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Monday, August 13, 2012

            With only two hours of restless sleep, Fr. Kevin had to work at getting through both the 6, and the 8:30 morning Masses.  It was difficult to keep his concentration on the liturgy, when his wandering mind was elsewhere, skipping from the explosion, to the money stashed in the safe, and finally back to Marco's yet unsolved murder.  He knew his parishioners wanted a full report on the happenings of the night before, but they were forced to be content with a quick handshake and the promise of a later chat.  He wanted to stop by the hospital to check on Cassie before his meeting with the Sheriff, and he needed to squeeze breakfast or brunch somewhere in between the two.

          Seeing Irwin Teller on the steps, waiting to speak with him, Fr. Kevin turned quickly to make his way back into the church before the kid could start with him.

         "Father.  Hey, Father O' Kenney, wait up!  I gotta ask you something.  Oh wow, your face still looks awful.  It's like all purple and blue today.  Awesome!  Like a zombie or something."

         "What do you want, Irwin?  I'm kind a in a hurry this morning."

         "I heard you were like a hero, Father.  Rescued some lady.  That true?"

          "Not exactly.  The Sheriff did most of the rescuing.  But hey, it's been nice talking to you, Irwin.  I really got to get going now." Kevin pushed the door open to make his escape.

          "No wait, Father.  I gotta ask you something."

          "Really, Irwin.  I gotta right now.  Official church business and all."

          "I just wanted to know if I could borrow your big shovel?  The red one over there by the grotto?"

           "I guess it would be alright.  But you know, people aren't going to like you digging up their lawns with that giant shovel.  Maybe you want the little one we use for planting?"

           "Oh no, Father.  I'm not looking for bugs today."

            "Then what do you need the shovel for?"  Why he was letting himself open for further conversation, he didn't know.

             "My friend Eddie Gerber says that there's all kinda cool stuff where that lady's house blew up. Said he found a busted ipod, a twenty dollar bill, and even some lady's underw..."  Remembering who he was talking to, the kid blushed and went on.  "Well, anyway, Father.  I want to go over there and dig around.  See what I can find for myself."

            "Absolutely not!  You kids shouldn't be over there.  It could be dangerous.  There might still be gas leaking, or something."

            "Oh no, Father.  The Fire Marshall was there already.  He says it's all safe now."

            "Still, those things don't belong to you, or Eddie Gerber.  That stuff is Ms. McKreedy's, and Mr. and Mrs. Franklin's, and you should just leave it alone until the Sheriff can decide what to do."

             "Aw, Father.  You're no fun.  Come on, Patches.  Let's go find something else to do."  The boy slid off the bench, and headed off, kicking a rock along as he did so.  His dog suspiciously eyed Father O'Kenney, and let out a low growl before trotting after the boy.

             Fr. Kevin went over and picked up the shovel, and propped it inside the church vestibule.  No reason to leave it around to tempt the poor kid.  As he went to the sacristy to change, he made a mental note to remind the Sheriff about Cassie's belongings scattered all over the neighborhood.  He wondered if he should mention what Irwin had told him about Mrs. Peppers, but worried that the Sheriff might think he was a goof, listening to gossip spread by little kids.  He'd have to think about that for awhile.

            Too tired to bike over to the hospital, he decided to splurge and call for a cab.  On the way there, the driver did his best to engage Kevin in a drawn out debate on the sensibilities of street parking, but he was in no mood for the recourse.  After a few nods and smiles, he folded his hands, and closed his eyes, pretending to be deep in prayer, and after a bit, the driver lost interest.

            Although he had been there just the night before, Jefferson Memorial was a sprawling complex, and he needed to ask for directions to find Cassie McKreedy's location.  He was sent to the 6th floor, and was pleased to hear that she was well enough to be assigned a regular bed, out of intensive care.  Finding the right room number, he knocked on the door, and although it was slightly opened, he waited to be invited in.

           "It's okay.  Come on in, Father O'Kenney," he heard a male voice say, responding to the knock.

            He entered the room to find the Sheriff next to the bed, holding Cassie's right hand in his.  For someone who only twelve hours before had entered the hospital unconscious and barely breathing, she looked mighty chipper.  She had lost the hospital gown and was now attired in a frilly lace bed jacket, her hair pulled back with a silk ribbon, and sporting the pinkest lips he had ever seen.

            "Ms. McKreedy, you seem to be much better this morning" the priest stammered.

             "Oh, I am, Father!  And  I hear I have you and Teddy here to thank for that."  She offered him her best smile, and then turned and sighed toward the Sheriff, giving his hand a tight squeeze.

              "No thanks needed, Ms. McKreedy.  It was the Sheriff that carried you out.  I just happened to be there at the right moment."

               "Oh Father, please call me Cassie.  We're like family after all that excitement."

              "Did the doctor say you'll be okay?"

               "Oh yes.  Just fine.  Seems I might have gotten confused and mixed up my medications.  Caused an interaction, the doc says.  Silly me.  Put me out cold.  Never heard a thing."

               "Well, I'm glad to hear you're going to be fine.  That's wonderful news."

               "Oh but, haven't heard the best news of all.  Teddy and I are engaged!"

                "Engaged?"  The word slipped out of both men's mouths at the same time

                She pouted at Teddy, and said, "Well, of course engaged!  You don't think I'm the type of girl who would move in with a man without some intention of matrimony, do you?  Really Teddy, what would Father O'Kenney think of us?"  She continued on without batting an eye.  "And of course, we'll want you to marry us at Holy Family, Father.  Isn't that right, Teddy?'

                Before the embarrassed Sheriff could reply, a nurse came in and asked to speak to him privately in the hall.  Cassie waxed on about plans for the upcoming nuptials, and when Ted Beckett finally returned, Kevin could tell that something had drastically changed.

              "Cassie, honey, I'm starving.  Father and I are going to the cafeteria to grab a cup of coffee and a bite to eat.  We'll be back in a bit."

                The petite brunette stuck out her bottom lip, and whined, "Don't you be leaving me alone too long, okay?  And bring me some chocolate when you come back."

                 It was obvious that  Cassie had also noticed the change in the Sheriff's demeanor, but was chained to her bed by doctor's orders.  Kevin was curious as to what had changed so suddenly in the last few minutes.

                 When the two men had left the room, and made it it to the end of the hall, Sheriff Beckett grabbed the priest by the arm to stop him.  Leaning in he whispered, "I think we have a problem, Father.  We need to talk somewhere privately."

Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus




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