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.
|A visit to Hayden Street|
What made the whole thing worse, was the niggling thought that the inner voice of his host sympathized with him. The certainty that they shared the same sense of longing for a prize in front of their face, and out of their reach. It was bad enough that he himself had these self doubts. Renting space in his head to someone in the same situation was difficult to cope with. So Fr. Kevin did what he always did when overwhelmed. He prayed. Started with one litany, and then worked his way into another, his host eventually joining along with him. The words, some in English, some in Gaelic, played like dueling banjos in his brain, and the absurdity of it all made him smile, lightening his dismal mood despite the gravity of the whole situation.
Had he not found himself the center of some strange cosmic joke, he might have even enjoyed this opportunity to explore his hometown as it had been in the past. It was the one and only thing he and his father had shared, a love for the history and pageantry of Boston. His dad had tried to draw all of his children into the legends and stories surrounding their place of birth, but only his youngest son seemed interested in sharing his passion. The summer he was 14, they had spent several Sundays exploring the historical sites of the city, acting like tourists, with his dad capturing the moments on his beloved 35 mm camera. There had been promises to do it again, but job demands, high school sports, and finally a major heart attack, had kept them from repeating the magic of that one summer adventure. Walking the streets now, taking in the sights and sounds of Boston in 1849, he hoped his father's spirit could see through his eyes.
Lost in thought as he was, he almost missed the building. A non-descript box on the corner of a muddy intersection, the "watch building", as it was called in those days, seemed too ordinary to be a seat for criminal justice. He remembered coming to this same spot with his father once, shortly before the old building had been torn down to make way for a new and more modern design. He searched his memory for clues as to what to expect, but at the time, he had been disgruntled about having to make a stop before heading to a much anticipated Red Sox game, and hadn't been paying much attention. He pondered over the possibility that the trip with his dad on that particular day might have been designed to plan for this moment, and wished that he had taken a more vested interest, a comment that caused his host to sigh in agreement.
Opening the door, the smell hit him before anything else. It was a reeking mix of urine, unwashed bodies, and some type of strong cleaning solution, that caused his eyes to water. Despite the smell, it was thankfully warm, the heat coming from a large cast iron stove across the room. No one paid him much mind, people coming and going with defined purpose. The center of the room held a large wooden desk, set higher up on a platform, which behind sat a man with a handlebar mustache of gigantic proportions perched below his nose. He knew from experience that the gentleman was most likely the desk sergeant, or whatever the title was in those days, and the key to his seeing John Webster. Approaching the spot, he opened his mouth to announce his intention, but was silenced by his host, who emphatically counseled he should wait until the officer acknowledged him first. Hat in hand, Kevin stood in front of the man, and waited for what seemed like an eternity, before the man looked up from his paperwork, and spoke.
"State your business, man."
"I'd like to see John Webster, please."
The man narrowed his eyes, the mustaches drooping in obvious displeasure. "Ya would, now...would ya? You and halfa the tar hilled city! Move along, johnny. This is a place of law, and not a circus freak show. Read about it the rags like everyone else." He went back to the papers on his desk, Kevin obviously dismissed.
His feet numb from the long walk in lousy weather, Fr. Kevin had no intention of leaving without seeing the man whose problems seemed connected to his own. Mustering up another blast of courage, he cleared his throat. "I beg your apologies, good man, but I really must insist on seeing Mr. Webster. I'm...I'm Fr. O'K...Murphy. From St. Mary's. I'm Mr. Webster's priest. His...spiritual advisor."
The man glared at him, then leaned over the front of the desk, and spit a long stream of chewing
tobacco into an metal urn to the left of Kevin's feet. A small glob of the chaw missed the container and landed on the tip of the priest's boot with a mucous plop. He cleared his throat in obvious disgust. "Ah...well no surprise there, eh? A dirty murderer, and a Papist. A waste of a good cell, it is. The man belongs on the end of a noose." He waited for Kevin to respond, and when he didn't, grunted an approval, throwing his thumb in the direction of a long corridor. "You'll find him back there. The cell at the end of the hall. Maybe you can talk the bugger into confessin' what he did with Parkman's body. Save the city a whole peck of trouble and man power."
Nodding his thanks, Kevin moved in the direction of the thumb, and down a long dark corridor. From behind the bars, voices called out to him, begging for tobacco, conversation or assistance. He worked at pushing down the fear and loathing, recalling that visiting those in prison was a corporal work of mercy. He found the cell at the end of the hall as the officer had said. In the dimness, there was a man huddled in the corner, his face buried in his hands, knees drawn up to his chest. "Mr. Webster?"
The figure looked up from his misery, his eye red and swollen behind thick-lensed glasses. He blinked twice, and recognizing the figure in the hall, pulled himself up, and rushed to the bars. "Fr. Murphy! You came! I wasn't sure you would. I know it's beyond all boundaries of compassion, but I had no where else to turn. No one else to trust." Webster pushed his face against the bars, his eyes checking down the corridor. Satisfied that no one was in hearing range, he whispered in desperation.
"Did you bring them?"
Kevin waited, hoping for some help...some intervention from his host...but the voice was silent. He stumbled around for the right words. "Papers? What papers might those be?"
For a moment, Webster looked confused, and then nodded in compliance. "Quite right, Father. It would be a mistake to risk bringing them here. One never knows where prying eyes and ears might be resting. It's best that you see to their safety. I trust you explicitly. I just need to know they are safe in your protection."
Copyright 2014 Victoria T. Rocus
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