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.
|Beckett face plants his bed|
It was more than curious in an age of instant news and digital frenzy, and it left him shaking his head. It seemed that the citizens of the small town were very fond of Sheriff Beckett, a handsome, charming man who had graced the community with a brand new library, top notch little league field, two tot lots and a much desired dog park, and in their gratitude, were willing to overlook any indiscretions that might have accidentally attached themselves to him. The woman in question, one Cassandra Donaghue aka Cassie McCreedy, was an outsider, a Jezebel who had embezzled a small fortune of money from many of them during her tenure in the community, and unworthy of the tiniest shred of sympathy.
Though puzzled, Fr. Kevin was thankful for the absence of gossip surrounding the whole tragic mess. Maureen was already in a bad way, and the side looks and whispering that followed these things would surely make matters worse, even if she had made an effort to move about the land of the living. Since her "discussion" with both and he and Beckett about the truth of the matter, his sister had stopped communicating with just about everyone. The only person she would converse with in monotone single answers was Patrick, and if he was making progress getting through to her, he wasn't sharing any info with the rest of the family. Mo had granted him a few words regarding her wishes for a memorial service for the baby, but anything beyond that topic was met with stony silence.
In the seven years since his ordination, Kevin had become the family "go to guy" for all spiritual needs. He had said countless Masses for them, heard their confessions, married a few, gave First Communion to a gaggle of nieces and nephews, and had buried several of his aging aunts and uncles. Up until now, he had been grateful for the opportunity to share his vocation with those he held dearest, fulfilled at the notion that he was sharing in their relationship with God. However, the funeral service for his sister's dead child was something else entirely, and the singularly hardest thing he had ever done as a priest.
Despite suggestions that she wait a few weeks, Maureen insisted the funeral service be held immediately in the hospital's small chapel. The O'Kenney's who could, made the two hour trip in from Boston, and the tiny space was filled to overflowing. She had been adamant that her estranged husband not be notified, but Patrick, in the manner he did best, convinced her otherwise. Beckett had been relieved of duty pending an investigation into the whole warehouse debacle, and it was odd to see him arrive out of uniform, and in a somber charcoal suit, minus the habitual shoulder holster. He sat on the left side of the chapel, accepting quiet professions of sympathy and handshakes, and avoiding any questions or inquiries regarding the events at the warehouse.
Maureen arrived by wheelchair, wearing a simple black dress that made her pale skin gleam ghost white. Her appearance there set his sister-in-laws to a symphony of weeping, while Mo sat stone face, her hands wound tightly together in her lap, eyes straight ahead. Noticing her husband on the left side, she asked to be moved to the far right, the aisle between them acting as an invisible canyon too wide and dangerous to cross. From his position at the altar, he had a bird's eye view of his family gathered before him, an insider's perspective on their expressions and body language. With a heart heavy, he began the opening prayers, pouring every ounce of faith he had into begging for the Father's healing grace.
He tried to stay focused, but it was difficult to do while reading the looks of grief and loss in their faces. The baby's casket, a tiny white parcel not much bigger than a bread box, acted like a beacon, drawing all the sadness in the room. More than a few times during the service, he would catch Beckett staring at Maureen, the pain in his expression almost a physical presence. In the same vein, he would see his sister sneak a look across the pews at her husband, her anger an invisible thread that joined the space between them. He moved through the funeral rites as if on auto-pilot, saying the words, but disconnecting himself from them. Priest, brother and friend, he tried to shake the feeling of confusion he felt over the whole business, but the irony of the situation was hard to bear. While he and his family dealt with their loss, the cause of it all rested three floors above their heads, recuperating from her injuries.
They should have stopped when the first bottle was empty, but they were still able to stand, so another was begun. Beckett poured the bourbon into the glasses, missing the edge of Nolan's rim, and sloshing more than a shot over the cuff of Nolan's shirt.
"No use wasting good whiskey, my friend." He raised his arm to his lips, and sucked the liquid from the cloth.
Beckett raised his glass, leaning against the sink to keep steady. "Here's to major fuck-ups. May we live to see another."
Nolan lifted the juice glass to his lips, slurring the word, "Slainte", before tossing the bourbon down his throat.
They both were silent for a few moments, each lost in a moment of drunkenness and retrospect. They had danced around the conversation for more than a better part of an hour. But now, deeming them both smashed enough to cover the topic, Nolan opened the door. "So compadre...what made you stop?"
Beckett stared at him, not answering, and for a moment, Nolan thought he might have crossed the line. He and Beck went far back. They'd been recruited into the Rangers at the same time, placed in the same unit. They had seen the very best and worst during those years, and when Beckett had decided to continue his career with the Powers That Be, Mike felt drawn to join him. He trusted the man with his life, but when it came to answering questions about what was going on inside his head, Ted always slammed the door tight. Maybe it was the moment. Maybe it was the excess booze. Either way, Nolan was surprised that Beck didn't knock him flat on his ass, and change the subject.
"Stop? Funny you should ask that question. Been trying to figure that same thing out myself."
He refilled his glass, working at keeping his hand steady while pouring, and then slid into the kitchen chair next to Nolan. "Would have saved me a whole lot of trouble. She'd be dead. No one the wiser."
He played with the glass, watching the amber colored liquid swirl along the edges. "I wanted to. Wanted to snuff out that evil bitch. Wipe her from my life... once and for all." He forced his eyes up, and looked directly at Nolan. "I went there with every intention of taking her out. That's why I went alone. But when the time came, I couldn't do it. Couldn't kill an unarmed civilian. A woman. No matter how much I wanted to."
Nolan raised his eye brows, and then reached for the bottle, keeping the words shoved to the back of his throat.
"Don't look at me like that, Mike. What I do...what we do... on assignment... is entirely a different thing. That's national security. This...this would've been murder. I may be a lot of things...terrible things...but I'm not a murderer."
"Hey...you don't have to explain yourself to me, Captain. But know this ain't gonna look good for you anyhow."
"I'm aware of that. And prepared to deal with the consequences."
"Have you heard from the Company?"
He shook his head, and grimaced. "Yeah. Needless to say, they're a mite perturbed over the whole matter."
"I'm not surprised. It had to be hard to explain why you took out both knee caps, when the first shot should have surely taken her down."
Beckett shrugged, and finished the glass. "I did what I did. And it's sure gonna act as a constant reminder to leave me the hell alone, though I can't imagine she'll be out of prison very soon. And that's only if Marzano's people don't get ahold of her first. Maybe I'll get lucky, and someone will finish the job for me."
The two men sat in silence for a handful of minutes, until Nolan broached the other subject. "So what about your wife?"
"What about her?"
"What's gonna happen now? Between you and the lovely Maureen?"
The question seemed more difficult to answer, and required yet another refill of the glass.
"'Supposing she'll go her way, and I'll go mine. I expect she'll want to leave town. Go back to her family in Boston. No reason to stay here in Dollyville. I made sure she was well taken care of in the pre-nup, and her brother, Pat, will make sure she invests it wisely. Guy seems pretty smart. He'll make sure she does what needs to be done."
"That really what you want, Beck? For her to leave? You don't wanna take a shot at making this work? It looked to me as if you actually cared for this woman."
"She's better without me. We're from two different planes of the universe...she and I. It was fun while it lasted...pretending it could work. But the reality is that life was simpler...better even...before the two us got tangled up. She and I marrying...that was an accident that's now been rectified. Fate steppn' in and all that. I need my life back. The way it was. Before the crazy bitch. And before Maureen."
"I hope you don't take this personally, Captain, but you are one stupid fuck. That little red head's been the best thing that's ever happened to you. I can't remember a time when you've been happier. You got a shot at grabbing some normalcy. A real life. And you're just giving up. Walking away. I know it's none of my business, but as your partner...your friend...you better think about this real hard. Before you make the biggest mistake of your life."
"You're right. It isn't any of your business. My life. My decision." He rose from chair, and stumbled across the flat, flopping across the unmade bed. "You can stay. Go. Whatever you want. But any conversation about my personal life is finished."
He said nothing more, and a few minutes later, Nolan could hear him snoring across the room. He considered waking him up, pounding some reason into him, but decided against it. Nothing more would be gained from discussion with a drunk man, by a drunk man. Unsteady on his feet, he rose from the chair, and headed down the stairs.
The days that followed the funeral were a blur. Fr. Kevin would be hard pressed to remember exactly how it all went down, only that, in the end, he was stuck holding the bag. The doctors deemed Maureen well enough to be released, and though she had plenty of offers from her sister-in-laws to come stay with them in Boston, she was firmly set on remaining in Dollyville, at least for the time being. Beckett had offered to move out of the flat over the deli, and into a hotel, so that she could have sole occupancy, but the thought of returning to the apartment they shared together was more than she could bear. So when she decided that she would move instead to the rectory, there was no way Kevin could say no.
Patrick had left him with explicit instructions to work at counseling her to return to her husband, but in his mind, he wasn't sure it was the best solution. He and Maureen were just finding a way to make things right between the two of them, and any talk about her husband would surely make him a traitor in her eyes. What she needed was time. Time to get beyond her grief. Time to put things right in her head. And that was what he fully intended to give her, even if it meant returning to the awful attic bedroom, and the too short bed.
He gave her the space she wanted and needed, though he was concerned over her lack of interest in anything. He heard her pacing the floor at night, heard her sobbing into her pillow, but was at a loss as to how to make it right. He offered his shoulder, and each time, she refused it, bent on handling her personal issues on her own.
So things went for days, and then weeks, until one Saturday afternoon there was heavy knocking at the rectory's front door. He peered through the glass, finding his brother-in-law standing on the other side. They had not spoken since that day in the hospital, when he had insisted Beckett tell Maureen the truth. The man looked, for lack of a better word, like shit. He had lost weight, and his face seemed thin and gaunt, harder and sharper than it had been month ago. There appeared several days worth of beard on his face, and his clothes seemed rumpled and slept in. For a second, Fr. Kevin wondered if he might not answer the door. Pretend that no one was at home. But Beckett missed nothing, and he could tell the man had seen him the minute he looked through the window. Not wanting a scene, he opened the door, plastering a calm smile on his face. But before he could offer any type of greeting, invite him in, the man rudely cut him off.
"O'Kenney...I've come for my wife."
|Beckett shows up at the rectory door|
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