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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Brothers in Battle

   

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.


Thank You,

The Author


     
Fr. Kevin takes the elevator to Maureen's private hospital suite

      The next hour took all of Fr. Kevin's attention, so there was little time for him to dwell on the information that had physically sickened him.  The doctor, satisfied that Maureen was stable, ordered her moved to a private room in the newly remodeled section of the hospital.  He watched in macabre fascination while the nurses disconnected her from one set of blinking and beeping machines, to another that moved along side the bed she lay on.  Then, with what appeared to be an entire baseball team of medical staff, his sister was wheeled through several hallways, and into an over sized elevator.  He himself was given his own private entourage, and whisked away to use the public ones in the main lobby.

      The two young people by his side attempted to chat amiably with him, assuring him that his sister was receiving the best care the hospital could provide.  Fr. Kevin pretended to hear the words, and nodded politely, though if any one would have asked him to repeat what they said, he'd be at a loss.  When the doors opened, he found himself in the tower of the building's newest addition, part medical facility, part five star hotel.  He followed his escort down the polished hall to his sister's private room, where the team of pros were busy settling her in.  The term "room", however, didn't begin to justify the space that was spread before him.

        The area was five times larger than any hospital room he had ever seen, with a large picture window overlooking the evening skyline of Dollyville.  There was the usual bank of medical equipment behind the extra large bed, but that's where all similarity stopped.  The walls were painted a soft gray, instead of the usual hospital white or beige, which complimented the dusty rose upholstery on the furniture scattered about the room.  A generous sofa sat across from the bed, with several over stuffed arm chairs placed in positions throughout the room.  A large armoire graced a side wall, now opened, to reveal what appeared to be a small fridge and wet bar, along side a tiny microwave oven.  Not one, but two flat screen TVs, hung on opposite sides of the room, allowing one to see the screen from any position in the room.  A corner desk was equipped with the most up to date MacBook, along side two Ipad Air tablets, waiting to be utilized by patient or visitor.

       It took him a few seconds to realize he was standing there with his mouth open, and he turned to the young woman to his left.  "This is a hospital room?

       The lady smiled, obviously proud to have "wow-ed" her charge. "Yes, Father.  This is one of the hospital's newest private suites.  The nicest one in my opinion.  Sheriff Beckett was adamant that his wife have the best room we offer."  She tugged on his arm, pulling him over to open another door that showcased a bathroom rivaling anything at Boston's Fairmont Copley Plaza.  "Our premium suites come with private, around the clock nursing care, as well as 24 hour room service for the comfort of our patients and their guests."

         He couldn't begin to guess what something like this might cost, and then remembered who, and what, his brother-in-law actually was.  It was easy to forget.  To everyone around him, Ted Beckett seemed your Average Joe.  His appearance, attitude and life style gave no indication of his wealth, and  he seemed to pay little attention to the trappings that money offered.  Sure, there was his Lamborghini.  And his house, before it was blown up, was quite a showcase.  But for the most part, Beckett lived quite simply, frugal in fact, and when his access to big money came to light, it always gave him a bit of a shock.  However, in this case, because it was his sister who benefited, Fr. Kevin was grateful for the comfort and top care that money provided.

        "While we're settling Mrs. Beckett in, can we bring you something, Father O'Kenney.  Anything?  Some coffee or tea?  A bite to eat perhaps?"

       The thought of putting food on his stomach made him queasy, the manila envelope meant for Beckett still gripped in his hand.  But the woman seemed so disappointed in his lack of interest, he felt obligated to give her a purpose, and thus ordered some coffee and a light meal.  She seemed renewed at this request, and left his side to attend to his wishes.  He watched while the staff finished their work on Maureen, and adequately assured that both she and her guest knew where the call buttons were located, finally left the the two of them alone in the suite.

         Fr. Kevin lowered himself into a chair by the bed, wiggling and fidgeting in the plushness of the room, so in contrast to the seriousness of the situation.  Maureen had returned to the same posture, her back to him, hunched in what could only be described as a fetal position.  The silence was awkward, filling the room with a hanging cloud of despair.  Feeling a need, Kevin attempted to furnish the space with conversation.  "Wow...this is quite the room, huh Momo?"  He used her childhood name, hoping to reach her with any connection he could.  There appeared to be a light shrug of her shoulders, but she didn't respond.  ""I bet this is nicer than any five star back in Boston.  I didn't even know hospitals had rooms like this."  The words hung in the air, unanswered, and he gave up, unwilling to make silly chit chat when neither of them had the right words to say.

           There was a knock at the door, and a young man in white shirt and tie placed a tray on a table near the bed.  "Your refreshments, Father."  He lifted the cover to reveal a carafe of coffee, and a selection of plates offering small sandwiches, fruit salad, an array of cheese and crackers, as well as a variety of pastries.  He tried not to stare, the whole experience seemingly so over the top for a hospital room where sadness obviously reigned.  But like the female escort, the man seemed to expect some kind of acknowledgement.  He wondered if he was supposed to tip the server, and put his hand into his pocket.   Realizing his intention, the aide waved him off.  "Oh, no tip is expected, Father.  I just hope everything meets your satisfaction."


             Kevin could only nod, the absurdity of the whole thing leaving him unable to formulate any type of response.  With a tilt of his head, the young man exited the room, leaving the two of them once again alone in thick discomfort.  After awhile, he could hear the rhythmic sound of his sister's breathing, and knew she had fallen asleep.  The stress of the day catching up with him, he felt his eye lids close in weary resolution.  The dreams that followed were strange and vivid.  Images of Beckett dressed like a superhero, cape and all, with a large eclair pastry in his hand.  His sister riding a motorcycle, helmet on, speeding up and down the street in front of Holy Family, a baby in the side car.  He awoke with a start, sweaty and heart racing, by jumble of loud voices breaking the stillness in the hall.
                   
Patrick comes to Maureen's bedside
             He sat upright in the chair, turning in time to catch a glimpse of his brother, Patrick, in the doorway.  Patrick started to open his mouth to speak, took a look at the suite in front of him, and was caught off guard over the opulence in front of him.  He let out a slow whistle, and murmured under his breath.  "Gotta give the guy credit.  This is quite top notch."

            From the bed, Maureen must have recognized his voice.  She flipped over, and pulled herself to a sitting position, her lip trembling, and her eyes scrunched up.

            Patrick moved closer to the bed and grasped her hand, his face a shade or two paler than normal, and the lines around his eyes deeper than the last time Kevin had seen him at Maureen's wedding. "Ah...Red.  I'm so sorry, short stuff."

          The flood gates opened, and she threw herself at him, the sobs coming in long, gasping breaths.  Patrick sat on the edge of the bed and held her, rocking her in his arms, while making soothing sounds, and rubbing her back.  This went on for several moments, leaving Fr. Kevin feeling like an obvious outsider and third wheel in the room.  He was glad that Mo could finally grieve in the way she needed, but it was hard to tap down the bite of jealousy that crept up along his spine.  He loved his brother.  Honest he did.  But he and Maureen had always had a special bond, closer to each other than to any of the other siblings.  He had been her best bud and confidante from the time she could string two words together.  Hell, when she left Boston in her shame and heart break, it was he she came running to, and he who helped put her life back together.  Now, in this major life crisis, she had turned to Patrick.  Patrick.  Their age old nemesis, the butt of million jokes, and the father figure Maureen professed to resent in a million ways.

          He felt both angry and ashamed, near tears himself.  Excusing himself to no one in particular, he slipped out the room, neither Maureen or Patrick giving any him any notice at all.  The nurses looked up from the desk situated outside the door, but he waved them off, and headed down the hallway, not sure where he was going, but finding himself in front of the elevator he had first arrived on.  He banged on the button, looking for escape, and when the doors finally opened, he found himself face to face with the last person he wanted to see.

        Beckett framed the doors, and stepped back, startled to see Kevin standing in front of his face.
For a second, they stared at one another, the priest noticing the bloody, bruised knuckles on the Sheriff's hands, and Beckett observing the envelope her brother had clutched in a tight death grip.  Neither spoke, each sizing up the other, unspoken words hanging in the air like buzzing mosquitoes.

        It was Fr. Kevin who broke first, knowing full well he should swallow the bitter words that would accomplish nothing good.  "About time you got here.  How good of you to finally show up at your injured wife's bedside."  Someone who didn't know the man as well as the priest might not have noticed the tiny flinch.  The quick tilt of the head.  But Kevin did.  Took note of the man's angst at his words, and despite all teachings to the contrary, took a small sliver of satisfaction at the man's shame.

          Then it was Beckett's turn to fire back.  He nodded toward the large, tan envelope.  "Is that my report your holding?"  When the priest acquiesced, he continued.  "Looks like the seal's broken.  You read the contents?"   Fr. Kevin nodded again, and the Sheriff spat out the words.  "Glad to know your integrity doesn't reach much past that collar you wear like some God damn badge of honor."

          "Don't you dare pull that sanctimonious garbage with me, Beckett.  This is your fault.  All of it!  You're the reason my sister is lying broken in that  Hollywood hospital room, and all the money in the world is going to make her whole again."  He saw the man blanch, whiter than the gray he was when the elevator doors first open, and the bloody fists reached up and grabbed the front of his shirt.

           Through clenched jaw and gritted teeth, the Sheriff spoke, much louder than he probably intended.  "You're pushing me too far, O'Kenney.  Priest or not...brother or not, I will wipe these floors with every inch of you if you don't stop now."

           Before Kevin could respond, a nurse appeared at their side, stern and horrified in her own right.  "Gentlemen!  This is a hospital!  We treat ill people here. Sick people with real problems.  If you must carry on in such a childish, inappropriate manner, I'd ask that you do it in private.  There is a small conference room at the end of the hall.  Please take your...", she paused for effect, "discussion...there."  She turned on her heel, her rubber soles shushing across the polished hardwood floors, leaving the two men standing mortified in her wake.
                           
Fr. Kevin and Beckett square off

Copyright 2014 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved

         


   

     

         

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Truth Hurts

   

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.


Thank You,

The Author


 
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
All Rights Reserved

   



           

       

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Crazed, Confused and Contradicted.

   

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.


Thank You,

The Author

                                       
Beckett and Maureen face their grief
     He worked at pulling himself together, tucking each little fractured piece into the appropriate spot.  He'd done harder things.  Awful, horrible things he had not once ever given a second thought to.   Hell, there'd been people with whom he had shared a handshake, a meal...even a bed... before taking their life without blinking.  Patted their back, shook their hand, then calmly put a bullet into the soft gray matter of their head, all in the name of patriotism and nation security.  He did what needed to be done. So why was the thought of facing this woman filling him with absolute dread?

      Beckett followed the nurse to the recovery room, hearing the words spilling from her mouth, but not registering a single one of them.  It was as if his brain were stuck in a loop, the deputy's words repeating themselves over and over in his head.  The break line cut.  The accelerator stuck.  Head on collision. No chance at all.  He could picture it all like a movie running behind his eyes.  The terror on her face while she pumped the useless brake.  The sickening crunch of the impact, her body flopping around like a child's doll.  Her life slipping away.  And the baby.  His baby.  His son.  Gone before he knew him.

     The nurse stopped and looked up at him, waiting for a response to a question he hadn't even heard.

     He focused on her face, and struggled to put a sentence together.  "I'm sorry.  Can you repeat that?"

     "Your wife's going to be in recovery for the next several hours, Sheriff.  Can we bring you something?  Coffee?  Water?  A sandwich, perhaps?"

      "No, thank you.  I'm fine.  Really."

       She stopped at the doorway of the room and nodded, a picture of sympathetic efficiency.  "Let's us know if you need anything."

        He watched as she turned and headed toward the nurse's station, glad that no further communication was necessary.  Hand on the door frame, he paused a second, and peered inside.  The curtain was partially pulled around her bed, and he could only see one small white hand atop the tangle of hospital bedding.  A woman in scrubs was checking the monitors, and when she looked up and saw him in the doorway, motioned to come in with a wave of her hand.

        There seemed little chance of escape, so he forced himself to take one step, and then another, until he stood at the foot of the curtained space, still unwilling to view what lie behind.  Ever helpful, the nurse patted the chair next to the bed, but he shook his head, preferring to remain in an upright position, his spine a steel rod holding it all together.  She went about her business for a minute or two longer, and when he still hadn't moved a single step, gave the curtain a gentle tug.

         For a second, he stood there in shock, trying to recognize her in the swollen face and bandaged head, a roadway of tubes running from parts all over.  If it weren't for the spray of red curls on the pillow, he might have imagined that the figure in the bed was someone else.  Not Maureen.  Not his wife.  But the hair was a visual slap to his face, the slash of color amongst the stark sheets like a fisted punch to his gut.  Her eyes were closed, her body deathly still, and if it hadn't been for the blips and blips of the machines verifying her existence, he'd wonder if she had not slipped away too.

          Beckett felt awkward, too large for the room, with the air around him sucking the oxygen from his lungs.  Knowing not else what to do, he slid into the chair next to the bed, and grasped a few fingers of her right hand.  Her eye lids fluttered at his touch, and she worked at opening her eyes, pushing past the twilight the drugs were keeping her in.  Her eyes met his, opened wider, than quickly squeezed shut.  He watched a tear slid from the corner, and role down her cheek, followed by another, and another.  He knew he should say something.  Anything.  But he could think of nothing, even if the nurse had not been standing in the room with them.
 
            It was she who broke the silence.  Uttered the words and made them reality.  Each syllable a boulder to push through her split lip, her voice not much above a whisper.  "The baby.  Gone.  Dead.  My fault.  I'm sorry."  The eyes closed tights again, and this time the tears came in earnest, causing her heart rate to elevate, and the monitors behind her to voice their displeasure.

            In the course of his life time, he had been shot on several occasions.  Been stabbed in at least twenty different places.  Beaten to the point of unconsciousness.  But none of them came close to being as painful as this moment.  It was his fault.  For letting himself feel anything at all.  For being in her life in the first place.  She deserved more than he could ever begin to give her.  A picket fence life.  A normal life.  Not the sick bastard he was, incapable of the normal range of human emotions.  He tried for sympathetic.  For compassion.  Anything to cover the blinding rage and absolute need for revenge.

           "Shhh...darln'...I know...I know."  He held her hand to his mouth, and kissed the fingertips.  "It wasn't your fault, sweetheart.  It was an accident."

           She took back her hand so violently, it startled him, and the nurse looked at him in warning when the machines again signaled her distress.  "It is so my fault.   You told me.  Warned me not drive the Mustang."  Her nose had begun to run, and she attempted to wipe it through the tangle of wires and tubes.  "I...I wanted to surprise you.  With a special dinner.  So I thought I'd just take it for a quick run.  I...I don't know what went wrong.  I couldn't stop.  I tried.  I tried."  The sobs came in soft little huffs, and the room was quiet except for the rhythm of the machines, mixed with her weeping, a kind of bizarre soundtrack to their grief.

          At some point, the nurse had left them alone in the room, and he knew it was his turn to say what needed to be said.  Share the truth.  Explain the whole Cassie story, and come clean about his role in all of this.  And he would have.  If he had been a normal person, capable of feeling what other people felt.  Of having any shred of decency.  But he had been out of that mind set for far too long to reel himself back in again, and so in the moment, he resorted to being what he was.  "It's okay, baby.  I know you didn't mean for this to happen.  I forgive you."

___________________________________

         From where she was, she could see the entrance to the emergency room.  It was risky, but she couldn't began to explain why she needed to be here.  It had all happened so fast, giving her little time to absorb the unfolding drama.  After working on the car, she had returned to the mail truck, things going exactly as planned.  The surveillance app on her phone showed him across town, still at his desk, buried in paperwork.  So when the Mustang pulled around the corner, she was more than shocked, and knew instantly that things had turned to shit.

         Never in a million years had she figured the silly bitch would drive the car before he did.  Teddy never let anyone drive his car.  Ever.  That was why her plan was so damn ingenious.  It was Teddy who was at fault.  Had dismissed her like some kind of whore, and tossed her aside.  And it should have been Teddy who paid the price, lest anyone think she was not fair and rational.  The red head was inconsequential.  It was hard to blame her for getting swept up in his charms.  Admittedly, she herself had fallen to the man's canny ability to read her soul, so how could she have expected that naive little fluff to do anything less.

          She had intended this whole thing for Teddy, revenge of sorts, and now her plans were ruined.  She wondered what had become of the wife.  Driving past the accident scene, it had looked very bad, the front of the two cars mangled into a twisted embrace.  The driver of the Cadillac Escalade had walked away with minor injuries, but they had taken the red head away in an ambulance.  She'd considered wandering into the emergency room and gathering information, but quickly filed that away as a dumb idea.  A few minutes later, she had seen him drive up in his patrol car, flinging the car at the curb, and rushing inside.  At the sight of him, her heart seemed to jump up in her throat, and for an instant, she was glad that he was safe.

            While she sat in the car, she contemplated the situation, mulling over the possibilities.  Maybe Fate had interceded on her behalf.  Saved Teddy, and sacrificed the red head instead, so that the two of them could maybe start over.  Karma had a way of working things out in a crazy manner.  She wondered if the woman was dead.  She and the baby that Teddy had married her for.  It would certainly change the direction of her actions.  She'd help him with any grief that might linger, and then they could go back to the way it was before.  Before that whole Marzano thing.  Before Lizzie's murder.  Before the the red head had stolen Teddy's affection.

             Yes.  Maybe things had worked out just the way they were meant to.  Maybe she still had one  shot at being happy.

______________________________

      She was glad when he left the room for a bit.   It was more than she could take, seeing his sad, stoic face hovering near her bed.  It wasn't like she deserved any of his compassion.  His sympathy.  She would have liked to think it was his love for her that kept him near her side, but she wasn't that naive.  Sure, he cared for her.  No doubt was physically attracted to her.  He might even be terribly fond of her.  But love?  No.  Not love.  And it wasn't as if he had said the words, and didn't mean them.  He had simply never said them.  Not before their wedding, not during, or anytime after.

       In the ten months since she had first met him, he had done his very best to romance her. To sweep her off her feet, showering her with gifts, and whispering sweet endearments in her ear.  He had taken the news of her surprise pregnancy with grace and maturity, and had done the responsible thing by marrying her.  During all of that time, she waited to hear those three words come from his mouth.  For him to state that he felt the same way about her, that she felt about him.  And when they didn't come, she convinced herself that his actions spoke louder than his words, and in time, he would be comfortable enough to say them.

         But that plan was over now.  In one stupid, bad decision over lobsters, her life had changed forever.  The baby he had committed to was no longer there.  Dead...like any chance for them to ever be happy together.  He had insisted on a pre-nup, probably knowing better than she that they didn't belong together.  He had known even then.  The difference in their ages...their backgrounds...their views on so many important things... insurmountable without the tie that was binding them.

          She thought about her baby.  The little boy who had no name.  The one she never saw.  Then, alone in her hospital bed, buried her face in the pillow, and let the pain seep out.


Copyright 2014  Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved

     

           

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Trouble Never Knocks

               

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.


Thank You,

The Author

       

       When, years later, he would look back at the events of this day, Fr. Kevin O'Kenney would say that in those hours, he learned several valuable lessons on the peculiar angles of life.  Lessons that would change forever the advice he'd give to troubled souls seeking his advice.  But in the harsh reality of the moment, under the blanket of organized chaos that was the common place of hospital emergency rooms, everything moved in painful and dazed slow motion.

          Mrs. Sherman became his instant life line, locking up the church and rectory, driving him to the hospital, and organizing a prayer circle on behalf of his sister.  She had offered to contact his siblings for him, but Kevin felt news of this nature needed to be delivered by a family member, and he declined.  He did, however, appreciate the promise of a prayer circle, as the best he could muster in the way of spiritual communication was a few "Please, Lord...not her".

         He was informed upon arrival that his sister was in surgery, and that a doctor would be out to discuss her status with him as soon as possible.  Demands for more information were met with general comments of the same nature.  Everything that could be done, was being done, and Mrs. Beckett was in good medical hands.  So, he paced the waiting room, ignoring the sign that suggested people use their cell phones outside, and began the wrenching task of calling the rest of the O'Kenney clan.

       An ear to his cell, he heard his brother-in-law's arrival before he saw him.  The wailing of sirens, and the screeching of tires outside the ER door preceded Ted's appearance by mere seconds.  He marched through the sliding doors in the same manner he entered any room, an air of complete control and command swirling like some invisible force around him, though the priest noticed that the hard lines of his face looked even tighter than usual, his jaw clenched like a vise, and his complexion the color of gray chalk.

         Beckett first headed toward the reception desk, fully intent on interrogating the duty nurse, but upon seeing Kevin, abruptly turned in mid-sentence, and veered toward the waiting room. Before he could begin to explain, the man dived into a full set of questions, not waiting for a reply to any.

         "Where's my wife?  How is she?  Have you spoken to anyone about her condition?  What did they tell you?  Who do I need to talk to?"

         The priest put a hand on the man's arm, both as a greeting of sorts, as well as a way to halt the barrage of inquiries, but the man tensed with such force, that Kevin was forced to remove the offending contact with more than a small degree of mortified embarrassment.

          "I haven't really spoken to anyone."  He pointed to the woman at the desk, who was watching the drama unfold from the corner of her eye.  "The nurse at the desk said that Maureen was in surgery, and that a doctor would be out to talk to us when it was possible.  All I know is that she was in some kind of car accident.  The hows and whys of it all?  I'm just not sure.  Where in God's name would my sister even get a car?  Was she driving?  Or was she a pedestrian?  Those are questions I have myself."

         There was a small downward twist to the Sheriff's lips, the only change in his stone like demeanor.  "Apparently, she was driving my Mustang.  One of my new deputies was the first on the scene.  He didn't recognize my car, or Maureen's name, until he ran the plates.  He called me seconds after I hung up on you."

          "Your Mustang?  But isn't that a manual shift?  Maureen can't drive stick!  She can barely drive a regular car decently!"

          There was no response from the man, who looked over Kevin's head, at the doctor drawing toward them.  The surgeon, still in blue scrubs, sized up both men, and then put a hand out to Beckett.

        "Sheriff Beckett?  I'm Dr. Adleman.  I'm the surgeon on call this evening."

        "How is she?  How's my wife?"

        "She's still in surgery, but holding her own.  We were able to stop the majority of the internal bleeding. The impact focused mostly on the thoracic region, so she's not out of the woods yet.  The next 36 hours will be crucial.  But she's young, and in good cardiac health.  I'm hoping to give you a more positive prognosis later this evening."

          Fr. Kevin let out the breath he was holding, the escaping air sounding like a deflated tire. "Thanks be to God."  Seconds later, he'd wish that he had kept that statement to himself, because Beckett would never, ever understand his faith, but in the relief of the moment, it slipped past his lips without thought.

         Ted shifted his weight, and his shoulders dropped an inch or two, the only physical reaction to the physician's news.  "And the baby, Doctor?  My wife was nearly six months pregnant."

          The man looked down at his feet for just a second, a dead give away to the bad news he was about to deliver.  "I'm sorry, Sheriff.  We did everything we could.  Even with the air bag, the blow to the abdominal region was quite severe.  She went into labor shortly after she arrived here.  The baby was just too premature to survive."  And in the best misguided fashion he knew, the doctor added the following statement, meant to offer comfort where none could ever be found.  "Your wife is a young woman, Sheriff.  Once she heals up from all this, she should easily be able to conceive again. There was no damage to the ovaries or uterus.  A stroke of good fortune in all of this."

              Fr. Kevin felt as if all the oxygen in the room had been sucked out, leaving both his brain and his tongue unable to function.  He forced himself to look at his sister's husband, not knowing what he might see in response to the doctor's pronouncement.  Beckett's face was deathly still, not a muscle moving except for his eye lids, which blinked several times in rapid succession.  Both men stared at each other, their eyes locked to the outside world, and in that instant, the priest was sure he saw the man dissolve into a million tiny pieces, shattering like a piece of crystal under the weight of a heavy blow.  But in the same turn, the mask was back up, solidly in place, the jaw clenched, the eyes seemingly focusing on nothing.

              Sheriff Beckett pumped the surgeon's hand.  "Thank you for saving my wife's life, Doctor.  When can I see her?"

               The doctor, relieved to avoid an emotional scene, returned the handshake.  "I'll let you know when she's in recovery.  I expect her to be groggy for several hours, but you can at least sit with her."

              "Does she know?  About the baby?"

              Grim faced, the doctor nodded.  "She was conscious when they brought her in, and stayed that way until we prepped her for surgery.  She is aware that the fetus did not survive, and even asked if she could see it before we took it away.  But, we needed to get her into surgery as quickly as possible, so we had to postpone that opportunity."  A quick glance at his feet again, and the man added, "Again, Sheriff, I'm sorry we couldn't do more.  It was...just not possible."

             There was another round of posturing handshakes, and the doctor turned around to leave, moving down the hall before Beckett called out to him.  The surgeon, obviously anxious to be on his way, moved back a few steps closer before the Sheriff posed his question.  "The baby...was it...a boy or a girl?"

            The man thought a moment, then replied, "The fetus was male, I believe.  I can arrange for a viewing if you wish."

              "That won't be necessary, Doctor.  Thank you though, for the offer."

             "Well, let us know if you change your mind."  And then the man was off, practically jogging to avoid being called back for further questioning, and leaving Fr. Kevin alone with his new brother-in-law.

               He raised his hand again to offer physical comfort, then quickly changed his mind, the memory of his early rebuff stinging in the back of his head.  "I'm so sorry, Ted.  About the baby.  If you want to talk, I'm here."

               Beckett looked at him oddly.  "Talk?  No, O'Kenney.  I don't want to talk about it.  It is what it is."

                The stone mask was back in place, but Kevin would not be deterred, the mind's eye vision of the man disintergrating like glass still fresh and raw in his head.  Beckett, despite outward appearances, must be grieving the loss of his child, coupled with anxiety over the condition of his wife.  It was only human to do so.  "Look Ted, it's okay to be sad.  Angry even.  No one expects you to be stalwart in a situation like this.  Especially not Maureen."

              His expression never changing, Becket held up a hand.  "I asked nicely, Kevin.  I don't want to talk.  Not to you.  Not to your family.  If you want to stay, keep me company, support your sister... that's fine.  But we're not having any discussion.  If you value our friendship at all, you'll just sit there and keep quiet."

              Fr. Kevin opened his mouth, but closed it without another word.  The set of Ted's chin, and fists clenched into tight, angry balls, spoke louder than any verbiage.  He was surely on the verge of exploding, and when he did, the priest would be there.  For both Maureen, and her husband.  Instead, he changed the whole venue of the conversation.

            "Well, if you don't mind then, I'm going to call the rest of my family.  Let them know what's happened.  I have to notify Patrick.  I called him on the way here, and promised to update him when I knew more.  He's planning on taking the 8:00 PM train out of Boston.  Should be here by 10:30ish." He thought for a moment, and then hesitated, searching for the right words.  "You know...they'll want to come here.  The family, I mean.  Be here for Maureen.  And for you too.   It's just the way we do things."  He was pretty sure his sister would want some type of service for the child, but this was not the time to bring it up.

                Another wave of the hand.  "Fine.  Whatever.  Book them into the same hotel they stayed at for the wedding.  Charge it to me.  I don't care.  Just don't expect me talk to them."

           He would have liked to discuss the logistics further, to try and explain to Ted how having family around in a crisis was helpful, but they were interrupted by the appearance of one of the Sheriff's deputies.  He whispered in Beckett's ear, and the two of them moved to another corner of the room, out of hearing range.   From his position on the bench, he could see the conversation unfold, animated as it was, and when the man walked back to his seat, his facial expression hadn't changed a bit, but his eyes were filled with fury that was almost frightening in their intensity.

             Beckett flopped down in the chair without a word, and turned his face away.  He pulled out his cell, and begin slamming out a text message, but to whom, Kevin could not see.  He tried to bite his tongue, hoping not to make a bad situation worse, but the whole new level of emotion that followed Ted back to the chair was unnerving.

               "What's wrong?  I can tell you got more bad news.  What is it?"

               "It doesn't concern you, O'Kenney.  I'll handle it.  You focus your attention on your sister, and leave me the hell alone."

              The nasty tone and rude dismissal, charged with the high anxiety of the situation, mixed in his head like a sour cocktail.   Despite every effort to remain the compassionate servant of Christ, Kevin wanted to fire back at the man, let him know just what an unfeeling, selfish bastard he truly was.  And he would have too...told him right to his face... if the surgical nurse hadn't at that very second decided to make an appearance.

             "Mr. Beckett?"

             Both men jumped up, though it was clearly the Sheriff the woman was speaking to.

             "I'm he."

              "Sir, your wife is in recovery.  She's awake...and asking for you."


Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2014
All Rights Reserved



             

         

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Thing Called Fate

                                 
Cassie makes good on a promise
     The way the two-story building sat on the lot, the shed was tucked in the farthest corner, hidden by a tangle of raspberry bushes, and a line of overgrown hedges.  Out of sight, it was shielded from random street traffic, and difficult to see from any of the deli's rear windows.  She shoved the mail sack under  a bush closest to the door, willing herself to remember it on the way out.  The late afternoon sun made the place hotter than a pizza oven, and a bead of sweat trickled from beneath the elastic of the wig.  Running a hand over her forehead, she wiped it away, then swore softly at the streak of dark make-up staining her palm.

     Even with the door shut, she could make out every detail of the Mustang, light filtering in from the round peep hole window near the peaked roof.  She fought the desire to slide into the passenger seat one last time.  To smell the scent of the leather seats mixed with his cologne, and reminisce about things gained and lost.  Cassie shook her head in disgust.  These things were best done without the weight of emotional nonsense.  It wasn't like she hadn't tried to make it work.  Hadn't tried to fix things.  The man was simply a heartless beast, deserving of what ever came his way.  Conscience on hold, she maneuvered her small body between the overhead door and the front of the car, and then slid silently underneath the carriage.

__________________________________
                     
Maureen finds the keys to Ted's Mustang in the vanity drawer
       It had taken much longer to find the keys than anticipated, and now she would really have to rush to get there and back before Ted arrived home.  She recalculated the time in her head.  It was 4:30, and he was due around 6.  If traffic wasn't too heavy, she would just about make it with time to spare to get the water boiling, and the salad made.  She shoved the keys to the Mustang into her pocket, and made her way down the stairs, careful to avoid letting the Schillers hear her depart.  She was pretty sure Greta Schiller was Ted's private little spy, commissioned to call him if his wife even sneezed funny.

      But the elderly couple was far too busy with the last minute dinner crowd, and she was able to slip sight unseen out the back door.  The humming air conditioning blocked out any noise from the outside, and they never heard the overhead door open or close. Within minutes, the little shed was empty, and Maureen was on her way

_____________________________________
                                       
The Faerie Queen watches in frustration, unable to prevent impending doom.
     The Faerie Queen's wings vibrated in frustration, and her tiny jaw hurt from the grinding of her teeth.  The silly girl was heading into trouble.  The hows and whys she did not know.  The bad omen had descended on the place, rising like a silent fog that had refused to heed her command.  She had no power over Fate.  Things were as things would be.  She had tried her best to change the course, moving the desired keys from place to place.  But Fate would not be denied, and the best Maeve could do was follow and observe.

________________________

      She had forced herself to walk at a leisurely pace back to the truck, drawing no attention, the mail bag bouncing on her hip.  There was no activity from the utility truck, and Cassie breathed a sigh of relief as she slid into the seat.  She threw the near empty mailbag on the floor beside and her, and took a minute to let her pulse settle to a normal beat.  It would have been so very rewarding to stick around and watch the results of her work, but common sense prevailed.  She needed to be long gone by the time Teddy took that Mustang for its last drive.
______________________________
               
Fr. Kevin receives bad news in the church basement, while Mrs. Sherman looks on.
        The call came about 5:00 PM.  Fr. Kevin would always remember that exact moment, because of the booming chimes on that ridiculous clock.  The last of the kids had left the church basement, and he and Mrs. Sherman were in the process of rounding up the last of the pizza and empty soda cans.  They had been congratulating themselves on the ongoing growth of the parish youth group, and discussing a possible service project when he caught the final notes of "Happy" blaring from his cell.

       He dug the phone from his pocket, still balancing three slices of pepperoni pizza in the other hand.
"Yes...this is Fr. O'Kenney.  Yes.  She's my sister."  He listened to the voice on the other end, his face losing all color, the paper plate sliding from his hand and dropping to the floor with a wet smack. "Is she all right?"  Mrs. Sherman stopped what she was doing, and looked in alarm at her Pastor's expression, but he offered no explanation.  "Yes...I understand.  I'm on my way.  Do you know if her husband has been notified?"  The voice on the other end explained, but it was as if he could only hear every third word over the pounding of his heart in his throat.  "No...that's understandable.  They've only been married a few weeks."  Kevin nodded along with the voice, and when he hung up, found himself unable to move for a full 60 seconds.

           Mrs. Sherman pelted him with a million questions, but all he could do was wave her off.  Part of his head was praying like mad, going through a litany of every saint he could possibly call on, while the other part was making a mental list of who needed to be called, the first of which would prove to be the most difficult.

          He went through his contact list, and found the number to his private cell.  He surely didn't want to call him on the station phone.  Not with news of this sort.  It rang only once before it was answered, his brother-in-law's deep voice on the other end.  "Ted?  It's Kevin.  There's been an accident.  It's Maureen."


Copyright 2014 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved