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.
|Boston's North End, 1849|
As a kid, he had read his fair share of science fiction nonsense. Knew that according to the fictional commandments of time travel, one had to be careful not to change anything in the past, as it might have disastrous effects on the future. But that had all been make-believe. Stories someone created out of their own personal imagination. As far as he could tell, this was the real thing. He was truly stuck here, in a yet undetermined year, in a body that was not his own, fully conscious of his own personal history and opinions. In addition, he seemed to have shifting thoughts that were not his own, ideas and emotions that were totally foreign to his nature. Those, he assumed, belonged to his host, a man Kevin wasn't sure he liked very much.
The whole thing was beyond preposterous. There was no such thing as time travel, yet here he found himself in this position. For a fleeting second, he tossed about the notion that if he were here, then maybe this Fr. Murphy had somehow inhabited his body back in Dollyville. The thought made him queasy, so he quickly brushed it aside, choosing instead to focus his attention on the here and now, and just how to escape it. The first plan of action was to figure out exactly where in time he was. He was still obviously in Boston, but the date was still a mystery. It was somewhere in the 1800's as his clothes and surroundings indicated. Other than that, he hadn't a clue to the specifics. He had considered coming right out and asking the housekeeper, but had decided against it. She already sensed something was amiss about his whole presence, and seemed to be giving him the sign for the evil eye every time his back was turned. Asking her odd questions would only serve to make matters worse.
Still at the window, he caught sight of a news boy hawking papers at the end of the street, and an answer to his dilemma quickly bloomed. The newspaper was sure to have today's date, as well as information about the here and now. He pulled a worn overcoat from the hall tree next to the door, and slid his arms into the sleeves. The garment reeked of sweat, stale tobacco and more than a bit of alcohol. The cuffs were thread bare, and the left pocket sported a gaping hole. The right one, however, was luckily in tact, and held an assortment of coins, enough it was hoped, to purchase a paper. Belting the coat at the waist, he started to pull at the door, just as the housekeeper made her return into the room.
"Lord sakes, I was wonderin' when you'd get to leavn'! Tis half past eight already, Father. It's unseemly the way you keep the faithful waitin' on ya. Third time this week. You best hurry if ya plan on hearn' confessions too."
A wall of panic shoot up around him. Maneuvering around the small confines of the rectory was one thing. Finding the church, and saying Mass in front of a strange congregation, in a body not his own, was completely another. Even if he could find the church, and manage to get through the Mass, would it still count? And hear confessions? As who? Fr. Kevin O'Kenney? Or as Fr. Sean Murphy? Would the absolution even work the same? He stammered out the words. "Uhmm...Mass. Yes. Yes. Will you be attending as well, Mrs. McBride?" The woman at least might be able to clue him in on the generalities of the routine.
"On a Saturday? With the larder and cupboards as bare as a bone? Lord sakes, Fr. Murphy, I've but two hands, is all. Who be doing the marketn' if I spent me time on bended knees. Prayer is all fine and good, Father. But it takes a might more than that to fill the belly. Besides, the Almighty says to keep his Sabbath holy. He never made any rules regardn' the rest of the week. If Sundays be good enough for the Lord, then it be right fine with me, Father. So you's just run along and see to your faithful, and leave me to my work." With a grunt, the rotund woman handed him a black bowler hat from the hall tree, and shooed him out the door.
If nothing else, the gale force winds of Boston winters were the same in this time as they would be in the future. The icy spray caught Kevin full in the face, and he turned up the collar of the coat to block the bad weather. From the street in front of the rectory, he could see the church set back a few feet. The wooden building, like the neighborhood around it, looked neglected and run-down, the shutters hanging askew and banging against the side of the building with every gust. He could hear the newsboy calling out the sale of his papers, and he hesitated only a moment, before turning away from the church to the other end of the block. Dodging the carriages who paid him no mind, he made his way to the corner, digging the change out of his pocket, and offering it to the grimy young man, who stared at him in confusion.
"Aye, Sir...how many copies ya be wantn?"
"Just one please."
The boy looked at the pile of coins in the priest's hand suspiciously, as if the whole event was a test of his honesty. Then with chapped, red fingers, plucked what appeared to be a penny from Kevin's hand. "Aye, Sir. Just one" He rolled the printed paper into a bundle, and handed it to him.
Grateful for some blessed information, Kevin dug through the coins again, and pulled out what looked similar to a modern dime, and handed it to the boy.
The lad's eyes grew large and round, watery blue marbles in his pale, dirty face, and he stared first at the coin, and then up at the man's face." "A half dime, Sir? For me?"
From the kid's reaction, Kevin realized he had just been given the moniker of "big tipper". He had no clue what a half dime was, but assumed it was worth five cents, apparently a grand amount in this time period. From somewhere in his psyche, he could feel annoyance, and guessing it might be his host's thoughts, pushed it aside. Generosity to the less fortunate trumped anything else. "Yes, young man. For you. Enjoy."
The boy pumped Kevin's hand like a water spigot, his glee unhindered. "Many thanks, Sir. I
mean it, rightly." He stopped for a minute, and looked at the coin curiously. "You seem grand chipper this morning, Father Murphy. Guess the Lady Bones were kind to ya last night, Sir?"
"Lady Bones?" Fr. Kevin felt a prickle at the back of his conscience. He hoped to hell the boy wasn't referring to a woman. That kind of trouble he most surely did not not need."
"Aye, Father. Lady Bones. I'm gathern' that the dice rolled in your favor, Sir. To be handn' the likes of me such a grand tip will surely cotton Lady Luck's favor toward ya again."
It took a few milliseconds for his frozen brain to add two and two, finally realizing that the boy was referring to some type of gambling game. When there was a glimmer of recognition somewhere in his gray matter, he sighed. It appeared the illustrious Father Murphy was a bit of a gambler, an issue he deducted might give reason to the mean state of his appearance and property.
Leaving the kid's comment unanswered, he offered him a wave, and started back towards the church. Unrolling the newspaper, he stared at the date...Saturday, November 30, 1849, and then in horror at the glaring headline...Parkman's Body Found in Gruesome Murder!
|The Dr. George Parkman Murder, November, 1849|
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