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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Indignation and Indigestion

         

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

The dinner party from hell

       Earlier this morning, accepting the dinner invitation had seemed like a good idea.  This war between he and his brother-in-law had gone on long enough, and trying to avoid the man was taking more energy than he was happy using. For Father Kevin, it was about the little things.  He missed stopping by the deli for coffee and a muffin, missed the weekly Gin Rummy marathons, and missed having someone to run with in the morning.  Without Beckett to hold him to his commitment, he hadn't been out for nearly two weeks, and all the work on his time he had gained, was probably now a thing of the past.

           Patching things up was the right thing to do, no doubt about it.  But that decision had been made at 9:00 AM this morning, when his sister had caught him in a reflective mood after Mass.  Since then, the air conditioning in the church had stopped working, the sink in the rectory kitchen was leaking a river, two of his best catechists had announced they were not returning for fall classes, and the Bishop had called, yet again, about meeting with him for his yearly Pastor evaluation.  Now at 5:30, the last thing he wanted to do was sit across the table from Beckett's smug, smirking face and concede any fault in the whole fiasco.  He was tired, cranky and in need of some kick back time on the sofa.

            Kevin considered calling and canceling, explaining that some parish issues had come up.  He technically wouldn't be lying, as he was still short two religious ed teachers, and hadn't yet gotten back to the Bishop.  It was Maureen's face this morning, still vivid in his head, that forced him on his way.  She'd been so cheerful and optimistic, so upbeat despite all the unhappiness of the past weeks, that disappointing her seemed mean-spirited, and so he found himself strolling down the block toward the  peace pipe dinner that was sure to be a challenge.

          Beckett's patrol car was already parked in front of the building, which he found strangely irritating.  He had wanted a few minutes of time alone with Maureen before he had to start shadow boxing with her husband, but it was obvious the guy had made it home early.  Now he'd be forced into a confrontation the moment he walked through the door.  Looking for any excuse to avoid the unavoidable, he ducked inside the deli on the pretense of saying hello to the Schillers, who would surely keep him busy for a few extra minutes.

___________________________________

           "So you see, Sheriff...it's not like I'm totally green.  I do have had a little experience."

            "I understand that, Roxanne.  Really I do.  But there's a whole set of protocol regarding hiring for county jobs, and the Deputy position is a county job.  And please...here at home, call me Ted."

              Call him Ted?  Was he kidding her?  Being in the same room with the man made her hinky, especially a small space like this.  There was just something about the guy.  The vibes he gave off.  It was a combination of charm and intimidation, all in one package.  A very fine looking package at that. She prided herself on the ability to get a good handle on people, to see behind the false fronts they presented to the world.  It was what was going to make her a damn successful P.I. someday.  But in the case of Maureen's new husband, it was like it was he eyeing her up, trying to read her, rather than the other way around.  When he spoke to you, he stared so intently, you thought he was trying to look as if he possessed xray vision, the idea that he could see right through the bone and flesh, and into what really made you tick.  It was more than a bit unnerving, and she wondered if he used that look on Maureen in their more intimate moments.  She'd have to work up the nerve to ask her.

        That thought made her lips turn up in a smile, and when she looked across the table, she realized that the Sheriff was watching her.  Seeing her smile, he gave her a wink and smiled back, as if he knew exactly what she was thinking, and which got her to all kinds of blushing.  She wished that Kevin would finally show up, so the focus would be on general conversation and the meal, and not on what was going on in her head.

         Maureen must have thought the same thing, as she paced back and forth across the kitchen area, peering out the side window.   "I can't imagine what's keeping Kevin.  He's usually early.  I'm ready to put dinner on the table...like right now."

          "Hmmm...maybe he's out saving the world?  Feeding the hungry with one multiplying Happy Meal."

          "Geez, Ted...you promised you'd try and be polite.  This fighting between the two of you has to stop already.  I'm tired of you both putting me in the middle."

            From her side of the table, Roxanne worked at keeping her face blank.  Mo had clued her in on the whole awful story before her husband had arrived home.  If nothing else, she was glad to hear that the crazy bitch was in custody, and no longer a threat.  She had been dying to ask her friend what had gone down in the empty warehouse, but Maureen seemed less than inclined to offer details, and so she had dropped that line of questioning.  Maybe Kevin would be more forthcoming.

            As if on her mental cue, the door in the hallway opened, followed by footsteps on the stairs.  Maureen met her brother at the top of the last one, hands on hip.

            "Kev...you're way late.  I told you 5:30, and it's quarter after six.  I was getting nervous you weren't going to come."

             The priest opened his mouth to answer her, but caught sight of the additional guest at the table. "Roxanne?  What are you doing here?"   The skin around his collar turned bright pink, and the expression on his face changed from congenial sheepishness to shock.

             Beckett leaned back in his chair, and folded his hands behind his head, his grin reminiscent of a tiger before he pounces on his weaker prey.  "Hello Fr. Kevin.  I'm so glad you could join us for dinner tonight.  It's high time we bury the hatchet...don't you think?"

_____________________________________

          If the Pope had been sitting at his sister's kitchen table, he couldn't have been more shocked than he was at that moment.  Roxanne?  Here in Dollyville?   A hundred thoughts hit the synapses of his brain all at once.  The time in Boston.  The gold watch, now carefully hidden in the rectory attic.  The raging cholera, and the words he had spoken to her just before they'd traveled back.  The last conversation they had.  The one where they had decided it would be best if they kept their distance.  At least until they both could come to terms with what had happened.

           Now here she was.  Across the table from his grinning brother-in-law, who was watching the two of them as if they were lab rats put through a maze.  He wondered if Beckett knew everything.  Had set this whole thing up as a way to get back at him.   Even as he thought it, he knew it was a ridiculous notion.  There was no way in hell the man had any clue about the whole time travel thing.  His brother-in-law had sensed something was wrong when he had met the drunken host occupying his body here in 2014, but not in a million years could he have figured the truth behind the whole situation.  Time travel.  Switching bodies.  It was the stuff of sci-fi novels and epic movies, not real life.  A man like Beckett would never believe in the unbelievable.  No.  He didn't know the truth.  But he sure as hell was enjoying the discomfort and shock he'd just witnessed.  Somedays, he really disliked his sister's husband.

          Maureen grabbed him by the arm, and led him to the table, a seat between she and Roxanne.
"We can talk more over dinner, as my roast is way past being ready.  Kevin...would you lead us in grace?"

           He mumbled his way through the prayer, pausing and adding extra lines, glad everyone's head was bowed.  He needed a few seconds to compose himself.  To put his head in order.   When the "Amen" was over, Beckett was out of the gate first, firing the initial shot.

            "So Fr. Kevin..."  He stressed the word "Father", drawing it out for effect.  "Have you heard the good news?"   He laughed, and added, "And by good news...I mean the normal people kind...not the Holy Scriptures... of which, of course, you are an expert."

             He refused to be bated, but attempted his own small zinger.  "Why no...Theodore.  I haven't heard the good news.  I would be most appreciative if you could enlighten me...though I do admit we surely have two different definitions of 'good'."

           If he was hoping for some kind of reaction from the Sheriff, who absolutely hated to be called by his entire first name, he was disappointed.  The man gave no indication that he was in the least bit moved.  In fact, his grin seemed to grow by the second, and Kevin began to sweat.  Across the table, his sister narrowed her eyes at the two of them, but said nothing.  It was obvious she was not willing to cross her husband at his own dinner table, a throw back to the traditions of the O'Kenney household and their own father.

             Beckett nodded toward Roxie.  "Do you want to tell him, Roxanne, or shall I?"

             Roxie looked for a second like a deer in the headlights, not wishing to be drawn into taking sides between her old friend, and the man who she hoped would soon be her boss.  She tried not to look at either the Sheriff or the priest, and instead worked frantically at buttering the roll on her plate.  "Uhmmm...it's fine.  You can tell him, Sher...I mean Ted."

             Whatever the news was, it was obvious to Fr. Kevin that he wasn't going to like it.  And if the smile on his brother-in-law's face was any clue, it appeared he wasn't going to like it a lot.  "I would really like for someone to tell me."

              "As you wish, Fr. O'Kenney."  Beckett poured himself another glass of wine, then lifting the glass, he motioned for everyone else to do the same.  "I'd like to propose a toast...to Roxanne Spinelli...the newest member of the Dollyville Sheriff's office.  Congratulations, my dear."


Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2014
All Rights Reserved



           


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Achilles Heel

           

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


Maureen returns to work in the deli

              After their exit through the rectory's front door, no one heard much from the reunited Mr. and Mrs. Beckett for nearly a week.

               Well...that wasn't actually the whole truth.  Downstairs in the deli, the Schillers, and a few wise customers, were treated to a symphony of rhythmic bumping and banging above their heads on a regular basis.  When it happened, Gertie Schiller would look over at her husband and gave him the thumbs up sign.  Oscar would stop what he was doing, glance at the ceiling, and give his wife a wink.  On a few occasions, Ted would show up downstairs, sent to retrieve a sampling of fresh groceries.  Though he lacked any inclination toward conversation, it was generally agreed that he looked exceptionally well, and seemed in remarkably good spirits, and more than a few sighs followed his departure back upstairs to his wife.

          Noticeably absent from the store was Fr. Kevin, who chose to do his shopping a mile away at the brand new Super Saver.  It wasn't clear who decided not to speak to whom, but the distance between the priest and his sister's husband grew to uncomfortable proportions, and placed Maureen in the awkward role of mediator, a job she didn't relish.

         The weeks of summer slipped by in the easy way of sunny skies, and cool breeze evenings.  The day Maureen returned to work was celebrated with free coffee and apple struedel,  though most of the neighborhood just stopped by the deli to show their affection for the Sheriff's pretty wife.  Beckett was cleared for active duty, the investigation into the shooting clarifying that he acted in self defense, the actual details not part of the official file, thanks to the Powers That Be.  Because most of her crimes were class one felonies, the Feds took custody of Cassandra Donaghue as soon as her condition became stable enough to move her.  Those who witnessed her transfer to a federal prison hospital spoke of threats made against the entire town of Dollyville, but they were all written off as the rantings of a crazy woman who would spend the rest of her days behind bars.

__________________________

           Things were good.   Better.  She had managed to wake up two days this week without the accident being the first thing on her mind, Ted's solid form splayed across the bed a constant reminder that they were moving forward.  The first few days had been a blur of nonstop lust, a physical hunger that superceded all the pain, the hurt and the guilt.  But eventually reality set in, and the words fought to be spoken.  And speak they did, despite the monumental job of dragging each and every word from her husband's lips.  He explained about Cassie as best he could, as best as she would let him.  In truth, she didn't want to know about their past, about this crazy intimate bond built on things she didn't want to say out loud.  He had shared his feelings with her in the only way he could, a few words at a time, but mostly through his body, as if she could find the answers there.  And there were a few times he had almost come close to saying the words.

           Maureen shook off the reverie, and turned her attention to the inventory on the shelves.  It was no use obsessing over that one thing.  Her husband cared for her deeply.  Wanted to share his life with her.  Of that she was sure.  The words?  They would come when he was ready.

           She finished with the numbers on the Italian imports, and began to rearrange the jars and bottles into an attractive display.  This range of products had been a popular addition to the store's stock, luring customers away from the higher priced food boutiques in the center of town.  She wondered if the Schillers would be open to a larger selection of gourmet cheeses, and eyed the corner of the store housing a few large pickle barrels.  The bell on the front door tinkled, and she turned around to welcome the new customer, a familiar face, but one that shocked her none the less.         

          "Roxie?"

         Roxanne Spinelli stood in the doorway, her long dark hair drawn up into a pony tail at the back of her head.  There was an air of hesitancy about her, as if she wasn't sure how her arrival would be met.
"Hi, Maureen.  It's good to see you."

        If Roxie was unsure about her welcome, Maureen was not.  She flung herself at the woman and hugged her, squealing with glee.  "It's so good to see you, too.  You can't believe how worried I was!  You left so suddenly, and then I couldn't get a hold of you.  How are you?"

        Relief swept over her, and Roxie hugged her friend back.   "I'm fine.  Really I am.  It's a...a long story.  But that can wait.  How are you?  I'm so sorry to hear about the... accident.  About the baby.  I would have come sooner, but I just found out last week.  Ran into your brother Brendan at Cuppa Joe's.   He told me about everything that's been going on.   Oh Mo...I'm so sorry."

         The emotion of the moment took over, and the women were silent as they clung to each other.  Then Maureen pulled her friend over to a small cafe table.  "Sit here, and let me make you a cup of tea. Jasmine, right?"

          Roxanne nodded, and settled herself in the chair.  "How are you feeling?  It's great that you're back at work already."

        Maureen spoke as she poured the hot water into the cups.  "I needed to get back to a routine.  Ted was adamant that I just relax.  Take it easy.  But I told him getting back to the deli would be the best medicine.  Keeps my mind busy and all."  She placed the cups on the table, along with a few slices of home made pound cake, and took the seat across from Roxie.

      The women fell into a routine that belongs to long time friends, sharing as if they had never been apart.   "Speaking of your husband...how is he?  Brendan had mentioned that the two of you had a rough patch, but that you were back together now.  Things good?"

       A blush crept up around the red head's ears, reminding Roxie of Kevin when he was embarrassed. She squelched the thought immediately.

       "Ted and I are...making it work.  I need him in my life.  I tried not needing him, but it...wasn't good.  I was miserable.  So, we are trying to move forward.  So far, so good."

       "I'm happy for you, Mo.  Can't say I blame you for not wanting to give him up.  He's...well...quite yummy...for lack of a better word."

      The blush appeared again, but she giggled.  "Yeah...he is that."   She reached for a piece a pound cake, happy to be engaged in simple girl talk.  "So...your turn.  What's going on in your life?  What brings you to Dollyville?  When you left town so abruptly, I was worried something awful happened."

        Roxanne tried not to look off in the distance, a true tell that she was about to lie to her good friend.  She couldn't very well tell Maureen the truth...that she and Kevin had time traveled to the past...inhabited someone else's body...and that her counter part had wrecked havoc on her personal and professional life.  She and Kevin had promised to keep the whole crazy event between the two of them, unwilling to open the door to the ridicule and finger pointing that was sure to follow.  Now she was forced to deceive one of her dearest friends.  "Things got complicated back in Boston.  A friend needed me to help her with an abusive boy friend.  It...sorta spiraled out of control.  I'm sorry that I had to leave town so quickly.  And that I had to take some of your clothes.  For my friend.  I can pay you back for them."

         Maureen's face crumpled in worry.  "Oh gosh no...I don't care about the clothes.  What an awful thing.  Is your friend okay?  Does she still need help?  Maybe I can ask Ted to look into it for you.  He seems to know how to handle these things.  Please, how can I help?"

         Her friend's concern making her even more guilty, Roxie tried to keep her voice from raising to a higher pitch.  "Thanks...but it's all settled now.  She's safe.  He's out of the picture.  But unfortunately, all this trouble had an impact on my job at Big Al's.  They let me go, and I've been picking up odd waitress jobs here and there.  That's how I ran into your brother, Brendan.  Working at Cuppa Joe's.  I had to make sure I could cover this last semester of school.  Finish, and get my degree in Criminal Justice.  And I did.  I'm officially a college graduate."

        "Rox, that's great!  Congratulations!  We need to celebrate your good news."

        "Thanks Momo, but what I really need...the reason I'm here...is a job.  I'm never gonna make any headway with the Boston PD.  The waiting list just to test into the program is a two year wait.  I don't want to end up in another waitress position back home.  And I don't want to go back to...to the dancing.    I'm done with that part of my life.  I want to start my career in law enforcement.  And I can't do that in Boston."  She hesitated a moment, laying it all open.  "I was hoping...well...that maybe I could work here in Dollyville.   For your husband, in the Sheriff's office.  I know it's a lot to ask, but I don't know anyone else.  Plus, I really enjoyed my visit here.  This is a wonderful little town.  I have you guys here, and nothing really keeping me in Boston.  I haven't spoken to my brothers in years."

         "Stay here in Dollyville?  Rox, that's a great idea!  We'll have so much fun together.  Like old times!  And of course Ted will help you!  I'll give him a call right now."  She leaned over and gave her friend a hug.  "Oh Roxie, this is the best news ever.  Kevin will be so surprised to see you."

__________________________

           He'd walk to the ends of the Earth and back for that woman.  If he wasn't sure of it before, it was now solidly etched into every fiber of his being.  For once, he was graceful for the opportunities his wealth could offer him.  His Desert Rose would want for nothing.  Ever.

           Her willingness to take him back, to accept him as he was, shook him to his core.  The last few weeks had made even he, an unbeliever of things connected to the heart, optimistic that he could have the normalcy of a marriage, something he had always thought an impossibility.  So when she asked for a favor, a small favor in her eyes, it was difficult to say no.

           "Baby, it's just not that simple.  There are guide lines to the hiring of deputies.  Protocol to follow.  I can't just hire Roxanne because she needs a job.  It's simply not done that way."

            "But Ted, she's one of my oldest friends.  We've known each other since we were kids.  She's almost like family."

           "The fact remain, I couldn't even randomly decide to hire your brother, Brendan.  And he's a trained cop with experience.  Roxanne's fresh out of school.   She's had no law enforcement experience at all."

           "That's not true, Ted.  She's helped a lot of people solve their problems back in Boston.  She was like a real private investigator.  And you've met her yourself.  You know she's really smart.  You said so yourself."

            "Damn, sweetheart...you're putting me in a tight spot.  I don't want to be the bad guy."

            "Just talk to her, okay, love?  See what you can do.  You'll think of something.  You always do."

            Her blind faith in him always made him think unclearly.  He sighed, unable to tell her no.  "Okay, tell her to come talk to me.  Later this afternoon...around 3:00 PM.  But I'm not promising anything, you understand?"

            "I understand.  But you'll find away to help Roxie out.  I trust you.  Plus, just think of all the big favors I'll owe you, my love?"

              He smiled, and shifted the phone to the other ear.  "You, my dear, do not play fair.  Just know that I will collect on each and everyone of those favors.  You can count on it."

              "So then I suppose it's a win, win and win situation...you, me and Roxie too."  She laughed, that high pitched sing-song sound that ran up and down his body.   "Oh, by the way, hon...I invited Kevin to dinner tonight.  And since Roxie's here in town, I thought I'd invite her too.   I hope you don't mind?"

               "As a matter of fact, I do mind.  You know perfectly well how I feel about your self-righteous, sanctimonious ass of a brother.  Besides, I was hoping to collect on those favors."

              "Please, Ted.  Can't you and Kevin forgive and forget?  You and I managed to move forward from that whole awful mess.  Why can't you and Kevin make amends?  You were good friends at one point.  I want for you and Kev to be that way again."

              "Your brother put his nose in my business for that last time, baby.  I don't need a 6' 4" conscience following me around dictating my decisions.  He can save it for the sheep of his flock."

               "He's my brother.  My favorite brother.  And he was only doing what he believes is right.  The two of you at odds really hurts me, Ted.  Can't you try to be pleasant?  You don't have to be best friends.  Just stop with the snarling, snarky comments every time he's in the room.  Please?  For me?"  She stopped long enough to take a quick breath, and dived right back into the conversation.  "Besides, Roxie's going to be there tonight, and I don't want her to see the two of you bickering like school yard bullies.  Kevin's always tense when Roxanne's around anyway.  We don't need to make the atmosphere worse, do we?"

                The idea popped into his head before all the words were out of her mouth.  Roxanne Spinelli was O'Kenney's Achilles heel, of that he was sure.  Despite wearing his Roman collar as a blazing badge of celibacy, it was obvious that the man had it bad for the tall brunette.  He'd seen those puppy dog eyes following the woman around as if she were a juicy bone just out of his reach.  And then there was Roxie's sudden departure from town while he and Maureen had been on their honeymoon.  Kevin had been less than forth coming about the details, and had been acting very strangely upon their return.

               Finding employment in the Sheriff's office for an ex-stripper would be difficult, but the thought of his brother-in-law's constant discomfort over the situation was definitely a plus.  It would serve as pay back for his constant meddling.  With the brunette in town, Kevin would surely have his attention somewhere else, and out of he and Maureen's business.

               He leaned back in his chair, trying to keep the grin out of his voice.  "As you wish, love.  I will be my most gracious self this evening.  By the way, does your brother know Roxanne is back in town?  That she intends to stay permanently?"

                "No, I don't think so.  She just arrived about an hour ago, and is still here with me.  I sent her upstairs to our flat to freshen up a bit.  Why?"

                 "Hmmmm...no reason in particular.  Though, I don't think you should tell Kevin she's here ahead of time.  You don't want him to back out, do you?  Just tell him it's a quiet family dinner so we can talk, he and I.  He'll be pleasantly surprised to see Roxie there."

                 "You're probably right. I'll just let him find out when he gets here.  No use having him get all worked up about it in advance.  Thanks for being such a sweetie, Ted.  This will mean so much to Roxanne."

                   "Your wish is my command, baby.  I'll see you later this evening.  I'm suddenly looking forward to company tonight."


Copyright 2014 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved



                 

                

       

   

     



       

           

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Face to Face and Heart to Heart

     

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

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

Attention Readers...

       If you're confused as to why Beckett calls Maureen his Desert Rose, you can find the explanation at a back chapter:   http://miniimayhem.blogspot.com/2013/02/desert-rose.html.  It's an oldie but goodie, and relates events early in their "official" relationship.  Every chapter in this story can be easily accessed in the archives located on the right side of the web page going back to June of 2012.

     As always, thanks for your continued support of my humble literary endeavors!
         

     



 
       

     

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tough Times and Damning Decisions

     

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 face plants his bed
       There should have been a scandal.  No doubt about it.  It was the kind of tale that folks in small hamlets and big cities love to savor over their morning coffee.  Sordid love triangle, respected law man and dead child, all rolled into a feast of speculation and head shaking. It should have kept the locals busy for at least three or four days, if not the entire week.  But oddly enough, the shooting at the deserted warehouse was a small blurb of a story tucked away on page 12 of the DV Review, a brief summary of general facts and little else.  It did not make the five o'clock news in either Dollyville or Boston, and if people were discussing it over their dinner tables, they were polite enough not to mention it to Fr. O'Kenney.

         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


Copyright 2014 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved