|Fr. Kevin stands his ground|
"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|
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" up...like I always do."
|Beckett checks on Maureen|
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