|Beckett puts Fr. Kevin in a choke hold|
Beckett's hands flew to his assaulted face. "What the fuck, O'Kenney!? You're being a total asshole!"
Fr. Kevin O'Kenney was a man on a mission, and a few dropped obscenities weren't going to stop him from defending his sister's honor. He moved toward his future brother-in-law with his fist cocked, ready to land another punch. But years of military training, and daily conditioning, were no match for the young priest, and within seconds, the Sheriff had him in a tight choke hold, with his hands pinned behind his back.
Hearing the commotion from inside the office, and concerned about the Sheriff's well-being, the door burst open. Deputy Sykes, his weapon drawn, with Grace beside him, stood in shock at the events played out in front of them. There was their Sheriff, a man whom they had always seen as totally no nonsense, pinned against his desk, his lip split and bleeding, holding the town's only Catholic priest in a choke hold, while the Pastor struggled and kicked at the Sheriff's shins.
Realizing they had now had an audience, both men froze. Sykes, unsure of what to make of the whole scene, asked, "You alright, Sheriff? Need any assistance?"
"I have everything under control, Deputy. Please shut the door, and leave us be." Beckett's voice was calm despite the absurdity of the moment.
The man hesitated for a second, and then nodded. He and the secretary moved out of the room, and gently closed the door. Inside the office, both men were still and quiet, and they could hear the snickering and giggling as business in the station returned to normal. Beckett inwardly groaned, knowing that his ridiculous skirmish with the priest would become the topic of conversation around the squad room for weeks to come.
The Sheriff slightly loosened his hold around Fr. Kevin's neck. "I'm gonna let you go, Father. But no more swinging at me, or I'm gonna cuff ya. Understand?" He released the priest, and then stood and watched as the man straightened his collar and jacket.
"I'm not afraid of you, Beckett."
Ted pointed to the chair in front of his desk, and begrudgingly, the priest sat down. "I don't require that you fear me, O'Kenney. Just that you don't go clocking me in the face because you feel you have an issue." He sat behind his desk, and pulled out a bottle of Jameson, offering some to the priest. Fr. Kevin shook his head in decline, and Beckett slid the bottle back into the bottom drawer. As he did so, he noticed the box with flogger still under his desk, so with his foot, he pushed it further back, and out of view.
Wiping the blood off his lip, Beckett started the awkward conversation, "I assume this means you've spoken to Maureen. She told you?" Well that certainly didn't take long. Couldn't you have at least waited 24 hours, Maureen? Let things settle a bit?
Kevin folded his arms across his chest, looking remarkably like his sister when she was in one of her pissy moods. "Of course she told me. I've explained to you before just how close we are. My sister doesn't keep anything from me, Sheriff. Never has. And I'm sure that concept frosts your ass, doesn't it, old man? "She was totally beside herself with worry. I had to spend almost an hour calming her down."
"Really, O'Kenney? That's odd, because when I left her in the morning, she was perfectly fine. Cheerful in fact." Actually, she was blissfully comatose, you self-righteous jerk. No worries there. "You are aware that I did ask her to marry me, correct? And that she's accepted."
"Yes, she did mention that. However, I'm still very worried over the whole matter." What did you expect her to say, Beckett? 'Oh no, Mr. Sheriff...I desire to be a 24 year old single parent, raising this child totally on my own, on deli clerk's salary, and in a one room apartment." Of course she agreed, you pompous ass! "To be completely blunt, Sheriff Beckett, as little as six months ago, you were engaged to someone else. You seem to fall in and out of relationships rather quickly, and it is a cause for hesitation."
"My life is absolutely none of your concern, Father, and I don't ever recall asking for your opinion. My previous encounters have nothing to do with my feelings for Maureen." And how nice of you to bring up the whole Cassie thing. Very compassionate of you, Father Hypocrite.
"She's my sister, Beckett. So what ever affects her, is my business. That's how families work. You hardly know one another, and marriage is a permanent sacrament of the church. For Catholics, it's a life long commitment not to be taken lightly. I'm not sure you fully understand that. Frankly, I don't where you stand on anything Beckett. You've yet to be totally upfront about anything the entire time I've known you.
With his mouth sore and throbbing, his staff chuckling over his embarrassment, and a crazy bitch sending him unwanted kinky gifts, Beckett was pretty much out of patience. His own day had started with a life changing shock at the crack of dawn, and he was in no mood to play nice with his bride's pain in the ass, over protective brother. He'd probably regret his words once he cooled down, but in the heat of the moment, there was no holding back. "We've been around this block before, Kevin. Despite your desperation to keep her dependent on you, she's a grown woman who's made a conscious decision to be with me. And you just damn well better get used to the idea, because your sister is carrying my baby, and I will have the both of them, O'Kenney...with or without your approval." Not waiting for a response, the Sheriff rose from his chair with such force it hit the wall behind him with a bang. "Now if you'll excuse, Father, I have an extremely busy afternoon."
The two men stared at each other, a stand off of wills. But it was Fr. Kevin who blinked first, and without a further comment, he pushed out of his chair, and walked out of the office, slamming the door behind him.
Fr. Kevin felt sick. His heart heavy, and his stomach queasy, he opted to walk back to Holy Family rather than taking the bus, hoping to work off some of his angst. He had screwed up royally, and when Maureen found out, she would almost certainly have a few choice words for him. She had counted on him to support her decision, and to smooth things over with the rest of the family. But all he had managed to do was lose his temper, and alienate her future husband, in addition to splitting his lower lip.
For a few months before Maureen had come to town, he and Beckett had been casual friends. They enjoyed each other's company, and shared a taste for micro-brews, hockey, and Irish whiskey. Unfortunately, his sister's arrival, and Beckett's obvious interest in her, had set them up in adversarial roles. It wasn't that he didn't think the Sheriff honorable. From all he had witnessed, Ted Beckett was a man firmly adhering to his responsibilities, and definitely guided by some type of moral compass. He was well-educated, polished, and wealthy, and the people of Dollyville seemed to believe he walked on water. But it was their good natured gossip about his relationships with women that fueled Kevin's apprehension. And memories of that awful room he had stumbled on in the man's basement didn't help to soothe his concerns.
He knew that he, of all people, should be above petty gossip, and the fact that he was basing his judgement of the man on rumors caused him a great deal of shame. It was, however, difficult to forget
the countless little comments and winking jokes made about the town's Sheriff long before his sister ever arrived on the scene. Beckett's athletic build and good looks made him the subject of conversation anytime a female person was within a few feet, and Kevin had heard more than one woman sigh over the Sheriff's propensity for working his way through the town's feminine population. At first he shrugged it off as the envy of those unceremoniously dumped or ignored, but as he himself spent more time with the man, it was hard to ignore the sway he had over the other gender, whether it be a waitress, bank teller, judge, or soccer mom. And now, it was his baby sister who was the flavor of the day, and what that meant to her future happiness was unclear.
Nearing the rectory, Kevin made a quick stop for a double mocha latte, shoring up for the next unpleasant chore on his list. Maureen had asked him to call Patrick and let him know about her upcoming nuptials. Despite his argument that she should be the one to call their oldest brother, he, as usual, gave into her tears and pleading, and promised to make the call ASAP. Figuring that putting it off would be worse, he positioned himself on the parlor sofa, and dialed his brother.
"Archdiocese of Boston. Where may I direct your call?"
"Legal Department, please. Patrick O'Kenney."
"One moment, please."
Kevin felt his stomach lurch, and straightened his spine in anticipation to what would surely follow. He had no doubt that Patrick would hold him personally responsible for the position Maureen found herself in, and the tirade that would undoubtedly follow was sure to be unrelenting and brutal.
"Mr. O'Kenney's office."
"Hi, Mrs. Glover. It's Kevin O'Kenney. Is my brother available?"
"Well hello, Father. Yes, he just got back from court. Hold on a moment, and I'll let him know you're on the line."
The seconds dragged on, and finally he heard his brother's voice on the other end. "So what do I owe this honor to, Fr. Kevin? A call in the middle of the week? You must need something."
"How are ya feeln', Pat? How's the recovery going?"
"Things are as well as can be expected, considering that I've had to give up red meat, cigarettes, alcohol, and loose women. I'm not so sure it's worth it." He laughed at his own joke, and continued,
"But I know you didn't call to check on my health. What's up? What did she do now?"
If there was one thing Patrick was profoundly good at, it was cutting through the bullshit, and getting straight to the point. "As a matter of fact, I am calling about Maureen."
"Oh...what a surprise. So, go ahead and spit it out."
Kevin coughed, and cleared his throat. "Actually, it's kinda happy news. Maureen is getting married."
There was dead silence on the other end, and then Patrick dryly asked, "Is she knocked up?"
Never good at spinning anything, Kevin replied, "Um...yeah. She's expecting."
"Please tell me this is Beckett's kid."
"It is." Trying to soften the blow, he added, "And he has already proposed. They're planning on getting married in the next month or so." He waited for the string of obscenities, and when they didn't come, he was shocked.
Giving a low whistle, Patrick exhaled. "Thank you, Jesus! Tell Maureen not to sign the pre-nup until I get a chance to look it over."
Stunned, Fr. Kevin wasn't sure how to respond. This was so not what he was expecting, he scrambled to come up with the words to respond. "I'm not sure you understood me, Pat. Maureen is in the family way. She has to get married."
"I heard you just fine, Kev. And I can't tell you how relieved I am that Ted Beckett is the baby daddy, and he's offering to marry her. That girl just hit the husband lottery!"
The shock remaining, Kevin continued. "I can't believe that you're reacting this way, Patrick. She's our baby sister. Our responsibility. Don't you care about her future? About her personal happiness? And what about our family honor. You of people should be interested in that!"
"Honor, Shmoner! That's all naive bullshit, Kevin. I've been preparing for this day for years. I'm just glad the outcome is better than expected."
Angry, the words came out of Kevin's mouth in a sputter. "How dare you say that about Maureen, Patrick. If I were there, I'd bust your lip open for talking about Maureen like she's some kind of ...slut. You're her oldest brother! Stop being a total asshole, and act like it!"
"Knock off the wounded warrior shit, little brother. You are forgetting that Maureen lived with me from the time she was 15 until she graduated from college. If anyone knows Red, it's me, and I can't begin to tell you the hell she put me through. She was the most unmanageable, sharp-tongued, manipulating little teenager I have ever run across. During her junior and senior year in high school, I spent more time on the phone with the principal over at St. Bridget's trying to keep that girl from getting expelled. It cost me a $5000 "donation" to ensure that she'd graduate from that school, after she led the entire student body in rioting protest over the lack of vegetarian options in the school's cafeteria."
"I'm sorry, Pat. I didn't know any of that. But still, that doesn't give you the right to make remarks about her virtue."
"Of course you didn't know, Kevin. 'Cause you were off to the seminary, living in spiritual oblivion, while I was responsible for raising the little hellion. And as far as her virtue goes, you weren't the one driving around at all hours of the night looking for her when she missed curfew, or snuck out of the house without permission. I've pulled her out of more steamed up cars than I can remember. Eileen tried to give her some guidance, but face it, Kevin, that girl was a handful from the moment she hit puberty. Her ending up with a man like Beckett is a blessing. One I'm going to be owing mountains of novenas for."
"But, Pat...aren't you even the least bit worried about their difference in age? He's ten ears older than she. Plus, they're from two completely different backgrounds. They have nothing in common. He's not even a Catholic"
"Frankly, none of that means a hill of beans, Kev. Honestly, I think it's a good thing that he's more mature than Maureen. She needs a firm hand to keep her in line, and from what I saw of the two of them when I was there, Beckett's got a good handle on her, an she seems to actually listen to him. Who knows...motherhood might be good for Red. Calm her down, and keep her busy. In addition, he's ridiculously wealthy, so neither she, or the baby, will ever want for anything, and if it doesn't work out, I'll make sure that the pre-nup keeps them both safely taken care of."
"This whole thing is ludicrous, Patrick! Plus, I can't see Maureen signing any pre-nuptial contract. That would be like admitting the possibility that this is less than a wonderful idea. Her pride will never let her do it."
"Well, there's no damn way Beckett's gonna marry her without one. He'd be a fool to do so with all he has at stake to lose. I'll bet every last nickel he's going to have one written, and Red's gonna sign it. Even if I have to knock her out, tie the pen to her hand, and move it myself! For once in her life, she needs to do what's necessary, and not what she decides she wants at the moment." Patrick turned away from the phone to talk to someone, and when he returned, he finished up the conversation. "Look, Kevin, I gotta be on a conference call in the next two minutes. I'm trusting you to handle things on your end. Do what you need to do to make this marriage happen, and don't let that little girl wrap you around her finger. Stand firm, and insist she do what's best for her baby. I don't care if you have to lay the old "sin" shit on her. Just hold down the fort, and keep me in the loop. Tell Beckett I'll call him in the next few days about the pre-nup meeting. Gotta go. Talk to you next week."
On his end, the phone went dead, and Fr. Kevin was left with no allies, and even less of a game plan. With a growl of frustration, he shoved his cell phone in his pocket, and wandered over to the church to pray on the meaning and nature of the things that bothered him.
Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved