|Fr. Kevin gives up his room...again!|
His brother pushed his way past the door, stamping the snow off his shoes on the mat in the foyer. "The ride down here was miserable. Train was late leaving the city, and it was packed with kids from Boston U leaving on break." He slipped off his coat, and handed it to the priest, wandering into the parlor as he spoke. "So, this is your rectory. Kinda small, isn't it?"
Already tired of the nasty comments, Kevin hung the coat in the hall closet, and followed behind Patrick as he explored his surroundings, eventually answering the insult. "It suits me just fine. I'm the only priest serving this parish, so I get the whole place to myself." He watched his eldest sibling travel around the room, picking things up, and putting them down, and was reminded of Brian, whom, come to think of it, he hadn't seen or heard from in several weeks. While Patrick's attention was on a rather handsome sculpture of the Last Supper, Kevin sent a quick text to his sister, warning her about their brother's arrival. Then, feeling bad about the subterfuge, and trying to be polite, he asked, "Are you hungry? Can I get you a cup of coffee, or maybe some breakfast."
In good pastoral tradition, Fr. Kevin would have sworn under his breath, and prayed for patience. But on this particular morning, he was far too busy worrying about the nature of his brother's visit, and how he would explain his sister's current state of affairs. He poured a fresh cup of coffee, and placed it in front of Patrick, watching him shovel in eggs and bacon. "So Pat, what...um...brings you to Dollyville?"
Instead of answering the question, he posed one of his own, slurping his coffee as he did so. "Where's Red the Wrecker?"
"Come on, Patrick. You know she hates it when you call her that. Always has. Can't we all try to get along while you're here." He sat himself down across the table. "By the way, just how long will you be staying?"
Holding the sugar bowl out for a refill, his mouth crammed with the last of the bacon, Patrick shrugged. "Depends."
"Depends on what?"
"How long it takes Red to come to her senses."
"Her senses? I don't understand. Come to her senses about what?"
"About returning to her family responsibilities in Boston. She's played around here on vacation long enough. She needs to come back home, and see to Ma. She was the one visiting everyday, handling the nursing home, and other stuff. Since Maureen's been gone, it's been a nightmare for the rest of us. I tried making a schedule. Had the different families taking turns, but it didn't work out at all. Sometimes there were six of us there on the same day, and other times, no one came for an entire week. That just won't do, Kevin."
Guilt stabbed at Kevin's heart over the lack of involvement he himself had with his mother. He had wanted to get back to Boston during the holidays, just to check in on her. But with all that was going on in Dollyville, he had never gotten the chance. Here it was March, and he still had not made the trip. Plus, as far as Maureen was concerned, he would bet every last penny he owned that there was no way Maureen was heading back to Boston. Zero chance she was leaving Ted Beckett behind, and moving back home to live under Patrick's thumb.
"Where is that girl, anyway? She can't possibly still be in bed? It's nearly 11. It's just like you to spoil her rotten."
There was no escaping. He would have to tell Patrick everything, and take all the abuse that would surely follow. He got up from the table, took a deep breath, and jumped in. "Well, Pat...she doesn't actually live here anymore." He busied himself at the sink in hopes of avoiding his brother's glare, grimacing at the sound of the cup banging down on the table.
"Doesn't live here with you? Where the hell is she? Couldn't you keep track of your own sister for a few weeks? Damn it, Kevin! You better hope she didn't run off and get herself into trouble. She's a pro at that."
It was almost impossible for him to bite his tongue. A few weeks? More like five months! He felt he had done a damn good job of keeping her reined in. She was, in fact, a grown woman, and it wasn't like he could keep her chained up in the rectory. In his defense, she had only moved a block away. Walking distance. What more did his pain in the ass brother want? He straightened his shoulders, and attempting to grow a backbone, placed himself directly across from Patrick. "Look...she wanted a place of her own. Some privacy is all. There was a small flat down the street from the church, and she had her heart set on it. You know how she is when she gets something in her head. I figured it was close enough for me to keep an eye on her."
Patrick grunted, and began an attack on the pancakes, having already finished the eggs, bacon and sausages. Still chewing, and now waving a knife at Kevin, he continued his tirade. "I hope the hell she didn't sign a lease. It would take a lot of fussing to break it without it costing a shit load of money. What I can't understand is, where is she getting the cash to pay the rent? She's got to be out of savings by now. Never was any good at managing money, that one." A thought came to him, and narrowing his eyes, he asked, "You wouldn't be stupid enough to be funding this nonsense, would you?"
"No, I'm not paying her rent. She actually has...um...a job. Here in town."
"A job? That fast? In his economy? I'm surprised a piss pot town like this has a whole lot of social services? Is she working for the county, or a private organization?"
Telling him about the job was going to be the hardest part of all this. Patrick had been the one to steer her toward social work, and the one one who had paid the bill for four years of under graduate study at Boston College. He had covered all her expenses, allowing her to focus exclusively on her studies, and she had graduated Magna Cum Laude at the top of her class. He would surely consider her job at the deli a personal insult, and a huge slap in the face. Things were about to get ugly. "It's like this Pat...Maureen was really upset and depressed when she came here. About all that stuff that went on back in Boston. She kinda felt she needed to get away from social work. At least for awhile. You know...clear her head a bit. "
"So what the hell is she doing 'while she clears her head'? You better not tell me she's some kind of frickn' waitress, Kevin. Too much of my damn money went into funding her education, and I'll be damned if I'm going sit around and let her pour coffee for a living." He shoved the plate away with enough force that it slid clear across the table.
There had to be some way to spin this. Allow some time for he and Maureen to figure things out. Mentally crossing his fingers, he stuttered out the only white lie he could think of. "Oh no, Patrick. She's not a waitress. She's working in...marketing. In the grocery industry."
"Marketing?" He thought a moment, and made a face. "I suppose it's acceptable. But I made some inquiries back home. Called in a few favors, and lined up an interview for her with a private Methodist organization that handles foreign adoptions. It's a perfect job for Red." He finished the last of the coffee in the cup, and handed to Kevin to refill. "What time does she get home after work? I really need to have a talk with her."
Kevin could feel the sweat build around his collar. He was a terrible liar, and this whole conversation was heading out of control. "I'm not sure of the exact time, but I'll give her call, let her know you're in town, and maybe plan for us to meet for dinner somewhere."
"No. I want to surprise her. Just find out when she'll be home, and we'll meet at her apartment before we go out. I'm curious see to see Red's new place."
He could only nod. The element of surprise was definitely gone. His iPhone had been buzzing in his pocket non-stop since he had texted her earlier, and although he hadn't read any of the incoming messages, he was pretty sure Maureen was going ballistic on her end. "Sure, Pat. Sounds like a plan."
Having finished almost all of Kevin's breakfast, Patrick pushed away from the table. "So...why don't you show me where to put my bags, and a place to wash up a little. Then you can give me the fifty cent tour of your church and parish."
Leading the way up to the rectory's only bedroom, Fr. Kevin thought about the lumpy mattress in the attic space he had only vacated a few weeks before, and wondered why these kinds of things kept happening to him.
|Some Beckett in the morning|
Thursday mornings were always the best. Maureen didn't go into work until noon, and it was the day she always cooked him a big breakfast. Even after their separation of a few weeks, she went right back to the routine, moving about the flat wearing nothing but his dress shirt, the ipod ear buds stuck in her ears to avoid waking him with her music.
He was seldom ever asleep. Sometimes he would lay there, eyes closed, listening to her sing along with the tunes. Often he watched her flit around the kitchen through the opaque glass of the screen, hoping she'd need to reach for something higher up, and allowing her bare ass to appear below the hiked up hem of his shirt. He wasn't sure why that drove him absolutely crazy. But it did. Big time.
Yesterday had been a gamble. He hadn't been sure how she'd react to the whole handcuff thing. There had always been the distinct possibility she might have thrown him out on his ear, slamming the door on any further contact. And as much as it would have killed him to do so, similar to ripping his heart directly from his chest, he would have conceded defeat, and permanently bowed out of her life. But as fate would have it, she had surrendered. Wonderfully and deliciously so, and the thought of it had him considering the delay of breakfast. Maybe skipping it entirely.
Before he could put that plan into action, she screeched so loudly he jumped to a sitting position, banging his head on the brass headboard. "Hell, Maureen! Are you okay?" He was next to her in a second, brandishing the Glock, and wearing not a stitch of clothing. "What's wrong, babe?"
She shoved her iphone toward his face. "It's awful news! Just terrible! Look!"
He brought the phone to eye level, and read the message. "It just says your brother Patrick is here in town. Why are you so freaked out?"
She took the phone back from his hand, and noticing his nudity, blushed. "I'll explain. But first... maybe you could put some pants on. You're very...distracting that way."
He grinned, and pulled her closer. "Well, baby, then go ahead and let me distract you."
Maureen lingered there a moment or two, then pushed away from him. "No, Ted. This serious. Patrick is here for only one reason. To make me go back to Boston with him."
He sighed, walking to the bathroom, where he grabbed a bath towel and wrapped it around his middle. "Maureen, you are 24 years old. An adult. He can't 'make' you do anything you don't want do."
She pulled out a chair and motioned for him to sit, setting a cup of coffee, and his breakfast, in front of him. "You don't know Patrick. He gets what he wants, and he has been bossing me around forever."
Ted dug into his omelet, already familiar with Maureen's everyday drama. "Sweetheart, I'm sure you're exaggerating. He's probably just here for a visit. Neither you or Kevin went home for Christmas, so it's not surprising he'd want to see how you both are doing."
Frustrated, she plopped in the chair across from him, not interested in eating. "Patrick doesn't care about any body's feelings. He just wants to be every one's lord and master. He hasn't figured out that I can't be ordered around."
Beckett looked up, and raised his eyebrows, but didn't comment. He most certainly didn't agree with her self-assessment about not being submissive, but now wasn't time to have that discussion. There was no way he wanted her to lump him into the same category as her older brother.
She fiddled with her silverware, lamenting on the past. "My dad passed away the Spring after my freshman year. I was almost 15, and my Mom had early on set Alzheimer's. I was the only one still at home. Kevin had left for the seminary, and the rest of my brothers were either married, or living on their own." Her face scrunched up, and he hoped she wouldn't cry. He had a hard time handling her tears. To her benefit, she sucked up the grief, and continued. " I tried to tell Patrick that I could do it. Take care of both Mom and me. But he wouldn't listen. He hired a full time care taker for her, and made me move in with him."
This was information he wasn't aware of. He had always figured she had lived at home until leaving for college. Now knowing, that as a teenager, she had lived with her eldest brother, explained some of the animosity between them. Having spent the last few months with her, he guessed she must have been a real handful during those years between the ages of 15 and 20. Hell, she was still a handful. Not wanting to appear as if he were taking sides, he tried to stay neutral. "That must have been difficult for you both."
Apparently, that was the wrong answer. Her dander was up immediately, and the lip came out in a full pout. "Not for us both! Only for me! Patrick made me his household slave girl! I had this whole list of chores, and I was expected to babysit for my two nephews all the time. He never let me have any fun."
He worked hard at staying focused on her story, but the image of Maureen as a slave girl took instant control of his mind He was glad to be wearing the towel, as his lack of attention to the story at hand would have been graphically obvious. Pulling his chair closer to the table, he nodded for her to go on.
"I lived with Patrick and Eileen all through high school. The whole time. Eileen was wonderful to me. More like the big sister I didn't have. But Patrick...he was mean. Constantly expecting me to produce top grades...be the best on the soccer team...president of the Student Council! Nothing I ever did was good enough. This one time... Eileen and I went shopping for my prom dress, and I picked out the most gorgeous outfit. Eileen let me have it, shoes and all. But Patrick took one look, said it was too revealing, and made me take it back. Then he made me try on every dress in the store for him before he finally consented to buy one. He's a total jerk."
"Is it possible he just wanted what was best for you, Mo? Maybe after your dad was gone, your brother felt like he needed to be responsible for you. I can understand that."
"What? You're taking Patrick's side over mine? You don't even know him!"
"I'm not taking any one's side, hon. I'm just playing devil's advocate. Besides, I'd rather set my own opinion of the man once I meet him."
"Fine. Whatever, Ted. You'll see for yourself." She trounced across the room, and began pulling clothes from her closet and bureau drawer. "Look, I gotta get ready for work. I'm gonna use the shower first, okay?"
Beckett forced a repentive smile across his face. "Don't be mad at me, Maureen. I just want to keep an open mind when I meet your family members. Did you hear anymore from Kevin? Are they coming over here?"
"God, no! Are you crazy? Patrick can't know that you and I... um...that you spend nights here. He'd go crazy on me! We'll have to figure something different out while he's here."
"You could always come stay with me at my house?"
Her face went ashen, and she didn't say anything. It was obvious she wasn't ready yet to cross that bridge, so Beckett let the comment go unanswered. "Honestly, I don't get what the big deal is. Kevin knows I stay here. He got over it. Patrick, will too."
"It's not the same! Kevin is my favorite brother. We're like best friends, and he wants me to be happy. Patrick...well...he acts as if he's my father, or something. And he's not. I had a father, and now he's dead. End of story."
She had said it herself. Patrick was the father figure in her life, whether she wanted to admit it or not, and Beckett made a mental note to treat him as such when he met him. "It's fine, Maureen. Whatever you want me to do. If you don't want me here while your brother is in town I understand. We'll work it out."
She nodded, seemingly appeased, and soon he heard the water running in the shower. On any other occasion, he might have joined her there, and stretched their time together a bit longer. But it was clear that her mind, and her mood, were set on the problems of her family, and so he poured himself another cup of coffee, and finished his breakfast alone.
Plans for the evening were set among at least 75 text messages. It was decided that Kevin and Patrick would walk over to Maureen's apartment sometime around 7:00 PM, and from there they would take a cab over to Chez La Rose, Dollyville's one and only up scale restaurant. Beckett would join them there, after he was released from court, where he was scheduled to testify on an arrest he had made several months before.
The early part of the evening had not gone smoothly. Kevin and Patrick arrived on time, only to find Maureen not quite finished dressing, which immediately set her oldest brother off about her lack of punctuality. Although he seemed to like the dog, and thought the apartment adequate for the low rent she was paying, he wandered around pointing out each and every flaw as he found it, and made her dig out a copy of her lease so he could examine "the fine print". Then, somehow, it had come out that Maureen's "marketing" job was actually in the deli downstairs, and both the stubborn red head, and her saintly brother, got an earful about trying to "pull the wool" over Patrick's eyes.
|Happy family reunion...not!|
The cab was late picking them up, and they arrived well after their reservation time, which caused a hassle at the restaurant. It was only because of Kevin's calm conversation, and his obvious Roman collar, that they were finally seated at a table in the furthest corner of the room.
Maureen was secretly grateful that Ted had yet to arrive, being held up in court by a stubborn judge. She would have been mortified to have him observe how her brother talked to her as if she were still a silly child. It hadn't helped the situation when Patrick commented on the fact that she looked as if she had put on weight, making her self conscious about the very tight emerald silk sheath she was wearing, that until that very moment, had been her favorite dress.
And when he finished chewing up both Kevin and Maureen, Patrick began to work over the still absent Beckett. "So, Red, where the hell is your Sheriff Andy Taylor? Maybe he 'moseyed' over to the diner instead?" He chuckled at his own joke, and sipped at his second shot of Jameson.
"His name is Beckett, Patrick. Ted Beckett. And you better be polite to him when he gets here." Despite the bravado of the words, Maureen was busy tying the napkin on her lap into dozens of tiny knots, while Kevin buried his face behind the menu, worrying how he would ever be able to pay for this extravagant fiasco of a dinner.
The two younger O'Kenneys were saved from further duress by the appearance of Sheriff Beckett, who was being led to the table by a hovering Maitre D. Patrick had his back to the door, and was oblivious to his arrival, but the other two sat staring in mutual shock. So much so, that Fr. Kevin nudged his sister in the ribs, and whispered that she should close her mouth
In the entire time the younger O'Kenneys had known Ted Beckett, they had found him to be as practical and down to earth as anyone they had known growing up among Boston's working class. They both knew he had money. Apparently lots of it. But he was never ostentatious, and seldom threw his wealth around town. In the five months since Maureen had met him, she had seen him in ...and out...of most of his wardrobe, consisting of his duty uniform, several pairs of dress slacks and jeans, sweaters, and unending supply of tailored, button down dress shirts. But she had never seen Ted...her Ted...look like this.
He moved toward the table like a man who knew he owned the world, dressed in a very dark, custom fitted designer suit, which from her guess was probably Armani. He wore a tailored, cream dress shirt with French cuffs, which were held together with some type of monogrammed cuff links, and finished with a blue silk tie that matched the exact shade of his eyes. The attention of every woman in that room, and several men as well, were on Beckett has he stopped at their table
Walking around, he stopped at Maureen first, kissed her on the cheek, and told her she looked stunning. Then he made his way to her two brothers, who both had stood upon his arrival. Kevin introduced Beckett to his older brother, who himself seemed surprised at the impressive figure in front of him.
"Nice to meet you, Sheriff Beckett. Must say, you're not what I was expecting."
Beckett smiled, stuck out his hand, and replied, "No, I imagine I'm not, Mr. O'Kenney.
And turning toward Maureen, he gave her a wink.
Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
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