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.
|Maureen tries to bribe her "brother" with a home-cooked breakfast|
Littlefield looked at him, his frown deepening, if that was even possible. "A Papist, and a shanty one to boost." He let loose a second round of spittle, this one catching the side of Kevin's pant leg. "No surprise that your man didn't show. Probably came to his senses, and thought better of it." He thrust the lantern closer to the priest's face. "Might I suggest then, Murphy, that ya get to the business of moving on along. No sense bein' about on a night like this." Swinging the stick over his shoulder, he added, "Surprised you ain't a mite worried 'bout bein' out all alone this late, what with Dr. Parkman missing as he is. Seems there's definitely evil work moving about the Harvard grounds. The papers all say he's been murdered for sure, and the police have gone and hauled off Dr. Webster to the jail. A body's not safe 'round here it seems."
Kevin shoved his hands into his coat pocket, and stepped backwards, away from the man's lantern glow. "Yes, a tragedy that is. Poor Dr. Parkman. His family must be fraught with worry. But of course, I don't have much knowledge of the case. Unseemly for a man of the cloth to be involved in the likes of that."
Littlefield seemed to accept his reasoning, lessening the grip on the club, and relaxing his posture. "Aye, it most certainly is. Unseemly...indeed. Well then...you have yourself a fine evening, Fr. Murphy. I suggest you keep your wits about ya on your return home." Then pulling his wool cap further down on his forehead, the janitor turned, and headed in the direction of the chemistry building, his lantern bobbing back and forth like a buoy in a sea of darkness.
Fr. Kevin watched him go, and than burying his face in the collar of his overcoat, headed back toward the North End, this time with the wind at his back, and a solid reason to hurry his return to the rectory.
From her spot in the kitchen, Maureen could hear the force of the shower running and running through the pipes that ran above her head, and behind the room's sink. He had been at it for nearly 40 minutes, and she wondered if there was even any hot water left in the tank. Though, considering what an awful mess he'd looked, she supposed it was a good thing he was obviously doing a thorough job. Congratulating herself on having the foresight to just show up on his door, she turned down the heat under the skillet to avoid burning the bacon.
It was usually the other way around, she being in a state of upheaval, and Kevin being the one to come to her rescue. It felt rather nice this time, to have him be the one who needed assistance, and she in the position to offer it. Still, it was worrisome to see him in such a state. She wondered if it had anything to do with Roxanne's sudden disappearance. It didn't take a licensed psychologist to notice that there was unfinished business between the two them. At that possibility, she felt a stab of guilt. It was her fault the two of them were forced to come face to face. She had invited Roxanne Spinelli to her wedding knowing full well that her brother would be aghast at the idea. But at the time, she had been lost in her desire to plan the happiest of days, and had given little concern to how Kevin might react. Roxanne was a good friend, and it was not unreasonable for she as the bride to want her in attendance.
That's why her flight from Dollyville, without a single note of explanation, seemed so odd. The Roxanne she knew would never go back on a promise to a friend. She had committed to taking Maureen's place at the deli, and to keeping an eye on things at the rectory, and the apartment, while she was on her honeymoon. The newlywed had returned home, expecting to find her buddy behind the counter of the shop, but instead, received a lengthy tirade from Mrs. Schiller on how they had been short-handed for several days. In addition, it appeared that Rox had left town with an assortment of clothing out of Maureen's closet. Two pairs of Levi's, a few of her favorite tops, and a pair of new, leather wedge sandals, all seemed to have gone the way of the missing girl. It wasn't that she cared about the loss of her clothes. Rather, it was the strange behavior that had her worried. All she could figure is that Roxie and her brother had gotten into a heated argument, and that her dear friend had left town to avoid any further unpleasantness.
Hearing the water finally come to a stop, she plopped two more slices of bread in the toaster, and cracked a half dozen eggs in the mixing bowl. Kevin's tongue always loosened with a fork near it, and her plan was to fill his belly, while pumping him for information. Had she known ahead of time how ornery her brother had become, she surely would not have bothered adding fresh chives to the eggs, nor would she have squeezed all those dozen oranges by hand.
Somehow, knowing what was hidden inside his coat, made the long, miserable walk back to the North End more manageable. That's not to say that by the time he returned to the shelter of the rectory, he wasn't in bad shape. If Mrs. McBride's reaction was any level of measure, he was a frightful sight. He face was windburned and chapped a raw red, and there were actual icicles hanging about his sideburns. His fingers were numb with cold, almost devoid of any feeling, and the foot in the shoe with the hole hadn't fared much better. Upon seeing him, the rotund housekeeper crossed herself, calling upon a host of saints to shower down their heavenly mercy.
His foremost goal was to head to the solitude of his room, and to pour over the contents of the papers. If they held the key to any of this mess, he needed to figure it all out with the utmost of speed.
But the formidable Birdie stood between he and his privacy. She insisted that his thawing out was to be her project for the evening, and though he tried to convince her otherwise, he found himself wrapped in several blankets in front of the parlor stove, his feet soaking in a pan of warm water, and his hands and cheeks thoroughly rubbed down with what he guessed was left over bacon grease.
It wasn't until she had made him drink several cups of what she described as "medicinal tea", and rubbed his head so briskly with a warm towel that his teeth rattled in his mouth, that she finally released him to the peace and quiet of his room, with the promise that he should head directly to his bed before he caught himself a death of a cold. While she bustled about the kitchen, he managed to maneuver the papers out of his coat, squirreling them away in the waistband of his long johns where he was certain she wouldn't explore.
His room was cold and drafty, and taking her advice, he threw the dingy night shirt over his head, and climbed under the pile of covers, glad for both the warmth and seclusion. Pulling the table with the lamp closer to his bed, he unwrapped the leather covering, and unrolled the papers atop his quilt. It didn't take long for confusion to bloom, and disappointment to set in. The pages held nothing but a series of equations, long, complicated, and totally foreign to him. He tried to make sense of the symbols, numbers and charts, but it was if he were trying to read letters in a made-up alphabet. Frustrated, he shoved the papers to the foot of the bed, despair closing in, followed in time by weariness, fatigue, and eventually the weightless pull of deep, heavy sleep.
|Mr Belkins, from the Archdiocese of Boston, pays another visit|
Maureen poured herself a cup of coffee, and took the seat across from her brother. "So, Kev. Now that you're looking a bit...perkier, maybe you can explain what's been going on here since I've been gone? Why did Roxie leave before I got home? She had promised to stay, ya know. It's so not like her to go back on her word."
He simply ignored her question, cramming a whole piece of toast into his mouth, and focusing his attention on a weather map of the United States, in between long slurps from his cup of coffee.
"Seriously, Kev. I'm worried about her. You didn't have a...an argument, did you? Some kind of falling out that might cause her to leave so suddenly."
His mouth full, he answered without looking up from the paper. "Undoubtedly, she left because she had other places to be. More than that I can not say."
"Can't...or won't say, Kevin? What the hell is wrong with you? You're acting...well...weird. The way you're talking and acting...it's just not like you. I'm concerned you're ill. You're not depressed, are you? Maybe having some kind of mental issue? You know...like Aunt Edna had that one summer when we all went to the Cape. A nervous breakdown, mama called it. Oh Kevin, you poor thing! You must be suffering terribly."
Her brother looked up from his plate, and that's when she noticed it. His eyes. They weren't quite right. They were, of course, still green, matching hers, but yet, appeared entirely different. They were surely closer together, deep set under brows the same color as his hair. Appearing more intense and calculating then she had remembered. And at this moment, they were zeroed in on her, looking, for lack of a better word, rather perturbed. "Woman, I have no idea why you insist on interrupting my meal. You invite me to eat, then blather on the whole time about nonsense. As I already explained, this Roxanne has left town of her own free will. It was, I assure you, all for the best. Now, if you will allow me to finish this breakfast in peace, I would be ever so grateful."
He went back to his shoveling, ignoring the scowl that had replaced concern. "You are being a total jerk, Kevin O'Kenney. I have no idea what the hell is making you act this way, but so help me, I'm going to find out, even if I have to get Ted down here to help me drag you to the emergency room. If you think for one minute, I'm going just stand by and let you..."
The conversation was halted by the front door bell, it being pushed by someone with a very insistent hand. She heard it ring once, then twice, and yet a third time before asking, "Aren't you going to answer that?"
Without raising his eyes from the news paper, he replied , "During my breakfast? I think not."
She listened to it ring two more times, before rising to answer the door, slamming the chair into the table as she left. He could hear the back and forth of conversation, and in a few minutes, she returned, concern once again dressing her demeanor.
"Kevin...there's a Mr. Belkins in the parlor. From the Archdiocese. He says he's here about some accounting discrepancies in the parish books. Claims you had an appointment today. I told him that I was your sister, and that you were under the weather, but he insists on meeting with you anyway. Is that going to be a problem?"
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus
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