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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lost...then Found...and What Goes Around

     

ATTENTION DEAR READERS:

       Although this blog may illustrate the story line using photos of dolls, and dollhouse miniatures, the language and themes of the text are intended for an adult audience.  Please be advised.
      Thank You
                  
Looking for  Maureen at the Boston Medical Center

    Fr. Kevin leaned his elbows on the bar, and looked at Beckett warily.  "Do you want me to come with you?"

    His hand still inside his jacket, Beckett spoke low.  "No.  You stay here.  If both of us move toward him, it might spook him.  I'd rather not have to chase him down."  Still ignored by the patrons and bar tender, Beckett moved unnoticed to the far corner of the room, and quietly slid onto the stool next to the man in the denim jacket.

    From his location at the opposite end, Kevin watched as the Sheriff leaned into the man, and spoke in a whisper.  It was clear from his expression, that Denim Guy was not pleased at what he was hearing.  He scowled, and gave Beckett's arm a rough shove.  With complete calm, Ted laid a $20 bill on the bar, and in a blink of an eye, Denim was standing upright, and moving in the direction of the door, the Sheriff glued to his left side.  As he passed the priest, Maureen's cell phone tucked in his shirt pocket, he motioned with his head for Kevin to follow him outside.

     Following Beckett's lead, the priest trudged after the two men, down to a deserted alley a few feet from Riley's entrance.  Denim Guy was now struggling to break free from Beckett's headlock, and in the light from a lone street lamp, Kevin could see the Sheriff's gun stuck in the man's rib cage.  The knowledge that guns were involved, raised his anxiety level several notches.

      "Damn, Beckett!  Is it really necessary to point a gun at him?"

      Beckett smiled, but the humor didn't meet his eyes.  "The gentleman has decided not to cooperate.  I do believe he needs some convincing."

     "Look, man.  I don't know nothin' 'bout no bitch.  I found this phone just layn' on the ground."

      In response to the use of an obscenity as a reference to Maureen, the Sheriff pulled up the arm wrapped around the guy's neck, cutting off his air, and causing his face to turn red, and his eyes to bulge.  "This asshole is really starting to piss me off."

      "Loosen your arm!  You're choking off his air."

      "That's sorta the idea, O'Kenney."  Reluctantly, he lightened up on his grip, and the man gasped and coughed.  "So, let's try this again.  Where's the girl that owns this iphone?"

       Denim Guy struggled a second or two, and then, energy spent, and mind made up, his shoulders sagged, and he tried a more apologetic approach.  "Look, buddy.  Honest, I don't know where the bi...the lady...is.  When I left, she was sitting on the sidewalk on Bolyston Street.  About a block or so away from where the second bomb went off."

       Jumping into the conversation, Kevin asked, "Was she okay?  She wasn't injured, was she?"

       Seeing a possible sympathetic adversary, Denim Guy turned toward Fr. Kevin.  "She seemed fine to me, pal.  She had some woman's head in her lap, and she was covered in blood, but it didn't look like she was hurt any.  'Course, I didn't stop and talk to her, so I can't say for sure."

      Frantic for any information, Kevin poured out his questions.  "Was the woman a tiny red head? About this tall?"  He held his hand up to his chest level.  "And did she say anything at all?  Like if she needed medical attention, or help?"

       Grateful that the arm around his neck was looser, and hoping the tough one would remove the gun from his ribs, Denim tried his best to be compliant.  "Yeah, come to think of it, she did have curly red hair.  She was sittin', so I couldn't guess to her height.  But she did seem to be small compared to the woman next to her...some old lady who was moanin' pretty loud.  The red head was calln' out for sum' one to give her a hand.  The other lady had some kinda gash on the side of her head."

       It was Beckett's turn to interrogate his prisoner.  "And just how did you happen to be in possession of the red head's cell phone."

       Denim Guy kept his attention focused on Fr. Kevin, who he figured was his best bet for gaining his freedom.  "Look...the red head had her purse on the ground behind her.  She wasn't payn' any mind to it, so I walked by, and scooped it up.  Then I kept walking into the crowd.  It was a crazy scene, and nobody paid any notice to me."

       Annoyed, Beckett tightened his grip once more.  "What kinda piece of shit thinks about stealing from the wounded and injured during a moment like that?  You really are human garbage."

       The man looked grim, and attempted to appeal to Kevin's weakness for a sob story. "Hey...I ain't proud of what I done.  But I'm broke... and hungry.  Haven't eaten much of anything in two days."  He flashed sorrowful eyes toward the priest.  "Honest, man.  I just wanted to buy me a meal."

      Beckett grunted in disgust.  "Yeah.  Hungry.  That's why you headed straight for Riley's Pub." He turned his attention to Kevin, pointing to the the needle tracks on the man's arm.  "I should just shoot this miserable, lyn' piece of crap, and save the world a lot of trouble."

     Denim struggled, frantic at that the possibility of Beckett firing that pistol at his ribs.  "Please! I didn't mean to hurt anyone.  I just stole a damn purse.  Don't shoot me, man!"

     Ignoring the begging thief, Beckett addressed Fr. Kevin. "O'Kenney, go through his pockets and see if he still has any of Maureen's belongings."

     Kevin looked at Beckett incredulously.  "You want me to steal from some punk kid?  No way, Beckett!  I draw the line at petty thievery.  I won't do it."

     "Fine.  Then you come here and hold the gun on him, while I search.  I know for damn sure he took everything out of her wallet.   Taking back what's ours isn't stealing."

     A spark of light flickered in Denim's eyes at the thought of the men changing places.  He had sized Kevin up as the weaker of the two, and liked his odds better with the tall ginger, rather then the dark haired guy, who seemed a mite crazy.  But luck was not his, as the red headed man shook his head.

     "Forget it.  I'm not waving a gun at anyone."  Seeing Beckett's expression, full of anger and impatience, Fr. Kevin decided going through the man's belongings was the lesser of two evils.  He moved closer, and began rummaging through Denim's jacket pockets.  "For the record, Beckett, you are the worse influence I have ever had the misfortune of being thrown together with.  And when we get back, don't ever talk to me again."  Pulling his hand out the the guy's left pocket, he was startled to see Maureen's credit card, the Black Visa Ted had presented to her before she left for Boston.
Noting the card with his missing sister's name, and realizing it came out of the strange guy's jacket, seemed to reinforce his will, and he moved more quickly through Denim's clothing.

        Before he finally finished his search, the priest pulled out Mo's debit card, a Nordstrom credit card, several family photos with Maureen in them, and her driver's license, plus library card, both which had her complete address in Dollyville.  The idea that Denim Guy, some creep off the streets with an obvious drug problem, had access to all this personal information about his sister freaked him out, and despite his initial misgivings, he was grateful that the Sheriff had thought to retrieve all these things.

       Satisfied that Denim Guy was "Maureen free", he stepped away, and spoke to Beckett.  "I think that's everything."

        "You sure?  I don't want to leave him any trail."
     
         "There's nothing left in any of his pockets, except for a wad of cash.  And I can't be sure what was Mo's, and what's his."

         "Just take all of it."

         Despite having a gun to his side, and Beckett's arm around his neck like a vise, Denim complained. "Hey man, some of that cash is mine.  You tryn' to rip me off, or what?"

        Pushing the pistol further into the guy's ribs, Beckett growled.  "Shut up, asshole.  You're lucky he's here.  I'd have shot ya first, and then took back her stuff."

        Exasperated with the whole situation, Fr. Kevin reached into the man's pants pocket, and pulled out a hand full of bills.  He counted through it, and pulling off a twenty, stuck it back into the same pocket.  "I'm leavn' him with $20.  He'll need bus fare, at least.  And something for a meal."

     "Well, for sure, O'Kenney.  'Cause it's always customary to leave the shit head who ripped off your sister a nice tip before you go."  He shook his head in disgust.  "Don't get out much, do you?"

      "I did what I did.  Let's just get movn', and find Maureen.  Rolln' some punk wasn't part of the deal."

        Beckett scowled at him.  "There's zip ties in my left pocket.  Take two out, and bind his ankles first.  Then pull his arms in back and cuff them around the wrists.  Make sure you make them tight enough.  No wiggle room."

         Fr. Kevin did as asked, just glad that they would be leaving the man with all parts intact, and no gaping bullet wounds.  When he was done securing Denim Guy, Beckett pushed him to a sitting position against a nearby wall.  He took all of Maureen's personal items, and shoved them into an inside jacket pocket, along with the cell phone at the center of this hunt, then questioned the guy one last time.

         "Exactly what was your location when you stole the purse?"

         Without the gun to his side, or an arm around his throat, Denim regained some of his attitude.   "Eat shit, asshole.  I told ya, I don't know jack shit 'bout nothin'"

         Without a moment's hesitation, Beckett's foot connected with the man's ribs, and with a loud groan, he toppled to the side.  "Now, let's try this again.  Where did you last see the red head?"  When the guy didn't answer, Beckett turned to Fr. Kevin, whose face had turned an awful shade of gray.  "You go on to the car, Kev.  I'll meet you there in a few minutes."

          Before he could answer, Denim Guy reached out and grabbed the priest's pants cuff.  "Hey, buddy...don't leave me with this nut.  He's a fuckn' crazy shit."

          Kevin squatted down next to the man, who still had not returned to an upright position.  "Look, the red head is my sister, and I need to know she's okay.  Just tell us where you last saw her...and we'll walk away."

    All his resources used up, and fearing being left alone with Beckett, Denim set himself in an upright position.  "On Boylston Street...just past Gouchester.  In front of the Trader Joe's.  But like I told ya, I didn't stick around.  Just grabbed the purse and went.  I don't know where she ended up after that."

     Beckett moved as if to take another kick at the man, but Fr. Kevin stepped in front of him to block it, and received, in return, a look that suggested his future brother in law would have liked to kick him instead.   Standing his ground, Kevin suggested their need to depart.

   "Look, it's already almost 8:00 PM.  We still have no clue as to Maureen's actual whereabouts, and this guy's told us everything he knows.  Time for a Plan B." His voice dripping with sarcasm, he added,  "Unless...maybe you're gonna tell me you micro chipped my sister in her sleep...or something like that."

    Beckett tisked loudly in annoyance, but didn't answer him.  Nor did he deny the whole micro chipping thing, and for a second or two, Kevin worried that he might have given him a future idea, if he hadn't already done such a horrible thing.  The sheriff pulled out his own phone, and tapped something out, presumably a text message, and then abruptly turned, and headed down the alley, and in the direction of the car.

   From the ground, Denim Guy called out his protest.  "Hey...you can't just leave me here...all tied up.
Come on, buddy...at least take off these zip ties."

    Fr. Kevin was torn.  He'd have to find something to cut the ties with, and in that time, he wasn't sure Beckett wouldn't, in turn, take off without him, leaving him stranded in the South End.  Also crossing his mind, was the fact that even though he didn't approve of the Sheriff's violence toward the man, the guy was still a criminal with a drug habit, and he wasn't all that sure of his own safety if he gave the man his freedom.  Erring on the side of common sense, he promised Denim Guy he would call the authorities from the car, and then took off to find Beckett.

      In the time it took him to walk the few blocks, the Sheriff had the car idling, and was both impatient and annoyed.  Kevin lowered himself into the passenger seat, and asked, "So, where to next?"

     "Well, Fr. O'Kenney, if you're done ministering to slime balls, we can check some of the local hospitals, and try and find your missing sister.  That is, if it doesn't interfere with your church work."

     He knew Beckett was baiting him, and refused to let himself be drawn in.  "Boston has a lot of hospitals.  It could take forever to check all of them.  And there's no saying that she was admitted as a patient.  The guy at Riley's wasn't even sure she was injured."

      "While you were preaching to the junkie, I made a few phone calls.  The injured from that particular area on Boylston Street were taken to Boston Medical, or Massachusetts General  I sent an acquaintance here in Boston her photo.  He's gonna take a look in the ER at Boston M, while we head over to  General."

      Traffic was still very heavy, with several blocks near the bomb site completely blocked off.  They had made very little progress, when Beckett received a text back from his source in Boston.  From the look on his face, Kevin assumed the news was good.  "My contact says he's pretty sure he located her at Boston Medical.  She's mobile, and doesn't seem to be seriously injured.  I asked him to keep an eye on her until we get there."

       Fr. Kevin uttered a small prayer of thanks, and waited for a snotty comment from the Sheriff in reply. To his surprise, there was none, with Beckett focused instead on maneuvering through traffic at the greatest possible speed, making Kevin change his prayer to one that would insure they'd make it to the hospital in one piece. Thirty minutes later, they pulled into the parking tower at Boston Medical, where after a few words, and two hundred dollars, Beckett parked into a prime spot next to the attendant both.

      With the amount of people coming and going, and the onslaught of numerous media outlets hovering for interviews, the ER was easy to find.  The area was crowded and chaotic, and it took a few minutes to find Maureen in the crowd.  It was Beckett who found her first, her red head bobbing as she argued with a nurse at the admittance desk, while attempting to speak to an older woman, in what he could only guess was mangled Spanish.

      Fighting through the hordes to move closer, Beckett called out her name, and she turned suddenly in the direction of his voice.  Not believing her eyes, she blinked twice, her bottom lip trembling, as she pushed people out of the way to reach him.  Throwing herself into Beckett's embrace, she emptied the tears she had been holding in place all afternoon, while he held tight, and tried his best to soothe her.  Kevin eventually made his way to their side, but all the couple's attention was centered on each other.  It was in that moment he realized that despite Beckett's complete arrogance all afternoon, he must have been worried beyond belief at what might await him in Boston, and Kevin felt slightly guilty about misjudging his intentions.

      When she was calm enough to talk, Mo explained how she had come to be at Boston Medical with Mrs. Sanchez.  She and Allison had just finished a long lunch at Osushi Restaurant in Copley Place, and were heading west down Boylston, back to the apartment, when the bombs exploded.  Both women were knocked off their feet, but except for a few minor bumps and bruises, they were blessedly unscathed. Others around them though, were not as lucky.  Allison went to the aid of a young teenager whose right side was covered with bits and pieces of metal shavings, and who was bleeding heavily from an open wound on his leg.  Maureen attended to an older Hispanic woman, Mrs. Sanchez, who had received a head injury, and whose English was very poor.  Somewhere in the midst of all the confusion, she had set her purse down, and when she went to retrieve it, it was gone, along with her phone.

     With the arrival of the first responders, the injured were taken to area hospitals.  Allison decided to go along to Massachusetts General with the boy, who was without any parental supervision, while Maureen stayed with Mrs. Sanchez, and was taken to Boston Medical. She planned on trying to find a phone at the hospital to call them, but in all the chaos, that goal was not easily achieved.  She had finally managed to borrow some one's cell, but then realized she wasn't sure of the numbers to any individual's cell phone.  She was used to just hitting the programmed send button, and hard as she tried, couldn't remember the correct number for either Ted's or Kevin's cell.   She finally called directory assistance for the land number of the rectory, but there was, of course, no answer, because the two men had already left for Boston.

     After verifying for sure that Maureen was in no way injured, and that Mrs. Sanchez was on her way to being admitted, Beckett pushed for them to leave Boston.  As of yet, the authorities had no information on the reasoning behind the bombings, or whether more would follow, so getting out of the city seemed the most prudent thing to do.  Unfortunately, there appeared to be some minor issues with the logistics of the ride home.  The appearance of the Lamborghini both shocked and delighted Maureen, but the vehicle obviously sat only two people.  Fr. Kevin argued that his sister could sit on his lap for the two hour ride home, but the Sheriff vetoed that suggestion on the grounds of safety issues regarding a car going 90 mph.  He decided that Maureen should return with him, and that he would call for a car to take Kevin back to Dollyville.

       Although annoyed at once again being the obvious "third wheel", Kevin could see the sense of the idea.  No argument was going to convince Beckett to let Maureen out of his sight at this point, and it was dually clear his sister wanted to be alone with her fiance.  He supposed a taxi was better than taking the train back, and more reliable time wise.  It was decided that Beckett would drive Maureen back to Allison's apartment to pick up her things, and leave a note explaining she had gone home if her friend had not yet returned. From there, the two of them would head back to Dollyville, while Kevin would wait here at Boston Medical for his transportation back home.

      His feelings of malcontent over being "left behind" grew with each passing minute, and the growling of his stomach.  He sat on a stone bench, alone, outside of the hospital for nearly an hour.  Tired, hungry and put out, he was just about to break down and call Beckett with some choice words, when a large limo pulled up to the hospital entrance a few feet from where he sat.  A uniformed chauffeur exited the car, and looking around, spotted him sitting on the bench.

        "Fr. O'Kenny?"

        "That's me."

      "Sorry to make you wait, Sir.  Mr. Beckett had ordered some specific staples with the transportation, and with traffic a mess, it took me awhile to pick it all up."  He held open the passenger door for Kevin to enter, and as he did so, handed him a note.  "Mr. Beckett asked me to give you this note."

       Fr. Kevin slid into the soft leather seat of the limousine, and was shocked to see several carryout bags on the side table of the car's left side.  He opened the envelope, and pulled out a note that was without a doubt written by Beckett.
                      Kevin,
                        Thanks for your help today.  Couldn't have done it without you.  
                        Enjoy your ride home.  We'll talk tomorrow.
                                       T. Beckett

        Unable to resist any longer, Kevin dug through the assortment of delicacies arranged on the table.  There was a meatball sub from Al's South Street Cafe, sausage pizza from Emma's, a grinder, complete with banana peppers, from Lucky's Lounge, clam chowder from Legal Sea Foods, and topping it all off, two huge slices of Boston cream pie from the famous Mike's Pastry.  All of which were his very favorite hometown treats.  Before he could decide which to have first, the window separating the driver from himself rolled down.

       "Fr. O'Kenney...Mr. Beckett wasn't sure what type of  beverage you'd like with your dinner, so there is a wide assortment of ales and local micro brews on the bar cart, and a variety of cold soft drinks in the mini fridge.  Please help yourself to whatever you'd like."

       Digging through the bottles, Kevin selected a local ale from Boston Brew Works, and began to unwrap the meatball sub.  Leaning back into the cushioned seat, he gave some thought to the events of the last six hours, and came to the same conclusion.  Sheriff Ted Beckett might be an arrogant asshole, but he was definitely a thoughtful one at that.

_________________________________
                               
Morning musings



      It had to be somewhere around 4:30 AM.  It was still dark out, but the birds in the large locust tree outside the apartment window had already begun their morning tune up.  She was pretty sure she hadn't slept at all since arriving back in Dollyville.  She envied the man next to her, whose even breathing gave proof to his state of slumber.  She, on the other hand, had tossed and turned, unable to shut down the montage of images and ideas carouseling through her brain.

     Maureen thought about getting up and showering, but Ted had his left leg thrown over hers, and his hand was still tangled in her hair.  The last thing she wanted to do was wake him up this early, when she hadn't processed any of the events from the night before.  She carefully raised her left hand, to catch the bit of light escaping from the clock on the vanity, and admired the ring set on her finger.  The large emerald cut stone, 6 carats, she thought, caught the small beam, and cast shards of reflection off the brass headboard.  Her engagement ring was breathtakingly beautiful, the center diamond flanked on each side by perfect green emeralds.  To match her eyes he told her.

       She tried to block out the horrific mind images of the explosion and its aftermath, and instead concentrated on the moment she caught sight of him in the hospital waiting room.  Like magic, he was suddenly just there, and she had never been happier to see anyone in her whole life.  Then there was the ride home.  In a Lamborghini.  His Lamborghini.  That thought alone blew her mind.

       She arrived home to an apartment full of fresh flowers, a feat she had no idea how he arranged.  He made her soup and grilled cheese, and while she sat on the bed and ate her supper, he suddenly handed her a small velvet box.  Reciting lines from poems by Byron, he slipped the ring on her finger, and once again, asked her to marry him. And, once again, she accepted. Thinking about the hours that followed made her blush, but it was for certain, a wonderfully romantic set of memories.

      So, what then, was the problem?  Why was she filled with the idea that something was missing?  Most girls would have been in rapture over the heart pounding tableaux set before her.  She racked her brain, going over the series of events, time and time again, but couldn't be sure.  During any of the hours leading up to now...or for that matter, any of the time that they had been together...had he ever told her that he loved her?
__________________________________

      His eyes still closed, he could tell that she was awake.  The fidgeting going on next to him was a dead giveaway.  It wasn't surprising that she couldn't sleep.  He had no doubt that the events she had witnessed in Boston would give her nightmares for months to come.  He was an expert on nightmares. On how long they could linger.  How real they could seem.

     The overwhelming relief he had felt seeing her safe in that hospital ER scared the shit out of him.  Broke all the rules he had so carefully set up.  For the time being, he would allow himself the luxury of this romantic fantasy.  But he knew sooner or later, it would be time to put the rules back in place, and proceed with the status quo that had been a life saver up until now.

                                              
Maureen's engagement ring

Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved






 

 
 
         



   
     


     
   
   

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My 2 Seconds of Fame...

So... the article about my "part time" blogging career ran in the local paper today!  It doesn't seem to be online yet, so this is the best I can do for now.  Thanks to Patti Ahern of the Southtown Star, and my wonderful readers for your continued support!


                     
Chicago Southtown Star- Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Boston Bound and Bantered


ATTENTION DEAR READERS:

       Although this blog may illustrate the story line using photos of dolls, and dollhouse miniatures, the language and themes of the text are intended for an adult audience.  Please be advised.
      Thank You

             
Fr. Kevin and Beckett in front of Riley's Pub in Boston's South End

      Fr. Kevin peered through the tinted windows, cupping his hands to diminish the glare, and allowing him to see inside.  "Not in person, I haven't.  Just in print ads... and on the internet."  He stood up and stared at Beckett.  "Don't these things cost like $200,000?"

     Beckett leaned against the wall of the garage, and grinned.  "Something like that."  He pressed the remote in his hand, and the doors unlocked.  "Why don't you get yourself settled on the passenger side.  We're gonna take off soon."

     While Kevin maneuvered himself into the low bucket seat, Beckett and Wild Bill wandered outside of the garage a few feet in front of the door.  He could see them locked in conversation, and at one point, the old man shook his head vigorously from side to side, a look of annoyance on his face.  Kevin wished he could hear exactly what the two of them were saying, but with the windows closed, the car was virtually soundproof, and for the life of him, he couldn't figure how to roll them down.

       Eventually, the two men shook hands, and Beckett walked toward the car.  Sliding himself behind the steering wheel, he buckled up, and advised his passenger to do the same.  With a turn of the key, the car's engine came to life, and they jetted out of the garage, across the gravel driveway, and back onto the highway.  There was absolutely no vibration inside the vehicle, and Fr. Kevin could only guess how fast they were going by the speed of the scenery flying past the window.

       Hoping to soothe his building nerves, he worked at starting a conversation with the Sheriff, who seemed rather morose, and deep in thought.  "So...tell me about the car.  I have to admit ...it's pretty awesome."

      Beckett kept his attention focused on the road, but waxed on a subject that was obviously dear to him.   "She's a 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo Coupe with a 5.2 L V 10 engine and 6 E gear transmission.  The E gear allows me to shift much faster than I could with a manual."

      "It's really an amazing piece of machinery.   If you don't mind me asking, how did you end up buying a Lamborghini?"

       He thought a moment before answering.  "A weak moment I guess.  Just seemed like the thing to do at the time, though I'm glad I bought it when I did.  They've changed the design of the instrument panel, and I really prefer this style."

        Kevin nodded his agreement, acting as if he knew anything at all about the design of Lamborghinis.  Or any expensive car for that matter.  But Beckett seemed to be in a rare chatty mood, and he wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.  "I'm curious as to why you store it in Bridge water.  If it were my car, I'd want it right where I could keep an eye on it.  Plus, it must be a pain having to drive all the way to another town just to use it."

      "A Lamborghini is a bit much for Dollyville, don't you think?"  He smiled ruefully, and added, "I can well imagine the talk around town if I started driving this thing on a regular basis.  The gossip is bad enough as it is.  I don't need to add fuel to the local musings about my personal life.  I'm actually hoping a wife and baby will put an end to all that bullshit."

       For reasons he couldn't quite explain, that statement bothered Kevin, but he set aside his concerns to focus on keeping their verbal exchange going. "Speaking of wife and baby, how does your family feel about the big news?"

      Beckett smirked.  "You aren't very smooth when you're trying to pry, Fr. Busybody."

      A tad embarrassed at being caught, Kevin turned a light shade of pink.  "I don't think of it as prying, Sheriff.  Just normal curiosity.  You've come to know quite a bit about the O'Kenneys, and we'd like to feel as if we know something about your family.  After all, once you and Maureen are married, we'll be spending a lot of time together.  You know...holidays, birthday celebrations, and such."

     Beckett's face never registered any emotion, but Kevin could swear the man's jaw tightened to his temples.  "I see.  Well...what exactly is it you want to know?"

     "Just the normal stuff.  About your parents.  And your siblings...if you have any."

     Beckett was impossible to read, and the only sign of discomfort might have been his fingers clenched around the steering wheel.   He kept his statements short and clipped. "My mother is dead.  Going on ten years now.  Breast cancer.  My father remarried about six years ago.  A French national.  They spend about half of each year in the Loire Valley, on her estate, the other half in Tahoe.  Apparently, I have a 5 year old half brother whom I have never met."

     He looked over at Kevin, waiting for a response, and when there was none, he continued.  "I
 have two other brothers.  Jack, the oldest, is 38, and works for the Henton Corporation as CEO.  Married, no children.  Quinn is 32, and a neurosurgeon at John Hopkins.  He's single.  None of us are very close.  I see my father and brothers when I occasionally go to New York on business, but we almost never get together socially.  Frankly, we all move on different planes of the universe, and we're quite content going on in that manner."

      The priest didn't know whether he should offer his sympathy, or counsel Beckett on the beauty of God's gift of family.  His experience with the man suggested that neither option would be appreciated, so he decided on a different approach.  "Well, its entirely different with the O'Kenneys. We all stay pretty connected.   I hope you'll consider yourself one of us."

       A non-committal grunt was less than the response Fr. Kevin had hoped for, thus he changed the subject, hoping to avoid hurt feelings on his part.  "So, when we get to Boston, how are we going to find Maureen if she still isn't answering her phone?  The whole city has to be in a state of mass confusion right now.  I wouldn't know where to begin searching."

       He pointed to his cell phone stuck in a holder on the console.  "I'm going to track the location of her cell phone using mine.  That should give us some indication of where to start looking."

      "You can do that?"

      "Easily.  All the new smart phones have a GPS system built in.  I downloaded an app from my phone to hers that allows me to to pin point pretty accurately exactly where her phone is located.  And we both know that Maureen is never without her iphone, so find the phone...find Maureen."

      Unable to hide his shock, Kevin asked, "How long has that app been on her phone?  And does she know you can track her like that?"

      "I downloaded it about seven weeks ago."  Beckett looked as if he wanted to say more, but then changed his mind.  "And no...she doesn't know, and I'm adamant that you don't breath a word of this to her.  We both know how...quickly... Maureen makes decisions, sometimes ill conceived ones.  This just helps me stay one step ahead of her."

        The Sheriff's nonchalance about invading his sister's privacy was unnerving, and there was no doubt Mo would be furious if she knew her intended had her on a type of digital leash.  Family loyalty deemed he needed to make her aware of this situation as soon as possible.  Even though his sister had a reputation for getting herself in trouble, she was an adult, and deserved to be treated as one.  He opened his mouth to protest, but Beckett immediately cut him off."

       "Look, Kevin.  I'm sure you find my... methods...extreme.  But in a few weeks, your sister will be my wife, and therefore my responsibility.  And I will handle my family business in any way I see fit.  Truly, you ought to be thanking me right now instead of judging.  Without the phone tracking, locating her in the midst of all this trouble would be a nightmare."

       There were a million things Kevin wanted to say on the subject, but the conversation was interrupted by flashing lights in the rear view mirror.  Beckett swore under his breath, cursing Wild Bill's lack of ingenuity, and his personal string of bad luck.  He came to a stop at the side of the road, and waited while the patrol car pulled up behind him.  No one exited the car for a few minutes, and Kevin assumed that the officer was running the car's plates. Although it seemed rather childish, and in bad priestly form, to revel in the man's misfortune, Kevin was looking forward to seeing the pompous ass work himself out of what was sure to be a whopper of a speeding ticket.

      The State Trooper took his time wandering over to the driver's side of the Lamborghini, first stopping and giving the car a complete once over.  "Evening, Sheriff.  You have any idea you were going over 90 mph down that stretch?"

      Beckett noted the name tag pinned to his uniform.  "Yes, Trooper Dixson.  I was most certainly aware of my speed."

      The State Trooper made a face, and even Kevin wondered at the rather condescending tone of Beckett's words.  "Your driver's license, and registration, Sheriff."  The trooper's body language changed, showing his dislike of the driver's attitude, and Fr. Kevin fidgeted in his seat, an audience to what was sure to be a tough guy- policeman pissing match.  "You carrying, Sheriff?"

     "Undoubtedly, Trooper Dixson."

     "Then I'm going to have to ask you to remove your wallet very carefully, Beckett, and keep your hands where I can see them at all times."

      Without acknowledging the man's request, Beckett removed his hands from the steering wheel, and reached into his back pocket, pulling out his wallet, and a leather bi-fold.  He plucked his license and insurance card from the wallet, and handed them, along with the bi-fold, to the trooper, and retrieved the registration papers from the glove compartment.  From his perspective, Fr. Kevin guessed that Beckett was also handing over his law enforcement shield, which in the priest's opinion, wouldn't make a hoot of difference.  The trooper already knew Beckett was Dollyville's Sheriff when he ran his plates, and hadn't seemed all that impressed.  In fact, the man appeared to be itching for a chance to take Beckett on.  Maybe it was the fact the Sheriff was driving a Lamborghini.  Or maybe it was the way Beckett always came off as having an attitude.  Either way, the end result wouldn't be pretty.

         Trooper Dixson looked over the driver's license and insurance card, and then flipped open the bi-fold.  He stared at the information, looking back and forth from Beckett, to the thing in his hand, and quite suddenly, seemed a lot less sure of himself.  He tapped the items in his palm, and then stated, "I'm going to need to check this all out."

         From behind the steering wheel of the Lamborghini, Beckett's poker face never changed.  "Certainly, Officer.  You go right ahead."

      The officer walked back to his patrol car, leaving Kevin confused over the apparent shift in the  power struggle.  "What the hell was all of that, Beckett?  The guy's whole attitude changed in an instant.  What did you hand over to him?"

       "Just shut up, and keep quiet, O'Kenney.  My goal is to get this over with, head to Boston, and find Maureen.  It's all taking way too long."

       Kevin huffed, and leaned back in his seat.  He knew it was pride, but he definitely didn't like being told to "shut up", and if he hadn't been in the middle of nowhere, he would have like to have told the ass what he could do with his damn Lamborghini.

       After several minutes, Dixson returned, sheepishly handing the items back to Beckett.  "You're free to go, Sir.  Heading to the trouble in Boston?"  When Beckett just nodded, the Trooper continued, "Horrible thing, that bombing.  Good luck with your investigation."

        "Thank you, Officer."  And without a further word, Beckett started the engine, and pulled the car back onto the highway.

         They had gone only a few miles, when Kevin finally gave in and asked, "You're not going to explain any of what just happened, are you?"

         Expressionless, Beckett replied, "Nope."

       And so the next hour's drive was spent in complete silence, while the city of Boston, and a myriad of questions, loomed murkily in front of them.

______________________________

      Just inside the city's limits, Beckett pulled into a gas station.  After fueling up, he grabbed his cell phone, and first tried dialing Maureen's number, and then her friend, Allison.  There was no answer at either, but he was grateful that Maureen's phone was still on, and seemingly charged.  Tapping an icon on the screen, he brought up the GPS tracking on her cell, then turning toward Kevin, he asked, "Does Riley's Pub mean anything to you?"

     Still angry, Kevin looked out the window, refusing to answer him.

     "Stop behaving like a five year old, O'Kenney, and talk to me.  The goal here is to find Maureen, not act like fuckn' baby, because I won't let you interrogate me."

      Fr. Kevin swung around to face him.  "You are such an asshole, Beckett.  I have no idea what my sister sees in a jerk like you."

      "Well, you can ask her when we find her.  In the meantime, I could use your help in actually doing that, if you can get past your crybaby hurt feelings."

       Kevin grabbed the cell phone from his hand, and examined the screen.  "Riley's is about three plus miles from where they said the bombs went off.  I can't imagine why she'd be there.  That area is kinda rough.  I can't see her, or Allison, going to any pub in that location."

      "I can't explain the reasons, but the GPS says that's where her phone is now, so that's where we're going to check first."

        Using the GPS on the car, they wove through the back streets of Boston.  The city was on high alert, and police presence was everywhere.  In any other situation, the Lamborghini might have garnished admiring attention, but in the aftermath of the tragedy, minds were on the whys and hows, and not the passing whimsy of traffic.  They pulled up just past Tremont Street, in the city's South End neighborhood, and looking around him, Beckett worried over the idea that his Maureen might have come here on her own.

        Riley's Pub was your typical dive bar...dark, seedy, and badly in need of tuck pointing.   Beckett parked his car a block up the street, and pulled his jacket from behind his seat.  "You stay here, and keep an eye on the car.  I'm gonna go check out the pub."

       Indignant, Kevin retorted, "I'm not staying here.  She's my sister.  I'm going with you."

      "Don't be ridiculous.  You in that kind of place...dressed the way you're dressed...would be a big mistake.  You'd just be a target for all kinda shit I don't want to have to deal with right now.  Please...just stay in the damn car."

       Ripping the Roman collar from his neck, Kevin unbuttoned his shirt, and slipped his jacket off his shoulders.  "I'm perfectly capable of taking care of my self, as you can personally attest to, Beckett.  I was able to get a jump on you a few weeks ago.  Besides,  I grew up here.  I know exactly how things are, and I have no intention of sitting here in the car, while you go off and play superhero in front of my sister."

      Beckett sighed, and waved him out of the car.  "Suit yourself, O'Kenney.  I tried to warn you."  Setting the security on the car, the two of them made their way up the street toward the pub, Kevin several strides ahead of Beckett.  He reached the door first, but waited for the Sheriff before going inside.  The shabby pub was, not surprisingly, quite empty. A few patrons leaned on the bar, while the bartender dried glasses behind it.  All eyes were glued to a TV set in the far corner, the screen rolling with videos of the bomb exploding on Bolyston Street hours before.

       Kevin followed Beckett over to the the end of the bar, nearest to the front door.  They sat down, and waited for the bartender to notice their arrival.  The man looked over his shoulder, and not recognizing their faces, ignored them, and turned back to his drying.  His dismissal, and the obvious lack of interest from the rest of the patrons, was a blessing in disguise.  It gave the two men the opportunity to explore the entire room for any sign of Maureen."

       Leaning toward the Sheriff, Kevin whispered, "I don't see her.  Why would the GPS send us here?"

        "Because her phone is here.  Look down toward the end of the bar.  To the far right.  See that guy there?  The one with the ripped denim jacket?"

       "Yeah.  I see him.  So what?"

       "He's obviously playing with a cell phone.  I got a quick glimpse of it when he held it up to the light.  The case is pink with some small set diamonds.  That's Maureen's phone.  I know because I bought that new case for her three weeks ago."

       "So why does that guy have her cell phone?  And where exactly is Maureen?"

       Sliding off the bar stool, Beckett looked totally pissed, his hand on something set in the waistband of his pants.  "I don't know, O'Kenney.  But I'm sure as hell going to find out."

Looking for the missing Maureen inside Riley's Pub


Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved

 

     



       

 



   



 

     

   
 


     







Saturday, May 11, 2013

Homeward Bound..."Baby" Found

ATTENTION DEAR READERS:

       Although this blog may illustrate the story line using photos of dolls, and dollhouse miniatures, the language and themes of the text are intended for an adult audience.  Please be advised.

      Thank You


                         
Beckett and Maureen's "long goodbye" at the Dollyville train station
    
     In the week that followed, Fr. Kevin and the Sheriff built a tentative truce between them, with Maureen as their ever determined mediator.  It took several of her best home-cooked dinners, and multiple bottles of Cabernet, to bring the two of them together in a calm enough setting to make any reasonable plans for the upcoming nuptials.  Despite Beckett's insistence that the wedding needed to take place within a month's time, the bride pleaded for a few extra weeks to facilitate a June date, which she claimed was her heart's desire.   In addition, it was decided that the event would occur here in town, with the ceremony being held at Holy Family Church, Fr. Kevin officiating, and the reception hosted in the ballroom of the Park West Hotel, the best venue Dollyville had to offer.

      Key elements set, the focus was now on the details.  As of yet, Maureen still was without an engagement ring.  Beckett had been less than forthcoming about the details, and had not asked for any suggestions from his fiancee, only stating that he had it under control.  Other than the ring, his own attire, and the honeymoon, he was willing to leave the rest of the planning to Maureen, furnishing her with a Visa Black Card bearing her name.  When she asked about the limits, he just laughed, and teased her that she'd have to work really, really hard to exceed it.  Additionally, he generously offered to pre-book and cover the expense of a huge block of hotel rooms at the Park West for her family, who would need to travel from Boston to attend.  This gift was begrudgingly accepted with gratitude by Fr. Kevin,who dreaded the thought of a gaggle of his family camped out in the rectory, and wished to avoid yet another move to the cramped attic room.

    Being that the O'Kenney's were a large group by themselves, the couple planned to keep the guest list to a reasonable number, and since Maureen had six different sister-in-laws, numerous nieces, and an abundant circle of friends, the bridal party, to avoid hurt feelings, would consist of only a maid of honor, best man, and a flower girl, who happened to be the bride's youngest godchild.  Beckett declared that he had a very small family, and only a few close friends and acquaintances, so his additions to the guest list would be minimal, and once again, in his own mind, Kevin wondered why he was the only one to find the man's evasiveness alarming.

    Because the town had a limited selection of stores catering to bridal wear, Maureen made plans to return to Boston for a few days to see her mother, visit with her best friend, and soon to be maid of honor, Allison, and to begin the hunt for the perfect wedding dress.  Although it was only mid-April, the bride worried about there being enough time for any needed alterations, so getting this trip organized was a top priority for her.  Ted had offered to take time off and drive her himself, but Maureen was insistent on going alone by train.  She claimed to need some time to herself, and though he was clearly disgruntled by her need for "space", he relented to her going, and eventually ceased arguing the point.

     Plans had Maureen leaving late Sunday afternoon, April 14th, and heading by train to Boston, where Allison was to meet her, and be her hostess for the duration of the visit.  The two ladies were looking forward to catching up, and then hitting the bridal shops near Copley Square, with the intent of selecting dresses for both the bride and maid of honor.  As Monday was also Patriot's Day, there were bound to be various events going on in the city, including the much loved Boston Marathon, and both ladies anticipated a good time.

    That Sunday evening, Beckett drove Maureen to the train station, taking one last shot at convincing her that his presence was needed on the trip.  Despite not actually being invited, and some rude discouragement from the Sheriff, Fr. Kevin decided to accompany them, sending his sister back home with messages for the rest of the family.  The couple spent an extended period of time saying goodbye, during which Kevin felt the groom took his affection to a ridiculous level for the sole purpose of embarrassing the obvious "third wheel".

   On one hand, Fr. Kevin was relieved when the train arrived, and his sister was safely seen aboard.  Unfortunately, her absence left him with an awkward ride home with the silent Beckett at the wheel of the car.  Without his sister to play peacemaker, their issues sat like a brick wall between the seats, keeping them from fixing the damage.

    Pulling deep for any scrap of humility, Kevin tried to start a dialogue.  "Always liked the Boston Marathon.  Ran it twice. Grueling, but very satisfying to finish."

   Beckett grunted in reply, but then couldn't resist the opportunity to counter.  "What was your best time?"

    "The first run, when I was 23,  took me 3 hours and 54 minutes.  I just about died getting over Heartbreak Hill.  The following year, I trained a whole lot more seriously, and finished in 3 hours and 11 minutes.  Was pretty happy with that race."

    "Yeah, Heartbreak Hill can make or break the Boston.  I ran it last year.  2 hours, 46 minutes."

     Fr. Kevin patted down the pinch of annoyance, focusing instead on continuing the exchange of conversation.  "That's a pretty impressive time.  Maybe I should train with you, and give it another shot next year?"

     Beckett looked at him curiously, trying to determine the sincerity of the comment, then replied, "If you're really serious, I wouldn't mind a regular running partner.  Maureen is a less than enthusiastic athlete."

     They both joked over Mo's lack of long term commitment to any hobby, and from there, the discussion turned to the pros and cons of various running shoes, and the benefits of pre-race carb loading.  Before he knew it, they were pulling into the rectory driveway, and as Kevin made his way to the front door, he felt like a small weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
_________________________________
   
     For a typical Monday, the day was surprisingly productive.  Without the distraction of Maureen and her drama, Fr. Kevin was able to slog through a stack of necessary paperwork, and to tackle several maintenance chores around the parish grounds. Since the murder of Marco Rivera last June, he had meant to begin the steps of hiring a new church gardener and handyman.  But one thing had led to another, and it just never got started, partly because he actually enjoyed the physical exertion of doing those things himself.  With a sense of personal satisfaction for crossing a number of jobs off his list, Fr. Kevin headed back to the rectory, weighing the question of whether he should have a late lunch, or a very early dinner.

      Locking the front door behind him, (a habit he developed after the whole Marzano episode) he grabbed the remote, and turned on the television, planning to meander toward the kitchen to fix something to eat. Before he could leave the room, his attention was riveted to the screen in front of him.  It took a moment for his brain to register the scenes of chaos and destruction played before his eyes, and even then, he needed to turn up the volume, so the sound could verify the visuals.

     " Authorities believe the first explosion occurred at 2:49 PM, on Boylston Street, 100 feet before the race's finish line.  A second explosion followed approximately 15 seconds later, 600 feet to the west, in front of the Forum Restaurant.  Unconfirmed sources report that 3 are dead, and more than 140 injured, and taken to area hospitals."

     Kevin watched in horror, silently praying for the victims, and at the same time, desperately trying to recall his sister's planned itinerary.  He was pretty sure she had mentioned the mall at Copley Square, and a bridal shop on Boylston Street, whose name he couldn't remember.  He dug the cell phone out of his back pocket, and hit the speed dial next to Mo's picture, but was frustrated went the call went directly to voice mail.  He didn't have her friend Allison's number, and scolded himself for not having the foresight to have asked for it in advance.  With all the possibilities for disaster looming, he considered calling Beckett, but pride forced him to wait a bit, and he continued dialing Maureen's cell number, hoping she'd eventually pick up.

     Less than 30 minutes later, the Sheriff was at his door, out of uniform, and apparently of the same mind set as Kevin.  "I'm not liking what I'm hearing about the situation in Boston, and the fact I can't reach Maureen has me concerned.  You haven't by any chance heard from her yourself, have you?"

      "No, and I'm going to admit to being worried.  Normally, with all this going on there, you'd think she'd call us, and let us know she's okay.  But I haven't heard a peep, and honestly, I'm kinda nervous about  that."  He wondered if he should bring up the whole "Red the Wrecker" thing.  Clue the Sheriff in on his sister's propensity for attracting trouble, but he realized how ridiculous that would sound to anyone outside the family, so he kept his thoughts to himself, and continued.   "I wish I had thought to ask for Allison's cell number.  We'd have someone else to call.  I could try my family, and see if any of them have they heard from her?"

       Beckett shook his head.  "No, don't call your family just yet.  It would only get everyone upset, and we're not even sure she was anywhere near that area.  I have her friend Allison's cell number.  I insisted she give it to me before she left, and I've called several times.   But like Maureen's, it goes directly to voice mail."  He paused for a moment, and then added, "I'm thinking about driving down there, and picking her up.  I would guess that the Feds will have the trains and such shut down for security purposes.  It might be days before things return to normal.  I'd rather have her out of the city as soon as possible."

      Fr. Kevin was pretty sure this was Beckett's way of voicing his personal concern over Maureen's   safety.  In the entire time he had known the man, he had always exuded a sense of perfect calm and control, and if he had the slightest bit of worry over his sister's state, then Kevin knew the matter was serious.  "That's probably a good idea.  Would you mind if I came along?"

     The Sheriff hesitated a moment, and then nodded.  "I guess it would be okay.  I have to make a quick stop in Bridgewater to pick something up, then we'll head to Boston.  I don't plan on staying long.  Just want to locate her, and drive back.  Things in the city will be a mess for the next few days.  The sooner we're out of there, the better."

     "I agree."  Kevin grabbed his jacket from the hall closet, and turning off the television, followed the Sheriff to his car.

____________________________

     There was little conversation in the car, both men quiet while dealing with the worries in their own head.  The town of Bridgewater was about 30 miles north of Dollyville, and it wasn't long before they hit the city limits.  Kevin had never been there before, but Beckett maneuvered the streets as if he had driven them many times.  They left the main business district and headed east, and as they continued to drive, the area took on the look of overwhelming decline. The shuttered buildings and overgrown lots stood as testimony to a place fallen on hard times, and Kevin was at a loss as to what his future brother in law could possibly need to "pick up" in a place like this.

      They eventually pulled up a gravel driveway in front of a dilapidated garage.  The peeling sign above labeled the business as "Motor Werks", but Kevin wasn't sure how anything in the building could truthfully be in working condition.  Every window in the place was cracked and dirty, and the front yard was littered with rusty car parts and old tires.  The only person in sight was a wiry old man, who looked to be in his mid 60's.  He stood in the doorway, wearing greasy mechanic's overalls, and tapping a large wrench across his palms, while a large mongrel dog slept nearby.

      The Sheriff turned off the ignition, and gesturing toward the man, said  "Come on.  There's someone I want you to meet."

      With obvious reluctance, Fr. Kevin slid out of the car, glad for the knowledge that, without a doubt, the Sheriff had a weapon on his person.  Maybe even two.  Or three.  They walked toward the man, who despite their arrival, never moved from the doorway.  They were about two feet away, when the resting dog suddenly jumped up, and charged toward them.  Before Kevin could turn and run, the man called out.

       "Well, I'll be damned!  It's good to see you, Teddy!"

       The dog flopped down in front of Beckett, his whole body wiggling, and waited for the guest to give his belly a scratch or two.  The Sheriff obliged, petting the dog, and talking to it in that voice human beings reserve for favored animals. When he had finished with his greeting, the dog reluctantly
got back up on all fours, wandered over to Kevin, and gave a low growl.

      "Now, Demon, is that any way to treat visitors?  Down, boy."  At Beckett's command, the dog instantly ceased his menace, and trotted back to the old man.

      The Sheriff and the mechanic shook hands.  "How the hell you doin', Bill? "

        "As you can see, I'm still breathn', ya little piss 'ant.  A good thing at this age."  He grinned, showing a single gold tooth stuck in his upper gums. " It's been a long time, Teddy.  How's business?"

        "Same as always.  You?"

        "Not much comes my way anymore.  Maybe that's a good thing."  He pointed a thumb towards Kevin, and asked, "Whose your side kick?"

         "Wild Bill, I'd like you to meet Fr. Kevin O'Kenney, Pastor of Holy Family Church."  Beckett turned toward Kevin.  "Bill is an old friend of mine.  Saved my ass on more than one occasion."

         Kevin stuck his hand out, feeling as if he had walked into a script of some cheesy B-movie.  "Nice to meet you, Sir."

         Bill took his hand, and pumped it vigorously.  "Always nice to meet the clergy, boy."  He looked at Beckett oddly.  "Strange bed fellow for you, Teddy.  Is there a story here?"

         For the first time ever, Beckett looked a bit sheepish.  "Fr. Kevin is... a friend.  From Dollyville."  He paused a second, then added, "I'm gonna marry his sister in a few weeks."

        The mechanic blinked, and then began to laugh.  It started out slow, with a few giggles and snorts, and then worked itself into chest heaving guffaws.  The old man slapped his hands on his thighs, tears running down his face, and tried to catch his breath.  "That's the best damn hee haw I've had in months.  Gotta hand it to ya, Teddy.  You are one crazy sonofabitch!"  He wiped his eyes with the corner of his dirty shirt, and when he finally composed himself, continued, "I'm bettn' there's a hell of a story here.  But it'll have to wait.  I'm guessing you came for your baby?"

      For a second, images of Beckett having various illegitimate children scattered throughout the state popped into Kevin's head.  But as they walked toward the back of the property, near a cinder block garage, he figured they had come for a vehicle of sorts.

        Bill punched a set of numbers into the key pad.  "I just tuned her up a couple of weeks ago  Had the pretty bitch purrnn' like a tiger."  He finished with the code, and the large metal door rolled up, exposing  a car covered in a gray tarp.  He and Beckett each took a corner, and pulled the material away.

         From his position in front of the building, Fr. Kevin could only stare, his mouth hanging slightly opened.  He walked toward the car, and ran a hand over the hood.  "Is this what I think it is?"

       Wild Bill let loose a hearty chuckle.  "What's the matter, Padre?  Never seen a Lamborghini before?"
                         
Beckett's "Baby"

     
Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved
       





   


     



Friday, May 3, 2013

Facing the Facts



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.


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