Saturday, July 21, 2012
Flushing a deep red, Fr.O'Kenney glanced down at the gnarled finger poking his chest. He quickly rose and moved across the room, causing the dog to jump from it's throne and bark wildly at him. He wondered why, all of a sudden in the past few weeks, did dogs seem to dislike him so much? "Mrs. Peppers, I came here this afternoon in good faith to help work on the picnic for the good of the parish community...not to be badgered about the mayoral election. Now if we can't get through this afternoon civilly, then maybe I should leave right now."
Tessa gingerly moved from the low sofa, and scooped the yapping dog in her arms, who still continued to growl at the sputtering priest. "Don't be getting your collar all in a bunch, Father. Surely you can't be as naive as that? You need to understand how things work in this town." She raised a finger to shake at Kevin, but then thought better of it, and put her hand at her side. "Either you're with me, or against me. There's no "neutral" in this race. Now Fr. Cunningham...he knew which side of his bread was buttered! He saw my late husband and I as the movers and shakers in this little town, and knew we got stuff got done. You know that lovely grotto in front of the church, Fr. O'Kenney? The one everyone admires?" She raised her thumb and pointed it toward her chest. "That was me...all me! And if you like your position here, well...I better see more support from you, and less running around worrying about people who didn't belong to your church, and who never gave you a dime!"
Kevin knew she was referring to the Riveras, and his hot-tempered Irish dander was up to full speed. How dare she threaten his pastoral position! Opening his mouth to tell her just what she could do with her money, he was saved by the forceful buzzing of the door bell. The dog jumped from Mrs. Peppers' arms, and his hostess tottered off to see to her arriving guests. He silently thanked the Lord for His perfect timing, as the conversation he and the woman were having was sure to go bad very quickly. Noticing that the dog was otherwise occupied, Fr. Kevin made himself comfortable in one of the teal drum chairs, glad to have escaped both Tessa Peppers, and the uncomfortable sofa.
A group of woman wandered in, each carrying a plate of some type of home made goodie. His rolling stomach had settled down a bit, and he hoped that one of those dishes maybe held lemon bars or brownies, his personal favorites. After the last half hour with Tessa, he deserved both, he thought. Smiling and offering cordial hellos, he watched the women settle themselves around the living room, listening to bits and pieces of the ongoing conversations. He knew that most of them had pulled in their claws today on his account, but there was still enough gossiping going on to make their trip worthwhile.
He heard Mrs. Parker, a woman as round as she was tall, complain to Mrs. Martin that Cassie McKreedy's lawn was much too high, and needed immediate attention. Feeling he should come to Cassie's aid, as she wasn't there to defend herself, Kevin interjected, "Ladies, you have to understand. That's an awfully big house for a young woman to handle on her own, especially with her disability. I think it's admirable that she wants to hang on to the house she grew up in, after losing her parents and all."
The two women looked at him as if he had suddenly grown two heads. Mrs. Parker giggled, and asked, "Whatever are you talking about, Fr. O'Kenney? Cassie McKreedy doesn't own that house. She's been renting it from the Franklins, who are in Spain for two years with Mr. Franklin's job. That house is Margie Franklin's pride and joy. She'd never sell it. Almost killed her to leave it for as long as she had to."
Mrs. Martin added, "And I do believe her parents are still alive, Father. She told the two of us that her parents were living in a retirement community in Sarasota, and were happy as clams."
Blushing, Fr. O'Kenney explained, "Well, I must be confusing her with someone else then. I apologize fro my mistake" Silently, he wondered what was up with Cassie's lie, and felt foolish for falling for it.
"Oh don't worry about it, Father. You're still new to Holy Family. Must be difficult to remember all these different faces and names" Mrs. Martin offered.
The two women smiled sympathetically at him, and nodded in agreement. He knew that when he left, they would discuss amongst themselves that the new Pastor was a complete idiot, who didn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. Still, he was more bothered by the information he'd garnered about Cassie, and for the life of him, couldn't understand why anyone would lie about the death of one's parents.
Helen Martin leaned into her friend, and whispered, "I'm sure the lawn will get done soon, Betty. It seems Ms. McKreedy has a new beau. Maybe he can mow the grass for her." She gave a shrill giggle, her dentures clacking with each breathe.
Betty Martin tittered, "Spill the beans, Helen. Don't keep me in suspense."
Relishing the attention, Helen smiled and rolled her eyes. "Well, my dear, unless Cassie McKreedy is some kind of big time criminal, Sheriff Beckett is spending an awful lot of time over at that house. Was over there for five hours yesterday."
Betty, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the parish priest was sitting directly across from them, trying hard not to eavesdrop, but failing miserably, slyly said, "Must be some type of special 'investigation'...if you know what I mean." She gave her friend a salacious wink.
The two women then broke into peals of laughter, leaving Fr. O'Kenney to turn a most delightful shade of pink.