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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

         By the time Fr. O'Kenney finished dressing, and found another pair of some what acceptable shoes in the back of the closet, he was late for 8:30 Mass.  He reasoned that no one would much care, as he expected to once again say Mass to an empty church.  Rounding out of the sacristy to the sound of Mrs. Martin's kazoo, Kevin was shocked to see the pews filled to almost capacity on this strange Monday morning. Even Irwin had shown up, dressed and ready to serve as his altar boy.  He wondered if maybe his parishioners had felt a bit guilty about missing Mass on the Lord's day, but the realist in him deduced that they had all probably come to gossip about the fire when the liturgy was over.  None the less, he would take advantage of this opportunity to preach to his wayward flock, and so he did, giving a rousing Homily and shouting out his prayers in a booming, confident voice despite the pounding in his head.

        At the end of the service, he made his way down the main aisle, as the people began to file out, already whispering to one another about the details of the fire.  On the steps of the church, Tessa Peppers waved to him, surely a punishment sent straight from God for his over indulgence of Irish whiskey and his entertaining of fairy folk.

       "You who...Fr. O'Kenney!  Over here, dear!  Can I speak to you for a moment?"

       Tessa's shrill voice went through his brain like a $30 drill bit through solid wood, grinding away at the last of his ability to keep his rolling stomach at bay.  "Gee Mrs. Peppers, I'd love to stay and chat, but I'm extremely busy this morning.  How about we set up an appointment for later today...or maybe tomorrow."

        "Oh, this will just take a minute, Father, but as a matter of fact, later today works great for me.  In fact, I was hoping you could drop by for tea around 2:00 this afternoon.  As you probably already know, I'm the Chairperson for this year's parish picnic, and the committee and I would really like to finalize the plans as soon as possible.  We need to get your 'ok' on a number of things before we can go ahead."

         Feeling like he had been hit by a semi, the last thing he wanted to do was spend a few hours with a gaggle of women fussing over whether to serve potato or macaroni salad.  In addition, he had promised the Sheriff he would help locate Marita Rivera's sister.  He was about to apologize and find some reason to excuse himself, when Tessa continued.

       "I'm sure you realize Fr. O'Kenney, that the annual parish picnic is Holy Family's biggest fund raiser of the year.  And of course, I'm sure you'll want to do whatever you can to help make it a big success, right my dear?"

        Even feeling as he did, the threat was not lost on Fr. Kevin.  He knew the picnic brought in loads of cash for the church, and with the ever decreasing Sunday collections, he could ill afford to piss off committee, or it's obnoxious chairwoman.  "Yes, Mrs. Peppers, I am well aware of the benefit the picnic has on Holy Family, and I certainly appreciate the committee's hard work.  2:00 pm, then?
At your home?"

       "That would be fabulous, Father." the old woman whinnied, a smug smile crossing her wrinkled face.  "We'll see you at 2:00 pm, then.  Bring your appetite, Reverend.  I'm serving my famous tuna salad on tiny, little croissants from the French bakery in town."

       At the thought of tuna salad, Kevin's stomach gave another roll, but he managed a weak smile and a wave as the woman tottered away.  He desperately needed to pull himself together today, and do what needed to be done.  He still held hope that he'd have time to do some research on the Rivera's family, and take another look at the coroner's report on Marco's murder.  Something about that report still bothered him.  And there was that issue with his missing gold coin and favorite dress shoes.

       He made his way back into the church and into to the sacristy to change out of his vestments.  Pinned to an alb in the closet was a note, again written in the same fancy longhand, "I'll be needing my chair, bowl and spoon back.  Best wishes...Brian"

      Not wishing to be out done by a three foot clurichaun, Fr. O'Kenney turned the note around and wrote on the back, "You may have your stuff back, when I get my shoes and coin.  Have a nice day...Fr. Kevin"  He pinned the note back on the same alb and shut the closet door.  "Two can play this game" he giggled, and then laughed out loud at the absurdity of that statement.



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