|Hiding from Marzano|
Kevin turned his head, the tiny movement causing a stabbing pain to bloom behind his eyes. She was right. The car seemed to be following them on the opposite side of the street, remaining in the shadows and avoiding the slices of light thrown from the few working street lamps.
"Don't run, Mo. It will show that you're afraid."
"Kev, it's a car, not a stray dog. I think we should run like hell."
He could see the panic in her eyes. Wanted to tell her it would be okay. But he was near the breaking point himself. If there was a spot on his body that didn't throb, he'd be hard pressed to find it, and each step he took was a challenge. Running was simply not an option. "Maybe you're right, Momo. So... this is what we're going to do. When I say run, you take off. Head for the strip mall three blocks down. Wait by the diner." Kevin gave her hand a tight squeeze. "I'll stay here. Distract the car." He bent forward, rubbing his cramping calves. "If it turns out the car is nothing...then I'll meet you there." Good Lord willing.
Maureen stopped dead in her tracks. "I'm not just going to leave you here, Kevin. Like some kind of damn coward." She put her arm through his. "You saved my life. You had the shit kicked out of you on my account. How could you think I'd run off and leave you to...whatever?" She wiped at a spot of dried blood on his sweater, and patted his arm. "We'll deal together...no matter what."
He wanted to explain it all. Confess that it was because of him...and that cursed case of money...that she had been abudcted in the first place. Damn Mo. Why couldn't you have stayed in Boston? Find a normal guy. Have babies. Be happy. It was all right there, waiting to come spilling out. But the seal of the confessional held his tongue. "Maureen... I'm so..." The regret was put on hold as the black Mustang crossed to the wrong side of the street, and slid silently next to the curb where they were standing.
The tinted driver's window rolled down, and Beckett, dressed in black from head to toe, leaned through the space. "Hate to break up this tender family moment, but I need for you to get into this car as quickly as possible."
Filled with relief, they walked to the other side of the car. Maureen pulled open the passenger door, and pushed the bucket seat forward. "You get in the back, Kev. That way you can stretch out across the seat, and be more comfortable."
There was no way folding his sore, six foot frame into that tiny space was going to offer any comfort, but he was too grateful to argue. He bent downward to climb in back, when he noticed the weapon lying across the seat. "Um...Sheriff? There's a gun back here. A big one."
"It's a Bushmaster 223. Top of the line. Just lay it on the floor, Father, and get in."
"I'm...uh...not sure I want to touch it."
"Damn it, Father. The safety's on. It's perfectly safe. Will you just get in car? I'm not sure this is the best place to linger."
Kevin pushed the 223 to the floor, and slid his rear onto the seat. Curling up his long legs, he tried to find a position that didn't cause him breath sucking pain. Do people actually ever sit in the back of a Mustang? How? He watched his sister settle into the seat next to Beckett. The Sheriff checked his rear view mirrors, shifted the car into drive, and pulled away from the street. Lord...I have no idea why the Sheriff is here...but thank you anyway.
"Thanks, Sheriff. Your timing is perfect." He leaned his head on the window, and took a deep breath. "How...did you know we were here?"
"I've been following you since this afternoon, Father."
Maureen came instantly to his defense. "You saw what happened to Kevin...and you just watched? What the hell is the matter with you? Why didn't you stop those guys from hurting him?" Her voice sounded high and strained.
"As you might recall, Maureen, you had a gun stuck in the small of your back. If I had reacted hastily, there's a pretty good chance you'd be dead right now. Maybe Kevin too. Your brother is in pretty good shape. I was willing to risk the beating if it meant you'd both be able to walk away. Either way, I had him covered. If things had gone south, I was prepared to take action."
"Don't blame the Sheriff, Mo. He did the right thing. This is all my fault anyway." Here it comes. All the questions I can't answer. Maybe Maureen will understand. But the Sheriff? Never.
"I can't figure out any of this! How did you know Kev needed help? And why are those horrible people after us? We're nobodies. Does it have anything to do with what happened at the cabin?"
"Yeah, Father. Those are good questions. Maybe you could shed some light as to how you managed to get yourself mixed up with Vincent Marzano? And where you got all that money to ransom your sister."
From his vantage point in the back seat, Kevin said nothing. He could feel the heat of the Sheriff's glare, and see the confusion in his sister's eyes. But he could offer them no answers. "I'm sorry. I'm not going to be able to tell you."
The Sheriff drove the Mustang into the lot of a brightly lit drug store, put the car in park, but left the engine running. He turned around, and leaned over the seat. "That's bullshit, Fr. O'Kenney. Total bullshit. You put your sister in danger. You compromised your reputation. You brought evil people into my unsuspecting town. And then you have the audacity to sit there in your misery and pain, and refuse to explain why? You're really some piece of work." He threw open the car door, and focused on Maureen, ignoring Kevin completely. "I need to pick up a few things. Lock the car doors. If you feel threatened, lay on the horn, and I'll be right back." With a quick turn, he was out of the Mustang, slamming the door so hard the windows rattled.
Maureen knelt on the seat facing her brother. "Kev, I'm really freaked. What's going on? Who's Marzano, and why..why is he bothering us? Please. You have to tell me what's going on."
"Mo...I want to tell you everything. Honest I do. I feel so guilty that you're involved in any of this. But I can't. It has to do with...with a sacrament. My vow of silence is sacred. You understand that, don't you? Don't hate me, Momo. I couldn't bear it.
He looked so pitiful, so broken and banged up, it was hard for her to hold back her tears. "Oh, Kevin. Are you telling me this whole mess...me getting kidnapped...you getting beat up...all has to do with something that happened in the confessional?" When he looked away in silence, she knew she had her answer. She slid stone-faced back into her seat, knowing her brother would say no more on the subject.
In a matter of minutes, Beckett returned to the car, a phantom image all in black, looking out of place in the harsh, glaring lights of the drugstore. He was carrying two plastic bags, which he threw hastily into the trunk. Getting into the Mustang, he was quickly aware of the silence and tension in the car. Something had passed between the two siblings, but he refrained from questioning either of them. There would be time for that later.
As they headed east away from Dollyville, Maureen realized that they were not moving in the direction of the rectory, drawing the first words out of any one's mouth in several minutes "This isn't the way back to town. Aren't we going home? Back to the rectory?"
Fr. Kevin pushed himself up from the seat, and twisted around to look out the back window. "Sheriff? What's going on? Where are we going? I appreciate all your help, but..."
"It would be stupid to head back to the rectory without being sure of Marzano's intention. It appears he intends to keep you alive, but there's no reason we should get sloppy. The man does nothing without purpose, and until I can pinpoint what that might be, I'd rather be safe than sorry. We're going to lie low for a bit, until I get the information I need. I know a place. "
"Like I said, Sheriff. I'm grateful for the help, but the man has his money. I believe he's done with me...with us. So all this cloak and dagger stuff... it's really unneccessary. Just take us home. Please."
"You're being very cavalier, Father. But unlike you, I'm not willing to risk your life...or Maureen's, over 'maybes'. We're going to do this my way. You owe me that much." And without taking his eyes off the road, Beckett tapped a screen on the dashboard and the car was suddenly filled with the strains of Brahms Concerto in D Major, so loud that nothing more could be discussed
They drove through miles of dark back roads, and several small towns before pulling over a crushed gravel road leading to a small, low rise motel. The Sheriff drove past the office without registering or picking up a key, and parked in the back of the end unit. He retrieved the bags from the trunk, along with a long black case. With Maureen's assistance, he helped Kevin hobble out of the Mustang's back seat, and grabbed the 223 off the floor before locking the car. The trio entered the room from an oddly placed back door, which required Beckett to code in a series of numbers.
He flipped a switch on the rear wall, and lights blazed across the room. The decor was typical of hundreds of similiar chain motels across the country. Bland walls. Beige carpeting. Double bed with faded comforter, and a no name TV perched on a veneer bureau. Undoubtedly, the lumpy sofa on the far wall opened up to a sofa bed, but only if you moved the table and chair out of it's way. To to the exhausted priest, the mediocre accomodations seemed comparable to a suite at the Four Seasons. He longed to curl up on the rock hard mattress, flip through endless cable channels, and forget every moment of this miserable day. But there was his sister to consider, and what was sure to be endless questions from the somber Sheriff.
Maureen wandered the room, examining the lack luster furniture, She plopped onto the sofa, the weariness of the day etched in her face. "Just why are we here, Sheriff? And for how long?"
"You are here, Miss O'Kenney, for your own safety. As for how long? Well, that will depend on how soon I can get confirmation that Vincent Marzano and company has moved on. Both from Massechuets, and having an interest in the two of you. The fact that your brother refuses to reveal his involvement is making my job a lot tougher."
Rising from the sofa, and standing toe to toe with the Sheriff, Maureen scolded, "Just leave my brother alone. He has his reasons. None of which someone like you would understand."
Beckett forced a tight smile. "Oh. So that's how it's going to be. Two against one. Apparently neither of you understand just how much danger you're in. You want to play games? Go ahead...keep your secrets." He shook his head in disgust. "I thought you both were smarter than that." Picking up the bag from the drugstore, he crossed the room to where Fr. Kevin had propped himself on the bed. "I'm tired of arguing about this. You don't want to help me? Fine. Don't. But damned if I'm gonna sit back and watch Marzano take the two of you out. Not if I can help it." He pulled several packages of tape and bandages from the bag, along with antiseptic and cotton balls. "Come give me a hand, Maureen. I'm guessing Kevin has some broken ribs. We'll need to wrap them."
It took the best of an hour to tend to Kevin's 'battle' wounds, and by the time they had finished, both he, and his nursemaids, were thoroughly annoyed and exhausted. Becket had insisted on wrapping his entire rib cage, and their tugging and pulling had caused him more than a little pain. Maureen had bandaged his nose as best she could, but it had been broken only months before, the cartilage already soft and damaged, and the wrap didn't offer him much in the way of comfort or support.
Because he was in such miserable shape, it was insisted upon that he should take dominion over the only bed in the room. Maureen took possession of the sofa bed, but when they pulled it out for her, the center sagged so badly, she opted to just stretch out across it, sans the bed part. The Sheriff offered them something to eat or drink from the bureau door, which strangely enough, held a sampling of instant soups, coffees, and teas, as well as bottled water and several packets of crackers and beef jerky.
The fact that this motel room in the middle of no where seemed "stocked" for guests, had a unique back door, as well as a strange key pad entry system, left Fr. Kevin puzzled. Added to that was the missing explanation of why the Sheriff had to take a call from his cell phone in the bathroom...with the door closed. Being left without answers raised the anxiety level of both he and his sister.
When he finally got the nerve to question the Sheriff about his concerns, Beckett shot him a dirty look, and calmly stated that he would answer Kevin's questions just as soon as Kevin finished answering his. Calling a stalemate, and in no mood to get into a pissing match about who would 'break' first, the priest rolled over, pulled the covers around his head, and pretended to be asleep.
In the process of "pretending", he must have actually dozed off. Fr. Kevin woke with a start, and checking the watch on his nightstand, realized he had been sleeping for about 3 hours. It was nearly 5 AM, and still dark outside. The only light in the room came from a slit under the dropped window shade, the neon glare of the "No Vacancy" sign flashing for an obviously empty motel. The weirdness of that concept gave him pause, but his train of thought was abruptly interupted. In the tiny bit of light, he could see across the room to where his sister was softly snoring on the sofa, her left hand hanging down and entwined in the Sheriff's, who was propped, eyes closed, on the floor next to her.
|Looking out for Maureen|
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved 2013