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 hides herself away in the rectory bedroom|
It was about the last thing he expected Beckett to say. In the weeks that Maureen had been staying with him, the two had made no attempt to reconcile, each choosing to stay firm in their resolve to end the whole thing. Beckett's name was never spoken out loud within her presence, and if his sister had to refer to her estranged husband in any manner, it was by the monikers of "that asshole" and "the bastard". Fr. Kevin himself had thought about trying to speak to the Sheriff, but his tentative truce with Maureen, and his lack of the right words kept him from making good on that decision. Now, here he was, on the rectory's door step, demanding the return of Maureen as if she were a missing puppy located at the pound.
Hoping to diffuse what was sure to be a volatile encounter, Kevin put on his best clergyman face. "Sheriff...it's great to see you here. Why don't you come on in, and I'll pour us both a Guinness. If you're hungry, I can throw together some sandwiches. We can talk. "
"No, O'Kenney. No drinks. No food. And definitely no chit chat. I'll just retrieve my wife, and we'll both be out of your way." He took a step forward, and attempted to push past the priest into the foyer of the house.
It was a natural male reaction, posturing on both sides, and Fr. Kevin slid his shoulder further to the right, blocking the way. He was actually a few inches taller than his sister's husband, but it was no contest between them, that having already been established several months prior. The Sheriff looked up at him, an expression so chilly he was surprised he didn't instantly turn to a solid block of ice. He figured reasoning wouldn't work, but it was all he had to offer. "Look Ted...seriously...she's in no shape to talk right now. She has so much unresolved grief. Anger. She needs time. Surely you can understand that. Let her be for a few more weeks. I'm sure she'll feel better, and then...maybe you guys can work at healing the wounds."
The man said nothing, but turned his head and let his eyes wander down the block. For a second, Fr. Kevin wondered whether the man was contemplating his advice, or checking for possible witnesses. Then, he looked backed and smiled, an expression that held not the least bit of mirth. "Here's how it is O'Kenney...I understand you're just trying to look out for your sister's welfare. I appreciate your loyalty. I really do. But if you don't move out of this doorway, and let me pass, I'm gonna move you myself. And we both don't want to make this harder than it has to be. She belongs with me, as your Scripture so eloquently states, so step aside and let me retrieve her."
There was no point in physically taking the man on. He wouldn't last a minute, and the scene would surely materialize into something big and ugly. Besides, if he were being honest with himself, there was truth in the man's reasoning. They were man and wife in God's eyes. Maureen had promised to love, honor and obey until death parted the two of them, yet at the first big road block in their life together, she had high tailed and run. Given up. If there was any chance that the two of them could reconcile, then it was his responsibility as both priest and brother to try and help them along, even if it meant damaging his own relationship with her. Besides, it wasn't like she was happy and content without her husband. She spent her days locked in the rectory's bedroom, his bedroom, staring at the ceiling. She didn't sleep, she didn't eat, didn't interact with anyone in the family, including himself. When she left the room, it was to attend Mass, or putter in the church's garden, and little else. She had lost at least ten pounds, and her clothes hung on her like sheets on a pole. Maybe a little go around with her husband was just what she needed to snap out of this cycle of misery. Fr. Kevin shrugged, and stepped out of the doorway.
There were 18 roses in every strip of wallpaper that lined the rectory's bedroom, and the pattern reoccurred every 4 strips, except in the corner, where someone had miscalculated. There was also a fine spider web crack that ran the length of the ceiling from the east end to the west, and in the late afternoon, beginning at 4:00 PM, the tree in the front parkway cast a series of monster like shadows across the wall next to the stair case. This she knew for certain, having spent countless hours staring at the same space. She had shed so many tears, she thought she might have used up her life time allotment, and now would spend the rest of her days with eyes like a creek run dry. Food tasted like sand in her mouth, chocking it down a daily fight, and she had to think hard when was the last time she had run a comb or brush through her mop of hair.
Worst of all was facing Kevin, who hovered about her like a well-meaning nanny, cheerful pundits and bakery treats his answer to her dark mood and isolation. She felt guilty interrupting his life this way again. He never complained, never turned his back, and never lost his temper with her, all of which made her feel like the most selfish person on earth. And everyday that passed with no change in her disposition, seemed to make him feel like a failure, which did little to help her own self image. But she could think of no other place to go. Returning back to Boston was impossible. No matter how hard she tried, she would always be "poor little Red...the screw up". Everything she touched turned to shit, she being nothing more than a short cloud of continuing bad fortune.
And she certainly couldn't stay here in Dollyville. Not where she'd run into him at every turn. See him about town, probably with some other woman on his arm. That image in her head made her stomach queasy, a possibility that was too hard to face. No, staying here was out. That was for certain. But where she might go, she hadn't a clue. She had tried making a list, focusing in on the East coast, but stopped after Maryland and Washington D.C., knowing she'd never actually go off by herself.
She watched as the shadow arms began to reach fingers along the wall over the dresser. It was near 4:30. Another day slipping by without any decisions.
The knock on the door downstairs was almost ignored. People came and went from the rectory all the time, and she had gotten used to giving it no attention at all. But there was something odd in the tone of Kevin's voice, and she strained to make out the conversation she could hear from the open window. That's when she recognized the pitch of the other man's answer, the slight drawl to the words, and the deeper timber. She flew to the window and looked down on the porch. The overhang blocked most of her view, but she could see the back of his head, the dark hair curling over the collar of his jacket, and her heart squeezed in her chest. For a second, she panicked, not sure if she should lock the door, or run down the stairs, and out the back. She couldn't see him. Not face to face. For sure she'd fall to pieces, crumble like stale cracker into a mess on the floor. Then reality sunk in. Maybe he had just come to speak to Kevin. Official business. He was, after all, still the town Sheriff. She stole another glance, noticed he was not wearing his uniform, and panicked again.
|Maureen spies Ted on the rectory porch|
Kevin knew how she felt. Knew that she never wanted to face him again. He wouldn't possibly let the man near her, of that she was certain. She sat on the bed, took deep breaths, and came face to face with her reflection in the mirror. She blinked at the woman staring back at her, too thin, too pale, her hair a knotted, tangle of curls, her clothes wrinkled and hanging on skeleton arms. No way could he see her like this. It would serve as evidence that he had tore her heart out. Destroyed her spirit, and left her a mess. He'd take one look at her, and thank his lucky stars he'd severed any ties.
She strained to hear what was going on, the voices raised in some type of disagreement. This was followed by the sounds of footsteps on the stairs, heavy confident steps, not Kevin's lumbering gait. She froze, unable to move, then quickly jumped from the bed, twisted the lock, and shoved a chair against the door.
He heard the click of the tumblers before he hit the top of the stairs, and frowned. She was poised to make this difficult. Not that he had expected less. Nothing about Maureen was easy. Ever. Maybe it was that very thing that had attracted him to her in the first place. She was a challenge, a tiny little flame that sparked without warning, going from match stick to forest fire on a breath of a whim.
Nolan was right. He couldn't just walk away, despite his attempts to try. She was his Desert Rose. There was no denying that. The single bright spot in his wretched, mess of a life. So if she were done with him for good, then he'd have to hear it from her lips alone. Face to face, and soul to soul, before he could think of ever moving on.
From outside the door, he could hear her shuffling around of furniture, and despite the drama of the moment, smiled. Was she actually moving stuff in front of the door? Like she'd keep him out if he wanted in? This Maureen he could handle,the angry, furious tempest. It was the weeping, frail, little broken doll he dreaded. She expected a fight, and he was happy to oblige.
He rapped on the door. "Maureen? It's me...Ted. Open the door, please."
"No I will not. Go away! I don't want to see you."
"We need to talk. Now."
"I have nothing to say to you. Just go away, and leave me alone. I don't know why Kevin invited you in. He knows how I feel."
"Kevin didn't invite me. I invited myself. Besides, this is between you and I. Kevin has nothing to do with it. Now open this door. I don't want to stand here shouting at you from behind a locked door."
"There's nothing more to say. We're done... you and I. So...so...just go on back to where ever you're living, and leave me the hell alone. If you need to send me... paperwork, then send it through Patrick."
"I'm living in our apartment, as a matter of fact. Where you should also be. Not hiding out like a spoiled child here at the rectory. Now, open this door, so we can talk like civil, mature adults." He could hear the self-righteous indignation from behind the door at being called a spoiled child, the huff that exploded from her lips, and grinned.
"I'm a spoiled child? Me? This coming from a lying, cheating, crazy bastard like yourself? How dare you...you...you big jerk! Go away! I want nothing to do with you!"
"Look...I may have...left out some key details, but I never lied to you. And I have most certainly have never been unfaithful to you in the entire time we have been together. So I take issue with the lying and cheating description. And if you say you we're through, then fine. It shall be as you wish. But I need to see you...look into your eyes... when you tell me you don't want me in your life. You owe me that much. Open the door, Maureen." It was quiet for a few minutes, and he thought maybe he had given her pause to believe him, but the sound of something heavy hitting the wall shattered the illusion.
"Go away. Just go away and leave me alone. I'm not opening the door."
From the sound of her voice, he could place her position across the room.
"Then you leave me no choice."
Before she could react to the meaning of those words, the door exploded from the wooden frame, the chair in front of it flying across the room with the force. Beckett stepped through the wreckage, and blocked her exit. She retreated the furthest corner, and pulled the drapes across herself like a useless piece of armor. "Stay away from me! Don't come any closer! I mean it!"
He raised his hands up in mock surrender. "I won't lay a hand on you without your permission. All I want is an answer. Do you, or do you not, want to stay together?"
She covered her face with the drape, and he could hear the chocking noises as she fought back sobs. "I don't. I don't want you. Go away."
He marched across the room and tugged the drape away. "Not good enough. I want you to look at me when you say that. As your husband, I deserve that much."
She turned her head and looked away, forcing him to use her chin to move it back, and when she didn't fight his touch, he ran his thumb across her lower lip. "Do you want me out of your life for good? Say yes, and I'll never bother you again. You have my word."
The silence blotted out all other noise from the window behind them. The shadow arms of the tree outside had wrapped completely across the room, and the late day sun changed the rose colored paint on the walls to a shimmering gold. Beckett stood waiting for her answer, and when it come, it was almost a whisper, causing him to lean in to hear it.
"No. Don't go."
|Face to face and heart to heart|
Downstairs, Fr. Kevin tried hard not to listen in, but it was practically impossible not to hear what was being shouted through the closed door. He said a silent prayer asking the itercession of every patron saint he knew that things might go well for the two of them, and when the door crashed from the frame, his heart almost stopped. But there was no shout of alarm from his sister, so he stayed put down stairs, and let the Almighty guide the way of things.
It was quiet after the door incident, and when the two emerged, it was with Maureen in her husband arms, he carrying her like a fragile parcel down the stairs, and out the front door. They said nothing at all to him except instructions that he should have the door fixed, and send the bill to them. He watched them continue down the street to their apartment over the deli, much to the amusement of the neighbors who clapped and waved in moral support.
Fr. Kevin O'Kenney whispered up a grateful prayer of thanksgiving, then went inside, and poured himself a much deserved pint of Guinness in celebration.
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2014
All Rights Reserved