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.
|Fr. Kevin holds the truth in his hands|
He should have been surprised to see Beckett back in the ER waiting room, but he wasn't. For all the confidence he exuded in just about every other situation, his brother-in-law looked completely out of his element here in the hustle of medical mayhem. He barreled down the hallway, hands jammed in pockets, his jaw set like concrete, and his eyes focused on the door to the parking lot.
The Sheriff barely paused long enough to get the words out. "They asked me to step out a for a bit. Doing some kind of check." His eyes scanned the room. The door outside. The nurses station. Anywhere and everywhere except on Kevin's face, choosing to look over the top of his head, and not meet his eye. "Look...I need to...to step out of here for awhile. Take care of some business. Do you think you can sit with her? Just for awhile. I shouldn't be long. They'll probably move her to a regular room soon. The best they have, I promise. Should be back before then."
"Sure. No problem. But...don't you think she'd prefer you...her husband... to be with her. At a time like this, you both..." The look he got in return caused the words to simply evaporate. If he hadn't known the man as long as he had, he might have even had a momentary prickle of fear. Experience had taught him that Beckett's bark was usually worse than his bite, but there was no reason to make matters worse.
"Look, O'Kenney...can ya just do like I ask? Without a big discussion. For once?"
Fr. Kevin nodded, at loss for additional words of wisdom, choosing instead to let the man escape into the company of his own grief and rage.
As she watched from the dark car, Cassie had long decided that the bright lights surrounding the Emergency Room entrance gave it a stage-like appearance, with the people coming and going like actors in some grand theatrical drama. She had amused herself for the past few hours by creating stories about the figures going in and out. The old man in the wheel chair, oxygen tank attached to the seat's back like a giant torpedo. The weary woman in scrubs, frantically pecking away on her cell phone. The young, Hispanic kid with the bloody, bandaged hand. The unknowns, strapped to gurneys, drawn out of the mouths of ambulances, wheeled off to their questionable futures. Some, of course, would probably die, as it wouldn't be much of a story if they all lived happily ever after. But some should survive their medical complications, and return to loved ones with tears of joy, because...well...people liked a happy ending. It was rather entertaining to sit here and be the author of her own little story. To decide who among them would live, and which of them should die.
It kept her mind off the fact that she hadn't a single clue to what was going on inside. She had written it both ways in her head. The red head dies. The red head lives. To her mind, it was surely a much better story if the red head died. Teddy would make a lovely, grieving husband, all handsome and stoic on the outside, filled with sadness and angst to his very soul. And then she could be the devoted friend. The neighbor next door. The one the now single husband had never realized was beautiful and witty. The one who could fill the empty hole in his heart.
She giggled to herself, wondering if she'd make a better beautiful neighbor as a brunette or blond. Red hair was out. Definitely out. Wouldn't want the audience to confuse the dead characters from the living. It might even be fun to add the priest to the cast. He could encourage the grieving husband to move on. Insist that it was what his beloved sister in heaven would want. Then, in the final scene, he could marry the two of them, she in a gorgeous vintage, lace dress, Teddy in a black Armani tux. The audience would surely need their hankies over the sentimental romance of the moment.
So engrossed was she in the running of her private movie, that she had almost missed seeing him leave the hospital. It was by luck alone that she glanced up, and caught first sight of him. Under the glare of the harsh security lights, he appeared as if he were chiseled from stone, white marble with blue sapphires where his eyes should be. From her vantage point in the dark, and with the help of binoculars, she could see clearly see his face, and he looked, for lack of a better word, a tad scary. She shivered, both from fear and arousal, and watched as his eyes circled the parking lot. For a second, she worried that he could see her sitting out here in the dark, zeroing in on her location with some kind of mental ability. But that was impossible. He was no more super human than she was, and there were hundreds of cars in the lot. He couldn't possibly see her. Know that she was out here looking back at him.
He stood there for several seconds, panning the dark, hands on hips, expressionless, then, turned and made his way to the patrol car. Cassie put her hand on the ignition key, her heart racing, ready to make her get away through the hospital maintenance route should he decide to start searching the aisles of the parking lot. But the patrol car veered toward the main entrance, and then pulled out into the street heading west. She pondered his actions, going over the scenarios in her head. What did his leaving mean? And where the hell was he going? She counted to a fifty, giving him a decent head start, the pulled out and began to tail him.
She refused to talk to him. Not a single word. When he had shown up at her bedside instead of her husband, she had given him one look of despair, and then turned her head away. She had let him hold her hand, but any words of comfort, any offers of prayers, were met with silence. Instead, he prayed on his own, the words mixing in with the rhythm of the machines monitoring his sister's well being. He tried not to be angry with his brother-in-law. Tried especially hard not to be judgemental. But Beckett's departure from his sister's bedside when she needed him most rankled every part of him. He should be here with his wife, the two of them grieving together. He hadn't asked where he was going, and Beckett hadn't offered the information. But for the life of him, he couldn't begin to understand what could be more important then the situation at hand.
From the doorway of the recovery room, a nurse signaled him into the hall. He unfolded his fingers from those of his sister, promising to return immediately, to which she gave no response. He followed the woman into the hall, hoping she wasn't there with additional bad news.
"Father O'Kenney...there's a deputy in the waiting room. He's looking for Sheriff Beckett. Says it's important. We can't seem to locate him. Would you know where he is?"
"I'm sorry. I don't. He said he had to leave, but didn't say why." He hoped the nurse couldn't see his embarrassment, the shame in what appeared to be Beckett's callous behavior. "I'm sure he'll be back shortly." He worked at keeping the sheepishness out of his voice. "His position as Sheriff...requires a lot of his attention." After he said it, he realized the excuse for what it was, as he was sure the woman did too.
"Might you be willing to talk to this deputy? He insists he has something he needs to give to the Sheriff."
"Of course. I'm sorry for all the distraction. Really I am."
She smiled, her expression laden with sympathy over the awkward sadness of the situation. "No worries, Father. This is a hospital. We're used to distractions."
She pointed him back to the ER waiting room, where he could see Deputy Bill Sykes, Beckett's number one, pacing back and forth, a large manilla envelope in his hand. The officer caught sight of him, and met him half way.
"Fr. O'Kenney...I'm so sorry. For everything. I hope Mrs. Beckett is...holding up."
"Thank you, Bill. She's stable, and the doc is cautiously optimistic."
"I'm looking for the Sheriff, Father. He was adamant about getting this report ASAP. Do you know where I might find him? We can't seem to locate him. Expected that he'd be here at the hospital."
Fr. Kevin felt the heat rise to his face, yet again embarrassed by Beckett's actions. "I'm sorry. He left about an hour ago. Didn't say where he was going. Have you tried calling him?"
"Yeah...his cell goes right to voice mail, and he isn't answering his radio." The man made a face, and leaned in closer. "To be honest, Father. I'm a bit concerned. The Sheriff 's a stickler for protocol and rules, and applies them to himself as stringently as he does us. I've never known him to ignore his radio. I hope he's alright."
This different approach to Beckett's absence gave him pause, as he hadn't considered that his sister's husband might have his own issues. Sykes was right. It was unlike Beckett to ignore his duties as Sheriff, even in the midst of his own personal tragedy. When he left the hospital, Kevin had thought it was in regards to problems at the station, but obviously he had not gone there. His anger dissipated, and was replaced by a tiny finger of alarm. "I wish I could offer some input, Bill. But I haven't got a clue as to where he went off too. He might have just needed some personal time. Some space to privately grieve on his own. You know how he is. Not big on sharing his inner feelings to the world."
"Yeah...that's an understatement. You're probably right. He just needed some space." The Deputy looked down at the envelope in his hand, and weighed his next action. "The Sheriff wanted this report on the accident as soon as it was ready. Said I was to put it in his hands only. But I really need to get back on patrol. We're short handed tonight. Sam Degnan is out with the shingles, and the new kid is still confined to desk duty. I was wondering if I could just leave it with you...you being family and all, and a priest to boot. I'm sure I can trust you to give this to the Sheriff, right?"
"That's fine, Bill. I'll make sure the Sheriff gets it as soon as he returns."
" Thanks, Father. Appreciate it." He turned to leave, and then with hesitation added, "The Sheriff was pretty explicit that this report be for his eyes only. You know how he values his privacy."
"I fully understand. I'll hand it directly to the Sheriff. You have my word."
"Good enough for me, Father. Give my best to Mrs. Beckett."
Kevin waited until the man left the ER, then walked slowly back to Recovery, grateful to find Maureen sleeping. He sat in the chair, and stared at the envelope in his lap. According to Sykes, it was the details of his sister's accident, the reason she was lying in this bed, hooked to machines, with her dead baby in the morgue. Surely he had a right, as her own brother, to know the hows and whys of it all. He was sure that once Patrick arrived, he'd be badgering everyone involved for information, insisting on answers, someone, or something, to blame for his family's misfortune. It would be helpful for Kevin to be able to run interference, to be a sort of liaison between his very private brother-in-law, and his bossy, demanding brother.
There was a small part of him that was especially bothered by Beckett's need to keep the details to himself. A horrible nagging thought that Kevin had been unable to shake since he had first gotten the call about Maureen. What was it about the dreadful event that the man wanted to keep a secret? Surely the whole thing was just a horrible accident? A combination of Maureen's lack of skill behind the wheel, and bad timing.
He fingered the envelope again, fighting in his head over the right thing to do. He had given the Deputy his word. Implied the promise that he would turn over the report to the Sheriff unread. But the urgency of the situation, and his desire to be a good brother to a sister he loved with all his heart, superseded any commitment he might have made to someone outside the family circle. At least that's how he excused himself in his head for what he was about to do.
With Maureen snoring lightly, he picked at the seal on the back with trembling fingers, and a queasy stomach. The report was several pages long, but he flipped to the back, looking for some kind of official conclusion. He read the words twice, skimming the same three phrases over and over before they finally sunk in. "Break line cut by serrated knife...loss of steering fluid...no ability to control the vehicle." The facts of the matter hit him like a brick to the side of his head. Maureen's accident was no accident. Someone had deliberately tampered with Beckett's Mustang, causing his sister's injuries. Causing the death of her baby. His nephew. He felt all sweaty and sick, and grabbed the wastebasket next to the bed just in time to avoid vomiting all over the hospital floor.
Copyright 2014 Victoria T. Rocus
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