Sunday, September 9, 2012
As the Sheriff's patrol car pulled away, Kevin swore under his breath. How in the hell had he ended up being responsible for this nasty, little dog? Worse yet, it was Tessa Peppers' nasty, little dog. That made the whole situation a total nightmare. He grabbed the carrier and dragged it inside the rectory parlor, keeping the thing at arm's length to avoid a snarling confrontation.
Placing the tote on the sofa, he headed off to the kitchen to finish his lunch. He had a half baked idea that if he left the dog sit alone awhile, it might quiet down. A hefty slice of lemon pound cake, and a cold Red Bull completed his meal as he tucked himself in front of his lap top. After several minutes, he heard only silence from the other room, and the inner animal lover guilted him into investigating. The Westie had curled itself into a ball near the back of the bag, his head resting solemnly on his paws. Basil looked at the priest with sad, brown eyes, a picture of remorse and humility.
Always a sucker for pitiful puppy looks, Kevin unlatched the carrier and pulled the dog out. "Poor doggie. I guess it's not your fault your mistress is a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic." The dog stared at him with weary eyes, but refrained from expressing any opinion. "You can stay out if you promise to be a good boy, and behave yourself."
He placed Basil on the floor, watching him explore and sniff his new surroundings. Not quite ready to trust the dog on its own, Fr. Kevin toted his laptop into the parlor and made himself comfortable on the sofa, one eye on the pup, and the other on his Facebook. Somewhere between a move on Words with Friends, and a kitten video that was sure to go viral, his cell phone buzzed in the pocket of his shorts. Pulling it out, and glancing at the caller ID, he smiled.
"Hey, baby sister! What's up?"
"Don't you dare "baby sister" me, you ass! You get shot by some crazy woman, and I have to find out from Patrick...a week later? That's low, Kevin."
"Come on, Mo. I didn't want you to worry. I'm fine. Perfectly fine, honest."
"That's not the point. I'm not a kid anymore, damn it! You should have called me first. Instead, you call that dumb ass, Patrick. We've always been there for each other, Kev. You could have been killed. It should have been me there with you in the hospital...not Pat."
"Calm down, Maureen. Pat wasn't at the hospital either. No one was. Okay, well maybe the Sheriff was, but no one else. It was a flesh wound, and they sent me home the same night. Patrick's the emergency contact on my phone. They must have notified him automatically."
"Why'd you make him your contact, and not me?"
Kevin could hear her pout through the phone line. "Because Patrick lives down south, Maureen. You're in Boston. It didn't make sense to have you listed when you're hours away."
"Well, I want you to change it to my number right now. I don't care where I'm living. You have them call me, Kev. Honestly, you can't believe what a pompous jerk Patrick is being about the whole thing. Acting all 'eldest son' like, when he hasn't even called Ma in a month."
Patrick and Maureen were like fire and ice, so it was no use trying to convince her of anything different. Kevin tried to change the subject. "How's Ma doing in the new place?'
"She seems to be adjusting. It's hard to know what she really understands. Some days are good, others bad. She does seem to remember who you are, though. Has your ordination photo on her nightstand, and every nurse in the place has heard the story of 'my son, Kevin, the priest'. Unfortunately, she's taken to only speaking in Gaelic. Drives the rest of us crazy, especially me, since I totally suck at it. Never was any good with languages."
Kevin's heart squeezed at the thought of his mother. He hadn't seen her since his transfer, and she had already been slipping away. "You're not going to tell her about the shooting, are you? I don't..." Before he could finish the sentence, his eye caught the four-legged terror in the act of chewing the sole of his good dress shoes. "No...No! Bad doggie! Drop that shoe right now!"
Basil looked up from his chomping, and let out a deep, menacing growl. It was obvious he had no intention of giving up his new prize possession. Kevin stuck out his hand to snatch the shoe, and was met with the snapping of jaws, moving only in enough time to save the fingers on his right hand. Deciding it might be easier to just get another pair, he returned to his phone call.
"Sorry, Mo. I was trying to get my shoe away from the dog."
"You got a dog, and you didn't even call to tell me? Shit, Kevin, what the hell's happened to you?"
Kevin grimaced. Maureen was a petite red head, all sweetness and curls, and blessed with the mouth of the most seasoned truck driver. When she was angry, she could spew more obscenities then were bantered about on the docks of Boston's harbor. "I didn't get a dog, Mo...one was dumped on me. I'm just doing the Sheriff a favor 'cause he's a good guy. I need a dog in the rectory like I need a hole in my head. Especially this damn mutt."
"I see we've yet to grow a pair, Kevin. When you gonna learn to open your trap and say 'no' when you need to?"
"Geez, Maureen. Do you have to be so vulgar? I mean, come on. We're not kids anymore."
There was dead silence on the other end, and he knew he had hurt her feelings. Never a good idea in dealing with his youngest sibling. She knew him better than any person on the planet, and life felt out of sync when she was angry with him. "Hey, Momo, you know I'd didn't mean anything by that. I'm just freaked out by all this. Don't say anything to the others, but I almost shit my pants when that gun went off. And I'm pretty sure I actually pissed myself"
She giggled on the other end, and he knew he had wormed his way back into her good graces.
"Am I forgiven, Mo?"
"Ah, quite the irony, Kev. Me forgiving you. She laughed, and added, "You're still my best bud, Kevlar, and I won't even make you do penance. But don't make a habit of it." Her voice dropped, and she suddenly sounded somber. " I'm just glad you're okay. I don't know what I'd do if something had happened to you. I honestly thought I was gonna pass out when Patrick told me the whole story. Seriously, bro, my heart stopped." There was a pause on her end, both of them thinking of what might have been.
When she finally spoke again, Maureen was back to her charming self. "Which, by the way, padre, brings me to the reason I called in the first place. I have vacation days coming in late October, and I thought maybe I'd drive down and spend some time with you. See your church, meet the flock...you know, the whole nine yards."
As much as he loved his sister, Kevin froze with the thought of playing tour guide and babysitter to Maureen O'Kenney. She was as demanding as they came, and he already felt overwhelmed by the pending trial, as well as his pastoral duties. Plus, what the hell was he going to do about Brian? There was no good way to explain fairy folk in your bushes to anyone...at anytime. But there was no way he could disappoint her. And if he was to be honest with himself, he had been feeling a bit homesick since the shooting. Maybe a visit from Maureen was just what he needed.
"Sure, Momo. I'd love to see you."
"Oh, Kevin, that's awesome. October can't get here soon enough! We're going to have so much fun. You just wait and see."
Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus