held the urn in her arms. "Oh why, Marco? Why now? We were so close to having it all work out!" she wailed. "How will I make it work without you?"
Admonishing herself for being weak, she plopped the urn back on the table, and went to retrieve the register receipts from the day's sales. Quickly glancing through them, she already knew that the profit margin would be dismal, and paying the bills this month would be a struggle. The crowd today was a bit heavier than what was usual for a Saturday night, probably because of the morbid curiosity of the patrons regarding her new role as a widow. But if business didn't pick up soon, she wasn't sure how much longer Su Casa would exist. The enterprise she and Marco had poured their blood, sweat and tears in to, would end up just another casualty of bad economic times.
It hadn't been for lack of trying. They had hired a live mariachi band for the evenings, purchased new festive uniforms for the wait staff, and had even invented "fiestas" of all kinds to entice the customers in. Coupons in the paper, BOGO offers...nothing had worked! In fact, according to the statements from the accountant, they were actually losing money on a monthly basis! It all came down to the fact that the restaurant had no liquor license, and people expected margaritas and Coronas with their Mexican food. For the past fourteen months, she had petitioned the Town Council for approval of a license to serve alcoholic beverages, but had continued to be turned down, time after time. Town rules stated that the vote needed to be unanimous, and in the case of Su Casa, it had not been. Apparently, there was always one hold out who regularly voted against the issuing of a license for their business. Damn that Tessa Peppers!
Several weeks before, in a rage over another "No" vote, Marita had come up with a plan to ensure that the next vote would swing in their favor. After endless battles with Marco, she had finally convinced him that her way was the only way, and he had agreed to set her plan in action. Now he was gone...struck down like a dog in the mud by a senseless act of violence. The idiot of a Sheriff could offer no information, and the priest, who stood inside the church 100 feet from where it happened, was just as clueless. But Marita was no dummy. Was it possible that Marco's murder was connected to the plan to get the liquor license? It was a long shot, but a genuine possibility. She would need to take some precautions...move carefully and wisely under the guise of grieving widow. She poured another shot of tequila, sat at the table, and made her plans. No matter what it would take, she wouldn't lose Su Casa.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
He watched the woman flip through several pages, seemingly looking for something specific. When he could stand it no longer, he cleared his throat and said, "Can I help you find something over there, Mrs. Peppers?"
For the average person, being caught in the act of snooping through people's private belongings would cause a great deal of embarrassment and angst. But Tessa Peppers was no ordinary woman. She calmly smiled, and looking the priest dead in the eye, explained, "There you go Fr. O'Kenney...now your desk is neat and tidy. Just like a Pastor's ought to be. Ahh... I see you found some tea. How lovely."
Part of him was impressed by her cool demeanor, and the other half, scared shitless. Even in this day and age, people tried to put their best game face on in the presence of clergy. It was a natural reaction to what they stood for, no matter what the religious affiliation. But Tessa seemed determined to gain the upper hand in every situation, and refused to apologize for anything, including bad manners. "To be honest Mrs. Peppers, I'm rather uncomfortable with you handling things on my desk. People come to me with very personal matters...things that are no one else's business. I'd rather they stay that way."
"Oh nonsense, Father. You know me...I'm not interested in anyone's business. I'd just thought I'd make myself useful while you made the tea." She smiled sweetly at him, and settled herself back on the sofa. "I'm just a helpless old woman, trying to be a good Christian." She took a small sip of the tea, and made a face. "I take it you didn't have any English Breakfast, Father."
"No, I'm sorry. This was all I could find. I'm not much of a tea drinker. I think this was left over from Father Cunningham."
" Poor Fr. Cunningham, God rest his soul. Now there was a dedicated Pastor! A true shepherd to his flock."
Kevin knew there was a "dis" to him in her statement, but let it roll off him. "Yes, I hear he was
warmly regarded by his parishioners. His illness and passing was a great loss to the whole diocese."
"Did you know him, Fr. O'Kenney?"
"No, not personally. But as I lived in this town the past four months, I've heard nothing but good things about him. And of course, the whole rectory is a reflection of his tastes." He thought briefly of the hideous pink plaid wallpaper in the rectory's kitchen, and wondered, not for the first time, if his predecessor was color blind."
"Well, a finer man never lived. He always had a kind word, and a happy smile. You know, people traveled from all over to hear him preach the Good News. The place was always packed"
Fr. Kevin shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He knew Tessa was working very hard to get under his skin. The church accounts from Fr. Cunningham's time showed Sunday collections that were average to meager. If people were flocking to the church, they certainly weren't showing their appreciation for his preaching through their generous donations. "As I said, Mrs. Peppers, I am truly sorry I never got the opportunity to meet him."
Putting the cup and saucer down, and looking at him with narrowed, blue eyes, Tessa said, "Father Cunningham was beloved by his people because he knew his place, Fr. O'Kenney. You could take a lesson or two from him."
Fr. Kevin felt his face flush, and his blood pressure rise. Trying not to let the anger show in his voice, he asked, "I'm not sure I understand what you mean, Mrs. Peppers? Please enlighten me."
"Well, Father...Pastor Cunningham attended to church business, and church business alone. He didn't go around getting himself into other people's problems, or sticking his nose where, quite honestly, it didn't belong. He kept himself above all the dirt in this town."
"Mrs. Peppers, I'm still not sure what you're getting at? Are you referring to the murder of Marco Rivera?"
"It's no secret , Father, that you've been hounding Sheriff Beckett for information. And I couldn't help but see all these papers on the subject when I was helping you tidy your desk. I just don't understand why someone of your standing would want to involve himself in such a ..tawdry affair. It's very unseemly you know...you chasing around like a junior detective, worrying about evidence and such."
His patience all but gone, Fr. Kevin leaned forward in his chair and sputtered, "The man died on my front lawn! I owe him the dignity of making sure justice is served, and I'm sorry you, and the people of this town, can't see my responsibility in that." Before he could say anymore, Tessa rose, taking the hammer in hand, and headed for the door.
"Well, I see I've over stayed my welcome, Father O'Kenney. Apparently, I've just made you angry. I'll be leaving now. It's obvious you don't understand my concern for the future of Holy Family Church." The fact that she stressed the word "future" in that sentence, did not go unnoticed. " Thank you for the tea. Good night, Pastor." And with that last curt statement, she stepped off the porch and headed down the darkened street.
Fr. Kevin shook his head as he watched her stamp off into the night. He went inside and shut the door. Turning off the lights in the parlor, he made his way up the stairs to bed. It was late, and he still needed to polish up his homily for tomorrow's Mass. The files about Marco's murder would have to wait until later. Halfway up the stairs, thinking about the day's events, he went back down and bolted the front door.
Friday, June 22, 2012
The voice outside the window, decidedly female, scolded, "Fr. O'Kenney! Is that any type of language for a man of God? And you being a Pastor, and all that! My word! I'm shocked!"
Fr. Kevin regained his composure, and asked, "Is that you Mrs. Peppers? I do apologize
for the rather foul language...it's just that you startled me. I didn't expect anyone to be standing at the window...especially with the rose bushes right under them. What can I do for you?"
"Well, you can start by inviting me in, Father. It's ridiculous to be carrying on a conversation between glass." She turned away in a huff, and made her way to the front door.
For a second, Fr. O'Kenney thought about not letting her inside the rectory. Fact was, the woman totally creeped him out. But common sense took over, and he went to unlock the front door. It was ridiculous to be uneasy around someone who was probably just a very lonely, old lady, looking for a bit of company. It certainly didn't help his uneasiness when he opened the door to find her standing there with a large hammer in her hand.
Before he could ask, Tessa explained, "I hope you don't mind, Father? I took the liberty of putting a large lawn sign in front of the church. You know...for my campaign as Mayor? After you so graciously offered me your support this afternoon, I didn't want to waste a second. Thought I should get it in front of the church before Sunday Mass and all"
Fr. Kevin tried hard not to make a face. He had neither offered his support, nor permission to
place anything on the lawn. Using his best "Pastor" voice, he tried to reason with the woman, "I'm not sure the diocese allows us to get involved in political issues, Mrs. Peppers. How about I give the diocese office a call on Monday, and check the policy. In the mean time, maybe I better take the sign down. You know...just to be sure. Besides, you probably don't want to post your sign on the church lawn right now, well... with all the crime scene tape and such. Bad vibes, and such..."
"But that's the whole point, Fr. O'Kenney! People in this town need to see the kind of job the present Mayor is doing! He's soft on crime! Like I said this afternoon, when I'm Mayor, things are going to be different." Changing the subject of the lawn sign, she added, " By the way Father, my good friend Jenny Hoffman mentioned that she saw you coming out of Sheriff Beckett's office this afternoon. What ever in the world did you need to see him about? Was it about that terrible murder?"
Trying to take control of the conversation, Fr. Kevin replied, "Oh, just checking in with the Sheriff...a little of this and that." He was glad that he had picked up the papers from Marco's file, and stacked them on his desk, out of the busy body's sight. Killing her with kindness, and hopefully knocking her off this track of questioning, he asked, "You must be parched from the long walk over here. Can I get you a cold drink?" Lifting the pitcher off the table, he suggested, "Some nice lemonade, perhaps,"
"Oh no. Never touch the stuff. Nasty, it is! But I could do with a nice cup of tea, English Breakfast, if you have it."
"I can see what I have in the kitchen. I'll be back in a few minutes." Seeing her make herself comfortable on his sofa, he added, "It's such a lovely evening, Mrs. Peppers. Maybe we should sit on the front porch." He thought that if they sat on the porch chairs, he would at least have gotten her out of the rectory, and hopefully, closer on her way to leaving.
"Oh here is fine, Father," she said, patting the sofa cushions with her plump hands. "I don't care much for the night air."
He banged around the kitchen, trying to find tea of any kind. He put the kettle on to boil, and dug around the top shelf of the pantry. He was a coffee person himself, and unless there was something left over from the pastor before him, he was doubtful Mrs. Peppers was going to get her cup of tea. Eventually finding a dusty box of green tea, a give away of unknown age from the local Chinese carry-out, he placed a tea bag in the cup, and added the boiling water. He carried the cup and saucer back to the parlor, careful not to slosh the hot liquid on his hands.
He started to apologize for his lack of English Breakfast tea, but stopped when he noticed only the hammer was sitting on the sofa. Looking around the room, he stood in shock...at loss for words...as he watched the bold Mrs Peppers, standing over his desk, flipping through the files on Marco's murder.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Just some "mini" notes about the rectory parlor. This room is part of a Greenleaf "Westville" that I purchased on Ebay, and am in the process of rehabbing. It was also my first attempt at mini re-upholstery and drapery, so I beg your indulgence as I wax on them. The sofa and chairs were a Mothers Day gift from my son, Michael. I liked the shape and finish on the chairs, but not the ugly, red velvet upholstery. After prying up the red velvet, I redid them in a piece of fabric with small rose print that I tea stained to get the beige color. I like the way they turned out, especially if you don't look to closely.
The chair next to the desk had a plain wooden seat, so I petit pointed the little seat cover, and with a little padding, changed the look of it entirely. I also decided I am not fond of the art of petit point. Give me cross stitch any day.
The rug in front of the fire place is done in Russian punch needle, of a design that I created myself to match the wallpaper. (which doesn't show up to well in the photo) I really enjoy the punch needle. It is tedious, but hard to screw up once you get the hang of it.
The drapes are one of my first attempts with detailed window treatments. I knew I wanted to use a lovely lace and embroidered vintage hankie I had found, but wasn't sure what I would do with the side panels. Not having a "mini pleater", ( I really have to get one of those) I used corrugated cardboard painted white, covered in white Irish linen. Once I got it up there, I didn't think it looked to bad. But now I understand why the custom crafted drapes by the pros cost so much. Unbelievable how long that took to complete.
Some furniture and accessories I would like to point out...the little lamp table in the corner, a Strombecker item that I think is charming with the turned legs...and the roll top desk against the wall, which is from the Shackman company, and one of the first pieces I ever bought when I started collecting in the 70s. I would love to take credit for the stitched picture of the light house, but that was purchased from Memory Makers in South Carolina, and framed when I got back home. The statue of the Last Supper ( did you notice...Cassie McKreedy also has one) is absolutely darling, and is complete down to the last detail, but I can't remember where I got it.
Thanks for letting me go on about one of my favorite subjects. I hope Fr. Kevin likes the way I've re-decorated his parlor, even if it does seem a bit "girly"...
After escaping the clutches of the long winded Tessa Peppers, Fr. Kevin was in no mood to attempt any more home visits. Looking at his watch, he realized it was already 2:30 in the afternoon, and if he wanted to catch Sheriff Beckett before he left for the day, he'd better hustle.
The Sheriff was just clearing off his desk, when Fr. O'Kenney appeared at the door. It was a lovely Saturday afternoon, and the poor man was hoping to get in a few hours of fishing before supper. The intrusion of the young priest as he was getting to leave for the day, was not a welcome sight.
"Fr. O'Kenney, what brings you here on a grand Saturday afternoon? Don't you have souls to save somewhere?" chuckled the Sheriff, laughing at his own joke.
"I apologize for bothering you this late in the day, Sheriff Beckett. I had planned to stop earlier, but I was visiting parishioners, and time just slipped away. I wanted to give you this possible evidence." He handed the two Ziploc baggies containing the rosary and glove to the Sheriff. "I thought you might want to have your CSI guys take a look at this."
"CSI guys, Father? You've got to be kidding! In Dollyville? You're looking at the entire police force in front of you! We don't have a crime lab here, or any forensic experts, for that matter. Damn, I' d be happy to be able to hire a deputy, but we don't have money in the budget for another salary. I'm hoping after the mayoral election in the fall, we get someone who truly recognizes the needs of this town. Besides, this is the first murder in Dollyville in fifteen years, and the last one was an open and close domestic issue. We don't need our own crime lab. When I need something analyzed, I just send it down state to the big boys."
Fr. Kevin looked sheepish, but continued the conversation, "I just thought maybe these were clues to who might have murdered Mr. Rivera. The Telller boy, Irwin, found them near the spot where Marco was um... lying.. I figured you'd want them as evidence."
"I appreciate your concern, Father. But I think you watch too much T.V. Cases are solved by good, solid leg work. Track down the motive, and the evidence finds itself. Leave the police work to the professionals"
After a few more minutes of conversion and and pleading, Fr. O'Kenney walked out with few answers, but did manage to talk Sheriff Beckett out of a copy of the coroner's report, and a file containing a few case notes, including witness interviews. He knew that if the Sheriff had not been in a hurry, and old fashioned in the sense that he respected Kevin's Roman collar, he would have left empty-handed. At the least, he could discover how poor Marco had died. He owed the man that much.
Stopping briefly for a carry-out sandwich, he headed back to the rectory, looking forward to some peace and quiet, and time to go over the files before 5:00 Mass. As luck would have it, that was not to be. Several phone calls, and a problem with the church's air conditioning, ate up the rest of the afternoon, and it was late in the evening before he could get back to the information concerning Marco's murder.
Making himself a tall pitcher of instant lemonade, he settled at his desk in the rectory's parlor, and began to read. According to the coroner, the gardener had died from stab wounds to the back, which pierced the left lung, and severed two major arteries. Cause of death was listed as massive blood loss. That didn't come as a shock to the priest, as he had seen the pruning shears wedged firmly between Marco's shoulder blades, and the huge pool of blood spreading across the church lawn. Curiously, the heavy sweater the man had been wearing that day had been cut up the front, and there had been a sticky residue, and remnants of masking tape, on the man's undershirt.
The notes stated that there were no witnesses to the actual attack, and several people at Mass that morning claimed to have heard nothing out of the ordinary, A few foot prints had been found near the body, but because the ground had been so dry, the impression were not clear enough to determine shoe size or type.
The rest of the file contained bits and pieces of information about Rivera's personal life, but seemingly nothing out the ordinary that would give someone justification to kill the man. Fr. Kevin scratched his head, and looked over the notes on his desk. It felt like he was missing something important, but could not determine what it might be. He wondered about the rosary and glove he had handed over to the Sheriff earlier that afternoon. Although the Sheriff had shown little concern about them as possible evidence, the priest felt their appearance at the exact murder site was more than coincidence.
Frustrated, and tired of sitting in the uncomfortable desk chair, he rose, stretched and walked across the room to pour himself another glass of lemonade. He bent down to grab the pitcher, and was startled to see a face pressed against the parlor window, watching his every move. "Shit!" he exclaimed, dropping the file full of papers, as he jumped back from the window.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Fr. Kevin whistled a cheerful tune as he made his way down the street after his visit with Cassie McKreedy. "That went well," he thought. The two had settled down for a nice long conversation, and although he was sure the girl had some serious issues, he found her to be a charming and intelligent young lady. She had told him about her job as a CPA for Fickleman and Fines, the largest financial planning and accounting firm in town. They understood her disability, and allowed her to work from home, where she handled the books for several businesses in Dollyville, including the accounts for Holy Family. They laughed over the fact that she knew more about the business end of the parish then he did.
During the conversation, she had confessed that the beautiful and spacious home had actually belonged to her parents, who were both deceased, and that despite the fact she rambled around in it, didn't have the heart to sell. Fr. O'Kenney had gotten her to promise to allow him to bring the Eucharist and hear confession on the first Friday of every month, and to keep in touch via phone and email. He felt as if he had made some solid headway in building a relationship with this isolated young woman, and for the first time since his arrival at Holy Family, felt as if he were actually pastoring his flock.
Deciding to treat himself to an iced double mocha latte, he crossed the street and headed toward the coffee shop. He was lost in a reverie, when he heard someone screeching his name.
"Fr. O'Kenney! You who...Father! Over here!"
Turning around, he noticed an elderly woman waving to him from the porch of a bright yellow bi- level home. His stomach dropped when he recognized the woman, and he felt guilty that he wasn't able to rise above his personal feelings. It was Tessa Peppers, a long time parishioner of Holy Family, and probably the most obnoxious person he had ever run into. Every Sunday, after Mass, Mrs. Peppers stopped him at the exit of the church, to complain about everything under the sun, and suggest a multitude of ways he could, and should, improve his homilies. He didn't understand how she commanded such a wide circle of friends with her grating personality, but she seemed to be a mover and shaker in Dollyville, and he held his tongue, and used up most of his patience, when dealing with her.
"Good Morning, Mrs. Peppers. What can I do for you this fine day"
" Well, I noticed you were over at Cassie McKreedy's, and I wondered what was going on."
"Going on? Whatever do you mean?"
"Well Father, you were there quite a long time, and people get to talking. Does Cassie have a spiritual problem she needed to talk over? Is she ill? You know...she does have that "thing" where she doesn't leave the house. Quite odd, don't you think? I don't believe she's been out of the house for an entire month. That's the way it is with young people today. All spoiled cry babies. Mark my words, Father O'Kenney, all that woman needs is a strong minded husband, and a good swift kick in the ass."
The titles of the books on Cassie's shelves, and the appearance of the handcuffs, made Fr. Kevin think that Mrs. Peppers was more right than she knew. Cassie McKreedy would probably very much like a "strong minded" husband, but he wasn't about to share any of that with the viper tongued Tessa. Trying desperately to change the subject, the priest moved over to the garden and asked, "Your hydrangeas are absolutely stunning, Mrs. Peppers. What do you do to get them this vibrant shade of blue?" Before the words left his mouth, he regretted saying them, and opening the door for her next spew of words.
" Speaking of flowers and gardens, Father, what is happening with the Rivera murder? Has Sheriff Beckett caught the killer yet? You must tell me what you know! I'm a defenseless widow woman living by myself. I need to take precautions against vicious murderers. It's shameful the way this town is going to Hell in a hand basket! No authority what's so ever. You must be disgusted that a man died on holy ground...your holy ground I might add. I'm sure you want justice served, don't you Father? When I'm mayor of this lawless town, things will be different!"
"Mayor, Mrs. Peppers?"
"Why yes, Fr. O'Kenney. Don't you follow the news in your own village? I'm running for Mayor in this fall's election. I've been a devoted Town Council member for over twenty years. Nobody knows what Dollyville needs more than I. I do hope I can count on your support, Fr. O'Kenney? Having the Mayor as a member of your congregation...well, you don't need me to tell you what that could do for your little church. Here Father, take a seat, and we'll chat about things."
Not knowing how to wrangle himself out of this situation, Fr. Kevin slid himself into one of the uncomfortable metal chairs on her porch, thinking he knew exactly how a fly must feel caught in the sticky tangles of a spider's web.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Fr. Kevin had seen enough episodes of CSI and Law and Order to know that evidence found at the scene of the crime had to be handled carefully. Instructing Irwin to place the rosary and the glove back on the ground where he found it, and not to touch it again, he ran to the rectory to get some "make-do" evidence bags.
Using an old chopstick left from last week's carry-out, he picked up the rosary and placed it carefully in a Ziploc sandwich bag. He then did the same with the leather glove, hoping the bag wasn't one he had used previously to hold his reefer. On his way to visit the home bound, he'd stop at the Sheriff's office and drop off the evidence. If things were going his way, maybe Beckett even had a lead
on Marco's murder, and he could remove the crime scene tape wrapped around the front of his church before Sunday's Masses.
Wandering through Dollyville, he was rather surprised that people seemed to be going about their business, oblivious to the fact that a man had been murdered in their neighborhood, and had yet to be caught. He would have expected people to be cautious and worried, and the opposite seemed to be true. People scurried about, talking and laughing, and occasionally throwing a greeting his way. Not for the first time, Fr. Kevin mused about the strangeness of the people of this town.
He looked over the list of parishioners he needed to visit and decide he'd check in with Cassie McKreedy first. He wasn't sure what to expect, as he had never met her before. Being an agoraphobic, she rarely left her home, and of course, never came to the church with the rest of the congregation for Mass. He wasn't even sure how old she was, as the list he had gave only names, addresses and general infirmities. Looking at the sprawling white Colonial, he assumed she must be up in years, and apparently, quite wealthy. He went up the steps, a bit nervous, and rang the bell.
A female voice called out, "Come in...it's open!"
Fr. O'Kenney took a deep breath, and let himself into the house. He looked around the foyer, but could see no one to invite him further. "Uh...hello? It's Fr. O'Kenney, from Holy Family Church.
Umm...I've come to see Ms. Cassie McKreedy."
"I'm here in the parlor...the room to your left."
Assuming the woman was unable to come to the door, he wandered his way into the parlor and was shocked to see a young lady in her twenties, lying on the floor with her head stuck under a chair. "Ms. McKreedy, are you alright? Can I help you get up? Call for an ambulance?"
"I'm fine Father. I'm just looking for something. Maybe you can give me a hand?" She pulled her head out from under the chair, and struggled to stand up, waiting for the confused priest to offer her his arm. Around her wrists, she was bound with a set of shiny, metal handcuffs. "I've seemed to have lost the key. I believe I've dropped it behind this chair. Can you take a look for me? My mobility is a bit...limited this way."
Fr. Kevin dropped to his knees, and blindly dug around under the chair. After a few moments of patting the floor, he felt the metal key. Standing back up, he unlocked the cuffs on her wrists. "Ms. McKreedy, I know we haven't been formally introduced, and I realize it's probably none of my business, but can I ask why you are wearing handcuffs?"
Cassie hesitated a moment, and said, "Uh ...well...it's a new type of therapy my doctor is trying for my agoraphobia. I'm not sure it's working." Changing the subject, she cheerfully asked, "Father, can I get you something to drink? Coffee, iced tea perhaps?
"Coffee would be lovely. Thank you Ms. McKreedy."
"Oh, for sure you can call me Cassie, Father. I'll be right back with your coffee. Cream or sugar?"
"Both, thank you. Boston style if you please"
" No problem. Make yourself comfortable, I'll be back in a jiff, " she remarked, as she headed toward the back of the large house.
Fr. Kevin used the opportunity to wander about the parlor, looking for clues to the woman's personality and interests. The room was obviously femine in design, papered in shades of taupe and pink, with over stuffed furniture, pillows and knick knacks. He was drawn to a large bookcase, which held shelves of both hardcover and paperback books, and a large plaster statue of the Last Supper. He smiled at the classic rendition of that sacred moment, and perused the titles on the spines of the books. The Woman in the Collar? Make, Me Master? Tie Me Tight? The collection went on and on.
As recognition finally hit him, Fr. O'Kenney suddenly wished he had decided to visit old Mrs. Springer today, instead of ...odd... Ms. McKreedy.
Cassie returned, carrying a tray with two cups of steaming coffee, and a plate of delicate pastries. In her head, she thought that the young priest seemed nice enough, and luckily, appeared pretty clueless. She was certainly grateful that she had decided to try out the handcuffs today, and not the some of the other equipment she had ordered. She wondered what he might know about Marco's murder, and who else he had visited today. A little chat might be in order. "Here we are. I do hope you enjoy pastry, Fr. O'Kenney? It's from that little bakery on Third Street. I have it delivered fresh everyday. Now, let's sit and talk a bit, shall we?"
thought they turned out rather nicely, don't you? LOL)
Monday, June 18, 2012
When he awoke Saturday morning to the incessant buzzing of his cell phone alarm, Fr. O'Kenney knew there were changes to be made. As awful as yesterday's murder had been, he was more concerned about the state of his mental health. He had almost convinced himself that the whole episode last night was due to his excessive reefer use, and an extremely stressful day. Unfortunately, the large purple bruise on his upper arm had no explanation, and he dreaded to think that he might come to believe it was the result of the pinch from the wee little man in his bushes. Not wanting to tread there, he decided to concentrate his efforts on building up his role as the devoted and caring Pastor of Holy Family Parish.
8:30 Mass this morning had been unusually light on worshipers. Saturday attendance was always a bit smaller than the rest of the week, but today the church had been practically empty. "Might have something to do with the chalk outline of Marco's body on the front lawn, and the yards of yellow crime scene tape wrapped around the garden, " he muttered. "I guess the good people of Dollyville are not interested in belonging to a church that was the focus of last night's 10:00 news."
He quickly changed from his vestments, and put on his official "I'm here on business" priest suit, Roman collar and all. He had been meaning to touch base with Sheriff Beckett to see if the investigation had uncovered anything about the motive for Marco's murder. Afterwards, he had a list of home bound parishioners he was supposed to check on, and hadn't gotten around to visiting. He hoped the chats would take his mind off last night's adventure, even if he was sure all anyone would want to talk about was the murder.
As he debated whether to take the bicycle or make his way on foot, he was shocked to see a small figure sitting within the crime scene tape. For a second, he held his breath, fearing he would see the crazy midget with the acorn hat. To his relief, it was just Irwin, a neighbor kid who frequently roamed around town digging in people's gardens and lawns. "Irwin...what are you doing inside the crime scene tape? The Sheriff put that there so people would stay out! Get out of there right now!"
Irwin looked up over his glasses, hands full of mud and grass. "I'm looking for bugs Fr. O'Kenney. This is the best spot in town." Irwin was always looking for bugs, What he did with the multitude of insects he gathered, Fr. Kevin did not want to know.
"Well, you can't be messing around with the crime scene. Don't you know a man was murdered right there where you're sitting?" He felt bad trying to use scare tactics with the kid, but he was in a hurry and needed for him to just be gone.
" Hey Father... look what I what I found when I was digging over here by the chalk lines? Do you know who this belongs to? Or can I keep it?" The boy held up a black bead rosary, and a single red leather glove.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Startled by the sudden appearance, Fr. Kevin jumped up, spilling the rest of the latte across the grass. "What in the hell...who are you? What are you doing sneaking around my damn bushes?"
"Not much in the way of hospitality, lad, considering you be a man of the cloth." remarked the little man. He was oddly dressed in light green pants and a jade colored jacket tied with a bit of twine. Most unusual, he wore what appeared to be an over sized acorn cap upon his head.
As he took in the "gentleman's " appearance, he began to consider the thought that maybe he was possibly hallucinating, as tiny people did not normally fly out of one's hedges. He regretted the second joint, and wondered if he would shortly need medical supervision. He felt his heart racing, and a cold sweat broke out across his forehead. If he ended up in the ER he could kiss this position goodbye, along with any possibilities for the future.
Positioning himself comfortably on a small boulder, the tiny man sighed. "I must admit, I expected a bit more from Margaret's lad. But in these ages, one learns to make due."
"Look...I don't know who you are. I'm not even sure you're actually real, and not some figment of my drug addled imagination." Before he could get another word in, the visitor reached over and gave Fr. Kevin's upper arm a sharp pinch. "Hey, that hurt!
The man chuckled, "Figments surely don't leave bruises. He made himself more comfortable, and went on. " It saddens me to find that you remember so little of Margaret's tales. Herself was a lively lassie, very special to the sidhe. We miss her greatly, " he whispered.
At that moment, it dawned with glaring clarity that the man was referring to Margaret O'Brien, his mother's mother, and his beloved "Granny". She had been gone now for nearly 20 years, passing on when Fr. Kevin was 10. In his mind's eye, he could picture his Granny and he as they worked together in the kitchen, filling his young heart with stories from the Old Country. He felt a chill run down his spine, and narrowed his eyes at the small figure on the boulder. "You don't expect me to believe that I am sitting here talking to a wee person...fairy folk? Those were just old tales, make believe told to a lonely kid by a nice old lady. Nothing more. Fairies, leprechauns and magic? You got to be kidding me! What I need right now is a long shower, and a good night's sleep. By tomorrow morning, this bad reefer moment will be a thing of the past...and so will you!"
The wee man frowned, and said, "So... you don't believe in things you can't always see?"
"Well, not exactly, " mumbled Fr. O'Kenney, picking himself off the ground. And before he could say another word, the tiny figure was gone.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Behind the tall hedges, in the back of the church, Fr. Kevin rested and watched the day's sky turn to twilight. He took a long drag on the joint in his hand, and slowly exhaled. As he did so, he could feel the knotted muscles between his shoulder blades begin to unwind and relax. Today had been the worst day he could remember, and he couldn't get the image of Marco's bleeding body out of his mind. The guilt twisting in his stomach was even harder to shake, despite the reefer doing it's work.
How could he not even know if Marco was Catholic? The man had been coming to work almost every day for the past four months, and as he lay dying on the front lawn, Kevin knew little more than his name, and that only because he regularly signed the gentleman's pay check Truth was, he knew little about any of his parishioners, other than the inane chit chat exchanged after Mass. And now it looked as if someone in this town was so horribly messed up, filled with enough rage to actually take a life!
When Sheriff Beckett had asked if he knew of anyone who would have reason to want the gardener dead, he could offer no input. He even needed to check Marco's employment records to find out if he had a next of kin, and who and where they were. "Face it, " he mused, "you just suck as a Pastor".
He took another drag and wondered when it had all stopped mattering. He knew he had wanted to be a priest and serve the Church since he was in the 6th grade. He loved his faith, and his ordination had been one of the happiest days of his life. But once out of the seminary and assigned to his first parish as an associate, he had quickly become disillusioned. It seemed to be nothing more than business and politics. The harder he tried to build personal relationships, the more he was rebuffed. So he stopped trying, and instead stayed off of the radar. Because he did nothing to make a positive impression, it came as a complete shock to him when the diocese had informed him that he would be getting his own parish. The reasoning became quite clear when he arrived in Dollyville, and realized that Holy Family was a teeny, tiny church, in a teeny tiny town. A place you sent someone who couldn't mess up the status quo.
"And yet, you still managed to screw up the proverbial 'one car funeral," he thought. Feeling perfectly sorry for himself, he reached down to grab the cup of latte next to the lawn chair. As he did so, something caught the corner of his eye, moving among the bushes. Thinking it was the neighbor's
cat, he turned his attention back to the reefer, latte and his growing weariness. Imagine his shock when out of the bushes rolled what could only be described as ...well...a midget.
"Enjoying your own little pity party, lad?"
Friday, June 15, 2012
Fr. Kevin eased himself onto the straw bench in front of Su Casa Restaurant, and shook his head. It was barely noon, and he felt as if he had aged ten years. He was quite sure they had never covered handling murders in seminary school, and if they did, he, for sure, was not present at that lecture.
He had volunteered to accompany Sheriff Becket to the restaurant to break the news to Marco's widow. It was obviously his duty and obligation, being that Marco had worked for him, and had taken his last earthly breath amongst the chapel's azaleas. He had been present at a few passings before, offering prayers and comfort to the bereaved, but those had been in the dignity and quiet of a hospital room, and not the front lawn of his church. He wasn't really sure what to expect, but nothing could have prepared him for Mrs. Rivera's reaction.
After her initial shock, the new widow seemed more angry than anything else. She cursed everyone she could think of, including the Almighty, and had more than a few choice words for her departed husband. When he had tried to help her into a chair so she could compose herself, the ranting woman swore at him, and swatted him across the back with the broom she was holding. Needless to say, he offered her no further advice.
Sheriff Beckett took the woman's statement, and quickly skedaddled back to the court house, leaving Kevin unsure of what he was supposed to do next. He felt it wrong to just leave her, at least until someone from the family came to relieve him of this obligation. After much discussion, it was decided that Mrs. Rivera would call her sister , and that the restaurant would close, at least for today. When the sister arrived there was a new barrage of volatile language, this time in Spanish. While the two women snapped and snarled, he politely excused himself with a feeling of relief.
Unfortunately, as he left the building, he remembered that he had arrived in Sheriff Becket's squad car, and now had no way back to the rectory. In addition, he had left his cell phone in the sacristy when he had changed after Mass. Not wanting to go back inside to ask for the use of the phone to call a taxi, he decided he would just hoof it back across town, several blocks, in the 80 degree June heat. "If ever there were a day to enjoy the guilty pleasure of a joint, today is it." he grimly thought to himself.
Fr. O'Kenney picked himself off the uncomfortable seat, and started to make his way home. As he was leaving, he looked over his shoulder at the deserted restaurant, and noticed Marco's ungracious widow watching him from one of the building's front windows. Her action made the whole experience, from the dead guy on the church lawn, to the less than bereaved widow, seem like a lame made for TV movie. Problem was, it appeared he was to be a supporting character. "Joint my ass", he surmised, "I believe I'm entitled to the whole damn bag!" And with that thought, shuffled his way down the street, and back toward Holy Family.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
While the Sheriff and Fr. O'Kenney were busy dealing with the grieved widow, across town in a lovely B and B, a young woman rushed about packing her few belongings. She opened and closed the dresser drawers with a sure sense purpose, and quickly, but neatly, folded them into a set of matching, monogrammed luggage.
When she was sure she had packed every item, she closed the suitcases and set them on the floor to wait for the bellman. She knelt on the floor and reached under the bed, pulling out a small wooden chest with a cover intricately stitched in fancy needlework. Sitting on the end of the bed, the woman lovingly ran her hand over the lid, then opened the box and carefully inventoried the items that were nestled within. Suddenly, a look of panic crossed her face. She dumped the contents on the bed, seemingly searching for one particular treasure, and obviously not finding it among the pile.
With a growing sense of panic, she stood and checked every pocket of the clothes she was wearing, puling the material inside out, and shaking it. When that yielded no relief, she began inspecting every nook and cranny in the beautifully appointed room, crawling under furniture, stripping back bedding, and moving decorative pieces to the floor. When there were obviously no further places to search, she plopped back down on the bed, exhausted and frantic, with tears forming in her eyes, and a lump in her stomach.
" Oh please God...not my grandmother's rosary", she whimpered.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
At Su Casa Mexican Restaurant, the day had started off badly. The early morning maintenance crew arrived to find a small flood in the kitchen area, caused by a pipe under the sink that had sprung a multitude of leaks. Water sprayed out in all directions, like a monster garden sprinkler turned full force. Moisture dripped off every standing appliance, and the puddles on the floor pooled to a good three inches. Getting the kitchen ready for the Friday lunch rush would be near impossible. The crew's supervisor had the unfortunate duty of calling the business's owner to inform her of the problem. Knowing Marita Rivera as he did, the unlucky gentleman wished he had called in sick today.
Twenty minutes later, the boss lady arrived like a bat out of hell, screaming, ranting and swearing up a blue streak. She grabbed a broom from one of the crew members and barked out orders, insisting that the restaurant would open on time at 11:00 AM, and using the handle on anyone who didn't move fast enough to suit her.
"Pedro, turn the water off for the whole restaurant, and call the damn plumber! Tell him he better get this shit fixed, or I'll kick his ass all over Dollyville! Juanita, I'm not paying you to stand there like a pole. Grab a mop and help Sam clean up the water from the floor. Why do I have to explain every little thing? Are you people stupid, or what?"
Marita gabbed a sponge herself, and began to wipe down the sopping appliances. She had meant to call her husband earlier to check if he had followed through with their plans, but had gotten distracted by the phone call from the supervisor. Once she finished with the kitchen issues, she'd give him a ring and find out if it was "mission accomplished" time. After twenty years of marriage, she knew her husband better than anyone else. Marco would surely over think the carefully laid plans, and then talk his cowardly self out of the whole thing. Damned if she would let that happen! They had come too far to let anything derail them now.
Before she could finish wiping down the grill, Juantita, still holding a dripping mop, interrupted her train of thought. "Mrs. Rivera, there are some people at the front door. They need to talk to you."
"If they're salesmen, tell them to make a damn appointment, if they're customers, tell them we open at 11:00, and if it's anyone else, tell them to go to Hell! Can't you see I'm up to my elbows in problems right now, you idiot?!"
When no answer was forthcoming, Marita turned around to find herself face to face with Sheriff Beckett, and that young priest from Holy Family, whose name she could not remember. For an instance her stomach dropped to her feet, and confusion reigned in her head.
The priest stepped forward and gently led her out of the kitchen into the dining room. With a look of compassion, Fr. O'Kenney said, "Mrs. Rivera, maybe you better have a seat. We've come with bad news."
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Several blocks away, Cassie McKreedy finished the last page of the novel and set it aside. She stretched and took a long sip of her morning coffee, now very cold. This was the third time she had read all three books in the the Fifty Shades of Beige trilogy, and each time she finished, she felt the same way...lost and empty.
Dr. Patterson had warned her she needed to attempt going out more often, and had even offered to help her try. But deep down, Cassie knew she wasn't ready. She had been holed up in this room for nearly a month, seeing only a hand full of people who had gained her trust. The new meds Dr. Patterson had prescribed made her sleepy, and didn't help with the physical symptoms of her ongoing panic attacks. The memory of the last time... the pounding in her chest, the complete dizziness, the intense and overwhelming sense of danger...made her not even want to try.
She and the good doctor, who was kind enough to offer house calls, had been working on a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. But as of yet, her agoraphobia, that unnatural fear of being out in the open, of being unable to escape, had yet to be conquered. That's what made her current addiction to the BDSM subject matter in the novels so damn frustrating.
"What I really need is a couple of hours with the dominant Mr. Beige and his Purple Room of Pain," she mumbled to the four walls around her. "Yeah, what a hoot that would be. Oh Mr. Beige...tie me up, gag me, and paddle my ass. And oh by the way, we have to stay inside this room like maybe forever because I'm a total freak and frickn' afraid to go outside! What a joke, you messed up loser." She flung the novel across the room, disgusted with herself, the novels, and life in general.
Settling into a dark mood, she pulled up the chair to her desk top computer and decided to focus her attention on her work. Her occupation as a CPA allowed her the freedom to work from home, and she had let her accounts slide as she fussed around with the novels. Before she could even begin, her cell phone chirped with an incoming call. She glanced at the caller ID and frowned.
"What's up? I didn't expect to hear from you so soon. What? When? Dead...like in no longer breathing? Shit! Well yeah...that changes everything. No, I can take care of it from here. No, don't come over...too risky. Yes...I understand. Calm down, you're freaking me out! I'll do it right away. All right then...I'll call you later. Bye."
Still shaky from the call, Cassie let out a deep breath, and instantly began to delete the incriminating files from her hard drive.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Hi Friends and Fans of Dollyville...
If you are having trouble posting a comment, here's the scoop. I discovered that apparently you must sign into a google account, or any of the others listed in the profile bar, to post one. If you don't have a google account, you can just scroll down the profile tab and post as "anonymous". If you do use the anonymous profile, just leave your name next to your comment. If you would like a response, you are invited to also leave your email address. I can also be reached via email at email@example.com. Sorry, this is the only way I can figure to get around this setting.
Please note that the posts and photos in this blog are the sole property of the author, and may not be copied or reproduced for any type of commercial use.
As Marco Rivera's cold body lay in the front garden of Holy Family Chapel, the townspeople of Dollyville went about their business, blissfully unaware that there was a vicious murderer in their midst.
On the corner of Country Lane and Shady Pines, Tessa Peppers scuttled about her sunny kitchen, preparing a morning snack. The cookies she had just taken out of the oven were cooling on the table, and she hurried to get the water boiling for her tea. She hoped she had enough English Breakfast for a full pot.
"Now where in the hell did I put the box with dry goods? It was here yesterday." She looked around the room in disgust, and sucked on her teeth. She had decided over a month ago to remodel this kitchen, and here it was, June 11th, and the place was still in disarray. The new tile was forever out of stock, and the stinking wallpaper guy had not been back in over a week.
"I don't know why I listened to that stupid Jenny Hoffman anyway! That woman doesn't know her ass from a hole in the ground! It was her idiotic suggestion that I should contract Dolly Depot to remodel my kitchen. Now, I'm fussing around here waiting for them to finish the job they started 3 weeks ago! The whole thing is turning into one big pile of shit!"
Tessa slammed the pot on the stove and turned up the gas. She dug through the box of dry goods and found the box of English Breakfast. Flipping the lid, she discovered the tin was almost empty.
"Damn it! Nothing is going right for me today! Now I'll have to drink that damn Earl Grey my cheap ass nephew bought me at Christmas. Stuff tastes like cat piss."
Stamping about the kitchen, she glanced up at the clock above the fridge. "9:20 already?
I better get into my favorite spot." She grabbed a pair of expensive binoculars off the table, and headed to the kitchen window in the far west corner of the room. Pushing the lace curtains to the side just a bit, she had a perfect view into a window next door.
As if on a schedule, Mr. Scutney whistled his way into his bathroom. "Well good morning, Mr. Scutney", Tessa murmured to herself, "lovely day for a shower isn't it? Green boxers today? How charming!"
Mr. Scutney went about his business in the house next door, totally unaware that he had an audience. While he was soaping up to some obscure Italian opera, Tessa's cell rang. "Damn it to hell! Who's bothering me at a time like this?" She glanced at the phone's screen, and with a grimace noted it was the impossible Jenny Hoffman. For a minute, she contemplated letting the call go to voice mail, but decided she really wasn't fond of Italian opera anyway.
"Hello Jenny. Well, yes, you did rather catch me at a bad moment. Slow down and put your teeth in...I can't understand you! A what?! Where?! The church garden? Marco Rivera? You don't say! That's just awful! A person's not even safe in church anymore! Ok Jenny, you go put a compress on your head and lie down. Yes dear, I can imagine it was quite a shock. I'll stop by later and see how you're doing. No, no problem. You rest now dear. Bye bye."
Tessa hit the end button, and slipped the cell phone back into the pocket of her robe. A slow smile spread across the wrinkled face, and with a relieved sigh, she went back to watching Mr. Scutney rinse off.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
8:30AM masses during the week were Fr. Kevin's favorites. They were quiet, reflective...and short. The six or seven regulars seemed satisfied in their pews, responding to the prayers with volume and vigor, and not expecting, or desiring, any deep theological recourse at Homily time. As Mrs. Martin played the recessional hymn on her kazoo, the organ long since broken, the contented padre strolled toward the exit door, as was his custom.
He always enjoyed chatting with his parishioners after Mass, but today was Friday, and he had a singularly ulterior motive. Upon arriving at Holy Family, he had quickly discovered that Friday was the optimum day for a breakfast "invite". As the rectory employed no cook or housekeeper, he often relied on the generosity and goodwill of the local town's people.
With fingers crossed, he wished for a breakfast bid from Mrs. Hoffman and her divine, always- light-as-a-feather, fresh, baked cinnamon rolls. Second choice was certainly Mrs. DePere's quiche of the day, but the way in which her five cats always rubbed against his legs when he went over there, gave him the "heebie jeebies". "Oh well," he muttered to himself, "one shouldn't look a quiche horse in the mouth." He would be quite content with either choice, and if all else failed, he could always pedal on over to the Starbucks for a Venti Mocha Java Latte, and a few of those cake on stick things.
Before the final decision could be made, the calm of the June morning was broken by the shrill scream of an elderly woman, and a chorus of confusion at the chapel door.
"Oh crap!" he swore. "I hope Mrs. Hoffman hasn't fallen down the church steps again. It took six of us to lift her the last time, and she didn't bake for a month." Fr. Kevin felt his chance for a breakfast retreat quickly fly out the window.
By the time he made it to the door, and pushed through the crowd of gawking seniors, Kevin could only wish for something as minor as a missed step and lack of bakery. For there in the church garden lay Marco, the very same surly gardner, a pair of pruning shears firmly lodged in his back, and a puddle of blood quickly spreading over the entire front lawn. "Someone call 911!" he shouted.
He ran down the steps to check on the wounded man, desperately trying to remember the prayers for the Sacrament of the Sick, not knowing for sure if Marco was even a Catholic. As he took the bleeding man's limp wrist, he instantly realized that praying for his recovery would be a waste of time, and instead, began to pray for his departed soul.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Fr. Kevin Seamus O'Kenney rolled his bike to a stop near the chapel's steps. He considered asking Marco about his rather strange, unseasonal attire, but decided to hold his tongue. The gardner usually answered him in terse grunts, pretending to have a limited comprehension of the English language. Kevin knew damn well that Marco spoke perfectly respectable English, but chose not to grace him with that skill. Why was something he had yet to discover, but today wasn't the day to find out. The man looked exceptionally surly this morning, and was muttering under his breath to no one in particular.
"No skin off my nose if he wants to sweat his ass off," mumbled Fr. O'Kenney, knowing the man couldn't hear a word he said.
He set the kick stand on the bike and hustled around the church to the rectory. If he hurried, he could catch a shower and a bowl of Lucky Charms before 8:30 Mass. The morning bike ride around Dollyville was a luxury he had no time for, but one he thoroughly enjoyed. It gave him a sense of freedom that usually escaped him as Pastor, and only clergyman, of Holy Family Parish. He mentally debated with himself that the exercise was necessary to counter his less than healthy life style, one that included a steady diet of junk food and caffeine. Not to mention his taste for an occasional joint.
Winding his way around the building, he glanced inside through the open stained glass window, checking to see if the altar ladies had replaced the wilted flowers near the statue of Blessed Mother. Because Mass was still yet an hour away, he was surprised to see a young woman seated in the front pew nearest the tabernacle, apparently lost in prayer and reflection. Her fingers played over the rosary beads with a sense of urgency, and her face a map of concern and anxiety. He thought he should probably go inside and offer her a sympathetic, priestly ear, but the thought of of the duel water jets on his shower head, and a double bowl of cereal heaven, made him decide against it. She was probably better off discussing her issues with the Almighty anyway.
Inside the chapel, the young woman fidgeted in the pew, clenching and unclenching the hand that held the black rosary beads. Her eyes stared off into nowhere, and drops of sweat gathered at her hairline. The sound of the beads clacking together echoed in the empty chapel.
Friday, June 8, 2012
The chapel garden was always a pleasant place to be, but today it seemed just a bit more perfect. The fountain trickled to it's own special song, and the grotto roses were in glorious bloom. It was the kind of day poets set their pens to, relishing the balmy 80 degree temperature. And because of that, it was quite a quandary to find the parish gardener in a heavy fisherman's sweater and a tight wool cap. He must certainly have been much too warm attired in this manner. This fact, coupled with the way he stopped from his work to look furtively around the garden, would give anyone pause. It was quite suspicious...