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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Confirmation, Concern, and Contradiction...

The confirmation in Maureen's tiny bathroom
   Without looking directly at Beckett, she perched herself on the small toilet seat, and slowly dragging her arm from behind her back, stuck the object out in front of him.

   He stared at the white stick as if it were a live cobra.  "Is that what I think it is?"

  She nodded, barely lifting her face up to meet his, her eyes round emeralds set in white porcelain.  "I was going to tell you as soon as I was sure."

   "And are you?"

   "Am I what?"


    She pulled the wastebasket away from the sink, showing him that it was filled to the top with an assortment of cardboard boxes.  Her lip had a slight tremble, but she took a deep breath, and answered.  "I guess I'm pretty sure.  This was the fifth one.  They all had the same result."  She pointed to the mocking little plus sign in the window of the stick.  "It's positive."

     "I see that."  Beckett ran a hand through his hair, and leaned against the door frame, gathering the beads behind him.  "How?"

       She tisked loudly, and made a face of disgust at the stupidity of the question.  "I guess the same way it usually happens... as far as I know."

       Embarrassed, he clarified.  "I mean...I guess what I'm asking is if you have any idea... when?  I thought we were always pretty careful."

     "I thought we were too.  Super cautious.  All I can figure is it was the Mustang."

      As soon as the words were out of her mouth, he remembered.  It was about seven weeks ago, shortly after they had first started seeing one another.  At the time, it had seemed romantic, spontaneous, and sexy as hell.  Now, standing in her bathroom at 5 AM, it just seemed stupid and risky.  And the worse thing of all, was the fact that it had solidly been his idea.  Someone who most assuredly should have known better.

     "Shit.  I'm sorry, Maureen.  I kinda feel responsible for that night."  The whole experience was surreal, and the words idiot...idiot...idiot kept flashing in his brain.  He had spent the last twenty years working at guaranteeing he would not find himself in this position.  Built a lifestyle of discipline and control, one in which he was always in charge of the moment.  And now, here he total shock...contemplating the irony that a momentary lapse in judgement could change everything.  He waited for her to say something, and when she didn't, he spoke up.  "So, what is it you want to do?"

     She flew upward so quickly, she kicked over the wastebasket, scattering the boxes across the small space.  Going toe to toe with him, she growled, "What do "I" want to do?  Is this how it's going to be?  Suddenly, I'm on my own with this?

     It was his turn to be indignant.  "Whoa, baby!  That's not what I meant at all.  Look, can we sit down and talk about this like reasonable adults?  I don't want to have this conversation standing in the bathroom."  He reached over to put his arms around her, but she wiggled out of his grasp, pushed past him, and flung herself across the bed.

      Beckett followed, and despite her resistance, forced her into his lap, holding tight against her struggling.  "Damn it!  Stop fighting me, and listen for a second."  He felt her relax a bit, and turning her chin to face him, explained, "You are the one carrying this baby, and you are the one that has to deliver it.  I don't feel I have the right to insist you do that for my sake.  But if you're willing to carry my child, then you have my support, sweetheart."

    "Of course I'd have this baby!  What kind of person do you think I am?  I can't believe you just said that."  Angry, she turned her face away, but eventually, contemplating the meaning of his words, she looked at him curiously, the fight suddenly gone from her. "You're not angry?"

    "Surprised?  Yes.  Guilty? Yes.  Angry?  Absolutely not."

    "I thought for sure you were going to be mad at me.  For being careless."

    It both annoyed and shamed him that she could contemplate him being that kind of asshole.  From his perspective, he believed he had been quite patient with her ability to turn the simplest things into major drama, and her lack of faith in him stung.  "Well, you thought wrong," he retorted, his voice gruffer than he intended.  "I take full responsibility for this...situation.  What's mine is mine.  We'll get married, of course.  The sooner the better."

     At the word "married" she scooted off his lap.  "Married?  That's...that's impossible!  We hardly know each other."

     He made a face, and pulled her back toward him, unwilling to physically lose contact.  "A little late to worry about that, don't you think?  Besides, once we're married, we'll have plenty of time for figuring it all out."  When she didn't comment, he continued, "I'm off duty this weekend.  We can fly to Vegas.  It'll be fun.  An adventure of sorts."

    "You mean...get married without Kevin officiating?  Without my family there?"  Her expression was one of complete disbelief, eyes wide and blinking.  "I couldn't do that.  It's just not how things are supposed to be.  You and me all alone in some seedy casino chapel?"  She shook her head fiercely back and forth, her loose curls bouncing as she did so.  "No, that's not going to happen."

    Exasperated, Beckett argued her logic.  "First you tell me you don't want to get married.  Next minute, you're  pushing for a big ass wedding. Where exactly do you stand, babe?"

    "I'm not "pushing" for anything, Ted Beckett!  This whole getting married thing was your damn idea!  I just have no intention of doing something this important in front of a preacher dressed like Elvis.  You can just forget the whole frickn' thing if that's what your expecting.  Me and my baby will be just fine without you."

     He could tell by the arms crossed firmly across her chest, and the stubborn look in her eye, that there would be no pleasing her.  In addition, her bitchy attitude, and the phrase "my baby", were beginning to seriously piss him off.  It wasn't like this was any easier for him.  Choosing the path of least resistance, he offered a compromise. "Look, if you want a wedding, then fine...go ahead and plan one.  Have whatever makes you happy.  Money's not an issue. I'll take care of the expenses.  But you have one month to get this together. That's it.  Otherwise, I'm dragging your ass in front of a judge, and taking care of business.  Are we clear?   And just for the record, let's get this straight once and for all.  That baby you're carrying is "ours", so knock off the "me and my baby" shit."
Difficult early morning conversation
    She scooted across the bed, pulling a pillow in front of her body as impromptu armor against his verbal barrage.  "No one can plan a whole wedding in a month!  It's impossible!  There's way too much to do.  You're being totally unreasonable."

   "Well, if this is important to you, then I suggest you give it your best shot.  Use a pro if you have to.  Just get it done."

   She blinked, trying her damnedest not to cry in front of him.  "Aren't you going to help me at all?  This is supposed to be your wedding too."

    "If you ask my opinion, I'll give it, but you need to narrow down the choices.  There's no way I'm sitting through hours of discussion on stationary, or chair covers."  He watched her shrink under his dictates, seemingly smaller than she was at the beginning of the conversation.  Observing her huddled  against the wall, clutching the throw pillow to her chest, he felt lousy.  She deserved better than a pre-dawn tirade, but at this moment, it was the best he had in him.  Trying to be upbeat, and hoping to relieve some of his growing guilt, he suggested, "Do you want do this at home in Boston?  Closer to your family and friends?  It's fine with me if you do."

     Maureen squeezed the pillow tighter, tugging at the fringe on the corners.  "I don't know right now.  I'm not sure what to do.  It's all so overwhelming.  I have to think on it."

     "That's probably a good idea."  Knowing her as he did, he took her right foot in his hand, and began kneading it, working the arches with his thumbs.  Despite feigned disinterest, she quickly relaxed, as he expected she would.  He finished the right, and then started in on the left foot, both of them silent, and lost in thought.  By the time he finished, the sun had risen through the eastern kitchen window, throwing beams of color from the stained glass screen across the expanse of the bed.

    Beckett fished his cell phone out from the drawer of the vanity, and checked the time.  Seeing it was nearly six, he stretched, and giving Maureen's feet a final pat, drew himself off the bed.  "It's later than I thought.  I think I'm gonna hit the shower."  He offered her his hand.  "Join me, babe."  When she shook her head no, he leaned toward her, and grinned, "Come 'on, love...I promise to make it worth your while.  Besides, it wasn't really a request."

    She hesitated a moment, but again shook her head.  "No...I'm gonna pass.  Too much on my mind right now."

     His face registered annoyance, calculating how big a deal he wanted to make of her refusal. The stand-off lasted a full minute, and eventually backing down, he grunted, "Suit yourself." Then Beckett turned, and headed toward the bathroom, dropping his boxers on the floor before disappearing behind the beads.


   Maureen waited until she heard the shower running for several minutes before she let the tears escape from the corners of her eyes.  She wasn't sure what she had expected, but the experience of the last hour left her more confused than anything else.  Anger she would have understood.  Even appreciated.  She was used to facing the consequences of her dumb ideas and unplanned disasters, and had been dealing with the aftermath of her bad decision making since age five.  But Ted's matter of fact bravado left her stunned, unsure as to what was really going on his head.

   He claimed to want to marry her.  Even conceded to the idea of having a traditional wedding.  But the whole thing seemed so damn impersonal, and although she didn't have a lot of experience with marriage proposals, she was pretty sure this one wasn't the stuff dreams were made of.  On the other hand, he had taken full responsibility, and didn't seem to blame her for their unexpected predicament.  It was true. The Mustang escapade had been his idea, but like everything else he desired, she went willingly along, wanting nothing more than to be in his good graces.  Which, when she thought about it too much, made her a tad uncomfortable.

   Ted Beckett was, for lack of better words, a total pain in the ass.  He was demanding and opinionated, with a confidence level that well exceeded the normal range for any man she had ever known, including her brother Patrick.  When they were together, he expected her whole, undivided attention, and was quick to point out when her focus was elsewhere. And if he gave an order, many times craftily delivered as a strong suggestion, he expected it to be followed without any argument.  Difficult as all these issues were, they paled in comparison to his obvious penchant for kink, a side of him she had just begun to discover in the past few weeks, and had crazily accepted as part of the whole relationship package.

    Still, there was no denying that when she was with him, he made her feel as if she were the absolute center of his universe.  He knew her moods and desires better than she did, and never once had he made her feel less than totally cared for and treasured.  She had never been more miserable than the week they had broken up, and she couldn't imagine him not being part of her life, or in her bed.  It was terribly difficult to contemplate Beckett as a husband, or a father.  Hell, she didn't even know much about his family, his past, or even bits and pieces of his present.  But at that moment, one thing was very clear.  If he was going to belong to anyone on a permanent basis, it was going to damn well be her.  And rethinking her decision just a few minutes earlier, she slipped off her robe, and headed toward the shower.


   The hectic pace of the work day did little to keep Beckett's mind off the problems at hand.  No matter what he tried to attend to, musings of Maureen and the surprise pregnancy pushed it's way to the center of his thoughts.   Each time they did, he took a different stand on the matter.  Originally, he had argued that marrying her was the decent and responsible thing to do.  Then came the doubts, and he railed at himself for his stupidity.  He had no business being with that girl.  And girl she was.  Ten years his junior, naive, and barely past virginal adolescence, she should never have been on his radar in the first place.  When he was done beating himself up mentally, he would return to logical reasoning that all these points were moot.  What was done, was done, and the hands of time could not be turned back.

    What he needed to admit was the fact that she had stolen his heart for all the same he reasons he should have walked away.  In her youth and naivete, she gave herself to him fully, joyfully, and without reservations, and it made him feel damn good.  In addition, she was down right beautiful,  utterly charming, and he never seemed to tire of losing himself in the green depths of her eyes, or all that divinely pale skin.  And although part of him was horrified at the long term commitment a baby required, the other side was delighted  at the prospect of a wife and child who would share his life.  Simply put, for the first time in many, many years, he was a mess of indecision, insecurity and contradiction, a position that made him extremely miserable.

     He'd have to let the powers that be know his current situation, and they would assuredly be less than happy for him.  Extra entanglements meant additional problems, and they were of the mind that less was more.  In his line of work, spouses and children were a definitive risk, an opportunity to take advantage, and a door to open.  He knew he needed to make arrangements on his end for their long term security, and there was that twinge of guilt about being less than forthcoming with her about what it was he actually did for a living, and how it impacted the both of them.

    Determined to take control of his wandering mind, he pushed aside his problems, and tried to focus on the tasks at hand.  He was required in court later that afternoon, had a meeting with the county commissioner in an hour about increased jail cell space, and had pushed the same paperwork in a stack on his desk for three days.  Sheriff Beckett reached for a file folder on the top of the pile, and forced his brain to focus on the words in front of him.  He had only gotten a page into the report, when Grace, his secretary knocked on his door, obviously worried

    "Sheriff, a package came for you via private messenger service.  It has no sender information, so it falls under our protocol for suspicious parcels.  What do you want us to do with it?'

     Beckett rose from his desk, and followed Grace out of the office, and into the station room, where a medium sized package wrapped in common brown paper lay on the front counter.  He noticed that the usually busy area was now empty, and he was pleased that his staff was following the rules he had put in place for just this type of situation.

    "I want you to leave the building, Grace.  Just like we established."

     "Do you want me to phone the county bomb or haz-mat team, Sir?"

     "Not just yet, Grace.  I'll let you know.  Now please, exit the building."

     Grace looked unsure, but then nodded and headed toward the exit.  Beckett moved closer to the package to try and get a better look.  It was highly unlikely that the parcel had anything to do with his other occupation, but it was unwise to take chances.  From his position a foot away, he could just make out the hand addressed label on the front, and something about the handwriting clicked.  He moved closer, and carefully examined the box.  There was little doubt in his mind who it was from.  He'd recognized the flourish on the end of the capital letters, and the small "i"s dotted with tiny hearts.

      He picked it up, and carried it to his office.  Then, Beckett called for the return of his staff, assuring them he knew who the package was from, and that they could safely return to the building. Once the staff was settled, he shut himself in his office, and picked at the brown paper until a white box sat unwrapped, and unopened, on his desk.  Common sense should have dictated that he throw the thing away without even checking what it was.  There was nothing Cassie Donaghue could send him that he would ever want, and the fact that she was still hounding him made him angry.  His sources had, as of yet, been unable to locate her whereabouts, and knowing she was still out there, a minor threat, and a pain in his ass, added to his list of concerns.

      Flipping off the lid, he rummaged through the tissue paper, and found the flogger at the bottom of the box.  It was obviously custom made and expensive, the leather strips smooth as butter, and his initials, "THB", carefully carved in the wooden handle.  A note on heavily scented paper was tied to the end.
"To Sir...with all my love.  Please let me come home.  C."

Beckett's surprise "gift" from Cassie
        He dropped the item in the box, crammed the lid back on, and sat staring at the wretched thing for several minutes, deciding on a course of action.  He was again interrupted by a single knock to his door.

      "Sheriff, Fr. O'Kenney is here to see you."

       He picked up the box and wrapping, and shoving it under his desk, said, "Show him in, Grace."

       The secretary did so, and ushered the priest into the room, then quietly shut the door.  Beckett came around from the back of the desk to meet Kevin at the center of the room.  Sticking his hand out, he replied, "Kevin, I was ex..."

       Beckett's words were cut off as Fr. Kevin's right fist sharply connected with the Sheriff's left jaw, catching him off guard, and knocking him into a chair that stood directly behind him.

Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved








Thursday, April 18, 2013

Passing the Test

Fr. Kevin stands his ground
    Kevin returned from the hospital with the news of Patrick's impending release, which was thought to be sometime the following afternoon.  Neither of the O'Kenney siblings had planned on an ailing house guest, and there was a rather intense discussion that evening over a dinner of the Schiller's roast chicken, tossed salad, and a rice pilaf Maureen threw together with items in her fridge.

    "Really, Kevin...I can't, for the life of me, figure out why they would send him home this fast!  I remember when Daddy had his first heart attack.  He was in the hospital... like a really long time.  Don't you remember?  Mama took the two of us with her, and then they wouldn't let us up, and we had to sit  in the lobby by ourselves.  After that, old Mrs. Murphy from next door had to come and babysit every afternoon, and she always brought us raisin scones.  That happened like... a lot of times, so Dad had to have been there for at least two weeks."

   "I don't know what to tell you, Mo.  That was almost 18 years ago...things were different then.  Insurance companies weren't pushing patients out the door like they are today.  The cardiologist insists Pat's doin' great.  His only concern seems to be the incision from the angioplasty."

   "Well, if you ask me, that Dr. Salmon is a jerk.  He's always in a hurry.   I swear he's rushing Patrick's recovery to loosen up his schedule."

    "None the less, they're set on discharging him tomorrow, whether the two of us agree, or not.  We need to come up with some sort of plan."

    Maureen pulled a bottle of chardonnay from the fridge, and held it up, waiting for confirmation from the two men.  They nodded, and she added three wine glasses to the place settings.  "We certainly can't stick him on a train, and send him back home by himself.  He'll have to stay here in town for at least a few weeks."

     Her comment hung in the air, and all three of them reflected on the problems that Patrick O'Kenney's presence in their day to day life would bring.  Beckett spoke first, cautious about offering any advice on the matter of their brother.  "I'd be happy to pick him up for you.  If the Mustang's too small and uncomfortable, I could always bring the patrol car."

    "That would be helpful, Sheriff.  Otherwise, we'll have to call a taxi."

    Maureen placed the last dish on the table, and they took a moment for Kevin to say grace.  After a few mouth-fulls, the conversation returned to the topic of Patrick's convalescing.  "I assume then, Kevin, that Pat's going to stay with you at the rectory?"

    Her brother made a face.  "I figured you were gonna say that, Maureen.  But, honestly, that's not going to work for me.  You know next week is Holy Week.  It's the busiest week of the church year.  Makes Christmas look like a cake walk.  There's no way I can play nursemaid to Patrick, and still get everything I need done.  This is my first Holy Week, and Easter celebration, as Holy Family's Pastor.  I really have to focus on the liturgies this week.  Plus, there's the extra times for Reconciliation, and the Living Stations of the Cross.  It's just too much! "

     "You can't expect him to stay with me, Kev."  She waved her fork around the room, using it reiterate her point.  "This apartment is way too small for two people.  We'd be ridiculously cramped in this tiny space."

      Kevin wanted to remark that Beckett spent more time here in the flat than he did in his own home, without the size being a problem, but he bit his tongue, hoping to avoid traveling down that path of discussion.  Instead he let her finish her entire discourse, planning a rebuttal in his head.

    "I mean, come on, Kevin...where would he even sleep?  There's only the one bed.  I don't even have a couch to camp out on.  At least you have that spare bedroom."

    Tisking in disgust, Fr. Kevin retorted, "Damn, Mo!  It's not a spare room.  It's the attic with a mattress on the floor.  And frankly, it's stuffy and uncomfortable.  Plus, as I said before, I'm not going to have the time to sit with him, or make him healthy meals, or any of the stuff he's going to require.  He'd be alone most of the time."

     Seeing that her brother had no intention of backing down, Maureen went for his weak spot.  "I can't believe you're being like this Kevin.  You of all people should understand the meaning of self-sacrifice. Our own flesh and blood needs us, and you can't be bothered.  I'm shocked.  I really am."

    Kevin dropped his fork on the plate with a clatter.  "Don't start with the sanctimonious bullshit, baby sister.  You are well aware of what a pain in the ass Patrick can be, and you don't want him with you 24/7 either.  Fact is, you, out of all of us, owe him the most, so you should be rolling out the red carpet for his arrival!"

    His sister turned a deep shade of red, and throw her napkin on the table, standing up as she did so.  "I can't believe you just said that, Kevin O'Kenney.  I never asked Patrick, or Jamie, or any of you, for anything.  You and the rest of the brothers made all the decisions after Daddy died, and then expected me to follow along with your stupid plans.  I am sick to death of the the seven of you telling me what to do. From now on, I'm doing exactly what I want, and if any of you don't like it, you can kiss my ass!"  Hands on hip, her hair a tangle of curls on the top of her head, and her sprinkle of freckles blazing, she resembled an older, more petulant version of Little Orphan Annie.

   Without responding to her tirade, Fr. Kevin pushed his chair away from the table, seemingly on his way back to the rectory.  Through the entire exchange, Beckett had remained neutral, keeping his opinions on the matter to himself.  But he was tired, hungry, and annoyed at having to listen to them bicker.  In that moment, he was willing to risk their telling him to mind his own business.

    "Sit down and knock it off...both of you!  You sound absolutely ridiculous."

    In an instant, they both turned their wrath at him, eyes narrowed.  Kevin opened his mouth to speak, but the Sheriff cut him off before he could get started.  "I realize that I have no right to comment on your family situation, but the arguing and name-calling is beneath you both."  Maureen made a sound of disgust, and in return received a glare, and an arched eyebrow, from her beau.  She blushed, and returned to her chair, her brother following suit.

     When they were both seated, he continued.  "This is how it's going to be.  Patrick has to stay at the rectory.  There isn't any other choice.  Maureen has only the one bed here, and I'm not having her sleep on the floor while he recuperates."  Across the table, Kevin's lips formed a tight line of discontent, but the Sheriff ignored the obvious challenge and went on.  "I fully agree with Kevin.  He has too many responsibilities as Pastor to be at his brother's beck and call.  Therefore, I will hire a day nurse to sit with Patrick from 8AM until 5 PM."  He turned and looked at the priest.  "You can check in on him when you are able throughout the day, but the nurse will see to his meds, as well as his breakfast and lunch, and any physical activity the cardiologist deems necessary."

    He then swung around and faced Maureen, who looked entirely too pleased with herself. "And you, Maureen, will go over to the rectory after work, make dinner for the four of us, and spend some time in the evening with your older brother."

     The expression on her face suggested the desire to whine about being told what to do, but noting the set of Beckett's jaw, she bit back her retort, and nodded her consent to his plans.  She normally made dinner for the two of them several nights during the week, so his request wasn't really much of an inconvenience.  In addition, she counted on her show of devoted care swaying Patrick's mind, enough to allow her the opportunity to stay here in Dollyville, and not return to Boston as he had previously demanded.

     Neither of the O'Kenney siblings had much more to say.  The Sheriff's offer to hire a day nurse was exceedingly generous, and to disagree with his sensible terms seemed rude and ungrateful.  When they remained silent, Beckett nodded to the group, folded his arms across his chest, and replied,  "Good.  Then that's settled.  Now...can one of you pass the salad?"

Patrick recuperates at the rectory
   And in that manner, the week progressed.  Patrick proved to be, as expected, an exceptionally difficult patient.  But Ted Beckett was a man who planned ahead, and his choice of day nurse was a brilliant counter ploy to the elder O'Kenney's usual ornery disposition.  Ms. Caroline Ryan was a stunning brunette with a heart-sucking smile, an impressive resume, and a will of absolute steel.  Initially, Pat seemed annoyed at the lack of personal attention from his siblings, but upon learning that his nursing care was a gift from the very connected Sheriff Beckett, he was less inclined to complain.  And when, on his first full day home, Ms. Ryan appeared at his bed side, her cute, little figure fetchingly displayed in starched whites, accompanied by a charming lilt of a brogue on her tongue, Patrick gleefully surrendered to her competent care.

     Maureen dutifully appeared at the rectory every early evening, toting a bag of fresh ingredients for one of Patrick's favorite meals, reinvented to meets his new low fat-low sodium dietary needs.  She worked at being the picture of docility and patience, and both Kevin and Ted wondered when she'd finally have enough of the act, and blow her stack.  To her credit, Maureen amazingly kept her cool, even when Patrick teased, taunted, and did his utmost to try and make her loose her temper.

     Her perseverance seemed to pay off.  On Holy Thursday, after returning from evening Mass, Patrick asked to speak to her privately, at which time he informed her that he had changed his mind about her returning to Boston with him.  Maureen was thrilled, believing her attentive behavior had paved the way for this welcome reversal, but Kevin was solidly convinced it had more to do with Beckett's family connections than anything else.  The Sheriff admitted to telling Patrick about his ties to the Henton retail business, but was less than forthcoming about any other details discussed during their hospital conversation. In the whole scheme of things, it didn't seem to matter to Maureen what was said between the two man, and if Maureen was happy, then so was Kevin.

   By the close of the week, it was hard to tell who was more in love with Ted Beckett...Maureen O'Kenney, or her eldest brother.  Fr. Kevin inwardly smirked at the budding "bro-mance" between Patrick and the small town Sheriff/business tycoon/family fortune heir/ and God knows what he still wasn't saying(because he was sure there was still something the guy was purposely leaving out).  If he were truly being honest with himself, Kevin might have also acknowledged a seed of jealousy toward the man.  His brother Pat seemed to respect and admire Ted Beckett in a way he never had with Kevin, and Maureen obviously thought the guy walked on water, a position Kevin himself had held until now.  He worked at tapping down that kernel of envy in exchange for general peace and family harmony.  Truthfully, Holy Week had gone smoother than he could have ever expected in this situation, and he had Beckett to thank for most of it.

   Patrick stayed with them through Easter Sunday, attending Mass at Holy Family, and then enjoying brunch at a local restaurant, courtesy of the benevolent Sheriff.  Original plans were for him to take the late train back to Boston, but Beckett wouldn't hear of it.  Instead, he called for limo to take the eldest O'Kenney back home in comfort and style.  That evening, in front of the rectory, "good byes" and "thank yous" were shared among the group.  Before he slid into the back of the long black car, Patrick called Maureen over, and once again spoke to her privately.  Although they embraced at the close of the conversation, her body language and facial expression indicated a less than happy exchange.

     As the vehicle pulled away, Kevin leaned over and whispered to his sister, "What's wrong?  What did he say to you that's got you all in a hissy?"

     Maureen pursed her lips, and while Beckett followed behind, out of ear shot, she whispered back, "He said I shouldn't screw "this" I always do."

Beckett checks on Maureen
    With the departure of Patrick, things went back to normal, and the days were relatively calm and quiet.  Beckett was pleased with the way he had handled the eldest O'Kenney, and he had hoped that Maureen could finally relax, and return to her usual cheerful, lovable self.  So when that didn't happen, he was a mite confused.  Oddly enough, she seemed more irritable, and increasingly more moody, then she had been the week of her brother's visit.  And when he tried to talk to her about it, she became defensive, complaining that he was the one who was being overly sensitive, and insisting everything was "just fine".  If experience had taught him anything, it was that when a woman told you everything was "fine", it almost certainly meant things were not.

     It was nearly two weeks before he was enlightened to the cause of her distress.  Beckett awoke near dawn, comfortably stretched across the double bed because he was the only one in it.  Not seeing her across in the kitchen, he assumed she was in the bathroom, and listening closely, he could hear her shuffling and shifting in the tiny space.  He rolled over, hoping to catch a few more hours of sleep, but when he didn't hear the toilet flush, or the water running in the sink, he worried she might be ill, and concern pushed him groggy to his feet.

    The rattling of the bead curtain startled her, and she jumped, shocked to see him in the doorway.  "Jeez, Ted, you scared the shit out of me!  What are you doing up so early?"  As she spoke, her right hand moved stealthily behind her back.

   "I woke up, and you weren't there, so I thought I'd better check to see if you were sick?  You okay?"

   "I'm fine.  Don't worry about me, hon.  Go back to bed.  I'll be there in a minute or two, okay?

    "It's not even 5:00 AM.  Why are you sitting here alone in the a bathroom...and what did you just hide behind your back?

Maureen hiding out in the bathroom

Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved





Sunday, April 14, 2013

Going to the Chicago International or Three Blind Mice Show?

Look for this pin!

  Are you attending the Tom Bishop International Show, or the Three Blind Mice Show in Chicago next weekend, either as a dealer, or visitor?  As I live in the Chicago area, I plan on spending some time at both on the afternoon of Saturday, April 20th, 2013.
    I know so many of you have been loyal readers from the start, and I would love to thank you for your gracious support.  I thought long and hard about how to do this, and the only easy way I could think of accomplishing this is simply by "planned" chance.   I will be wearing this rather unusual pin (see above) on that day.  It is definitely unique (as well as, and it is very unlikely someone else there would be wearing the same thing, in the same shades of blue.
    So...if you happen to see me wandering around the displays...please, please, please...stop and say hello, and gave me the opportunity to meet you, and thank you in person for stopping by this blog each week, and helping to encourage my writing dreams.  This may or may not work, but I thought it would be fun to try.
Hope to see some of you next Saturday!
Until then, best wishes to you all,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Revelation and Karma

Maureen dreams...while Beckett schemes

    During the twenty minute ride back to the flat, Beckett was subjected to an entire litany of woes from his lady love, who, he had to admit, was anything but lovely at the moment.  If she wasn't bitterly complaining about the quality of the hospital's cafeteria, she was ranting over the cardiologist's lack of bed side manner, all tucked in between reoccurring bouts of pitiful weeping over her impending departure from Dollyville.

  At first, he had tried to offer a voice of reason.  Attempted to calmly rationalize the issues at hand.  But it soon became obvious she wasn't in the least bit interested in working anything out, or coming up with answers to the problems. It was all a matter of venting.  She was overwhelmed, stressed to the max, and far too emotional for  a meaningful conversation.  He considered sharing the details of his discussion with her eldest brother, thinking it would help put her mind at ease, but decided against it.  It would be better for all involved if the decision came directly from Patrick.

   The meeting in the hospital room had gone exactly as planned.  It began with him raining a slew of compliments on the charming Maureen.   He continued with a multitude of reasons explaining why she was important to him, and finished with a promise to treat her as the treasure he'd come to believed she was.  The elder O'Kenney responded, as expected, with a non-committal grunt, his focus held to the menu choices for tomorrow's meals, and speaking only to ask Beckett's opinion of low fat turkey meatloaf.  Ted was almost disappointed at the lack of challenge as he watched Patrick fall right in line with the grand scheme of things.  A few more minutes of trivial chit chat, and then...wham!  Time to drop the heavy artillery.   As soon as he revealed his family background, the man was all ears to anything he had to say.  It took relatively no time at all for her brother to concede that Ted and Maureen did make a fine couple, and decided it would surely be a shame to separate his baby sister from her true heart's desire.  And if her big brother had any additional misgivings, they were quickly put to the side upon his discovering Beckett's connections to some property the Archdiocese of Boston was desperately interested in acquiring.

    Other men would be uncomfortable with the idea of bartering for their love life like a back woods auctioneer.  But Theodore Henton Beckett was a realist.  For him, the end usually justified the means, and if using his family name and fortune kept Maureen with him, and made her family issues easier to deal with, he didn't care much about personal pride.  His time in the military, and those assignments abroad, had taught him that the smoothest path to a solution was always the direct one, and in this moment of his life, Maureen O'Kenney was that destination.

    But in her current mood, the young lady at the center of the controversy would most likely take offense at being sold off to the highest bidder, so Beckett wisely decided to forgo mentioning the change of plans regarding the move back home to Boston.  She would find out soon enough, and in the meantime, what she really needed, more than anything else, was a good long nap. Last night had indeed been a trial, with the family dinner, and then her brother's heart attack.  But she had seemed exhausted for the last few weeks, and he hoped there wasn't anything serious going on with her health.  Upon arriving at her apartment, it took only the smallest bit of cajoling to force her to stretch out across the brass bed to rest.  Within minutes, he could hear her soft snores, and knew she'd probably be asleep for most  of the afternoon.

     He left a note on the kitchen table explaining that he was going to head to work for a few hours, suggesting she should call him when she awoke, so he could take her back to the hospital.  Kissing the top of her head, and locking the door behind him, he left to deal with the other pressing problems of the day.


    The court house was gratefully quiet.  There was only one prisoner in the lock up, a drunk and disorderly who was expecting to be out on bail shortly.  The two deputies were on rounds, and his secretary knew to leave him be unless he called for her.  Sheriff Beckett took care of the paperwork that couldn't wait, and once finished, set his mind to dealing with his crazy ex-fiancee.  He first tried the email address he had on hand, but that came back mailer deamon, telling him that she no longer was using that account.  The technology installed on his laptop let him know that the server had been bounced around from several global locations, so it would offer him no information as to her present whereabouts.

   It came as no surprise.  From the information he had gleamed during the Marzano investigation, she was a hacker pro, with a rap sheet pages long.  The fact that he hadn't suspected her at all until she ran out on him at the cabin, was a total blow to his male ego, as well as his military training.  She had played the submissive role to perfection, and he had stupidly fell for the whole thing. The thought both embarrassed, and infuriated him.  He'd take the blame for that mistake, but there was no way he was going to let her slide back in his life.

  Agitated, he paced the office, working through a series of steps in his head.  There was always the option of using the company to track her down.  But that would mean explaining why he was on her radar in the first place, and there was little doubt the powers that be would look unkindly on his blunder.  No, he have to handle this himself, one way or the other.  The less people who knew about his error in judgement, the better.

   Beckett returned to his desk, and unlocking the bottom drawer, pulled a file from inside.  Her cousin's baby might be the key to tracking her down.  He flipped open the cover and dug through the stack of papers until he found what he was looking for.  Thinking about that innocent little tot always made him morose, and he wondered if it wouldn't have been better for the child to have been placed in the foster system, and eventually adopted by a loving family.  Instead, she was being shuffled among her father's kin, until the new daddy could come to terms with the unwanted role that had been shoved on him.  Unfortunately, the Sheriff himself had been the catalyst for the child's sorry state of affairs.

    In trying to locate the baby's family, he had done an intensive search of any contacts Elizabeth Donaghue might have had here in Dollyville.  He determined that at some point she had taken a job in a small coffee shop on the outskirts of town, and had rented a room in a quiet boarding house a few blocks away.  It appeared she had little to no social life, other than weekly trips to the First Savings and Loan on Main Street, every Tuesday afternoon.  He assumed the bank visits were part of the plan to withdraw the money stolen from Marzano in small amounts, and move it else where.  Then suddenly, in June of 2012, she had quit her job, packed up her belongings, and seemingly disappeared without a trace.

     Tracking her from then on seemed impossible, and it was only by chance that he stumbled on the answers.  He had been attending a sanity hearing in late September regarding the mental state of one Tessa Peppers.  He had been the arresting officer when the elderly woman and mayoral candidate had shot Kevin O'Kenney, and the one to subsequently arrest her for the murders of Marco and Maria Rivera.  He had run into Joe Scutney, someone he knew from the community softball team, outside the courtroom.  Tessa Pepper's defense had subpoenaed Joe to testify that the old woman, his neighbor, was indeed mentally unstable, and unfit to stand trial.   He was the perfect witness, as he related for the court how he had caught the woman repeatedly looking into his bedroom and bathroom windows, sometimes standing on a step stool to do so, and often taking photos of him naked, or partially dressed, and then sending them to him him enlarged, framed and gift wrapped.  He also accused her of being the one to fill his mailbox with animal feces, and of trying to poison his cat.

     As they were leaving the hearing together, Scutney had asked him about a missing persons report he had filed in September, for a young woman he had been seeing who had suddenly gone missing.  Although, at the time, he had thought Joe's girlfriend had probably just tired of him and moved on, Beckett promised the man he would look into the progress of the now cold case.  When he had, he was shocked to find that Scutney worked as a teller at the same bank Donaghue frequented, and matched the description of the dead Elizabeth Donaghue.  He took some old mug shots of the woman to show the young man, who then identified the woman as his missing girlfriend, Beth Reedy.

     It was then left to Beckett to explain to the very distraught man that the woman was dead, a victim of homicide, as well as the fact that "Beth Reedy" was an alias for Elizabeth Donaghue,  a woman with a very long arrest record for theft, blackmail, and embezzlement.  Upon learning that the two were involved in an intimate relationship, the Sheriff did the math and deduced that Scutney might be the infant's father, and later DNA tests proved as much.  In a matter of days, poor Joseph Scutney found himself the father of an infant daughter, as well as possibly involved in the Cassie Donaghue-Vincent Marzano mess.

    Unable to come to terms with any of that, and dreading the idea of raising a child by himself, Scutney had shuffled the child off to live with his parents in  northern Minnesota, who eventually decided they couldn't cope, and passed the baby on to Scutney's married sister.  Beckett remembered thinking at the time, that Joe Scutney's lack of responsibility toward his own flesh and blood was incomprehensible.  He knew he shouldn't judge.  The Scripture verse from childhood Bible school, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." stuck in his head, and he certainly had his share of heavy sins. He had done things that would surely shock the people in his life.  But he couldn't begin to understand a man not taking ownership of his own child. In Beckett's eyes, it made the man weak and shallow.  A total disgrace.

    Now, knowing that Cassie had made threats about taking custody of the little girl, and the possibility of her return to Dollyville, he was glad that the child was not living with her father.  He had tried to keep the information about the baby's parentage as buried as possible, but someone with Cassie's computer skills would eventually dig up everything she needed to locate her.  He considered calling
Scutney and warning him, but rejected the idea.  Joe had made it clear he didn't want involvement in any of this mess.  Beckett would try and deal with Cassie himself for as long as possible.  He still had some personal contacts, loyal to him, that he could call.  Maybe sending one or two to Minnesota would be a worthwhile investment.

   He shoved the files back into the bottom drawer, and securely locked it.  The actual location of Cassie Donaghue was at the moment still a mystery.  But until he knew for certain where she was, and what she was up to, he'd have to be on guard.  There was no way he would under estimate that woman again...and pay back was a bitch.



Saturday, April 6, 2013

Take Me Home

Fr. Kevin takes the hospital elevator up to see his brother, Patrick

    "Back to Boston?  How's that going to help with anything?"  He hadn't meant it to sound so sarcastic, but it did, and he was rewarded with double dirty looks, Beckett's evil eye being downright hostile.

    Fidgeting, Kevin couldn't express what he was really thinking.  Having "Red the Wrecker" as part of your life was anything but calming.  She had well earned the nasty nickname from her brothers for a multitude of reasons throughout the years. If your team was playing in the finals, and Maureen came to your championship game, you could count on kissing your trophy goodbye.  If she insisted on helping you carry a long labored project to school, you knew it would end up in pieces somewhere along the way.  And if you had the misfortune of borrowing her your car, you could absolutely count on it being returned with additional dings, dents and denials.

    Although he loved her dearly, and was closer to her than any of his other siblings, he had to concede that Maureen attracted trouble like a bee to honey.  Whenever disaster clung to his little sister, causing yet another familial upheaval, his brothers would complain bitterly over the end result, and their father would sigh, and mumble under his breath, "Bàthaidh toll beag long mhòr", which in Gaelic meant, "A little hole can sink a big ship."  Inviting Maureen into your life, all five feet, 102 lbs of her, was akin to bidding a small hurricane come through your front door. Why Patrick, who gave her the nickname to begin with, would put out the welcome mat for "Red the Wrecker", was beyond his understanding.

     Kevin looked toward Beckett, whose poker face had returned, and spoke nothing of what he was thinking.  He already had a taste of Maureen's unique way of "handling things" with the recent 911 fiasco.  He wondered what the Sheriff thought of her recent proclamation, but his neutral reply to her big announcement gave him no insight.

    "Is that what you really want, Maureen?  To move back to Boston?"  Beckett spoke calmly, but the lowered timber of his voice expressed the slightest hint of discontent.

     She looked down at her hands, unwilling to share the emotions on her face.  "Of course it's not what I want!  I love it here in Dollyville.  Love my apartment.  Love my job."  Slightly embarrassed, she continued,  "And of course I...absolutely don't want to leave you."  Then remembering the brother standing next to her, added, "Either of you.  But I have to do what's right.  Patrick needs me now.  He was there for me when Dad died, and when Mom's Alzheimer's got worse.  Made sure I stayed at St. Brigid's.  Saw to my tuition for Boston College.  Helped me get my first job.  How can I just walk away from him when he's sick and alone?"

      Kevin could very well imagine the guilt trip his brother had likely laid on her in the few minutes she was with him.  He was the all time "Guilt Master".  " Mo, was this your idea?  Or Patrick's?"

      Thinking it over, she hesitated.  "I guess it was both.  Patrick's alone in the house.  Ian and Colin are away at school, and even when they come home, they won't be able to make sure he eats right, or exercises everday.  All that stuff you're supposed to do after a heart attack.  Without Eileen there, he'd be lost."  She turned toward her brother, and added, "He actually said he needed me, Kevin.  You know how Patrick is.  He doesn't usually share his feelings.  How could I say no?"

      This was a no win situation.  As her brother, and a disciple of Christ, he should be applauding his sister's altruistic sacrifice. Supporting her desire to put her brother's needs before her own.  But something bothered him about this whole tender moment, and Maureen's new found decision.  He alone knew that Patrick had come to Dollyville for the sole purpose of making Maureen return home, and the reasoning behind his need to take her back.  They had discussed this well in advance of Patrick's heart attack. Sat and chatted about it at the kitchen table of the rectory only yesterday morning.  So, how likely was it that Pat was using his sudden ill health to further his plans?  And now knowing about Eileen's departure from their home, he wondered if his brother was really seeking a built in housekeeper and nursemaid at the expense of his little sister's independence, or her personal happiness.  Mo's desire for Patrick's approval would make her an easy target, and would allow his brother the opportunity to forgo having to work things out with his estranged wife.  Or worse yet, lend him the ability to use her as a bargaining chip in his marital reconciliation.  All unfair solutions in his mind.

     He hated being disloyal to either of his siblings. And although it seemed a mite cowardly, Kevin hoped that Beckett cared enough for his sister to insist she stay, put his foot down so to speak, allowing him to avoid being the bad guy. He still had a few misgivings about the obvious differences between the two of them, but the Sheriff seemed quite devoted to Maureen, and she was obviously crazy about him.  Her moving back home would surely put a damper on their budding relationship.

     Instead, for reasons he didn't understand, it appeared Beckett wasn't going to bail him out.  Although his expression remained blank, the rational tone of his words said volumes more.  "I would hope you'd give this some serious consideration, Maureen.  By your own admission, you and Patrick are completely at odds over a lot of things.  I'd hate to see you make a rash decision.  Especially after spending the night in the Emergency Room.  Give yourself some time to think things over."

      She sighed, the stress of the last several hours etched across her face.  "You're right, Ted.  I'll have to really weigh everything out.  I'm pretty wiped now.  I just do the right thing."

      Disappointed in Beckett's apparent lack of concern over Maureen's possible departure, and looking for a brief escape to think things out, Kevin checked the time on the large clock across the room.  "It's almost 5 AM.  I really need to get back to the church for the morning Masses."  He turned his back on the Sheriff, cutting him out of the conversation, and spoke directly to his sister,  "Mo, could you stay here with Patrick until he gets admitted to a regular room?  I'll come right back after I'm done at church, then I'll stay, and you can go home, and get some rest.  I'm sorry, but it's just too last minute to try and get someone else."

     "No, you go ahead, Kev.  I'll be fine."  Distracted, she added,  "But how are you going to get back to Holy Family?  You came in the ambulance."

     "I'll just grab a cab.  Don't worry about me."

     "I'd be happy to run you back, Father, if Maureen doesn't mind being here by herself for a bit.  I can also stop by the deli and let the Schillers know what happened, and that you won't be in today."

     Maureen immediately agreed for the both of them.  "That would be great. Thanks for all your help."  She squeezed Beckett's hand, and gave him a smile.  "I'll sit with Pat in the Recovery Room until they move him to the cardiac floor.  You can check with the desk to find out where we are when you get back."

      Decision made despite Fr. Kevin's objections, they both kissed Maureen on the cheek, and watched her make her way back to the Recovery Room.  Once satisfied that she was safely in place, the two men left through the emergency doors, both of them deep in thought.


    After dropping a virtually silent Fr. Kevin off at Holy Family, Beckett drove the two blocks down to Schiller's Deli, and parked the car near the entrance to Maureen's apartment.  She had asked him to pick up a sweatshirt from her closet, and the phone she'd had forgotten on the dressing table in her rush.  He stopped inside the store to speak to the Schillers, who were genuinely concerned over the serious turns of events, and left with a herald of support for the family, a bag of fruit and vegetables, plus a fresh roast chicken they insisted he and Maureen would enjoy later that evening.

   Like the majority of folk in Dollyville, they were caring, thoughtful people, and the main reason he appreciated his position as the town's Sheriff.  It was the perfect place for him.  Each time he came home from a difficult, life-sucking assignment, he counted his blessings for the normally quiet pace of life here.  Couldn't remotely think of another place he'd rather live, or for that matter, another woman he'd rather spend time with.  He didn't have clue as to why she had captivated him as she had.  There had been other woman.  More beautiful.  More submissive in nature.  But they weren't Maureen, the whole package that made her who she was.  And the thought that she might possibly decide to leave, both he and the town, was simply unacceptable.

    Unlocking the door, he traveled up the stairs, taking two steps at a time.  Without Maureen in it, the flat felt tiny and dark, and impossibly quiet.  He found the sweatshirt she had described, and grinned over the fact that she had specified a certain color, his favorite, simply for the purpose of sitting around  the hospital, on the chance that he might be there with her.  Locating the missing phone, he placed both items in a small plastic bag to take back with him.

    He put away the produce and chicken, and as an after thought, grabbed a Pepsi from the fridge, despite the fact it was barely dawn.  Caffeine, hot or cold, would still have the same effects, and taking a seat at her kitchen table, he grabbed a few minutes to relax before heading back to Jefferson Memorial.  It was hard to believe the whole 911/handcuff episode had only been a few days before.  Since the arrival of her older brother, thoughts of that whole exchange had been pushed to the back burner.  He wondered what might have happened if he had misjudged the extent of her feelings for him.  If she had called his bluff, and had told him to get lost for good.  Tired, and not wishing to waste brain space on "what-ifs" of the past, he pushed them from his mind, and decided to concentrate on the Boston problem at hand.

    Patrick O'Kenney was definitely a man who was used to taking charge, of getting his own way, and if he had already decided that he desired Maureen back in Boston with him, it wouldn't be easy to convince him otherwise.  But Beckett himself was a force to be reckoned with.  He had experience with men like her brother.  They always had a weak spot, and once discovered, it was easy to manipulate.  He hated to use his trump card this early in the game, but if he waited too long, things could get increasingly difficult to control.  He needed to deal with the elder O'Kenney...ASAP.

   Finishing his Pepsi, he pulled out his iphone to contact the station house, and do a quick check of email.   Skipping over the spam, he picked through the messages, coming across one from a familiar source.  He frowned, seriously thinking about deleting it without reading it first, but remembering the old adage about keeping one's enemies closer, he tapped the menacing email.

     He expected a crazy, obscenity laced message, and not the image that popped up on the screen.  The woman was in a traditional submissive pose, kneeling on her heels, sans clothes, her head bowed, and her palms up.  Underneath the photo were the words  Sir... take me back.  He didn't need to see her face.  He knew who it was.  She was trouble he neither desired, or had time for.  Without another thought, he hit the delete button, and the message disappeared into cyber space.  Beckett shoved the phone back in his pocket, putting Cassie "McKreedy" Donaghue near the top of his ever growing list of problems that needed immediate attention.


    News of his brother's heart attack had somehow made it's way through the parish community, and Fr. Kevin found himself the beneficiary of an abundance of well wishes, promises of prayers for Patrick's speedy recovery, and enough plates and casserole dishes to fill his fridge, and belly, for several days.  It was the single bright spot amid a bevy of worries as he waited for the bus to take him back to the hospital.

    He had worked hard at building a warm relationship between the parishioners and himself, and with the absence of the nasty Tessa Peppers to stir things up, and the popularity of his baby sister among the faithful, things around Holy Family had been going quite well, thank you very much.  The parish budget was running in the black, all the pressing necessary repairs had been completed, and attendance at Sunday Mass, as well as weekly donations, had steadily increased since his arrival just about a year ago.

     In a lot of ways, he had Maureen to thank.  Since her appearance on his door step last October, she had been a pillar of support, offering suggestions when he asked, building up his confidence, and helping out where, and whenever, he needed her.  It made him feel guilty for thinking of her as "Red the Wrecker", and as he boarded the #116 that would drop him off directly in front of Jefferson Memorial, he worried over how he might convince Patrick to let her stay with him in Dollyville.

    He thought about playing the "poor, lonely me" card.  Convincing Patrick that he felt isolated without the rest of the family around, and needed Maureen with him.  He quickly discarded that idea.  He doubted Patrick cared enough about him to be actually be concerned over his feelings.  Kevin was 18 years younger than his brother.  Born at the tail end of a long line of brothers he was closer to, and had more in common with.  It was unlikely that Kevin's loneliness would move him in the least, and would in fact, make him the target of several nasty comments about "manning up" and "growing a pair".

    He then considered stretching the truth a bit, and pleading that Maureen was under his "pastoral counseling" care, and that she needed more time with him as a spiritual advisor.  It wouldn't be a total lie.  She did often run things by him...when it suited her, and when she was pretty sure he'd give her the answers she wanted.  But Patrick didn't need to know that part, and truthfully, his vocation did force some respect from his eldest brother.  The whole thing crossed the line a bit, and it wasn't a great idea, but at the moment, it was the best one he had, and he owed it to Mo to at least try.

     The bus dropped him off in front of the main entrance of the hospital, and instead of going back to the Emergency Room, he decided to check at the information desk, figuring by now Patrick would be settled in a regular room on the cardiac floor.  He was correct in his assumption, and the usually surly attendant gave him the details in her politest voice, one he was sure she saved for clergy and VIPs.  She directed him to a bank of elevators on the far left, and handed him a visitor's pass for the 7th floor.

     He took the elevator up, remembering the last time he took the very same one to see Cassie McCreedy...or Donaghue...or whatever the hell her real name was...after that horrible house explosion.  He involuntarily shuddered at the thought of the woman, and tried forcing himself to be less judgemental.  It was obvious the woman had some type of mental problems.  But from the first time he met her, he felt there was something inherently "icky" about her, and the fact that he thought she might have tried to poison him, as well as set him up with that Marzano character, didn't raise any warm, fuzzy feelings toward her.  In truth, he was greatly relieved when she left town, and he would be quite content if he never saw the woman again.

      His arrival on the 7th floor brought him back to the problems at hand.  He located Room #723, and rapped on the door, preparing himself for the sight of his brother, gray in color, and hooked up to a nest of wires and gadgets.  He heard Patrick's booming voice answer his knock, and pushed the door open, shocked to see the man sitting up, propped by several flat pillows, and looking like the cat that had swallowed the canary.  More surprisingly was the sight of Sheriff Beckett, sitting comfortably in the chair next to his bed.

      "Well look here, the prodigal son has returned!  Come on in, Fr. Kevin.  As you can see, they've released me from death's door, eh?"  He laughed heartily, and seeing Kevin's puzzled look, added, "I'm feeling remarkably good, and ready for visitors.  In fact, me and Sheriff Beckett have been gettn' to know one another for the past hour."  He patted Beckett on the back, "Fine young man our Maureen has snagged, wouldn't ya say, Father?"

       Kevin could only smile and blink, not sure what had transpired since he left a few hours ago.  His brother looked in great shape for a man who had a serious heart attack only 10 hours before, and he seemed almost giddy with delight.  It was strange, to say the least.  And if his brother looked pleased, then Beckett looked downright smug.  Something had definitely changed in the whole dynamics of their relationship.  He looked around the room for his sister, and not seeing her asked, "Where's Maureen?"

      Beckett leaned back in his chair, relaxed and confident.  "She was exhausted, and starving too.  I sent her down to the cafeteria to get something to eat.  'Course, she didn't want to leave her brother alone, but I promised I'd sit here with him until she came back, or you showed up."  He turned back to Patrick. "I'm really impressed, Mr. O'Kenney, with how devoted your family is to one another. You're a lucky man"

      "Why, Sheriff, I am most grateful for the compliment.  I am indeed very blessed."

       Kevin stood in the doorway, feeling has if he had entered another dimension of the universe.  This was so far from the norm, he wasn't close to being able to explain it.  He felt like an actor in a play, who was sorely missing several pages of the script.

        Beckett rose from his chair, and offered it to Kevin.  "Why don't you take this seat, Father.  Now that you're here, I think I'll go join Maureen for some breakfast, and then drive her back home.  She could really use the rest."  He again turned toward Patrick, and put out his hand to shake.  "You take care of yourself, Mr. O'Kenney.  I'll be back tomorrow to pick you up when you're released.  If you need anything, you just let your sister know, and I'll take care of it."

        Patrick pumped Beckett's hand like a man grabbing onto a lifeline.  "Thank you, Sheriff.  For everything.  I most certainly appreciate your keeping an eye out for my baby sister."  He picked up a folded slip of paper off the nightstand, and waved it in the air.  "And thanks too for the information.  We'll have to talk when I get back to Boston."

       "Count on it, Mr. O'Kenney."  He turned to leave, passing Kevin, and winking as he did.  "I'm sure I'll see you later, Father.  Feel free to come have supper with Maureen and myself."

       And without another word of explanation, he pushed out the door, leaving Kevin scratching his head over the odd turn of events.

Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Dollyville, Massachusetts 

Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved



Friday, April 5, 2013

A Bit More About the Day Job...

Our local paper did a nice little article about my 8th Grade Murder Mystery event "Once Upon a Murder".  If you are interested in reading a bit more about my pride and joy lesson plan, and in seeing some photos of my students in costumes (something I wouldn't feel comfortable posting directly to my blog) then I invite you to take a look see at this link:

The story will only be up for this week's edition, so if you are at all interested, then you need to check it out by Monday, April 8th, 2013.  After that the edition will change, as will the stories.

As always, your support of my writing adventure is gratefully appreciated!

See you all on Saturday, April 6th, with a new post.  Some interesting new developments on the horizon!