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.
|Waiting for Roxanne in the confessional|
Before Kevin could explain his confusion, the man began to weep, his face pressed against the bars, and his left hand curled around the priest's tattered lapel. "I was so close, Father. Just a few more weeks, and I would have had the process finalized. I told the fool that! But he was so damn impatient...so greedy! I should have never gone to him with this. You were right from the start." Seeing the startled face in front of him, Webster released his hold on the man, and stepped back. "I apologize, Father Murphy...for my lack of decorum. Though, surely you can understand my angst over this whole situation?"
Fr. Kevin could only nod in return. His head felt like a large wooden puzzle, with several pieces missing, and scattered. His host offered no explanation to any of what Webster was saying, but the vocation in them both required a sense of compassion toward the man, and the need to assure him of hope. "Your feelings are quite understandable, Mr. Webster. But you must keep the faith. The truth will eventually come out. And until then...you must be strong...for the sake of your family."
The mention of the man's family seemed to settle him. He removed a dingy handkerchief from the pocket of his coat, and rubbed at his tear stained eyes. "Aye, Father. You are, of course, always the voice of reason. For that, I am grateful." He cleaned the lenses of his glasses, and perched the round spectacles back on the bridge of his nose. "Have you seen them, my friend? How do they fare? Is Harriet well? She's never handled excitement of this type well. And the girls? My darling daughters? They must be besides themselves about the rumors circling their father. What this will do their station I can't begin to guess."
At the mention of his children, Webster once again began to weep. With his slight frame and stooped posture, his eyes water-logged, and his face puffy, he did not much look the portrait of a cold-blooded killer. It was almost impossible to imagine him murdering the much larger Dr. Parkman, then disposing of the body in some gruesome manner. Yet, everything he knew from experience warned him not to be so quick to judge. He thought of the grand-motherly figure of Tessa Peppers, who, back in his own time, had murdered two innocent people, and then shot him in his own church. Then, there was the crazy Cassie McCreedy. Beautiful, petite and personable, she was in reality, out of her mind crazy, blowing up houses, and threatening his poor sister. At the thought of Maureen, Kevin felt his own eyes tear up. Where was she right now? Was she okay? Would he ever see her...or any of his family...again?
It was in that moment, in the midst of his longing and despair, that the voice of his host decided to make himself present, admonishing Kevin to get his emotions in order, lest he look like the blubbering fool in front of him. Having no other guide, he had little choice but to comply. He blinked away the gathering tears, and cleared his throat. "I haven't called upon your family as of yet, Mr. Webster. But I intend to do so very soon. And when I do, I will assure them of your concern, as well of your innocence. But you must remain faithful, Mr. Webster. God will see to His righteousness. Be assured of that."
Webster looked at him oddly, but said nothing in response to his testament of faith. Instead, he moved closer to the bars, and whispered, "My faith rests in those papers, Father. My family's future depends on them. Keep them safe. And should something happen to me...see to it that Harriet and my girls benefit from my research. You, of all people, know its true value."
The honesty in Fr. Kevin battered him with guilt, and he felt a great desire to unburden himself of the truth. That he didn't have a single clue as to what the man was talking about, and he was not in possession of any research papers. But the voice in his head admonished him against sharing this news with the chemistry professor, something that would surely send him into a full breakdown. Instead, he decided to come at the information in a round about way, a technique using flattery that had always worked on Moe when they were growing up. "I must admit to finding your hiding place quite ingenious, Dr. Webster. Not a spot an unschooled mind would come upon by chance."
Hearing the compliment, the man perked up, and coming closer to the bars, whispered, "Why, thank you, Father. I must say I thought myself unusually clever to have discovered it. Despite its location near my rooms, very few people would venture to spend much time exploring the privy, given the outbreak of cholera we've suffered. I made sure the loose stone was in a remote corner, closest to the pit." Looking pleased with himself, he added, "I do hope you took necessary precautions in your retrieval, Father. Cholera is quite a nasty bugger."
At the mention of "privy" and "cholera", Kevin blanched, and he could feel his, or rather Fr. Murphy's stomach, roll in a series of waves. But he was at least a bit closer to finding the mysterious papers without Webster being any wiser of his personal ignorance. Returning to his own time and space was somehow tied to the troubles here in 1849, and if it required him to slop through shit...well, it wouldn't be the first time. With this knowledge in mind, he was anxious to be on his way. The smells and sounds of the jail made his head ache, and his focus was now on sharing this information with Roxanne. He pulled the infamous pocket watch from his vest, its shiny gold face looking out of place in the grunge of the jail, and checked the time. It was nearly 2 in the afternoon, and from the information posted on the wooden board outside his church, he was scheduled to hear confessions at 3:00 PM. Roxanne had promised to meet up with him there, hopefully to share whatever information she been able to gleam in her comings and goings around town. He prepared to make his goodbyes brief and innocuous.
"I'm afraid I must be getting on, Dr. Webster. Confessions, you know. At 3:00 PM. It being Saturday, and all." As a thought, he added, "While I'm here, Sir, would you like me to hear yours?"
The little man looked affronted, and straightened his posture. "I have nothing at all troubling my soul, Father, so you needn't waste your time. But I would endeavor to ask for your blessing before you leave."
In gratitude to be finally gone from the wretched place, Fr. Kevin raised his hand to give the man his blessing, startled by the fact he gave it in Latin instead of English, a testament once again to whose body he was currently inhabiting. Without much fanfare, he took leave of the Hayden Street Station, finding himself back out on the cold and crowded streets of Boston, and in a hurry to return to the peace and quiet of St. Mary's.
Apparently, the confessional was one place where time didn't matter at all. He'd been hearing confessions for over an hour, and had come to the conclusion that sin and vice in1849 was not much different than it was in his own time. He listened and prayed, offered advice, and gave absolution in Latin, honestly vested in his role as priest. But each time the door opened and closed, he hoped that when he moved the sliding panel on the screened partition, Roxie would greet him. Yet, time and time again, the voice belonged to the another of the faithful penitents of his parish, until eventually the line diminished, and he sat in solitude for several minutes.
He pulled the watch from under his alb and stole, and checked the time. 4:45 PM. He had been in the church for almost two hours, and if she were able to come, would most likely have already arrived. With a knot of anxiety in his stomach, he got up and stretched, preparing to head back to the rectory without the opportunity to speak to her. At that moment, he heard the door open and close, and the sound of someone banging their knee on the panel separating them.
"God damn it! That hurts like a sonofabitch! Why is it so dark in here? Kevin...are you there?"
Her swearing in the heavy accent caught him off guard, and he almost chuckled, but then thought better of it. He doubted she'd be amused, all things considered. "It's me, Rox. I'm here. I'm glad you made it. I had almost given up for today."
He could hear her fumbling around, and guessed she was rubbing her banged knee cap, and the encompassing joy he felt at her appearance made him uncomfortable and guilty. He brushed the thought away, sweeping it directly from his mind, to the relief of both he and his host.
"I almost didn't get here. I told my mother...damn...that's sound weird...my mother...she's not my mother at all...anyway...I told her I was going to confession, and she looked at me like I was out of my freakn' mind. But I kept insisting that I needed to confess, so she finally relented, and let me go. But not by myself. She sent my "brother" along with me. I'm getting the impression that this chick whose body I'm borrowing is... well...less than virtuous. Imagine that. Who could have planned the irony? Anyway, we don't have long. Did you find anything out at the jail that could help send us back?"
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus
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