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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Baby Come Back!


An Important Notice to Readers...

     Although this fiction blog is illustrated with photos of dolls, and dollhouse miniatures, the language and content of the storyline is intended for an adult audience.  Please be advised.

Thank You,

   The Author

An empty chair is never good
    He awoke to his wife's hands roaming over his anatomy, which on any other given day might have have been a terrific start.  But at this particular moment, it felt like he had only closed his eyes mere minutes ago, and his rib cage screamed with each tiny movement.  Beckett was grateful for the pillow wedged under his right side, hiding the wad of tissue he had stuck to the jagged, oozing tear near his hip, and swore under his breath at the missed opportunity.  Pulling the blankets tighter around himself, he kept his eyes tightly closed, and yawned.  "That feels great, baby.  But I'm dead on my feet.  I need a few more hours."

      The hand stopped, and withdrew.  He forced himself not to look, but from the sound of her voice, he could tell she was pouting.

      "Really?  You want me to stop?"

      He mumbled into the pillow, and shifted to face away from her, lest he be tempted to give in, which would surely be a disaster.  Clenching his teeth to ride out the throbbing pain, he worked to spit out the words he hoped sounded convincing.  "The last few days have been a killer, babe.  The wedding...the explosion.  I'm just exhausted.  Give me a few more hours to recoup, and I'll be good.  Promise."

       There was silence on her end, and then an exaggerated sigh.  Lucky for him, she had decided to put on her good girl personae, and didn't argue the point.  After a few moments, he felt her roll out of bed, pad off to the bathroom, the door shut with perhaps a bit more force than necessary  At some point after, he must have dozed off, because the next thing he knew she was standing at the side of the bed shaking him awake.

      "Ted, if you're going to sleep all morning, I think I'll just go down to the beach, and read awhile.  Should I wait for breakfast until you come down?"

        He opened a blurry eye to see her standing at the side of the bed, a living wet dream all decked out in the emerald green bikini and matching cover up he had picked out the day before.  The thought of her out and about, dressed as she was, and all alone, gave him pause.  But he was in no shape to jump right up and join her, and although he could demand she stay put in their suite until he was ready to move, the opportunity for privacy to tend to his injuries won out over his concerns.  The resort was known for its high tech security, a mecca for the wealthy and famous who wanted obscurity.  She should be safe enough within its boundries, even if she did garnish some unwanted attention.

          Maureen stood waiting, beach bag in one hand, a wide brimmed hat in the other.  "So...should I wait on breakfast until you come down."

          He knew that she meant in the next half hour or so.  In the few months they had been together, he could set his clock by her routine.  Once out of bed, coffee, toast and yogurt were a necessity for her, and the thought of any of that in the next hour left him queasy.  "No, sweetheart.  You go ahead without me.  I'll get something when I get up."

          There was a loud "tisk", followed by a caustic "whatever", and then a hastily added "Sir", as her kitten heeled sandals clicked across the tile.  She paused at the door.  "I'll be at the beach...if you ever care to join me."  Then she shut the door, quietly this time, probably figuring she shouldn't push her luck about how much he'd let slip by, even on their honeymoon.

         A thread of guilt wiggled into his thoughts, and he pushed it away.  His prior commitments had no bearing on his personal life.  There was no reason he couldn't have both.  People did it all the time.
There were plenty of days left for them to have the romantic honeymoon she expected.  He'd rest here in bed for just awhile longer.  Then he'd find some athletic tape in the hotel gym, wrap his sore ribs, and join her for the rest of the day.  Maybe even rent a speed boat, and go exploring on their own.  Find a deserted cove, and make up for this morning.  He closed his eyes and relaxed.  How much trouble could find her in an hour?


         It was the banging on the door by housekeeping that actually woke him.  He grabbed for the cell phone on the nightstand, and was shocked to find it was almost 1PM.  Beckett couldn't be sure what time Maureen had left their suite, but he figured it was somewhere around 9:30 AM.  That meant he'd been sleeping here for over 3 hours, while she sat sitting by herself on the beach.  Throwing back the covers, wincing as he did, he sent the maid away, and then made a quick call to the desk requesting athletic wrap.

         It took nearly the better part of an hour to shower and tend to his injuries, and it was after 2 before he made his way down to the beachfront to face his disgruntled bride.  The pricey resort offered the comfort of reserved beach chairs and umbrellas, set discretely apart from one another, and marked with the guests' names, so it didn't take him long to find the right spot.  A tag marked"Baker Room 2412" fluttered in the breeze from the pole of the umbrella, and his wife's canvas beach bag and hat was propped in the sand next to the lounge chair.  The book they had purchased the day before in the hotel gift shop was laid open on the seat, along with a used bottle of sun screen, but of his wife there was no sign.

       He walked along the shore, shielding his eyes from the glare of the mid-day sun, hoping maybe she had gone into the water to cool off.  But there was no sight of the flaming red hair, or the emerald green swim suit amongst the frolicking tourists.  Tamping down the anxiety that was starting to bloom in his gut, he made his way toward the pool area, and then back into the building to do a more thorough search.  A complete circle of the entire resort complex gave no sign of her anywhere, and the mild anxiety began to turn to major panic.  He tried calling her cell, and then remembered that he had taken her phone from her when they first left Dollyville.  Angry with himself for all sorts of reasons, he returned back to the beach, and flopped into the chair to work out his next move.

       From his spot under the umbrella, Beckett caught the eye of a small boy, who had set up his t-shirt business a few feet from the resort's roped-off property.  The boy smile and waved.  Considering the possibility the boy might have information on his wife's whereabouts, Beckett wandered over to converse with him.

       "Hola amigo."  Hello there, friend.

       "Buen día señor. ¿Quieres comprar una camiseta? Muy barato. Buena calidad." Good day Mister.  Would you like to buy a t-shirt?  Very cheap.  Nice quality.

       "Claro que mi amigo. De hecho, ¿qué hay que comprar todos sus camisetas?"  Sure my friend.  In fact, how about I buy all your t-shirts?  From his wallet, Beckett removed two crisp $50 bills, and the boy's eyes rounded with excitement.  "$ 100 para todos tus camisetas ... además de un poco de información."  $100 for all your a little information.

        At the mention of information, the boy looked at his feet.  "Yo no sé nada de nada, señor. No se puede ayudar a ninguno." I don't know nothing about nothing, Sir.  Can't help you none.

        Beckett forced his smile wider, and held the money out to the boy.  "Tenía la esperanza de que podría haber visto una bella dama de allá. El que tiene el pelo rojo."  I was hoping you might have seen a pretty lady over there.  The one with the red hair.  The lad nodded warily, and Beckett continued.  "Ella es mi esposa, y me parece que no puede encontrar. Tenía la esperanza de que podría saber dónde fue."  She's my wife, and I can't seem to find her.  I was hoping you might know where she went.

       The boy nodded and smiled.  "Sí, señor. Yo la vi. Muy bella dama, pero un genio para que coincida con su pelo."  Yes, Sir.  I saw her.  Very beautiful lady, but a temper to match her hair.

        "Sí ... eso sería ella. ¿Sabe usted dónde se fue?"  Yup...that would be her.  Do you know where she went?

         "Bueno sí, señor. La policía llegó y arrestó a ella."  Well, yes, sir.  The police came and arrested her.

         "¿La policía? Arrestado ella? ¿Qué diablos?"   The police?  Arrested her?  What the hell for?

         "Se metió en un argumento con uno de los vendedores sobre el precio de unas pulseras de plata. Ella se negó a devolverle las joyas, o que pague lo que quería. Así que el hombre llamó a la policía, y se la llevó."   She got into an arguement with one of the vendors over the price of some silver bracelets.  She refused to give him back the jewelry, or pay him what he wanted.  So the guy called the police, and they took her away.

         "¿Qué carajo, Maureen!"  What the fuck, Maureen!

         Swearing a string of obscenities in both English and Spanish, Becket handed the boy the cash, then turning on his heel, headed toward the resort to see about transportation into town.  Behind him, he heard the boy call out.

          "Hey, señor! ¿No quieres que tus camisetas?"  Hey Mister...what about your t-shirts?

Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Side Excursion


An Important Notice to Readers...

     Although this fiction blog is illustrated with photos of dolls, and dollhouse miniatures, the language and content of the storyline is intended for an adult audience.  Please be advised.

Thank You,

   The Author

Fortress de San Felipe at Bacalar, Mexico

    There was a tiny ribbon of pink sky when Beckett rolled the car to a silent stop behind the old warehouse.  The slice on his right side had slowed to a trickle, but was of little concern compared to the soreness enveloping his torso. From experience, he could guess that he had probably cracked a rib...or two... on the jump from the second story.  Wrapping himself wouldn't be a problem.  Explaining the sudden appearance of these injuries to his new bride might be a different story.

    What should have been a routine assignment, was in fact, a disaster from the very start.  Erring on the side of caution, he had reduced the recommended dosage he used on Maureen.  Maybe it was the adrenaline from the previous 24 hours, or maybe he had simply adjusted too low.  Either way, it took the longest time for her to slip off to slumber land, putting him off schedule by nearly an hour.  Settling her safely into bed, he kissed the top of her head, locked the door behind him, and went in search of the rental car Salazar had dropped off in the hotel parking garage.
    The non-descript 2010 Toyota Camry was parked exactly where it was supposed to be on the building's 3rd level.  What he hadn't accounted for were the two cars on either side of him, poorly positioned, and wedged so tightly next to his, that getting in was a major project.  The doors on the Camry refused to widen more than a few inches, and no matter how hard he tried, he could not wiggle his male frame into the small space.  He thought about prying off the sun roof, and climbing in that way, but worried over the noise the bending metal was sure to make.  Frustrated, he ended up having to hot wire the Mazda next to him, moving it to another space before being able to finally get into his own car.

        By this time, he was almost two hours late, and still had a 20 minute drive ahead of him on deserted Mexican back roads.  His destination, Bacalar, was a  town south of Tulum, devoid of the swarm of tourist resorts that had invaded most of the Yucatan peninsula.  The mark was supposed to meet him near the area's sightseeing Mecca, a Spanish fort built in 1729 to ward off marauding pirates, and closed to the general public at this late hour of the night.  With no way to reach his contact, he hoped the lure of the cash he carried was incentive enough for the man to overlook his tardiness, and provide patience in which to wait.

         The looming Fortress de San Felipe was easy enough to locate upon his arrival in Bacalar, but he swore under his breath at the logistics of the place regarding his personal safety.  The ruins held an optimum of hiding places for snipers of all kinds, and left him virtually uncovered and in the open.  The mule was a man his people had done business with before, and one the powers that be seemed to feel secure in dealing with.  The assignment read as a simple hand off, but Beckett had seen so-called loyal networks crumble with a bigger and better offer, and the location of this operation made him uneasy.  Grabbing the backpack with the payment from the trunk, he threw an additional weapon, a Russian AK47 over his left shoulder on instinct.  If his contact was insulted over his extra show of force, it was just too fucking bad.

        Beckett made his way towards the rear side of the fortress, it's facade facing the beach front.  The reflection of the gibbous moon on the water made the brick relic seem like a stage ready for the production to begin, one he hoped wouldn't play out as tragic drama.  From his position at the fort's base, he could see the signal light several feet up.  Using his own flashlight, he signaled back, and waited, but there was no return answer from above.  After what seemed like an eternity, the light above appeared, waving him up towards a gun battlement.  Something about the whole set-up bothered him.  Had from the moment he had pulled up to the landmark, and better judgement suggested he return to his car and get the hell out of there.  But the thumb drive he was supposed to retrieve held information imperative to the US war on drug trafficking, and he had never turned his back on a mission before.  Determined to prove that the addition of a wife had not made a change to who he was, he secured the pack, and began the hike to the position where he had last seen the signal light.

         For a building almost three hundred years old, the place was in fairly good shape, and he was surprised at the superior advantage this particular spot might have given the Spanish against their pirate enemies.  From this point, one had a view of most of the beach and water area for miles in both directions, and Beckett conceded that his contact was a man who knew his business.  The figure moved from the shadow of darkness into a spill of light from the battlement opening, both hands in the air, appearing to harbor no weapon.
       "Estás jodidamente tarde, Sammy. Yo estaba dispuesto a tomar otra oferta."
        You're fucking late, Sammy.  I was ready to take another offer.

        Beckett grimaced at the term "Sammy", which he knew was a reference to "Uncle Sam", and a derogatory term used for low level agents of the US.  He was no fucking "Sam", and his pride wanted to put a bullet in the guy's temple.  But there was no good reason to start a shit storm in Mexico, and so he sucked up the insult.   "Ahora estoy aquí. ¿Estás listo para hacer frente o no?"  I'm here now.  You ready to deal or not?

        "Usted no es demasiado amable allí, Sammy. Tal vez me tomo esta información en otros lugares."
        "You're not too friendly there, Sammy.  Maybe I take this information elsewhere."

         Fists curled, Beckett shrugged.  "Cualquiera que sea amigo. Me importa una mierda. Por supuesto Velázquez podría. Él no parece ser el tipo de chico que te gusta decepcionar. La manera en que yo lo veo, volver sin ese dinero, su familia va a ser la búsqueda de piezas de usted en todo el penisul ... las pelotas metidas hasta el cuello de mierda. No significa nada para mí. Sólo digo.  "Whatever friend.  I don't give a shit.  Of course... Valasquez might.  He don't seem like the kind of guy who you like to disappoint.  The way I see it, you go back without this money, your family's gonna be finding pieces of you all over the peninsula...your balls shoved down your fucking throat.  Don't mean squat to me.  Just saying."

      It was the mule's turn to be pissed.  He reached a hand around to the back of his pants, but seeing Beckett slide the AK47 off his arm, changed his mind.  With a jack-o-latern smile, he dangled the flash drive in front of him.  "Sólo jugar con ya, mi amigo. La mayoría de Sammies como una buena broma. Aquí está su unidad flash. Lo prometido es deuda."  "Just messing with ya, my friend.  Most Sammies like a good joke.  Here's your flash drive.  As promised. "   

      Once the guy's hands were back in he air, Beckett moved forward, and snapped the item from the man's hand, tossing the backpack in exchange.  The mark lifted the flap, and peered inside.

      "Todo aquí, Sammy?"  "It all here, Sammy?"

       "¿Qué piensa usted... amigo?"  "What do you think...friend?"

      For an instant, the man seemed undecided, then nodded and smiled.  "Se ve bien para mí. Nadie es tan estúpido como para coger con Velázquez."  "Looks good to me.   No one is stupid enough to fuck with Valasquez."   He hoisted the pack over his shoulder.  "Siempre es un placer hacer negocios con el ya, Sammy. Disfrute de su estancia en México."  "Always nice doing business with ya, Sammy.  Enjoy your stay in Mexico."

       Without a response, Beckett began backing up the same way he had come in, unwilling to turn his back on the mule.  From somewhere on the beach, there came the sound of a piercing whistle, breaking the silence of the night surf.  In that moment of distraction, he heard the click of a weapon, and saw movement out of the corner of his eye.  He twisted to the left, taking shelter in a small niche cut into the wall, as a bullet wheezed by his right cheek.  Dropping the flash drive into his pocket, he slid the assault rifle into place, and got a round off in the direction of where he was standing only seconds before.  He heard the impact, and the grunt of the man as he fell to the ground.

    Without checking to verify the man's state, he made a dash toward the exit, only to hear sounds of an approaching group.  Trapped, he considered his odds, even with the aid of an AK47.  Not liking his chances, Beckett retrained his thoughts on the small opening of the gun battlement.  The weathered stone had given way in several places, making the opening larger than had been originally intended.  If he pushed hard enough, he could probably squeeze himself out, and take a leap to the ground below.  At this height, the landing, even cushioned by the sand below, would hurt like hell, but there seemed little alternative.

        Diving toward the ledge, he pushed hard on the bricks, making more space to maneuver.  Then with the melee behind him, he bent his knees and jumped, hitting the beach with a large thump, and landing on a small piece of jagged boulder.  Stopping only to catch his breath, his side sliced open and bleeding, his rib cage screaming with every movement, he ran to the car, thankful he had parked as close as he did.  In the light from the night sky, he could make out figures in the area near the walkway of the fort's second story, and could hear the bullets chipping off the stones.  But from that height, their aim was dismally off, and he was able to make his escape without further injury.

       He forced himself to drive at a reasonable speed, as to not call attention to either the car, or its injured driver, and by the time he reached the warehouse, he was pretty much running on empty.  With a great deal of willpower, Beckett managed the two mile hike back to the resort, resting his head on the door of his suite, and listening for noises inside.  Hearing nothing but silence, he unlocked the latch, and slipped inside, checking on his wife before doing anything else.  She was still out, snoring lightly, a puddle of drool on the pillow, and her flaming hair spread out like a fan around her head.  Relieved to
find everything at the resort in order, he peeled off his torn and filthy clothes, and tossed them off the balcony as far as he could throw.  The maintenance people would have a field day trying to figure out just what had gone on.

          In the bathroom, Beckett cleaned the torn skin up with soap and water, and clotted it with wads of Kleenix stuck to the bleeding wound.  Then pulling a clean T-shirt over his aching body, he tugged back the covers and slid in next to his sleeping wife, as if he had been there the entire night.

Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved







Saturday, October 12, 2013

Look Who's Back...


An Important Notice to Readers...

     Although this fiction blog is illustrated with photos of dolls, and dollhouse miniatures, the language and content of the storyline is intended for an adult audience.  Please be advised.

Thank You,

   The Author

She's back...

     The woman's movements seemed to run in slow motion.  First one leg, than another, feet shuffling forward in tiny steps. Maybe it was the ravages of old age, swollen joints and such, the curse of the elderly and arthritic.  Or maybe it was the heavy shackles running from her wrists to ankles, causing the hesitant manner in which she approached.  Either way, Fr. Kevin took an involuntary step backward.  Just in case.

      "Long time, no see, Fr. Kevin.  You haven't changed a bit."  The woman nodded her head toward Roxanne, whose groceries had dropped to her hip, and who stood and stared in complete confusion.  "I see you've gone and got yourself a pretty, young play thing.  Can't say I didn't expect that sort of scandal from the likes of you.  Never were a proper clergyman."

       While the priest blushed a deep shade of scarlet, a middle-aged man in a somber gray suit stepped up next to the woman, and took hold of her elbow, speaking in tones normally reserved for small, naughty children.  "Now, now, Tessa.  We promised to be on our best behavior, didn't we?  This trip is a privilege, my dear, and you did gave me your word."

        Tessa Peppers turned toward the fellow, and gave him her sweetest smile.  "I'm so sorry, Dr. Branson.  It's all the excitement, you know.  Being back home.  I promise.  Best behavior."

        For a second, Fr. Kevin wanted to pinch himself.  Verify he was awake, and not still in bed, having one truly horrible nightmare.  Tessa Peppers here?  In Dollyville?  Impossible. She was supposed to be securely locked away in some state hospital for the criminally insane.  Not standing here on the front lawn of his church, shouting horrible accusations at him.  A little voice in his head kept shouting, "Run, Kevin, run!"  But the responsibility of his role as Pastor, and his need to not look like a chicken shit in front of Roxanne, kept his feet firmly grounded.   He straightened his shoulders, and forced the words out of his mouth. "Mrs. Peppers...what a...surprise.  It's...good to see you again.  You're looking...well"

         That was, of course, a major lie.  The woman appeared as if she had aged a good ten years, even though she had only been gone for nearly eight months.  She had lost a great deal of weight, and her skin hung on her like an old, thrift store suit.  The wrinkles around her eyes had given birth to a whole new generation, and her bright silver hair, once a trademark sight amongst the town's movers and shakers, had yellowed to a dull gray.  But if life in a prison hospital had taken toll on her appearance, it had done little to weaken her inner fire.  She remained mean as hell.

          "Why, thank you, Fr. O'Kenney.   Wish I could return the compliment.  But of course we both know I'd be lying.  And lying is such a terrible sin."  She gave him an exaggerated wink that made his skin crawl.   "It seems like pastoral life agrees with you, Father.  I don't remember that little pouch hanging over your belt being there when I left.  Put on some weight, did we dear?"

          Fr. Kevin subconsciously sucked in his gut, and then hated himself for doing so.  He had put on a few pounds since Maureen's arrival last October.  His sister was an excellent cook, and he was guilty of enjoying her talents a bit too much.  He'd been telling himself for weeks that he needed to get back to his daily run, but without Beckett to join him, it felt like a bore.  Now with Pepper's insult bouncing around in his head, he had new resolve to get moving, but before he could say as much, Dr. Branson interrupted, speaking directly to him.

         "You must be wondering why we are here, Fr. O'Kenney.  Allow me to explain.  Mrs. Peppers has been accepted into a new program at North Sea Hospital, one that allows for extensive pet therapy. We believe that interaction between patient and loving animal helps develop a compassionate, altruistic bonding experience that so many of our patients lack.  One in which we hope to transfer to feelings of concern for other human beings.  It's an exciting new type of therapy, Father, and one I think would highly motivate our poor Mrs. Peppers."  He patted the old woman on the hand to reinforce his conviction.  "Tessa tells me that you have been so kind to as foster her West Highland White Terrier while she's been...away.  We've come to retrieve her dog as part of this monumental experiment."

          Kevin couldn't recall how many times he had heard the phrase, "his blood ran cold."  Millions of times in B movies and cheap crime novels.  He had always thought it was just a metaphor for extreme tension in a scene.  But at that very moment, standing in front of crazy old "Peepers", he was pretty sure there was more to that statement than literary imagery.  It was as if his body temperature had plummeted several degrees, turning him into a human popsicle.  His brain seemed to be one large block of ice, unable to string two or three words into a complete sentence.  How was he ever going to be able to tell her that her prized companion was just bits and pieces scattered over Beckett's lawn?  Explain to her, and the good doctor, that another of the town's kooks had blown up her dog only days earlier.

          Tessa seemed to hone in on his reactions a lot quicker than her benevolent doctor.  She narrowed her eyes, and pointed an accusing finger.  "I want my dog back, O'Kenney.  I know you have him."

           Kevin dumped his bag of groceries on the ground, and ran a hand through his hair.  "Yes.  It's true.  I did give your dog a home.  For a short while.  But then, my sister came to live with me, and the dog...Basil...well, he seemed to prefer my sister's company to mine.  So...ah...he went to live with her."

         Branson nodded in sympathy.  "That's not a problem, Father.  Understandable, of course.  Dogs select their 'masters' as much as we select them to act as companions.  If you could please point us in the right direction, we'll go retrieve the dog from your sister, and be out of your hair."

The view fro the penthouse patio
       After several hours in what could be only called "paradise",  Margaret Baker, aka Maureen Beckett, was a happy woman, free from any lingering doubt about the affections of her new husband.  The resort in Tulum, Mexico was a honeymooner's dream.  Beautiful, decadent and isolated, it's fabulous view, and first class amenities were almost too much to take in.  She still hadn't fully wrapped her head around Ted's wealth.  He seemed to pay little heed to the privileges his income gave him, and she often forget that her husband, was indeed, what one would call "loaded".  Their suite was utterly gorgeous, two floors of comfort and luxury, and since their arrival earlier that morning, Ted had been the Webster definition of doting husband and dream lover.

      So, when after dinner he suggested enjoying dessert on their penthouse patio, overlooking a moon glazed Caribbean Sea, what girl in her right mind would be the least bit suspicious?   She dug through the myriad of shopping bags piled up after their afternoon forage of the hotels' boutiques, and pulled out a silk wrap in various shades of green and gold.  Stripping down, and slipping into the belted robe, she climbed the stairs, and joined her husband on the roof.


      From his spot on the patio, Beckett heard her rummaging through the bags stacked up on the sofa, and smiled.  It was his guess she'd come up in the green and gold silk wrap.  He had made it quite obvious that it was his favorite, and therefore, it should be her first choice.  She was a delight, his beautiful Maureen.  Wanting to please, but holding back with that backbone of steel.  Just that right mix of loving submission, and head strong resolve.  He was crazy about that woman.  No doubt about it.  And that might have been why he was feeling a tad bit guilty about what he was about to do.

      None the less, it couldn't be helped.  He'd like nothing more than to lose himself in all that pale flesh and sweet devotion.  But the courier operation had a short window of opportunity, and timing was everything.  There would be plenty of time later to enjoy the new husband role when the job was completed.  Unlike previous missions, this one was a simple meet and exchange.  Hand over the case, get a thumb drive in return.  Intel said the mark was a trusted source, a low level mule who reported back to others who held the power.  From experience, Beckett knew it would be stupid to let his guard down.  This was Mexico, where a man could have his throat cut over an expensive pair of running shoes as easily as an issue over several kilos of crack.  You could never be sure, and that is why he needed Maureen to stay safely out of the way.

       He removed the vial from the inside pocket of his suit coat, and added four drops to the cup of de-caf coffee on the table.  He had been adamant that the drug be entirely safe for pregnant woman, and thus, was forced to use one that lasted only five hours.  If all went as planned, he'd be back in the bed next to her before she woke up the following morning, none the wiser, and thinking she had succumbed to blissful exhaustion.

Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Clues, Cars and Casual Conversation

Roxanne fills in for Maureen at Schiller's Deli     
      To the faithful in the pews of Holy Family, Fr. O'Kenney was a portrait of contradictions on Monday morning.  At times, his voice would rumble loudly across the tiny church, as if he needed to be sure his parishioners heard each and every syllable.  At other points in the Mass, he would loose his place, sometimes repeating whole sections from the Roman Missal, and stumbling over the words he surely knew by heart.  If the community thought it odd, they held back on commenting.  They were sympathetic to the stress of the past few days, and were willing to overlook the unusual behavior of their favorite Pastor.

       But if they had hoped to offer a word of encouragement, or perhaps invite him to stop by for breakfast, they were simply out of luck.  Instead of a joining them outside the church after Mass, as was his custom, the young priest took a hard right turn after the closing prayers, and disappeared into the sanctuary without the least bit of explanation.  And though they each had their thoughts on what might be wrong, none dared consider invading the poor man's privacy with a bombardment of questions and concerns regarding the wedding, or the awful explosion.  If he wished to take his problems directly to God, then who were they to argue?

       Fr. Kevin was grateful for this gift of privacy.  He was in no mood to discuss any part of the situation with anyone.  Truth be, he could hardly believe it himself.  How could Maureen just run out on him like that?  Pick-up and disappear without a single word as to the wheres and whys?  He vacillated between worry and irritation, with periods of sincere self-pity filling in the rest.  He wanted to tell himself that all of this was his new brother-in-law's doing.  Assure his troubled soul that his sister was just a helpless victim of her husband's dominance.  But in the clarity of a new morning, and after a conversation with Beckett's friend, Nolan, not to mention a lack of even a simple text message, it seemed pretty obvious that his sister's allegiance and familial loyalty, had now shifted to the Beckett side.

       Hoping to bury his discontent in a large breakfast, Kevin returned to the rectory's kitchen in search of a meal high in the fat and cholesterol range.  He was sorely in need of several fried eggs swimming in a large pool of melted butter, nestled next to half a pound of crispy bacon. When the fridge yielded only a quart of sour milk, and several mystery dishes covered in tin foil, he slammed out of the house in general annoyance, bemoaning the fact he had given up the rental car the night before.  It was, of course, no one's fault but his own.  The wedding, and arrival of his family for the celebration, had taken up much of the past week, and he had done little in the way of general housekeeping.  He needed to do some serious grocery shopping, and without a car, was forced to decide between the deli down the street, or a bus trip to the Mega Mart across town.

      On any other occasion, that decision would have been a no-brain er.  Schiller's Deli would easily meet all his needs, and he could have his breakfast on the table in no time.  But a trip there would mean facing all kinds of demons that Kevin had no desire to contemplate, and he seriously considered the long excursion by bus.  Amid a battle raging in his head, he found himself walking down the street in the direction of the deli, his sensibility and growling stomach winning out over his personal apprehensions.  If luck was with him, Roxanne would have a later start on her first morning, and he could slip in and out with only Gertie Schiller to deal with.

       The little bell on the door tinkled as he pulled it open, and at the counter, Roxanne waited on another customer.  She looked up, and caught his eye, obviously startled to see him standing there.

         "Good Morning, Fr. OKenney.  I'll be with you in a sec..."

         Flustered, he developed a sudden interest in examining a stack of ripe cantaloupes, picking one up, and giving it a thump.  "No hurry.  I'm just here to...uhm...get some groceries."

          Roxanne finished bagging the other man's items, silent until he left the store.  With a sigh, she folded her hands across her chest, and leaned against the counter.  "So...what can I do for you, Father?"

          "I really just did come in to pick up some things.  For breakfast.  My cupboard's pretty bare."

         She was quiet for a moment, then added.  "Well...then you've come to the right place.  We have a sale this week on country sliced bacon.  If you're interested."

          They both stood quiet, the awkwardness of the conversation taking precedence.  Fr. Kevin searched his addled brain for something to say to break the tension, but was saved instead by the appearance of the store's plump owner from the back storage room.

         "Father Kevin!  It's lovely to see you!  How are things with the happy couple?  It surely was a beautiful wedding, despite the bad luck with the...explosion... and all.  What a handsome pair those two make, don't ya think?  Our Maureen will be mama to a bundle of precious little ones, she will.  Prettiest babies in the state, no doubt."  Without waiting for him to comment, she continued, her questions a barrage of inquiry.  "Are they still here in town?  Are they taking a honeymoon?  They will be rebuilding, won't they?  Do you think they'll want to be using the flat until then?  It was so nice of Roxanne here to come fill in while Maureen is away, wasn't it?" Gertie Schiller stopped, expectantly waiting for the priest to answer.

         "Yes, Mrs. Schiller, it certainly was a nice wedding.  And yes, I do think they plan on rebuilding, but I can't say for sure where they expect to live while that's being done.  You'll have to discuss that with the Sheriff and my sister.  When they get back from...from...uhm...their trip."

         There must have been something odd in his voice, because Roxanne glanced up from the cans she was stacking, and looked at him oddly.  Whatever Rox heard in his voice, went unnoticed by Mrs. Schiller, who continued on with her interrogation.

         "You don't suppose that Maureen will want to keep on working until the baby comes, do you?  How does the Sheriff feel about her working? Do you know?  I sure had high hopes of our Maureen taking over this place for us.  You and the Mister ain't gettn' any younger.  She's got a fine head for business, your sister does."

         From the corner of his eye, he could see Roxanne watching him, and it made him more uncomfortable.   He wished he could confide his misgivings and concern over his sister's strange departure, but knew better than to say anything in front of Gertie Schiller, who was known throughout Dollyville as the town's biggest gossip.

          "I'm sorry, Mrs. Schiller, but Maureen really didn't mention her future plans to me.  The whole thing with the came as quite a shock.  I'm not sure even the newlyweds know for certain what they'll be doing yet.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see.  But I assume Maureen will give you all the details.  When she...returns."  As a signal that he wished the conversation over, Kevin picked up a basket and turned toward Roxanne.  "I think I'll take some of that country bacon, Roxanne.  Maybe two pounds?"

       A heaping pile later, Fr. Kevin finished his shopping.  Sensing there would be no juicy news today, Mrs. Schiller went back to taking inventory, as Roxanne packed up the rest of the priest's staples.  There were several large bags, and it was obvious that he would have to make more than one trip to get it all back to the rectory.  Seeing an opportunity for private conversation, Roxanne hefted two of the bags into her arms, and headed toward the door, calling out as she did.

        "Mrs. Schiller...I'm going to help Fr. O'Kenney run these groceries over to the rectory.  There's too much for him to manage by himself."

         A voice answered from the back.  "Okay, Sweetie.  That's a good idea.  I'll keep an eye on the front."

         The two left the store, not saying a word until they were several feet away.

        "So...what's up, Father.  I can tell something's not right.  Did something happen after I left the Park West?"

          He hesitated, not sure he should share his concerns, but then deciding he didn't wish to carry the burden alone.   "Honestly, Rox...I'm not sure.   Beckett and Maureen seem to have disappeared."

          "Disappeared?  What do you mean?"

          "They've seemed to vanish into thin air.  One minute Maureen was standing in the banquet room talking to Patrick and Eileen...then...poof!  She was gone.   I tried calling their room, and banging on the door, but there was no answer.  I called both of their cell phones over and over, but they all go to voice mail.  According to the hotel, they checked out early this morning, but no one seems to know where they went."

           "That's ridiculous.  They didn't just disappear.  Somebody's got to know something."

           "I'm pretty sure Beckett's buddy Nolan knows more then he's saying.  But I just get the run around from him.  And apparently he's also checked out of the Park West, along with Maureen's friend Allison.  I haven't been able to reach her either.  The whole thing is...well...freaky. Maybe everything has a perfectly reasonable explanation.  But I can tell you this...I'm worried.  After that explosion, I don't feel safe.  Especially since we haven't been able to locate Cassie McKreedy."

     " do think she had something to do with that explosion."

      He shrugged in frustration.  "I don't know what to think anymore.  Beckett's never been one to reveal anything of substance.  If that's how he lives, more power to him.  But I resent him dragging my sister into his secrecy.  We've always been pretty close, but know I feel like I don't know her at all.  For instance, I can't believe she'd up and leave without her things.  No clothes?  No make-up?  You know how Moe is.  She'd never be caught out without her hair or face done.  Honeymoon without her necessities?  I'm not buying it."

         Roxanne thought a moment, biting a thumbnail as she did so.  "Thinking about it, it did seem as if someone had gone through Maureen's things when I first got to the apartment last night."

         "How so?"

        "Nothing drastic.  But the dresser drawers were slightly open, and the light in the tiny hall closet was on.  Plus, it looked like bottles were missing off the bathroom sink.  I could see rings where they once stood.  I could check later, and see what else might be missing.  It could offer a clue as to where she's gone."

        "It maybe could.  Thanks, Rox.  I appreciate your help.  I was going crazy keeping this all to myself."
A black sedan at the rectory curb

          She looked to answer him, but was distracted by a black sedan pulling up at the rectory curb.  They both stopped, arms still laden with groceries, and watched as an entourage of people exited the car.  When the woman finally emerged, Kevin's eyes grew round, and his mouth hung open in total shock.

Beach front in Tulum, Mexico
         At some point, she must have dozed off.  She came awake to Beckett gently shaking her shoulder, and rubbing her cheek with the backs of his fingers.  She blinked in the strong sunlight, as he helped her out of the sweaty taxi, and stood facing dazzling white sands, and turquoise waters as far as the eye could see.  Turning around, she viewed an array of pale pink building set amidst flowering plants, and swaying palm trees.

          Seeing she was pleased, Beckett lifted her off her feet.  "Happy Honeymoon, baby.  Welcome to Tulum."

Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
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