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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Over the River, and Through the Woods...

The group arrives at Beckett's cabin

       It was clear that punctuality was a code the Sheriff lived by.  He arrived, as promised, at exactly twelve noon.  Not a minute earlier.  Not a minute later.  Because he seemed a creature of habit, Kevin expected him to be driving the familiar black and white patrol car, so he was caught off guard when a  new, black, Cadillac Escalade pulled into the rectory driveway.

      Ted slid out the driver's side of the SUV, leaving the huge car idling. "Happy Thanksgiving, Father.  We about ready to go?"

      "Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Sheriff.  I'm ready.  Just waiting on Maureen.  She's wrapping up a few goodies she made for the weekend."

       Beckett looked at the watch on his wrist, and at the darkening sky.  "I'd like to get on the road as soon as possible, 'specially with this storm following us the whole way.  Some of the back roads can be a little nasty when they're wet."

       As if on cue, Maureen stepped out, balancing her luggage and several bulky shopping bags in both hands.  "Happy Thanksgiving, Ted.  You can't believe how excited I am.  This is going to be so awesome!"

      The Sheriff gave her a warm smile, amused by her apparent enthusiasm.  "We aim to please, Miss Momo.  Here...let me give you a hand with the bags."

      He trotted to her side, relieving her of the heavy load, and making Kevin feel a bit guilty that he hadn't thought to help her first.  He locked the front door of the rectory, and joined them near the car.

       "I was just telling your brother, Mo, that we should get a move on.  I'd like to try and out race this storm.  Rather not drive in a 'Nor Easter if I don't have to.   By the way, what did you do with Basil while we're gone?"

       "Mrs. Hoffman, from down the street, offered to take him for me.  I thought it best to leave him behind."

         "I agree.  My Maggie loves the cabin, but hates the drive in the car.  And with a possible thunderstorm brewing, she'd be a mess.  I kenneled her with Doc Kinter over at the animal hospital.

        From his perspective, Kevin was happy to be dog free.  Although Basil had stopped snarling at him, the animal's eyes followed him with suspicion and distrust.  For the life of him, Kevin couldn't understand what had changed in his make-up to make dogs in general dislike him so much.  He was sure it had something to do with Brian, but as he hadn't seen the little man in almost three weeks, he had hoped whatever it was it would've worn off.  Obviously, "it" still clung to him.

        Ted opened the passenger door, and ushered them both in.  Maureen slid across the seat, and the priest followed.  Cassie sat stiffly in the front, and when Kevin offered a greeting, she didn't answer, instead offering him a wave of her hand.  He just knew Mo would have to respond to the blatant dismissal.  It wasn't in her nature to ignore a slight of any kind.

        While Beckett arranged the luggage, boxes and bags in the back of the truck, Maureen leaned over the front seat, forcing Cassie to acknowledge her.  "Oh Cassie, thank you so much for including us in your weekend away.  It's going to be so much fun.  I've never been away for the holiday before.  Thanksgiving in our family has always been pretty much a circus.  Too many people, too many whiny kids.  Just the four of us, and adult conversation, will be a real treat."

         Cassie turned around, giving Maureen a look that would freeze water.  "You are most welcome, my dear.  It will be...a change of pace... for sure."

         Before she could face forward again, Kevin noticed the glazed look in her eyes, and the dilated pupils.  All week, he had wondered how she was going to handle the long drive with her agoraphobia issues, and now could tell the woman was most assuredly stoned.  Utterly and completely zoned out.  If they were lucky, it would make for a much more peaceful drive.

         For the first hour or so, the three of them engaged in general, convivial chit chat, while Cassie sat in stone cold silence. Occasionally, there was a slight snore from the front seat, but etiquette kept anyone from commenting on it. Then the winds and rain began in earnest, and the Sheriff's attention was forced on maneuvering down the slick, dark roads.  Kevin and Maureen, watched out the window, each lost in their own musings.   He wondered what is was his sister was thinking about, and why it seemed that the same white Volvo had been following them for the past 60 miles.  He thought about mentioning it to the Sheriff, but scolded himself for being silly, and kept his worries to himself.

         The rain was coming down in straight, heavy sheets when the Escalade finally pulled up in front of Beckett's cabin.  The word "cabin" however, was a bit of an understatement.  A better description might have been "country estate".  Though made of rough hewn logs, the home rose several stories
up, with a large wooden porch that ran across the entire length, and an attached garage made to shelter at least three vehicles.  Even through the torrential downpour, Kevin could see a lake set about 50 yards back, a large boathouse hanging on it's shore.  This was definitely not your average little summer hide away.  He turned to look at Mo, whose eyes were as big as saucers, and whose mouth was hanging slightly opened.  Even the normally cool and collected Cassie looked a bit stunned, and Kevin was pretty sure she had never been here before.

      The Sheriff seemed nonplussed about their reaction to his home.  "Here we are folks.  I suggest we leave all the luggage and supplies here, and make a run for it.  I'll light a nice fire, we can relax, have a drink, and wait for the rain to let up a little."

      The three of them, coats over their heads, made a dash to the covered porch, only to realize Cassie was still sitting in the car.  Beckett unlocked the front door, and suddenly concerned, ran back to the Escalade to check on his fiancee.  The sound of conversation was covered by the pounding of the rain, but Kevin could see Cassie adamantly shaking her head.  In an instance, the Sheriff had scooped her off the seat, and kicking the car door closed with his foot, headed toward them.

       "Welcome to my home away from home," he said, urging them forward and inside.

       The front door opened up into a great room with a soaring cathedral ceiling, and a massive stone fireplace.  He gently laid Cassie on the leather sofa in front of the fire place, and helped Maureen off with her sopping wrap.  Seeing that both the women were attended to, he disappeared around the corner, and returned shortly with a bottle of French burgundy, and an unopened bottle of Jameson.

        "I was hoping you'd do the honors, Father, while I fix us a nice, roaring fire."  He handed the bottles to Kevin, and pointed to a wooden sideboard against the wall near the staircase.  "You'll find glasses, ice, and mixers over there.  Make mine straight whiskey, no ice.  How about you ladies?  What would you like?"

         Some color had finally returned to Cassie's face, and she replied in a shaky voice, "A glass of burgundy might be good."

         Maureen still seemed overwhelmed by the sheer size of the room, but politely answered
that a glass of wine would also be fine with her.   While the Sheriff worked on building a suitable fire, Kevin fixed the drinks, and took stock of his surroundings.  The place was masculine in every respect, but gave the impression of good taste and money.  Lots and lots of money.  All of it spoke of sizable wealth. The large Victorian back in Dollyville, the brand new Cadillac parked outside, and now, this showplace vacation home sitting on acres and acres of pristine real estate.  All of it expensive, and decidedly out of the reach of someone on a county Sheriff's salary.   Kevin silently wondered what the hell he and his sister were doing out in the middle of nowhere, with two people that neither of them knew the first thing about.  A tiny spark of fear niggled at the back of his head, and he thought again about the phantom white Volvo.

           Satisfied with his work on the fire, Beckett settled himself on the sofa, but not before grabbing two fuzzy blankets from a cabinet near the fireplace.  He throw one across Mo's lap, careful to cover her still wet feet, and the other he tucked gently around the reclining Cassie.

           "Well, now, this is more like it.  Slainte!"  He took a long sip from the glass of Jameson, and put his stocking feet up on the wooden coffee table.   "I hope the rain slows down a bit, so we can get the stuff out of the car.  I don't know about you people, but I'm near starving. There's a full Thanksgiving dinner out there that just needs some warming before we can enjoy it."

           Kevin watched the rain pour down the windows in wet, twisting ribbons.  "It doesn't look so bad right now.  Should the two of us maybe try and unload the groceries?  I'm a bit famished myself."  As if to answer the pending question, there was a bright flash of lightening throwing shadows across the room, followed by a shaking clap of thunder.  "Then again, maybe not."

           The group sat around the fire, enjoying the crackling of the flames, and the quiet patter of rain.  Fr. Kevin closed his eyes, and let the heat of the whiskey warm his stomach, and loosen the knots in his shoulders.  He might have actually dozed off for a second or two, when the silence in the room was shattered by a piercing wail from somewhere outside.  He jumped awake, slopping some of drink across the front of his sweater.

          Bolting up from the sofa, Cassie squealed in her drug and wine haze.  "Oh my God!
Teddy, honey, what's making that awful noise?"

          Maureen had pulled the blanket tightly around her.  "It...it sounds like a wounded animal.  Poor thing."  Her naturally pale complexion had gone a full shade lighter, making the few scattered freckles across her nose stand out even more.  Outside, the wailing continued, and his sister shuddered.

        "I should probably go and check it out.  Make sure our belongings are secured out there."  Ted pushed himself off the sofa, and slipped his feet back into his wet shoes.

        Not really wanting to see what made that noise, but feeling he should offer, Kevin hesitated and then added, "I'll go with you Sheriff."

       Beckett grabbed his shoulder holster and the 40 caliber Glock pistol from the hook on the wall. "No, Father.  You stay here and keep an eye on the ladies."  Thinking for a second, he reached for the shotgun hanging over the fireplace, and handed it to the priest.  "Ever use one of these, Padre?"

       He hated to admit it, but he had never so much as touched a paint ball gun.  "Not really, Sheriff.  But hopefully, I won't need to use it."

       The Sheriff shrugged, and pointed to the safety.  "I advise you, then, to leave this safety on until I say differently. Wouldn't want you shooting off your own foot."  Speaking to the women in a voice that left no room for discussion, he directed, "Ladies, wait here with Fr. Kevin.   Everything is going to be fine.  I'm just going to go out for a minute and see what's up.  Then we'll work on dinner."

      With the Glock in hand, he opened the front door.  The wind and rain blew in with gale force, causing the flames to shift in the fireplace, while the high pitched keening sound rang in their ears.
Maureen jumped from her chair, and hid behind her brother, who stood jiggling his left leg, rifle in hand. There was the sound of stumbling, and a solid thump, and through the howling rain, they heard the Sheriff angrily exclaim, "Damn!  That really hurt!  And what the hell is this?"

Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus

Fr. Kevin "on guard" inside the cabin
   

 




         

       

       

     
       


     

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Misgivings

   
                             

     As he shoved an extra sweatshirt into his backpack, Fr. Kevin wondered why he even bothered.  Maureen never listened to him.  Not ever.  He thought back to the time when they were kids, shaking his head at her wide array of half-baked ideas.  Plans destined from the start to turn out badly, and usually rooted in some deep-seated need to get even.  Despite pleading suggestions from him to reconsider, she would always refuse, calling into question his brotherly loyalty, and insisting on his faithful participation in her doomed scheme.

       He recalled the time she was in the sixth grade, and being harassed by the class bully, who, it was revealed years later, had suffered from an aching middle school crush on her.  For several weeks that winter, Sean Fitzmorrow...funny how he still remembered the kid's name...would lie in wait along her usual route home from school, and when she passed by, would pummel her with freshly packed ice balls, all the while yelling out "Momo O'Kenney is flat as a penny."

      Determined to fix her would be suitor once and for all, she designed a plan to give the misguided Sean a taste of his own medicine.  A battle proposition, that would, of course, require the help of her favorite brother.  Mo's stratagem had her placed in the role of "bait', forcing the clue-less tormentor to chase after her past a collection of low lying bushes, where Kevin would jump out and lob a torrent of well-placed snowballs.  It sounded simple enough, but he'd felt silly as a 15 year old involved in her grade school kid play.  He had tried to convince her to just walk home a different way, ignore her bully, and hope he'd tire of her and turn his attention elsewhere.  For days, she had cried, pleaded, cajoled and whined, until sick of hearing her, he gave in and promised to help.

      On the day in question, he showed up at the assigned location to find that she had already prepared a stack of ice balls, and in addition, had covered the 4 feet of sidewalk in front of the spot with a slicked down patch of ice.  Ordering him to stay in hiding, she ran of to find her prey, and it wasn't long before she came sailing by him, screaming like a banshee, with the love sick Fitzmorrow in hot pursuit.

      "Now, Kevin!  Now!" She hollered, and pointed wildly at the chubby boy behind her.

      A snowball in each hand, Kevin threw them one after another toward the racing kid.  Surprised to see someone appear out of nowhere, Sean lost his balance and began to flail and slide, just at the very moment one of the solid orbs made contact with his upper lip.  He went down hard, falling on his right elbow, with blood streaming from a gaping split below his nose.

      Horrified, Kevin and Mo had run back to the house, the kid's high pitched squealing ringing in their ears.  In the hours that followed, the punitive Mr. Fitzpatrick Sr. had showed up on their door step, cussing a blue streak, and threatening to have Kevin arrested as a juvenile delinquent.  It seemed that the snowballs Mo had prepared in advance had been enhanced with several large flat rocks, one of which had not only split the kid's lip, but also chipped his front tooth, requiring a trip to the local dentist. In addition, the lad had ripped his best winter jacket, and sprained his right wrist.  It had cost his father $100 in cash, and a bottle of his best Irish whiskey, to convince the angry man to not call the local cops.

     Immediately following that ordeal, Mo had been sent to bed without supper, and Kevin's old man had whopped his ass but good.  In addition, their father made him work off the money, and the cost of the whiskey, with every dirty, back-breaking chore he had come up with for the next six months.  When he complained that it had been all Maureen's idea, he's received a crack to the back of the head, and an admonishment that he was older, and should have known better.

     It wasn't the last time Mo had sucked him into breaking the rules.  He couldn't count the times he had helped her crawl through his bedroom window, the number of cigarettes he had hid in the back of his closet, or the piles of bad report cards he had forged for her.  When it came to his baby sister, he could never say no,  Even now, though he had reached the maturity of his 30th birthday, and considered himself a faithful servant of the Church, very little had changed in regards to his feelings about Maureen.  He wished his father was still with them.  He could definitely use a crack to the head right now for what he was about to do.

     This Thanksgiving trip to Beckett's cabin was, without a doubt, an absolute nightmare in the making. He had known Cassie McKreedy for six months, and there was no way she would have willingly invited he, or most notably, his sister, along on this romantic trip to the woods.  He couldn't begin to imagine why the Sheriff had insisted they'd come along, and when he thought about it, the reasons made him nervous.  He should have put his foot down, and forbidden her to go.  Calmly explained to the Sheriff that spending time with his sister was irresponsible.  Pull rank...use his position as Pastor...tie her up...do whatever was necessary to keep them from making this huge mistake.

     Instead, he was up here, packing for a trip he didn't want to go on, while Mo was downstairs, happily humming as she put the finishing touches on an iced angel food cake. He grimaced as he hefted the straps of the heavy pack over his shoulder. It would take more than just angel food cake to make this weekend work.  It would take the angels themselves.

Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus


                         ________________________________________________

    To my readers in the United States...from Fr. Kevin, Maureen, and all the rest...your devoted author included... we wish each and everyone one of you a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday.  For our friends scattered across the globe...please join us in counting our many blessings... and remembering those who might need our helping hands.


                                          Let the holiday magic begin!




   

   

 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Red Room...Revisited


I've had some requests for additional, natural light photos of the Red Room, especially the right-hand corner.  I aim to please...so here they are.

Also...watch for a mid-week special Thanksgiving post on Thursday!

Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus




Sunday, November 18, 2012

Because you asked...


 Hello Everyone!

   I've been getting several emails from new readers with questions about the connection between Cassie and Fr. Kevin.  Why does she think he has her money?  The details of that story line go back to June, July and August.  You can always go back and check out those chapters.  But for the sake of time, and to catch everyone up, or refresh some memories, here is a synopsis of that storyline.


  Cassie and Elizabeth McKreedy are first cousins who have a strong resemblance to each other, and who grew up as close as sisters.  They are both seasoned con artists/hackers/embezzlers with minor criminal records.  After a con in New Orleans that netted them a great deal of money, but had terrible repercussions, (never quite discussed as of yet) the two women decided to hide out in the small southwestern Massachusetts town of Dollyville.  They lived separately, with Elizabeth spending almost 14 months living in disguise, and withdrawing small amounts of the con money from the local bank where Cassie had digitally transferred it, until she had amassed near the total of a half million dollars.    The plan was the two should split the money and start fresh on the west coast after the trouble in New Orleans died down.

   But while Elizabeth was living in a small rented room keeping a low profile, Cassie had rented a huge colonial home, was continuing to work some hacking and embezzling jobs, and was living the high life.  Despite her developing agoraphobia, Cassie managed several relationships with men in town, including her current beau, Sheriff Ted Beckett, while forcing Liz to live in total solitude.(or so she thought)

   Liz tires of being put off by Cassie, and shows up at her home, dragging the case of cash.  Cassie promises to arrange their exit, but instead belittles Liz and forces her to live in the attic.  The two finally have a falling out, and Liz steals the suitcase with the half million dollars and disappears in the middle of the night.  Cassie desperately looks for Liz, and the money, while balancing her own growing problems with her current con jobs, her agoraphobia, and her relationship with the town Sheriff.

    In the meantime, Lizzie hides out in a seedy motel outside of town and plots Cassie's demise.  She tries twice to kill her, first by blowing up her house, (great chapter...proud of that one) and then by poisoning.  Failing at both, she decides to leave town on her own, but not before sticking it to Cassie one more time.  She goes to see Fr. Kevin (who they both know) for Reconciliation, and during the Sacrament, up and leaves the suitcase of money on a chair in the confessional.

     Fr. Kevin, being an honest and devoted soul, is not sure what to do with the money.  Because it was part of a confession, he can't say anything about it to anyone.  Not knowing what else to do, he sticks it in the church safe until he can figure how to deal with it.  It remains there to date.

      Before she leaves town, Liz McKreedy sends her cousin a final email explaining that she has given Fr. Kevin the money, minus $50,000 she herself took for expenses.  She also sends Cassie an upsetting  clipping cut from a New Orleans newspaper.  When she leaves, she reveals (to the readers only) that she is secretly several months pregnant, but the father is not made known.

      Cassie has hired private detectives to hunt down her cousin, but so far, has been unsuccessful.  She is desperately seeking information from Fr. Kevin about the whereabouts of her missing money, which she is planning on taking back...one way or another.

                             

 Well...that should catch you up.  Hope this helps you determine what's currently going on, and why Cassie is trying to feed Fr. Kevin truth serum.  She is a very naughty girl.  LOL

Until next week...

Madame Mystery

Truth or Dare?

Cassie watches from the sun room window
   

      From the second floor sun room, Cassie watched in disgust as the gardener hosed away the vomit from the bushes along the side of the house.  A total waste.  All the planning and fussing... the research...the risks.  And for what?  Absolutely nothing.  She was no closer to finding her money than she was four weeks ago.  In frustration, she slammed the lid of the laptop down, and tossed it on the table next to the chair.

      She should have gone with the time tested sodium pentathol, and avoided this whole mess. It had a respectable reputation as a working truth serum, and little to no side effects. But the use of needles always made her nervous. And in her defense, the web site made the Russian SP-117 sound like it was perfect for her needs.  It was colorless and odorless...just a sprinkle over his food and into his drink, and he should have been happily spilling his secrets.  Instead, it was his guts that were spilled... all over the manicured hedges.  She had known that there was a slight chance the drug caused cramping and vomiting, but only in about twenty percent of the population.  That seemed like pretty good odds to her, and if in fact, the priest was one of the unlucky few, she had planned to have the information firmly in hand before he felt the first rumble in his stomach.

       But then it had all gone wrong.  He'd excused himself to use the bathroom, and had then disappeared for over forty minutes.  She had no clue where he had been, only that he returned to the parlor a few moments before rushing outside to be sick.  After that, he was never alone, and before she could say any different, Teddy was off, driving both he and the bitch sister home, and she was left with a house full of unwanted guests, and no hint to the whereabouts of her half million.

         Even thinking about it now enraged her.   While the damn priest was busy screwing up her plans, that sly little slut of a sister was putting the moves on her fiancee.  How stupid did they think she was?  She'd played the same little games herself.  Knew interest when she saw it.  And even if she wasn't sure exactly how she really felt about Ted Beckett, there was no way anyone was taking anything that belonged to her.  Besides, if that little girl knew the real man behind the lawman's uniform, she'd run off and hide.  The Sheriff had his hobbies, and that O'Kenney woman didn't look the type to play along.

        Cassie reached for the laptop, and flipped it open.  There had to be some reason she'd bolted from
Boston.  How, and why, did she end up here in this hick town, tagging after her doofus of a brother?  If she could just find her Achilles heel somewhere on the net, she might be able to kill two birds with one single stone.  She still had a half vial of SP-117, and next time, she'd work the timing a bit closer.  But with his sister attached to his hip, getting the padre alone would be a lot more difficult.  Without a doubt, Maureen O'Kenney needed to hit the road.

         She had just begun her Google search, when the housekeeper, sullen as always, knocked on the sunroom door. "Miss McKreedy, Dr. Patterson is waiting downstairs.  Will you be meeting with her today?"

         Cassie could see the tiny smirk gather at the corners of the woman's thin lips.  It was no secret she had little use for the Sheriff's new house guest.  The feeling was mutual.  "Thank you Mrs. Burke.  Tell her I'll be with her shortly"

         Mrs. Burke just nodded, shaking her head as she shut the door behind her.

          Damn.  She had forgotten all about this afternoon's appointment.  The computer work would have to wait until later.  She and the doctor had made real progress in the last four weeks, and she was anxious to continue.  The combination of drug therapy and self soothing mechanisms had been working so well, she had been able to take short trips out to the yard, and even a car ride around town, without hyperventilating.  She and Ted had even discussed plans to celebrate Thanksgiving at his cabin if she thought she was up to the challenge.  Dr. Patterson had tried to coax her into allowing herself to be put under deep hypnosis, believing it would get to the center of her anxiety.  There was no frickn' way that was going to happen.   She was fully aware of the wheres and whys of her personal hell.  And New Orleans, and everything surrounding it, was better left buried in her brain.

                             _______________________________________________

           He stayed in the confessional longer then planned, deep in thought over everything that had transpired between he and Maureen.  He prayed for divine inspiration regarding the handling of the whole mess, but none seemed forthcoming.  Reluctantly, he knew he'd have to face her sooner or later, and so he changed into his street clothes, and trudged back to the rectory.

           She was busy in the kitchen, and when she heard the door open, called out to him.  "Is that you, Kev?  Don't get comfortable.  Dinner's almost ready.  I made a nice pot roast."

           At the mention of food, Fr. Kevin's stomach did a flip-flop.  He still felt lousy from the night before, but pot roast was his favorite, and she had obviously meant it as a peace offering of sorts.  He'd have to force down a bite or two, and move the rest around on his plate.

            They were saved from awkward dinner conversation by a knock on the back door, and some how, neither he or Maureen seemed surprised to see it was the Sheriff.

            "'Evening, Father.  Maureen.  I just stopped by to see how you both were doing.  Especially you Father.  Feeling any better?"

             Kevin flushed, still embarrassed over being caught puking in the man's bushes.  "I'm doing much better.  Thanks for asking.  And for driving us home. I'm just sorry I...uh...uh..."

            "Don't even mention it, Father.  You can't help being ill.  I wish the evening had ended better for you.  In fact, that's why I'm here.  Let me make it up to you both."

            "Oh, Ted.  That's not necessary.  It's not your fault Kevin has a sensitive stomach."

             Kevin frowned.  Nothing like being thrown under the bus by your own sister.  He certainly did not have a sensitive stomach.   And the way the cramping came on so quickly, led him to surmise it was definitely something he ate at the party. Something spoiled.   But there was no way he was going to express those feelings in front of either of them, so he just nodded in agreement.

              "Still, I want another chance at being a better host."  He paused, and looked at Maureen. "I was wondering...well...if you were planning on going home to Boston for the Thanksgiving holiday?"

              Maureen suddenly looked panicked, and Kevin felt the need to come to her aid.  "No, Sheriff. We decided on a quiet dinner here at the rectory.  I have to be here for morning Mass, and with the traveling involved...well...it was just easier for us to stay in Dollyville this year."

              The Sheriff looked pleased, and jumped in with an offer.  "Well then... that works out great!"  Seeing their confused faces, he continued.  "I want to invite you both to join Cassie and me at my lake cabin for the holiday.  We can make a long week-end of it.  It's a great little place.  Quiet and peaceful.  A terrific place to relax.  I know you're going to just love it!"

           Maureen clapped her hands together in glee.  "A Thanksgiving celebration in the woods?  It sounds charming, doesn't it Kevin?  Just like that song...over the river and through the woods..."

          From Fr. Kevin's perspective, it didn't sound charming at all.  More like fatal.  The thought of the four of them together, trapped in the woods, made him sweat.  He needed to do something quick.  Before he was led down the path of no return.  "That's a very generous offer, Sheriff.  And I'm sure it would be a Thanksgiving...to remember.  Unfortunately, I have commitments here at the church.  Mass and all that, you know."  He was afraid to even look at Maureen.  He didn't want to see the expression on her face.  It was hard enough being the Scrooge who said no to the little girl's pony request.  But somebody needed to have some common sense in the matter.

         "That wouldn't be a problem, Father.  We could leave after your morning services, and all drive down together. It's a short enough trip.  Only about an hour and a half. I could even have Mrs. Burke prepare Thanksgiving dinner the day before.  Then, all we'd have to do is warm it up once we got there."

         "Mrs.  Burke?"

         "Yes, Mrs. Burke...my housekeeper.  She's an excellent cook, you know."

         Kevin thought about the way his stomach felt the night before, and shuddered.  He wasn't sure he was up for anymore of Mrs. Burke's cooking.  "I appreciate your kindness, Sheriff.  But, really I don't think..."

         Maureen ended the sentence before he could get all the words out.  "We'll work it out on our end, Ted.  I'm sure we can figure something out.  Kevin is always such a worry wart.  Now, you must tell me what I can bring."

         He watched his sister walk the Sheriff to his patrol car, her busy hands animating the light conversation between them.  Why was he the only one that could see this trip was a nightmare in the making?  He felt shoved into the role of the Grinch who was out to spoil everyone's holiday.  A role he did not relish, and hadn't signed on for.  With a sigh, he went to work on the plate of pot roast, taking  his frustration out on the carrots and gravy.

Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus


Maureen bribes Kevin with home made pot roast
                 

 

       


     




Sunday, November 11, 2012

Spilling the Boston Beans...

Suffering in the makeshift attic room



          Kevin opened his mouth to answer her, but the words wouldn't come.  Instead, a wretched cocktail of greasy calamari, bile, and the dense hops of several pints of Guinness churned in the back of his throat.  Covering his mouth with his hand, he frantically raced to the door, and headed toward the rear of the building.  Standing amid the last blooms of the fall mums, he emptied his flailing stomach in an avalanche of undigested dinner.

       It was several minutes before he was spent, and finally looking up, he made out the figures of his sister and the Sheriff standing at the end of the driveway, politely offering him some modest degree of privacy.  He wiped his face and mouth with the sleeve of his sweater, and walked in unsteady embarrassment along the pavement.

       "Sheriff...I'm so sorry.  I don't know what to say.  One minute I was fine, and then the next.."

       "Hey, no problem, Father.  Shit happens.  I told Maureen I'd drive the two of you home.  I'm pretty sure a taxi might not be the best of ideas right now."

         He could only nod miserably, and jammed his lanky frame in the back of the patrol car, a plastic bag tucked between his knees.  Mo carefully avoided saying anything to him, and slid into the seat next to the Sheriff.  He was glad they didn't expect any chit chat from him. At this very moment, all his concentration was centered on avoiding a fit of retching.  He vaguely heard the hum of conversation from the front seat, but in his misery, paid little attention.

          When they arrived at the rectory, Kevin refused help from either the Sheriff, or Maureen, hoping to avoid looking any more pathetic than he already felt.  The Sheriff waved goodbye, and pulled away from the curb, leaving him alone and uncomfortable with his sister.

          "How are you feeling?"  She went to take his arm, but he shrugged it off.

          "Lousy."

          "Do you think it's food poisoning, or the stomach flu?"

           "How the hell am I supposed to know?  The end result's the same anyway."  His reply was sharper than he intended, and he felt a tad guilty.  On the other hand, she had announced to the whole world her intention to remain here in town before she had even had discussed anything with him, and in truth, his feelings were decidedly bruised.

            "Would you like me to make you some ginger tea.  It'll help to settle your stomach."

            He could tell that she was trying her very best to be concerned and helpful, but sick, embarrassed, and feeling sorry for himself, he wasn't quite ready to forgive and forget.  "No thanks.  I'll be fine.  If I need something, I'll take care of it."

            She sighed and replied, "Suit yourself.  I think I'm gonna turn in for the night.  Good night, Kevin.  I hope you feel better in the morning."  Turning her back to him, she quietly slipped up the stairs to her room, the dog happily trotting behind her.

            Stretching out on the empty sofa and clicking on the TV, he waited until he heard her finish in the bathroom, and close the door to the bedroom.  When he was convinced that she had settled in for the night, he made his way up the two flights to the makeshift space he'd created in the attic.  Still queasy, he grabbed the wastebasket and slid it next to the mattress, and propped himself up with a stack of pillows, and a rolled up blanket.  As he lay in the dark, his mind battered him with images and thoughts from the past several hours; the way Ted Beckett followed his sister with hungry eyes, Cassie filling his plate with piles of food, and pumping him about church finances, the bottle after bottle of Guinness appearing in his hand, the way his stomach had suddenly rolled in cramping waves, and lastly, being trapped in that horrible, kinky room.  All of it filled him with a sense of foreboding, and when sleep finally came, it was troubled and restless.

                                              ______________________________________

        Saturday morning filtered into the attic room dark and overcast, much like the occupant's mood.  Fr. Kevin was grateful that there was only one Mass, and that it was scheduled for 8:30 AM.  He was in no shape to jump out of bed, and the later start gave him the opportunity to rest quietly for an extra hour before facing the day.  He felt like hell, his head pounding in each of the temples, and his throat sore from the repeated heaving.  He knew he'd need to have it out with Maureen.  Get to the bottom of her problems in Boston, and talk some damn sense into her.  She certainly couldn't stay here in Dollyville with him.  She had a job she loved in Boston.  The rest of the family was there, including his ailing mother.  And without doubt, his adventure-seeking sister would  eventually come to hate the slow, dull pace of this tiny town.

       More importantly, he needed to keep her far away from Ted Beckett.  He was neither naive or stupid.  It was obvious  that the two were attracted to each other, and if it was noticeable to him, it was surely apparent to others as well.  Even if the Sheriff were not already engaged to another woman, a deal breaker in itself, he had serious misgivings.  Maureen was barely 26 years old, and although he didn't know Beckett's exact age, he was relatively sure that the Sheriff was several years older than she.   The man appeared to have a deep sense of integrity and honor, but in truth, Kevin knew virtually nothing about him, and there were questions that bothered him.  Foremost, he seemed to enjoy the trappings of someone with a great deal of money, yet held a county job in a very small town.  He knew it was unfair to speculate, but he couldn't help but wonder if Beckett was involved in something illegal.  The man had never mentioned any type of family, and it gave the priest, who himself was the seventh child out of eight, pause.  And finally, there was that room.  That awful, dungeon like space with the whips and the chains he had accidentally wandered into the night before.  If it belonged to the Sheriff, as it must,  than the man had some definitely odd habits that needed to be kept far from his sister.  Anyway you looked at it, the two were totally unsuited for each other, and the sooner they were separated, the better.

         Feeling confident for having come to some kind of decision, Kevin forced himself out of bed, and began to get ready for morning Mass.  Before leaving to walk over to the church, he knocked on the door to his old room, but there was no answer. He assumed that Maureen was still asleep, or purposely avoiding him, and short on time, he figured he'd talk to her later.

           The peacefulness of the liturgy made him feel more in control of his emotions, and when he returned home an hour later, he was calmer at the prospect of going toe to toe with his sister.  He was a bit surprised, however, to find the house quiet, and no sign of Maureen.  Her purse and jacket were missing from the hall closet, but she had left no message about where she'd gone, or when she'd be back.  Kevin tried not to worry.  After all, she was a grown woman, and she certainly was not required to check in with her brother

              By 12:30 PM, she was still not home, and all calls to her cell went directly to voice mail, unreturned.  His anxiety level over the whole matter had risen considerably.  He thought about calling around to see if he could find her, but then realized how ridiculous that sounded.  Who would he call?  It's not like she had made tons of acquaintances in the week she'd been in town.  And if he called the Sheriff in alarm that she was missing, and it turned out she had only gone off to run errands, he knew he would look stupid.  Reluctantly, Kevin decided to go back to the church to hear his usual Saturday afternoon confessions.  If she still were not home when he returned in two hours, or if she still hadn't returned his calls, he'd start hunting for her himself.

            Normally, he liked the solitude of the confessional.   While he waited between penitents, there was always cherished quiet time to pray and meditate.  But today, his thoughts were pinned on his missing sister.  There had been a few penitents early in the first hour, but it was uneventful after that.  Instead, of hearing confessions, he sat in the empty room, riddled with too much time to fret, worry, and wring his hands.  At about a quarter to three, he had finally had enough, and was about to leave, when he heard the door open and close.  He settled himself back in the chair, vowing this would be his last for the day.

            "Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  My last confession was six months ago."

             He recognized her voice in the first few seconds, relieved to the core to know she was safe and sound. Then, there was a moment of confusion and apprehension.  Since his ordination, he had married two of his siblings, buried an elderly uncle, and baptized two nieces and a nephew.  He had said Mass for them on many occasions, and visited several in the hospital.  But not once had any of them sought him out for Reconciliation.  Not a single one.  He had often wondered if when it finally happened, would it feel awkward.  Now he knew.

             The silence between them grew, and he knew he needed to say something, but was suddenly at loss for the correct words.  Thinking of nothing better, he mumbled, "Please continue."

          She hesitated, and then went on.  "Father, I've made some really bad choices."

        He desperately wished they were having this conversation over pizza and a beer, and not in the space and time they actually were.  They had always been close.  Always able to confide in one another.  Now it just felt strained.  "Whatever you have to say, you know a merciful God will listen and forgive."

         There were a million things he wanted to say, but in this current role, felt he could not  Oh, Maureen!  Why did you choose this way to talk to me?  What's so horrible you can't tell me face to face?

              "I...I...carried on with a man outside the bonds of Holy Matrimony."

               Kevin tensed, but part of him was glad it was out in the open.  Not great, Maureen.  But we can get beyond this.  Happy to move along, he began the prayers for absolution, but she interrupted him.

                "There's more.  The man...well... he was married."

              Oh, Mo.  This can't be good.  When she didn't continue, he asked, "Anything more you wish to confess?"  He sounded stiff and formal, and he hated himself for it.  But if he let himself get too emotional, neither one of them would get through this.

            She was quiet for a moment or two, and when the words came, they fell out of her mouth in a breathless rush.  "This man...he was my boss.  We were together for three months...and honestly Father...I really thought we were in love.  Honest I did!  He said he wanted to marry me.  I had no reason not to believe him."  Her voice caught, and for a moment he thought she might cry.

             Oh, Momo, please don't cry.  Not here.  I'm not sure I could handle that.

           She held herself in check, blew her nose, and continued. "But then, someone found out...and we...I mean...I... was fired.  Something about a morality clause when I was hired."

           Maureen had been a case worker with Catholic Charities of Boston.  Always a champion of the underdog, she had poured herself body and soul into her job.  It had meant the world to her, and his heart ached for her loss.  Oh, Momo...I don't know what to say... poor baby.

         "I tried contacting Will...that's his name...Will...after they walked me out, but he wouldn't return any of my calls or emails.  Nothing.  Not a word.  It was like...like I didn't exist anymore."

           Kevin felt a rush of anger, and he worked hard at tapping it down,  Tried to remember where he was.  Who he was.  Why he was there.

           "Then...somehow Patrick found out.  Probably from someone in the diocese office."

           Damn.  Why did it have to be Patrick of all people?   Their oldest brother, Patrick, was a lead attorney for the Archdiocese of Boston.  He wore his arrogance like a second skin, and would bristle at the thought of anything, or anyone, tarnishing his sterling reputation.  He could only imagine how angry he'd be at the rumors swirling around their sister.  You better not have hurt her, Patrick, or you'll answer to me.

               "We had a big fight.  It was awful.  He said...he told me...Oh Kevin, I mean Father...he called
me a slut...and a disgrace to the family name.  And...I slapped him across the face.  He was so angry. And then he told me I was disowned...like we were living in the Middle Ages, or something.  The rest of the family took sides, and now nobody is talking to anyone else.  And it's all because of me."

            Well, isn't that just wonderful!  All this was going on, family falling apart, and nobody thought to tell Kevin?  Of course not.  Why tell Kevin?  He's the invisible brother.  The one that doesn't count.  He tried to shake off his feeling of self pity, and his burning anger at Patrick.  He needed to be both confessor and big brother at this moment, and he wasn't sure he was capable of either role.  He prayed for guidance.  For the right words to say.

                 "So I came here, Kevin.  I needed to be with someone I knew loved me no matter what.  You're all I have now.  I've embarassed them.  They'll always look at me like I'm soiled.  I can't go back to Boston.  Please understand.  I have nowhere else to go, and no one else to turn to."

                "Maureen, we all love you...especially our heavenly Father.  Even Patrick.  He's just...well...Patrick.  A pompous, self-riteous jerk whose ass I'd like to kick right now.  Forgive me my anger, Lord.  I know it's wrong.  I'll work on that.   It's going to be okay.  I promise."  He prayed that he was right.  This was a total mess.

                 "Thanks Ke...um Father."  She blew her nose one more time, and sighed with both relief and resignation.  "I think I'm done now.  There really isn't anything more to tell."  She continued with the Act of Contrition, and he finished up with her penance, and finally, her absolution.  Without another word, she left the room, closing the heavy door quietly behind her.

                   For a long time, Kevin sat in the stillness of the confessional.  Because Maureen had come to him in the sanctity of Reconciliation, he was forbidden to ever speak of it again.  How was he ever going to fix something he couldn't even discuss?

Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus


Hearing confessions...
       
                                                         


                       



             

         

 

       



       

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

AND THE WINNER IS...


              Thanks to all my new followers!  I can't express how much I appreciate your support.  I promise I will come visit all your blogs and give you a "shout out" at some point.  We are almost to the end of the first trimester here in the 8th grade, and I am swamped with paper grading. ( Comes with teaching language arts, I guess. LOL) But once the new trimester begins next week, I will have some breathing room again.

            I have drawn a winner from the list of all my followers.  (I tried to load one of those cool number generators, but finally gave up, and did it the old fashioned way...slips of paper in a box.)
If you are a follower, and left a comment, your name went in twice.

AND THE WINNER IS...


 
                                                              SUSAN KORMAN
                              PLEASE EMAIL ME YOUR ADDRESS FOR MAILING

Congratulations to Susan, and thanks to everyone who participated.  I will do another give away when I reach a 100 follower milestone.   It may be a hand created, needle punched Christmas tree skirt, or maybe a bathroom ensemble...not sure yet.  Again, I thank you for reading my narrative.  I hope you will stick around for more chapters.  The best is yet to come!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Just more photos


                                   

          So...I took some extra photos of Ted's Red Room in the light of day.  It helps to see more of the detail.  The room started life as a cardboard liquor carton.  I'm not so handy with the power tools, but if I can cut it with a razor or heavy duty scissors, I'm fine.  All the equipment I made myself.  The bed is a bashed canopy bed...minus the canopy.  The paddling bench and St. Andrews Cross I made with scraps and bits of lacquered sprayed craft wood.  The handcuffs and such are jewelery findings.

            I'm not sure what you call the hanging thing with the chains and cuffs, but it looked cool, so I added it. It was magnetized, so it made it easy to add the chains in a hanging down position. If you look at the top photo, on the right hand side, you can see the flogger, Cat 'O Nine Tails, and wide belt.  I used the leather fringe off my handbag, and I thought they looked rather nice hanging on the hooks in anticipation of their next use.

            You can't see it in the photos, but the ceiling has a huge round mirror in the center.  I added it thinking it would help bring natural light to the dark room.  It didn't really work out that way, but it seems realistic to me to have it there.  I can't remember if there was one written in the Fifty Shades novels.

             I would guess some people in the lifestyle might say my Red Room is not "dungeon" enough to be realistic.  But knowing him as I do, I believe Teddy Beckett seems to have a taste for the finer things in life, and this room suits him just fine.  And I think Cassie likes it too!  LOL

Until next week, stay safe and happy!

Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Party Panic

 

      Despite the stormy beginning, the rest of the week was rather pleasant and stress free.  From what he could tell, Maureen had no further contact with the Sheriff.  That was, of course, unless you wanted to count the two pounds of imported dried mushrooms he had dropped off on Tuesday.   Mo seemed tickled with the offering, but in Kevin's mind, dehydrated fungi did not constitute a romantic gift, so he relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief.

      His sister spent her hours tagging along on parish business, bonding with the cursed dog, and puttering around the rectory kitchen.  She took great delight in fixing dinner every evening, drawing out each course with detailed descriptions of the various ingredients, asking his opinion, and then disagreeing with everything he said.  It was like having the old Maureen back, the one he remembered from home.  The problem was, she was carefully avoiding any mention of her life back in Boston.  Not a word about her job as a case worker.  No mention of a social life or current beau.  Not even a single insult hurled toward Patrick, or any of her other siblings.  It was definitely weird.

    But he was enjoying her company, and hesitated to screw things up by poking and prodding the sore spots.  He figured that she would tell him when she was good and ready.  Though he loved her dearly, he had to admit to the fact that Mo was somewhat of a "drama queen", dragging out bad news and minor issues into week long traumas.  This current bump in the road was probably just more of the same, and whatever it was, they'd simply deal with it and move on.

    Kevin sighed, and shoved Sunday's Homily draft back into the folder.  He should have probably already been in the shower, and getting dressed for tonight's command performance.  Any plan to politely beg off had been dashed by a phone call from both Ted, and Cassie, reminding him of the date and time, and insisting that Maureen was invited as well.  His sister was looking forward to an evening out, and had been getting "ready" since mid afternoon.  There was no putting off the inevitable, despite his misgivings.

     An hour later, he was tapping his foot, dressed and ready to leave, taxi in the driveway, waiting for Mo to make her way down.  After several calls up the stairs, she finally appeared, and immediately began pitching a fit about what he was wearing.

       "Oh hell, Kevin!  You're really not going to wear that, are you?

        He looked down at his best black suit, clearly confused.  "What's wrong with this?  It's my best black suit."

       "You look like a damn undertaker!"

       He flushed, but held his ground, "This is what people expect their Pastor to look like."

       "For Pete's sake, we're going to a party...not the Vatican.  Can't you at least lose the jacket?  I'll feel like I'm walking in with the Grim Reaper."

         In compromise, he shrugged off the jacket, slipped on a knit sweater hanging on the hook in the hall, and asked, "Better?"

          "It'll do.  Now let's go already.  I don't want to end up late."

         As he watched her teeter out the door on five inch stilettos, he was glad he had decided on a taxi, rather than walking the eight blocks to the Sheriff's home.  He could just imagine the racket she'd raise. Instead, Maureen was quiet on the ride over, but was clearly shocked when the car pulled up in front of Beckett's stately Victorian.

          "Holy shit!  This is Ted's house?  It's a freaking mansion!  How the hell does he afford this on a Sheriff's salary?"

           "Well, I didn't feel it was polite to ask, but the same thought did cross my mind the first time I saw it.  I'm kinda pumped about getting a chance to see the inside."

             She nodded in agreement, and the two made their way up the porch stairs.  They were greeted at the door by an unsmiling housekeeper, and led into the dining room where Ted and Cassie were talking to several other guests.

              Cassie saw them first, and was at their side in seconds flat, leaving the people she was talking with in mid-sentence.  "Fr. O'Kenney, I'm so glad you could make it!"  She turned and looked at Maureen, narrowing her eyes, but keeping the full teeth smile firmly in place.  "And this must be your 'little' sister. I've heard so much about you.  Teddy says you're quite the cook...Mimi, is it?"

            Despite wearing heels, Cassie was still several inches taller than the petite Maureen, and for a moment, Kevin thought she might actually pat his sister's head.  Fearing a showdown, he quickly jumped in and took his sister by the arm.  "Cassie, I'd like you to meet my sister, Maureen O'Kenney.
Maureen, this is Ted's fiancee, Cassie McKreedy."

           Maureen stuck out a hand, and Cassie coolly accepted it.  "I'm pleased to meet you, Ms. McKreedy."

          "You must call me Cassie, my dear.  All my friends do, and I'm sure we'll be best buddies before you know it."  She took a sip of wine from the glass she was holding, leaving a blood red lipstick imprint on the side, and continued. " Although I must admit, when Fr. O'Kenney said his baby sister was coming to town to visit, I expected a giggling, teenage girl...not such a charming...and beautiful ... young woman.  The women in this town will need to lock up their men."  The smile was still pasted to her face, but her eyes said something entirely different.

        "How nice of you to say...Cassie.  I look forward to getting to know you... better."
         
         Kevin could hear the tiny bit of growl in Mo's voice, and a knot grew in the pit of his stomach. He was about to jump into the conversation, when they were interrupted by the housekeeper, who required Cassie's assistance in the kitchen.   She excused herself, promising to return shortly.

         When she was safely out of the room, Ted wandered over to the two of them, handing Kevin a bottle of Guinness, and Cassie a glass of Cabernet.  How he knew she preferred full-bodied reds over dry whites, he didn't really want to know, but Mo seemed quite satisfied with his selection.  After a few minutes of chit chat, he asked Kevin's permission to introduce his sister to some of the other guests, and taking her by the arm, led her to a group of young people across the room, leaving Kevin standing alone with his ale.

          Cassie was true to her word.  Returning back to her guests, her eyes darted around the room, and finding Maureen chatting with a handsome young man who was not her Teddy, she seemed satisfied.  She lead Kevin over to the buffet table, and insisted on fixing him a plate, piling it high with fried calamari, toasted ravioli, creamy pasta, and a variety of salads.  When the plate was loaded, she settled the two of them on the sofa, she with the single glass of wine, and he with a plate of food spilling into his lap.

         "I'm so glad you came this evening, Father O'Kenney.  We never get a chance to chat one on one.   You simply must tell me everything that's happening at Holy Family.  I've decided its time to become more involved in my church community.  Besides, it gets so lonely here with Teddy working all the time."

           And so it went for a good hour or so.  Cassie grilling him on the business end of his church, he carefully trying to avoid giving her too much information, and the bottle of Guinness magically replaced whenever it was near empty.  Kevin didn't much enjoy her company, and found her choice of topics odd for a social gathering of this sort.  But her focus seemed completely on him, and not on his sister, or the fact that her fiancee only had eyes for the tiny red head across the room.  He would do what he had to do to get through this stressful evening, thankful that in a week, Maureen would be safely back in Boston, and away from the problems here in Dollyville.  Unfortunately, after four bottles of ale, he needed to wrangle himself out of Cassie's reach, and find a restroom.

            "Excuse me, Cassie.  I'm really enjoying our conversation, and I  don't mean to be rude, but can you point me in the direction of the restroom?"

            "Why certainly, Father.  We have several.  There's one on this floor, right down the hallway, and to your right.  There's also one two flights up, and to the left, and one on the main level as well.  Take your pick."  She laughed, and patted the seat he had just vacated, "And don't you worry. I'll be waiting right here for you to get back."

             Kevin nodded, and headed toward the restroom down the hall.  Finding that room occupied, and not wanting to wait, he decided to search out another, but couldn't remember whether Cassie had said two flights up, or two flights down.  Deciding on down, he headed past the kitchen and towards the narrow staircase.  The housekeeper, her hands in a sink full of dishes, gave him a disapproving frown, but said nothing as he passed.

            The stairs were poorly lit and steep, and when he reached the bottom, he noticed an oak door a few feet to the right.  Glad that there was not a line of people waiting to use it, he rapped on the wood, and when no one answered, turned the knob and walked in.  The room was pitch black, and he ran his hand along the side, looking for the light switch.  There was a small button, and when he pushed it, a set of globe lamps to his left and right flickered dimly on.

             For a few seconds, he stood there in total shock, mouth open and eyes wide.  He wasn't sure where he was, but it certainly wasn't the bathroom.  The room was narrow and long, with a low mirrored ceiling, and thick walls enveloped in red, flocked paper.  Its floor was covered with rough tile designed to resemble black stone, and everywhere he looked, he saw chains, ropes, whips and handcuffs.  The room could best be described as a cross between a budget Las Vegas bordello, and something directly out of the Spanish Inquisition.  Despite his vocation, Kevin had a pretty good idea of what went on in this room, and blushing at the thought, he turned fifty shades of pink.

           Embarrassed at stumbling across his hosts' most private moments, he turned to leave as quickly and quietly as possible.   Somewhere upstairs, a door open and closed, and before he could make his way out, a sudden draft pulled the heavy door shut with a loud click.  He searched frantically for the door knob, but was shocked to find none existed on this side of the frame.  Sweat gathered around his collar, both from the stuffiness of the closed off area, and his growing panic at being locked in this horrible little room.  He considered pounding and shouting to get the attention of the people upstairs, but decided he'd rather not be found standing in this kinky playroom, explaining how he got there.

          In spite of being totally freaked out, desperately trying not to touch a single thing, and still needing to pee,  he deduced that there must be a hidden spring release somewhere along the door frame.  Beginning at the top, and moving his hands carefully down the door, he pressed and tapped, and after a few minutes, located a small indention.  He pressed on it with his thumb, and the door sprung open a few inches.  Without hesitating, he turned off the lights, hurried out the door, and trotted back up the stairs.

           He wasn't sure how long he had been gone, but the Italian food had been cleared away, and trays of desserts had taken its place.  At any other time, Kevin would have bellied up to the table, and tasted a bit of everything. Sweets were his downfall.  But his experience in the "Red Room" had left him queasy and sweaty, and even the call of chocolate dipped cannoli could not tempt him.  Cassie was no longer on the sofa, or anywhere in sight, for that matter, and he was sure when she returned, he'd have to somehow explain his long absence. Right now, he just wanted to find his sister and go home. He was feeling worse by the minute, and the octopus and ale were churning in his stomach like a science experiment gone wrong.  Looking around the room for Maureen, he was side lined by Esther Shidley, one of his long time parishioners.

        "Fr. O'Kenney,  I've been looking all over for you!  Before I went home,  I just had to tell you how delightful I found your sister.  Such a lovely, young woman...and so friendly and personable.  You must be so happy about her good news."

        "Good news, Mrs. Shidley?  I'm not sure I know what you mean?"

        "Why, Fr. O'Kenney...surely you must already know that your sister has decided to make Dollyville her permanent home, don't you?"

Copyright 2012 Victoria Rocus