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 has an uncomfortable discussion with her "brother".|
The priest grunted, and then rolled on his side, testing several methods of tucking his lanky 6' plus frame on the narrow sofa, and burying his head under a worn throw pillow.
Partly alarmed, but mostly annoyed, his sister shook him again, this time giving his shoulder a pinching squeeze, and ripping the pillow off his face. "You need to sit up, Kevin. I can't believe your in this shape! And so early in the morning! What the hell is going on here? You didn't say Mass this way, did you?"
One blood shot eye creeped open and stared at her, followed by the other. Pushing himself to an upright position, the man growled. "Damn, woman. You needn't shout. I can hear you just fine. That shrill cawing cuts through my head like a rusty knife."" His jacket was rumpled, and his collar open and askew. A smattering of fine ginger colored whiskers blanketed his cheeks and chin, and he reeked of alcohol and sweat, as he ran a hand through short greasy, hair.
"Good for you then! That's just what you deserve! I hope you have yourself a monster of a hangover! What the hell were you thinking? Drinking like this on a...on a weekday morning, no less!" A thought crossed Maureen's mind, and her anger turned to worry. "Oh no...something's not wrong, is it? No one's...ill...or worse?"
She grabbed at him, gathering him in an awkward embrace. "Oh Kevin! Is it Mama? It's not Patrick, is it? Tell me he didn't have another heart attack? He's not dead, is he? Oh...I knew I should have called home! Please Kev, tell me Patrick's okay."
The priest peeled her fingers from his forearms, and pushed her into a spot next to him, moving himself a few dignified spaces away. He appeared to be searching for answers among inebriated brain cells, and a slew of seconds passed before he could rightfully answer. "Ah, Patrick. The oldest one. To the best of my knowledge, he is fine." He tilted his head a bit to the left, and added, "Yes. They all appear to be fine. The whole noisy lot of them."
She stared at him oddly before replying, her disgust at finding him in this state quickly changing to apprehension. "Are you sure you're alright, Kev. You seem...different. Not yourself. Is something the matter? You know you can always come to me, right?"
Her brother seemed to examine her face, staring not just at her, but through her. His eyes were the same moss green color, but yet, appeared harder, and without the calm she had sensed from them as long as she could remember. There had been a change in her brother while she had been gone, of that she was sure. But the hows, and whats and whys of the whole thing were a total mystery.
He patted her hand, and grimaced, looking even less like her brother, and more like a stranger. "I assure you, Miss Maureen, that I am perfectly fine, if not still a bit in my cups. I appreciate your concern, but I shall be right as rain when I've worn off the effects." He rose off the sofa, and headed toward the door in an obvious hint toward leaving. "There's no need to worry your pretty little head over my situation. I shall be most fine in a few hours. I suggest you run about to things that need your care, as I am surely not one of them."
She felt her anger rise, but the sight of her brother, all disheveled and strange, tore at her heart. This was her Kevin. Her favorite sibling and best buddy since before she could remember anything else. There was obviously something terribly wrong with him, whether he was willing, or able, to admit it himself, and there wasn't a chance in hell she was leaving him on his own to deal with it. "I think not, Kev. You look as if you could use one of my famous breakfast feasts. Go jump in the shower while I see what I can whip up."
He hesitated, trying again to motion toward the door. "Really, that isn't at all necessary. I shall be quite satisfied with a cup of coffee, or even tea for that matter. No need to go to any type of trouble."
"You know you hate tea. Besides, it's no trouble at all." She flung her arms around him, trying to hold her breath as she did. "I missed you so much, Kev. And I'm sorry I didn't text or call or anything. You know how Ted can be when he gets something in his head." She considered telling him about her wild adventure in Mexico, but decided against it. In the mood he was currently in, it was hard to tell how he'd react. Instead, she took hold of his arms and lead him toward the stairs. "Now...off you go. Take a nice long, hot shower, and change your clothes. It'll make you feel better. Honestly, you smell horrible. And when you're done, we'll have a nice little breakfast, and a good long chat about what when on when I was gone...okay?"
With destination in sight, and purpose in mind, Fr. Kevin O'Kenney, aka Fr. Murphy, noticed little of the bad weather. He could see the chemistry building ahead, and assumed that the dark, stone shed standing 200 feet away must be the privy Webster described. As he got closer, the horrid stench grew, lending credence to his hypothesis. He was oddly gratefully for the biting cold, for in summer heat, the odor of the place was, without a doubt, unbearable. In addition, the chill was surely the reason the campus byways were virtually deserted. All around him, he could see the glow of lamps lights and hearths from scattered buildings, proof that the academia of Harvard was comfortably entrenched inside, allowing him the privacy to find what he came for.
The heavy wooden door was iced shut, and it took more than one hard tug to pull open. Even in the low temperatures, the smell made him want to gag, and ashamed, he realized how he had always taken the convenience of indoor plumbing for granted. He thrust the lantern out in front of him, allowing the small spray of light to illuminate his surroundings. It was as Webster had said. A wooden shelf was built over the pit, the round hole allowing some modest sense of comfort. High on the wall with the door, near the ceiling, were two holes, allowing light and air into the confined space. He quickly located the left corner as per the chemist's instruction, and counted the correct number of stones up, until he came to the large loaf shaped brick the man had detailed. Reaching it meant that he would have to crawl onto the wooden seat, and perch precariously over the large, stinking hole.
Having no other recourse, he placed the lantern on the opposite side, sticking a small rock under it to angle the ray of light towards the intended spot. The wood creaked under his weight, and he prayed the board was in good enough shape to hold him up, the alternative being an unintended bath in muck and shit. He counted once again, starting in the corner level with the seat, and began wiggling and pulling at the unusual stone. His fingers were numb from the cold, making the job a difficult one, but eventually, the brick began to move. After what seemed like an eternity, his knees aching from kneeling on the hard plank, his fingers stinging with was sure to be frostbite, the stone slid from its place. Inside the hole was a leather cylinder, tied tightly with a piece of black cording, the type used to hold packages together.
With frozen fingers, Kevin retrieved Webster's papers, and sticking them into the waistband of his pants, he buttoned his coat tightly over it. He was tempted to look at the contents, and the inner voice prodded him to do so. But his ever prudent psyche won out, and he decided to hold off until he could guarantee both his safety, and that of the papers, much to the disgust of his host. Jubilant over the success retrieval, he replaced the brick, and began to crawl backwards over the wooden seat. In his attempt to remove the false stone, he had inadvertently loosened a few other bricks near the spot, and two of them rained down from above. The first one caught the corner of his upper lip, splitting the soft flesh as it tumbled to the floor. The second, a stone heavier and larger than than the first, missed him completely, instead landing directly into the hole, and splashing filth everywhere, including Kevin's chapped face and bleeding lip.
In horror, he wiped at the muck with the sleeve of his dirty coat. He could smell the rotting waste under his nose, and he gagged at the thought of what it might possibly contain. With an exposed wrist, he rubbed at his lip, desperate to keep God-knows-what away from the open cut. All thoughts of Webster's papers diminished, Kevin's focus entirely on finding somewhere he could wash his face with soap and hot water. He worked at keeping down his panic, but was unable to shake lose the fear of cholera, which was striking most of Boston in epidemic proportions. He remembered the tours of Boston he had taken with his dad, specifically the one to Granary Burying Ground, which offered headstone after headstone documenting the toll the disease had taken in 1849, and wondered whether there had been one there with Fr. Murphy's name etched on it.
Shoving thoughts like that from his mind, he grabbed his lantern, debating whether the low temperatures would keep bacteria from multiplying on his skin. Pulling open the door, his mind totally elsewhere, he nearly ran into the body blocking his way. The man stood as tall as he he, his face gaunt and bearded in the light from both their lanterns. Hiding his panic, Kevin spoke first. "I do beg your pardon. I little expected someone to be on the other side of the door." He thought about offering the gentleman his hand, but realizing where it was he was leaving, thought better of it, and stuck it in his pocket instead.
The man scowled. "I should say not. Heard all kinds of fuss and nonsense coming from the privy here. Thought it best to investigate. Never know what types of debauchery these damn hooligans might be about." He cleared his throat, then spat a stream of mucus only inches from the hole in Kevin's boot. "I detest them all...the codfish aristocracy." With menace, he waved a wooden club in his other hand. "The name's Ephraim Littlefield. I'm the janitor over at the Chemistry Building." Tapping the ground with the club, he added, "I do hope your reasons for being about the place on a night like this are of a... sensible nature, Sir. As I don't take kindly to those being here that don't belong."
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved
A Note From The Author...
Thanks for all your patience while I was working on our annual 8th Grade Live Mystery Event. The one I wrote this year was based in Tombstone, Arizona in 1880, and featured real life people from that time period, characters such the likes of Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley, and Buffalo Bill Cody.
It was loads of fun to write, but a real challenge due to the necessary research involved. At times, I kept getting Boston in 1849 confused with Tombstone in 1880, thus the need for the missing post a few weeks ago.
Have to say, it was a huge success. The kids had a great time while really doing some hands on learning. Two newspapers will be covering the story, and when they do, I will post the link in case any of you are interested. The photo below, is of my teaching partner and I, in full costume. She was the federal marshall, and I was the "Wicked Widow" who owned the saloon...the scene of the subsequent murder. Nothing like being the author...and able to write yourself an awesome part..LOL
As always, I am grateful for your continued support.
Happy Easter and Passover to you all!
As always, I am grateful for your continued support.
Happy Easter and Passover to you all!