Follow by Email

Saturday, December 28, 2013

On The Road Again

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,

             
Beckett answers the door for a morning visitor
   
    The little sliver of sunlight from under the shade wasn't quite enough to wake her from that almost in-almost out, drowsy state of consciousness.  Instead, she cuddled in closer, tucking herself into the warmth of her husband's body, and allowing a slide back into foggy slumber.  Had anyone else been around, they might have noticed the Cheshire grin on her face, the proverbial kitty who swallowed the poor unsuspecting canary.  But as it was just the two of them, her reaction to the activities of the night before remained a treasured secret,  and with a sigh, she buried her face in his chest and let herself doze.

    It was the sound of a car's engine that shook Beckett instantly from his sleep, followed by a sharp series of raps at the wooden door.  Before Maureen could fully comprehend the sequence of events, Beckett put a hand over her mouth, and rolling her in the bed's top sheet, pushed her to the floor, with pantomimed instructions that she should slide under the massive frame.  If the bizarre nature of this so-called honeymoon had taught her anything, it was that her husband's lead needed to be followed.  Without a sound, she tightened the sheet around her bare form, and took her spot as ordered.

    From that position, she heard him fumble with the bedding, then watched him pad on bare feet to the door at the front of the room.  Without the slightest hesitation, he opened the door with one hand, the Glock G22 tucked into the back of his waistband, only to find an agitated Alberto standing on the stoop of the building.

    Seeing Beckett clad only in his boxers, the man looked at his feet, stammering out the words.  "I apologize, Colonel, for the early...interruption.  But we've had news.  Of the urgent kind."

      Beckett waved the man in.   "It's fine, my friend.  What's up?"

       The man hesitated,  his eyes skirting the room for the woman he met the night before.  "Your bride, Colonel?  I am free to speak?"

        "Go ahead, Al.  There's little I can keep from her at this point."  Calling across the room, he added, "You can come out, baby.  It's just Alberto.  The man you met yesterday."

         Wearing only the thin sheet, Maureen's voice called from under the bed.  "I'm perfectly fine here, Ted.  What's your friend doing here so early in the morning?"

         Beckett nodded, and the man continued.  "Seems you've rattled a few dangerous cages, Colonel.  Noise in the area says El Culebra has a price on your head.  A rather substantial one.  We need to move up your extraction before anyone is the wiser."

         "Damn.  So my cover here is shot?"

         "It appears that way, Colonel.  El Culebra's men have been showing your passport around.  Your lady's too.  I've been ordered to move you to a small air strip near Izamal.  Mostly crop dusters and a few sea planes.  We figured it would be the easiest way out of the country."

          "How soon do we need to leave, my friend?"

           "As soon as possible.  I'm to transport you myself."

            "And your sure El Culebra has possession of our passports?  There's no mistake?"

            "No, Sir.  I've seen them myself.  It is the safest plan of action.  The sooner we leave, the better."

            "Okay, Alberto.  You're right.  Just give us a minute to dress, and we'll be on our way.  Sweetheart, you heard the man.  You need to come out and get dress.  We're leaving shortly."

            From under the bed, Maureen opened her mouth to complain, but swallowed the words as a gun was fired, followed by a solid thump.  Frantic, she pushed her way out from under the heavy box springs.  There on the floor, not two feet from where she was hidden, lie the body of Alberto Arroya, an oozing bullet hole between his eyes, no doubt caused by the gun in her husband's hand.  Her mouth went dry, and her tongue felt like a dry wad of cotton, as she watched a pool of blood seep across the tiled floor.  "Is he...he dead?"

            Beckett nodded.  "I'm sorry you had to witness that, baby, but if it's any consolation, he drew first.  I was just faster.  Had no choice.  He was planning to kill us both."

          "But...but wasn't he supposed to be a friend of yours?  Somebody you trusted?"

           Her husband shrugged.  "Yeah...well that friend bullshit doesn't hold so true in my line of work. El Culebra must have offered a great price for our heads.  That's the way it works here, baby.  Sold to the highest bidder.  You need to get dressed pronto.  I'm sure once Arroyo doesn't return with news and photos of our demise, someone else will come looking."

            Maureen tried to keep her voice normal, but the sound that came out of her mouth sounded strangely three pitches too high.  "I still don't understand...how did you know he was gonna kill us?  It sounded to me like he was trying to be helpful."

            "It was his lie about the passports.  About El Culebra's men showing them around.  That would be impossible, as I have our passports hidden in the car outside."

________________________________

      By the end of the afternoon, Fr. Kevin and Roxanne were no closer to solving the mystery of the strange key, then they had been earlier that morning.  Visits to both of Dollyville's banks had proved fruitless, although they had determined that the key was, most likely, to some type of safety deposit box.  Unfortunately, it was not a fit to any of the boxes here in town.

      The bank manager at Paul Revere Savings and Loans had remarked that the key was for an older, vintage style of box, something from the 1940's was his guess.  That pre-dated it to any of the banks in the local area, as the oldest one hadn't been built until 1963. He suggested they do a search online, focusing on banks built in the late 1930's, or early 40's.  Now, over coffee and doughnuts, the two discussed their next move.

      "Honestly, Kev...I think we made great progress here.  At least we can rule out a large number of banks that were built more recently, and focus on the older ones.  That's a start at least."

       Wiping a dab of jelly doughnut from the corner of his mouth, Fr. Kevin shook his head.  "That still doesn't verify exactly where the box is, Rox.  There must be hundreds of old banks here in Massachusetts.  This key could fit a box in anyone of them.  It's like looking for a needle in a haystack."

      "You're giving up way too easy.  I still hold to the theory that the box is located somewhere close enough for the key holder to have access.  Otherwise it doesn't make sense to store anything in it if you have no ability to retrieve it in a timely manner."

        "I suppose that makes sense."  He pulled a smart phone from his pocket, and with a few swipes across the screen, brought up a map of the state.  "So where do we look next?"

         Roxanne leaned over, and studied the screen.  She pointed to a section of the map, and shook her head.  "These are all small towns.  Smaller even than Dollyville.  We could check, but it's my guess that  they don't have banks big enough for a whole safety deposit box system.  And several of them are suburbs of Boston that didn't exist 40 years ago. "  She sipped at her carmel mocha latte, and stared long and hard at the lit screen.  "Boston makes the most sense.  It's two only two hours away, and has multiple old banks."  She held the key up for both of them to examine.  "It just has that old proper feel to it...just like the city itself.  I say Boston is where we should look next."

        "Well, that's out of the question.  I can't spend days tromping from one bank to the next on some wild goose chase.  I've got responsibilities, you know.  Belkins is supposed to be be back in a week about the audit.  Plus, I need to be here for morning Mass.  It's impossible to get a substitute to come in during the summer months.  As much as I'd like to solve this mystery, Rox, I just don't have the time."

          She was quiet for a few moments, sipping her drink while the wheels turned in her head. Then, she reached across the table for his phone.  "May I?"

           He nodded, and watched as she searched page after page, scribbling information on the back of her napkin.  After several minutes, she slid the phone back to him.  "Okay...I've researched the general basics about all the banks in the Boston city limits.  There are only fifteen old enough to have boxes that require a key like this one.  If we leave right after 8:30 Mass, we can catch the 9:05 into Boston.  That would give us the whole day to check out these old banks, and still leave plenty of time to catch the last train back at 8:15 PM.  You'd only be gone for one day, Kevin.  Surely you're entitled to some personal time, aren't you?  Besides, it will give you an opportunity to check in on your mom.  See how she's doing after all the excitement of the wedding."

       There was little doubt he should have known better.  Roxanne was as capable as his sister Maureen in making him do things he knew he'd be better off not doing.  But a huge part of him was intrigued by the mystery key. It was the whole draw people seem to have over the desire to find buried treasure.  Plus, the crazy wedding, and his sister's mysterious disappearance on her honeymoon had left him edgy and anxious.  A day off to play detective seemed like a fun alternative to fussing over dusty ledger books.  Without much convincing, he let himself be sucked into her plan.  "Alright, Rox.  I'll give you the one day.  But if we don't find any answers in Boston, I'm through with this all.  I gotta focus on getting through this audit thing with the diocese."  He put his hand out for her to shake.  "One day, got it?"

        She giggled, and grabbing his hand, gave it a shake.  "It's a deal, Fr. Kevin.  One day is all I ask."


Copyright 2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved

   

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Banking On It

       

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

                                                 
A field trip to the bank
      Roxanne stood, and brushed the dust off the front of her shirt.  With an exaggerated sigh, she opened Kevin's palm, and laid the metal treasure on it.  "Look, Kevin.  This key was found in your parish's old stuff.  As Pastor, that makes you responsible for it. If you chose to just...just ignore it...well, I guess that's your prerogative.  But it be a royal shame if this turns out to be something valuable that might make a big difference in your community, and you just let it slip away."  She looked at him with big brown doe eyes. "I'm just playing devil's advocate, you know."

       After living for years with his sister, Maureen, he should have been able to sense a snow job when it was burying him six feet deep.  He knew Roxie didn't give a hoot about the welfare of his parishioners, or his duties as Pastor.  It was the whole lure of an unsolved mystery that drove her conversation.  And if he had even one ounce of sensibility, he'd throw the damned thing back into the box, and forget he ever saw it.  But like his childhood friend, Fr. Kevin was a "fixer".  He needed all the pieces to fit, and for the picture to be whole.  This quirk to his personality had caused him enough trouble to last a lifetime, but for some reason, known only to the Almighty, he simply couldn't walk away until he at least tried to make things "right".  It was an essential part of his entire personae, and the key lying cool in his hand, was a siren calling out for an explanation.

       "You do realize, Rox, that trying to find the lock that this key opens would be next to impossible?
I mean, what's to say that the source is even here in Dollyville?  It could belong anywhere."

     Sensing she might have piqued his interest, Roxie threw together her best pitch.  "That is a possibility, Kevin.  But most people would want to keep their prized possessions near them.  You know...so they could retrieve them in a hurry.  It makes the most sense to start here in town.  Check out all the places that have storage lockers, or safety deposit boxes."  She grabbed a scrap of paper from the throw away pile, and a pen from her pocket.  "Let's start by making a list of all the possibilities in Dollyville."  With rapt attention, she held the pen to the paper, and waited for him to start the discussion.

        "I can't believe I'm letting you drag me into this, Roxanne.  I have a million things to do before that Belkins character returns to nail my hide to the wall.  I should be focusing on that, rather than playing Sherlock Holmes with you."

     "Oh really, Kevin O'Kenney!  You know you're just as curious as I to find out what this opens.  Besides, we've already made a lot of headway into this pile, and Belkins isn't due back for at least a week.  Plenty of time for us to wrap up this mystery, and still straighten up the church's accounts.  I promise ...I'll stay and help you with all of that, if you let me in on this little investigation."

     Fr. Kevin looked at his feet, not sure how he wanted to phrase the question.  "This could take awhile.  Don't you have to get back to Boston?  To your..uhmm...job?"

    Roxie shook her and snorted.  "Geez, Kev.  It's not like I'm a brain surgeon with patients waiting on
the table.  If I dance, I get paid.  That's how it works."  Seeing him turn several shades of pink, she added, "And I'm not ashamed of what I do, Fr. O'Kenney.  It's just a job.  I don't lie, steal or cheat, and I try to be a really good person.  I think that far outweighs whatever labels people put on me."

    Embarrassed, Fr. Kevin tried to justify his hesitation.  "I'm not judging you, Roxanne.  Honest, I'm not.  I think you're an awesome young woman.  It's just...you're so damned smart.  So analytical.  Funny and charming too.  You could do anything you set your heart on.  I don't get why you aren't chasing your dreams."

    "What makes you think I'm not doing just that, Kevin?  I have plans.  Big plans.  I want to start my own private investigation firm.  But that takes money.  Lots and lots of money.  Plus, I need to take the state licensing exam, and get some solid experience in law enforcement.  And none of that comes free, or without the educational background.  I pay my bills with my dancing, and it's a damn good living at that.  I've managed to put myself through Boston College for the past 4 years on what I can do on the pole, and I really don't care if people approve or not.  I will have my dreams, Kevin.  You can count on it.  But in the meantime, I can use all the experience I can get, so do you want my help, or don't you?"

      It was the fire in her eyes that tipped him toward the decision.  "Okay then, Miss Private I, what's our first move?"

     With a happy grin, she put the pen to paper.  "I think we should start with the banks.  I don't really believe this key is for a safety deposit box.  It seems the wrong shape and size, but it's best we rule that out officially.  What banks are here in town?"

      "There's only two that I know of large enough to have safety deposit boxes.  First National Bank of Massachusetts, and Paul Revere Savings and Loan.  The rest are just small branches with limited teller services, and ATMs."

      "Alrighty then.  I say we start there.  Talk to the bank manager, and see if they recognize the key.  Even if it is one of their keys, they probably won't give us access to it if we're not on the box holder record, but it's a start."  She folded the paper into her back pocket, and made her way towards the stairs.   "Give me twenty minutes to change into something fresh, and then we'll go visit both of these locations."

       Moved by her enthusiasm and energy, Fr. Kevin smiled.  "As you wish, Miss Holmes.  I await your return."

         With a giggle, she made her way down the storage room's narrow stairs, before stopping and calling back up.  "We are going have so much fun, Fr. Watson.  Just you wait and see."

         
Looking for answers

Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2013
All Rights Reserved



   


Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Key to It All

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

Beckett traps Maureen under the bed

         For several seconds, Maureen blinked in the dark, squinting to make out the shapes around her.  The blackness seemed to have a life of its own, thick, large and powerful, and she struggled to avoid choking on her panic.  The smoke from the extinguished candle wafted across the room, and for some odd reason, it helped to focus her anger at her husband.  "This is ridiculous, Ted.  You stop this immediately. I mean it.  Relight that candle right now!  This isn't funny."

          There was no response.  Leaning in, she thought she heard a shuffle of movement to her right, just the slightest sense of motion near the front of the room.  Reflex took over, and she dropped to the floor, damned if she was going to make that easy of a target.  There was a swallowed chuckle from the same spot, and she strained her hearing to determine which way the footsteps were moving.  Sweeping a hand out, she could feel the wooden frame of the bed, and the empty space beneath it, a dark gaping hole.  Deciding it was best to stay low, she closed her eyes and slid under the bed, careful not to make a sound.

        He was remarkably light on his feet, but with an ear to the floor, she could feel the vibrations.  In her mind's eye, she figured him to be somewhere between the kiva and the bed, leaving her an escape from the frame's opposite side.  For several seconds, there was no movement, as both waited for the other's next move.  Maureen considered her options, trying to place the exact spot her husband was standing, when a hand snaked out and grabbed her left ankle, tugging hard to pull her out. She grabbed for the post, and held on, forcing him to tug harder.  There was no way she could keep hold, her fingers working hard to keep their grip.  When a thought came to mind, she smiled, and let go, allowing herself to be yanked out into the open.

         Even in the dark, she could hear the smugness in his voice, and imagine the smirk on his face.  "Looks like I win, Baby.  Nice try, though." He bent over to offer his hand, releasing the hold on her ankle.

         She raised her right arm in submissive resolution, and as he went to take hold, swung out her left leg, and caught him behind the knees.  He never saw it coming, and losing his balance, hit the floor with a thump and a grunt.  Wiggling away, she crawled across the floor and headed toward the stairs, not even sure where they lead.  Behind her, Beckett regained his composure, swearing under his breath, and pulling himself off the floor.

         With a giggle, and a racing heart, Maureen ran up the wooden stairs, and pushed open the heavy timber door, finding herself on the adobe's roof top.  The sky had cleared, and a small sliver of crescent moon sat east in the sky, amid an ocean of glittering stars, which provided enough light to make out the empty landscape, and the ragged hills to the west.  The beauty of it all was stunning, and in any other moment, she would have enjoyed the peace and solitude of the scenery.  But with the sound of her husband's footsteps on the stairs behind her, her only desire was for a place to hide, or a means to escape.
           
Going after Maureen, up on the rooftop
          The rooftop was bare, except for a small grotto and fountain in the corner, a shrine to Mexico's Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the chimney belonging to the building's kiva. The door behind her burst open, and her husband stood in it's frame, his head barely clearing the top.  It was impossible to read his mood, his face blank, giving nothing away.  With nowhere to go, she began backing away, until she found herself in the furthest corner of the rooftop.  Looking over the side, she realized she was on the porch side of the building, the overhang only a few feet below her.  Without thinking, she raised a leg over the side, testing the length of the drop.  Turning back toward Beckett, she saw him loose his cool, his face going several shades lighter in the moonlight.

          "Damn it, Maureen!  Don't you dare!  I swear I'll...don't be foolish.  You're risking your safety...and the baby's.  I give up.  You win, okay.  I surrender.  Just come off that ledge."   He took a single step forward, and put his hand out.

          From her perch on the rooftop wall, Maureen tried to gauge his sincerity.  In truth, she had absolutely no plans to make the jump, but did he actually believe she might?  She watched his face,
looking for any sign he might be playing her.  Then with a sigh, swung both legs to the flat surface of the rooftop, and tentatively walked toward him.  "Okay, let's just call a truce.  No one wins.  No one looses.  How 'bout that, Ted?  Can we do that?"

         He nodded, and smiled, a full tooth grin.  "Sure, baby...anything you say.  A truce.  Actually, I'm quite impressed that you were able to take me down."

          Growing in confidence, she moved closer.  "Thanks.  I learned from the Master."

          "And the Master is quite pleased, as he didn't think you were paying a bit of attention to anything  he was teaching.  Although, I suggest next time, you draw your leg tighter around the knee."

         When she reached him, he opened his arms, for what she believed was to be an encompassing hug.  Instead, he grabbed her below the waist, and with very little effort, flipped her over his shoulder.
With her head hanging down, and her rear across his shoulder, he headed toward the stairs.

         Realization hit her, as her head bounced against the small of his back.  "But...but...you said we had a truce.  No winners, you said."

         "Yup.  I did say that.  And of course...I lied, Baby.  Just consider this another little lesson from the Master."

_____________________________________

        Roxanne handed over the pocket knife.  "Go ahead, Kev.  You do the honors.  This is pretty exciting."

       He took the offered knife, and thought a moment, leery of the unknown.  "Maybe we should just leave it be.  You know, the whole Pandora's box theory.  If it's been locked up here, maybe there's a reason for it."

      "Don't be ridiculous.  Do you really think something bad will coming flying out of it?  It's probably nothing, but you should really check.  What if it's something important about Holy Family?  It's your duty as Pastor to check it out."

       The whole situation had him thinking Genesis, and he looked at the box as if it were Eve's apple he was holding.  But he didn't wish to appear as some superstitious fool in front of Roxanne, and the reality was, the box was most likely just an old piece of junk.  He gave it a shake, and inside, something rattled.

      "Well...there's obviously something inside.  Go ahead.  Just open it, so we can get on with the rest of this sorting."

       Against all better judgement, Fr. Kevin stuck the end of the pen knife into the the lock.  Wiggling it around, he heard a click, and the latch sprung open with a pop.  The box held only a single item.  It was a small silver key on a long, hemp string.  Holding it up, it swung loose, looking strangely ominous in the normal surroundings of the storage shed, and despite the heat of the day, Fr. Kevin felt a shiver run down his spine.

       "It's a key."  Roxanne stuck out her hand, stopping the swinging.  "And there's a number on it."

       " A number?"

       She pulled the key closer to her line of vision.  "Yeah...457.  I wonder what it opens."

      "I don't know.  Could be just about anything.  Oh well, so much for treasure."  He dropped it back into the box, and shut the lid, secretly glad to have the thing out of sight.

       Roxanne grabbed the box out of his hands.  "Aren't you even the least bit curious?  This key has to open something.  Something important.  Why else would someone put it in a locked box?"  She flipped open the lid, and dragged the key out again.  "It looks like a key to a safety deposit box, doesn't it?"

      Kevin shrugged.  "I don't know.  I've never had a safety deposit box.  Besides, we have no idea where this so-called box might be.  Could be anywhere.  It would be near impossible to track it down without any additional information."

     "Oh, Kevin.  You have no imagination!  This is an adventure...right here under your nose.  How could you not want to...well...know?  Know how this mystery plays out?"

      Thinking about the last few mysteries that had dropped in his lap...Rivera's murder...the suitcase of the money in the confessional...the dead girl in the woods...the abandoned baby...Fr. Kevin shuddered. He seemed to have a knack for finding himself in the worst situations, and if the pattern held, this one would be no exception.
                                               
The mysterious key
______________________________

Copyright Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved

     

 

         

   

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mango Tango

   

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

         
The mango incident
     She hesitated a moment, blinking at the inky blackness outside the safety of the building.  He watched her indecision, confident in his appraisal of her psyche.  Then, as if a large hand had given her a shove to the back, she propelled herself out the door, and into the night.  From his vantage point on the sofa, Beckett sighed, and counted off the seconds in his head.  Six, seven, eight, nine... Before he could reach ten, she was back inside, slamming the door with a heavy thud, and throwing him murderous glances.

     Against all better judgement, he folded his hands across his chest, and asked, "Back so soon?  You didn't get very far."

     Maureen's reply was stalled as she struggled to slow her rapid breathing, beads of sweat forming at her hairline despite the cool temperature.  She leaned against the door, fingers grabbing the frame for extra support, and stared daggers at her husband of less than a week.  Then, without a word of anger, picked up a mango from a bowl Alberto had deposited there only moments before, and lobbed it at his reclining head.  It wasn't the reaction Beckett expected, and in his moment of hesitation, he made an easy target.   The ripe fruit caught him instead in the left shoulder, splattering gooey mango guts across his chest in a sticky mess.  Across the room, Maureen giggled, and grabbed for another, which might have this time hit its mark had not Alberto chosen that very moment to return with the needed supplies.

        The man stood in the doorway, bewildered at the crazy scene playing out in front of him.  But out of respect for the Colonel, he made no comment, and scurried about the adobe, stocking the cabinets, and wiping down the assorted furniture.  During his endeavors, the Colonel sat calmly on the sofa, fruit dripping down the fruit of his shirt, as his bride stood across the room, avoiding his eye, and picking at her fingernails.

          "You want I should make you a nice fire, Colonel?   Very romantic, for the senora, Sir."  He tried for a bland face, not wishing to offend, but couldn't help the corners of his mouth turning up.

          Throughout, Beckett had remained non-plussed, ignoring the wet glop, and remaining perfectly calm.  "That won't be necessary, Alberto.  The Missus and I will be...just fine.  Thank you for all your help, my friend."

       The little man bowed.  "Is no problem, Colonel.  I am happy to be of assistance.  I will return tomorrow with more groceries, and to see if there is anything else you will be needing.  Until then, I hope you and the Senora have a pleasant evening."  He nodded to Maureen, giving her a smile and a wink as he left, that turned her cheeks a deep, rosy pink.

       Maureen and Beckett remained silent and motionless until they heard the man's truck pull away from the deserted building.  She watched his face in the yellow lamp light, expressionless, except for a slight tightening of his jaw.  Then, he crooked a finger at her, and pointed to a spot next to him on the sofa.  It was obvious in her face that several notions were filtering through her mind, and she shook her head vigorously, while her fingers curled around another mango.

        Beckett stood, making himself a much bigger target, and arched an eye brow as he noted the position of her hand.  "I'd strongly advise against it, baby.  But you go ahead, and do what ya gotta do."  He took a step to the left, and ducked, just as the fruit whistled by his head, and came to a thump against the adobe wall.  He shook his head, and smiled.  "Aww now...you shouldn't have gone ahead and done that, sweetheart."  He stepped from around the sofa, and moved closer to where she was standing.  "You should know better than to set-up a challenge like this.   Nothing I like more."

       Maureen's hand rested on the door knob, indecision warring in her brain.  She pulled it open and peered outside, then quickly closed it, shutting her eyes and sighing.  Digging deep for courage, she grabbed another mango, and slid away from the exit.  She'd face him inside rather than risk whatever was outside in the dark.   "You stay away from me...you...you jerk!  I mean it.  As soon as it's daylight, I'm out of here."  She gripped the fruit tighter, her nails leaving little rivets of juice running off her fingers.  "And until then, you're gonna leave me the hell alone.  I mean it.  You stay on your side of the room...I'll stay on mine."

     Her husband moved slowly in her direction, and she flung the projectile, hitting him across the right temple and spraying the fruit pieces in all directions.  To her utter amazement, he grinned, and moved in the opposite direction away from her.  She watched in horror as he leaned over the table, and blew out the candle in the glass lamp, plunging the room in complete darkness.  "Game on, baby," he chuckled.

_______________________________________________

    During this particular week, if someone where to ask Fr. Kevin if he thought all people had some shred of goodness in them, he would surely have answered with a resounding "no".   It was his great misfortune to have made contact with three different people in the past several days, who he would be hard pressed to say anything nice about.

     As far as he knew, the psycho Cassie McKreedy was still out there, causing whatever havoc she might, despite Beckett's insistence, before he disappeared into thin air,  that everything was under control.  Then there was the downright horrible Tessa Peppers, who returned from the nut house simply to make his life miserable.  And now, as yet another plague upon his person, there was Samuel Belkins.  A mean-spirited, nasty little man who apparently viewed him as some kind of pariah to the priesthood because he wasn't much of a book keeper.

     Belkins had reviewed the parish financial records, and in his own words, had found them "sorely incomplete."  He had refused to grant Holy Family, or  Fr. Kevin, any type of long term extension to get things in order, and had stated he would be be back in one week to review the necessary changes.  This meant several grueling days, hauling down the stacks and stacks of old records left by his predecessor, and hours of time required to go through them all, to fulfill the auditor's demands.  With Maureen gone, he was short handed, and swallowing his pride, he was forced to ask Roxanne for help with the whole process, rather than admitting to any of his noisy parishioners that the church's finances were under a cloud.

     It had to be nearly a 100 degrees in the cramped storage room over the garage, and he regretted wearing the whole black suit complete with collar.  But with Roxie sitting next to him, alone in the tiny space, he felt it best to keep the atmosphere as professional and formal as he could.  But that didn't mean he wasn't sweating like a pig in the process.

     Admittedly, Roxanne had been a tremendous help.  She was an organized thinker, and had quickly come up with a system to sort the records into neat, logical piles.  And her pleasant demeanor and quirky conversation had made a difficult job less awful.  He was just about to suggest a break for dinner, when Roxie pulled out the strange locked box from an old crate.

   "Hey...what do you think this is?"  She ran a hand over the leather cover, wiping a layer of dust from its cracks and crevices.  There was a small padlock attached to the snap closure in the front, and she gave it a tug.  "Seems to be locked."  She handed the odd element to Kevin, who appeared just as clue less about it as she.

     "I don't know.  I've never seen it before.  I went through some of these bundles last summer, but gave up after a few days.  Most of them contained old church bulletins, and nonsense, so I figured I'd get to another time.  Never happened.  You know how that stuff goes.  Best laid plans."  He fingered the brass lock, adding his attempt to pull it apart.  "Maybe we can use a screwdriver, or something, to pop the lock?"

      With a laugh , Roxanne pulled a small pocket knife from her jeans, and held it up.  "Think this might work?  I'm seriously curious as to what's in that thing.  Maybe it's a pile of old money, or some valuable church relic?"

      "Here in the storage room at Holy Family?  Not a chance, Rox.  Those kinds of things never happen to someone like me."


Copyright  2013 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved

       Hello to all my wonderful and loyal readers.  I have finally finished the first hectic trimester at the day job, with report cards and parent-teacher conferences now behind me.  Things should slow down just a bit, as we head into the last stretch of 2013.  This will hopefully allow me a little extra time to answer your lovely comments, and perhaps finish some crafting for a few upcoming scenes.  

I hope you are all enjoying the ups and downs of the crazy honeymoon, as well as life back in Dollyville.  Thank you so much for your continued support.  I am ever so grateful!

Best to you all,

Vicki