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Sunday, July 29, 2012

           It took all of six seconds for Fr. O'Kenney's brain to register that something was terribly wrong with Mrs. Peppers.  He dropped to his knees and began to administer CPR, while at the same time offering the prayers for the Sacrament of the Sick.  He yelled for the teller, who seemed frozen in place, to call 911.  He placed his left hand over his right, and began the chest compressions, praying to God that the paramedics would arrive soon.  He opened his mouth to ask the teller if the bank had a defibrillator, but never got the chance, as Mrs. Pepper's right hand flew up, smashing him on the bridge of his noise with a sickening crunch.

          "What the hell do you think you're doing?  Get your damn paws off of me, you red headed baboon!"  With slapping hands, she pushed the priest away, and worked at getting to a sitting position.

           Fr. Kevin eyes watered while pain radiated from the center of his face, and he could feel a trickle of something warm running over his lip. If he had been a television cartoon character, he was sure stars and birdies would be floating over his head, signaling an alarming injury.  Too stunned to speak, he heard the teller scolding Mrs. Peppers.

          "Lay back down, mam. It will be alright.  The ambulance is on the way.  We think you had a heart attack, so you need to lie still."

           On her knees, Tessa crawled over to a chair nearby, and using it as leverage, pushed her ample frame to a standing position.  "Don't be idiotic!" she barked.  "Can't you see I'm just fine?  Just had a fainting spell, is all.  It's so damn hot in this asinine bank, it's not surprising a soul would pass out."  Noticing Fr. Kevin on the floor holding his aching nose, she grabbed a box of Kleenix off the teller's counter and tossed it to him.  "Jeez, Fr. O'Kenney!  You have blood running from your nose.  You look a mess...very undignified I should add."

            At that moment, the paramedics arrived, and thinking it was Fr. Kevin who needed their aid, rushed over to him before being corrected by both the teller and Mrs. Peppers.  Sheepishly, they gave the woman a quick look over while she fussed and ranted, and decided that a trip to the hospital was   probably in order.  As she was being strapped to the stretcher for transport, Tessa continued to take the poor teller to task, warning her, "You people aren't going to get away with this!  Can't go stealing people's hard earned money and get away with it, mark my words!  You tell that Gus Mooney I'll have his head for this!"  Her voice trailed off as she was loaded into the ambulance, and the teller gave an audible sigh of relief.

         Noticing the priest still standing there with his hand to his nose, and a fistful of bloody Kleenex, the young woman went into the back office and returned with a damp hand towel, and a small bag of ice.  While Kevin tended to his injury, the teller worked at preparing Cassie's withdrawal.  He paid little attention to the amount of money she was counting out in front of him, as he was busy wiping the blood from his face and the front of his jacket.

       When she finished, and slipped toward him the receipt, and a large manila envelope with the stacks of hundreds inside, he was left speechless.  Cassie McKreedy had requested a withdrawal of $4,000, a great deal of cash, he reasoned, for someone not going anywhere, to have on hand. Shaking his head over the strangeness of this town, he remarked to the teller that he would be glad when he could finally deliver this to it's owner, and be done with the errand from hell.  The teller, who already felt she was vastly under paid to be expected to deal with this type of bullshit, gave him a weak smile, and turned back to her computer.

         As Fr. O'Kenney left the bank, the wind and rain picked up, just in time to make the trip more of a disaster.  He pulled out his cell phone, and noticed that it was 2:20 pm, and that he was going to be late for his appointment with Sheriff Beckett.  He called the office at the county building, hoping for a reprieve, but was told that since he had not shown up, the Sheriff had left for the day.  He was asked if he'd like to re-schedule for another time, and after setting up another appointment... two days from now... hung up in a frustrated state.  At this point, he wanted only to deliver this money, and return to the rectory where he could tend to his nose, and feel sorry for himself in peace.

       He trudged his way to Cassie's house...corrected was the Franklin's house...and by the time he arrived, his shoes and socks were soaked, his nose throbbed in rhythm, and he really needed to take a pee.  He rang the bell with more force than was polite, and stood waiting in the down pour.  When no one answered after several minutes, he tried pounding on the door, and then on the front window.  He argued that the woman must be at home, as that was the whole reason he was standing here in the rain.  As he reached to bang on the bell yet another time, the door opened a crack and Cassie McKreedy stood in the doorway in a pink bathrobe.

       "Oh, Father, it's you.  Sorry, I didn't hear you, with the storm and all.  Were you able to get the withdrawal for me?  No problems, I hope?"

        Not wanting to tell the whole story while he stood wet in the pouring rain, he replied, "No...they had everything ready for you at the bank, but I was a bit curious about a few things.  May I come in?  Honestly, I really need to use your restroom."

        "Gee, Father.  I'd love to'm feeling a bit under the weather today, and I'm really not up for company.  Some other time, okay?  Besides, I might be contagious, and we don't want you catching what I have, right?  You know, you don't look so hot yourself.  Maybe you need to get home and rest, maybe with a hot drink or something?"  She put her hand out for the envelope, and once she had it in hand, thanked Kevin with a wink, and closed the door.

          Devoid of any remaining good will, he stomped down the porch stairs and headed toward the rectory, thinking today was one of the shittiest days he had experienced in a long time.  Well, at least since the day he found Marco dead on his front lawn.  Debating it a bit more, he decided that the last two weeks had been pretty crappy, and he was sick of the whole terrible nonsense.  Pondering his state of unhappy affairs, he morosely sloshed onward. The street was deserted and quiet, except for an occasional clap of thunder, and the sound of the rain hitting the pavement.  As he turned the corner on Bay Street, two blocks from Cassie's home, he noticed the Sheriff's patrol car, locked and empty.  In disgust, he picked up the pace, and tramped his way back home.

Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus

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