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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mirror, Mirror

         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 becomes a hostage

      The man with the bandaged hand eyed the situation, then weighing his options, raised his hands above his head, the blood from his wound running down his arm like branches in a stream. There was the groan and creak of brittle plastic, as the homeless man grunted, and then shifted his view to face the wall, signaling his lack of interference.   Across the room, Kevin could see the woman at the reception window shove down a metal plate, essentially sealing the opening between the staff and its patients.

        The shorter of the two men appeared to realize the turn of events at the same time.  He made a rush for the only door in the waiting area, the one that obviously led to the exam rooms, only to find it solidly locked.  In frustration, he began an all out assault, kicking and pounding at the handle, screaming obscenities at no one in particular.

       "Open this fuckn' door, you hear me?  Let us get what we came for, and no one has to get hurt." Getting no reaction, he moved to the window, and banged on the metal plate with the barrel of the small pistol. "Just slide your Oxi right under this window, and we'll be on our way.  No trouble, ya hear me?"

         A male voice shouted from behind.  "This isn't a pharmacy, Sir.  We don't have any drugs here."

       "You're fuckn' lying, you stupid asshole!  I know you have it.  In a small cabinet at the end of the hall.  I saw it there myself last week.  Don't make me start blowin' off heads to get it."

        It was at that moment the other man, who during this entire tirade had slowly moved himself closer to the exit, made a break for the door.  In seconds, he was gone, leaving the short one to deal on his own, unsure as to what to do next.  For several seconds, he stood staring at the five people scattered around the room, contemplating.  Then he pointed his gun at Kevin.

        "You...Bozo...get your ass over here."

          Before he could reply, Roxanne spoke up.  "He can't. Not on his own.  His foot is broken.  He can't walk."

          "Did I ask you anything, bitch?  You his mommy?"   He thought for a moment, then added, "He can slide over in the chair.   The rest of you...move to the wall over there...by the bum."

        Maureen and Roxie looked at him, hesitant to leave.  Kevin whispered to them both.  "Just do what he says.  I'll be okay.   I promise."

       He waited until the two women and the injured man settled themselves across the room, then using his good leg, steered the chair, scrape by scrape, across the floor to where the gunman was standing.  Each jostle of his broken foot sent a shooting pain from his toes to the top of his head, but all things considered, he figured it was better than a bullet to some vital organ.  The few feet seemed liked the Continental Divide, and as he slid closer inch by inch, he ran through the list of saints, trying to remember which one might be suitable to intercede in a situations concerning crazy men with guns.

____________________________

      Because it was a day that can come to no good, he had just sat down to his desk for lunch when the call came through.  Slices of last night's rare roast beef, nestled between two thick slices of fresh bread from the deli, the last of Maureen's summer tomatoes, and a wedge of the homemade chocolate cake that went uneaten after his little announcement about Roxanne's employment.  It seemed like the only bright spot in a day riddled with annoyance, and as with all things regarding fate, it came as no surprise that he'd be interrupted before he could take a single bite.

      Normally, one of the deputies on duty would be dispatched to the location, and he'd be called only if the events warranted his official presence.  But as was the protocol in hostage situations, the deputy ran the plates on the vehicles in the lot, and when the Schiller's name came up, the Sheriff was contacted because of his known connection to the elderly citizens.  Although he was concerned about the couple, he had no initial reason to worry about his wife.  She had not made any attempt to get behind the wheel of an automobile since the accident, and as far as he could figure, had no reason to be anywhere near a walk in clinic on the seedy side of town.

        When his call to Maureen's cell went to voice mail, he was left to dial the deli's land line, where he was informed by Mrs. Schiller that his wife had taken a few hours off to attend to her injured brother, and added that the lovely new girl and she had asked to borrow their car to take Fr. Kevin to the doctor.
A million thoughts hit his head at the same time, none of them pleasant, and lunch immediately forgotten, he was out the door.

______________________________

      If the whole thing wasn't as serious as it was, Kevin might have thought he was part of some black comedy scene from a Seth MacFarlane movie.  He imagined the crazy, toilet humor dialogue that might spout from his character's lips as he slid across the floor toward the gunman, the chair legs making pig squeal sounds as it raked along the gummy floor.  But this wasn't a movie.  Nothing make-believe about it at all, and the young man in the hoodie was beginning to show signs of serious stress.  Beads of sweat gathered along his lip, and his left leg jiggled incessantly.   The fingers that held the pistol, flexed and strained, and when he finally tired of watching his hostage's slow progress, he yanked the back of the chair and dragged him closer.

       Rapping on the metal plate, he yelled to those on the other side.  "You assholes have 2 minutes to send out those meds, or I'm gonna start putting holes in this guy."  He pounded harder, and added, "I mean it!  I'll do it."

      Across the room, the two women jumped up, and the gunman quickly pointed the gun in their direction.  "Sit down...or you'll be first"   With nothing to be accomplished, they sat down, their eyes wide with fear, but lips set in grim determination.

      Things were spiraling fast.  As each second passed, the young man grew more restless, his hands tugging on the collar of Kevin's shirt.  He worried about the safety of his sister.  Of Roxanne.  And of the two strangers in the room with them.   He said a silent prayer, putting the outcome into God's hands, and then turned and forced the gunman to face at him.  "You know this isn't going to turn out well, don't you?  Look man, we all screw up.  Make bad decisions.  But there's still time to get out of this without hurting anyone."

       "Shut the fuck up, Bozo.  I don't want your damn advice.  I have the gun.  You have nothing but your stupid flapping mouth.  So close it before I blow your head off your shoulders."

        "You don't want to do this.  I know you don't."

       "You don't know anything about me, asshole.  So stop saying you do."

        Fr. Kevin looked up closely at his face, the realization hitting him so hard, his breath caught in his throat.  He knew where he had seen that face before.  The same face that had stared back at him from a grimy mirror in a strange time and place.  The same deep set, haunted eyes.  The familiar arched brows set above them.  It was all together impossible, but the living, breathing facts stared back at him from under the hood of the man's sweat shirt.   The priest shifted in his chair, and tried again.  "You're wrong.  I do know you.  Better than you think.  This isn't what you're meant for."

          The gunman looked at him queerly, confused at the sincerity that laced the hostage's words.
Seeing his hesitancy, Kevin continued his counseling.  "I know you think this is the only way.  But it's not.  You can...can change the course of your destiny."

          All heads whirled toward the door, the sounds of approaching squad cars blaring from the outside.   The two men looked from the exit, to each other. Kevin put his hand on the youth's arm.  "This is your last chance.  Go while you can.   There's probably a window in the rest room.  Best you climb through there."

           The young man looked across the room at the others, then back at Kevin.  He loosened his grip on the collar of the priest's shirts.  Without another word, and without a single shot fired, the punk with a face from a hundred years before disappeared into the men's room.  There was the sound of breaking glass, and then, all was silent.

Copyright Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved




       

   

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Angels of Mercy

         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 uses his injury to distract Roxanne from the humming in the attic

    He filtered his brain for the right words.  For something to say that wouldn't sound like insanity had completely taken over.  But the syllables refused to jump from his mouth, so he did the only thing he could to keep her from heading toward the attic.  He slid both legs off the sofa and attempted to stand on the swollen ankle.  The pain swallowed him up in an instant, and Kevin let out a such a howl of misery, that Roxanne lost any interest in the humming noise above their head.

      "Damn it , Kevin!  I told you I thought something was broken!  Look at it!  It's turning all black and purple.  What in God's name would make you put your full weight on it like that?  Are you crazy?"

        Even if he could have responded, he wasn't sure he wouldn't have agreed.  The beads of sweat on his forehead, and the nausea bubbling up in his stomach were testimony to the level of agony he was in.  He fell back onto the sofa, and Roxanne helped him re-adjust the foot into a better position.  The bump on the back of his head throbbed in unison with the thunderous stabbing in his right leg, and he wondered if he looked as bad as he felt.  By the expression of concern on her face, he guessed his condition was more than obvious, and any excuses for not seeking medical help were probably moot.

         "You can't wait, Kevin.  You need to have a doctor check you out.  You could have a damn concussion, as well as a broken foot.  This is serious shit."   Without waiting for a reply, she pulled a cell phone from her pocket.  "I'm gonna see if I can borrow a car from someone, so I can take you to the ER.  I need your word that you're not gonna try to get off the damn couch while I'm busy on the phone."

          He felt too wretched to argue, and so he just nodded, breathing through his nose, and working at keeping the bile from rising into his throat.  There were no clues as to whom she was talking to, but he could occasionally hear bits and pieces of the conversation, and grimaced at the title of "stubborn ass"  applied to his name.  When she was done with the call, she refreshed the bag of ice on his leg, and insisted he down two Motrin, fussing over him in the the tradition of his younger sister.

           When assured he wouldn't expire on the spot, she informed him of the decisions that had been made without his input.   "Maureen and I both agree you need to have that foot x-rayed immediately, not to mention the fact that you might just have a major concussion.  She's asked to borrow the Schiller's car, and we're both going to take you to the ER."  Before he could express an opinion, she held up her hand.  "Don't argue.  It's already been decided.  I want you to sit here, and not move a damn muscle until I get back.  I'm gonna walk over to the deli and pick up the car and Mo, and then we're going straight to the hospital.  Capisce?"

         He didn't have the strength to argue, and so nodded in agreement.   Satisfied he would comply, she walked out the front door, and in the direction of the deli a block away.  The moment she left the rectory property, the humming above his head quieted to a softer level, and he breathed a sigh of relief amid his discomfort.  The thought of spending the afternoon being poked and prodded, fussed and fanned over by both women made him unhappy, but it was much easier than explaining the watch in the attic, Brian's existence, or how the two were connected, and he allowed himself, an extra sigh.

_______________________

       It was one of those shitty, ornery days.  He had known it the moment he saw his brother-in-law air borne, and sealed the minute he hit the ground with a sickening crunch.  That injury, which of course would be Beckett's fault in the mind of his wife, set in motion one miss step after another.  Kevin's accident was just that...an accident.  And if truth be told, caused by the man's need to best him in front of the lovely Roxanne.  But Maureen wouldn't see it that way.  In her eyes, her brother, Kevin, was one step away from sainthood, and by that fact, could do no wrong.  It annoyed him to no great end the way she refused to accept any flaws in the man, though in all fairness, his beloved usually went out of her way to see the best in most people.  And for that, he needed to be grateful, as her forgiveness extended to his myriad of faults as well.

       Still, it was more than obvious that the priest had caused significant damage to his right foot, and had stubbornly refused any help in getting it looked at.  He had tried to convince him to accept assistance, but had given up in annoyance when his concern was met with outright indifference.  The whole mess had disrupted his morning schedule.  It had caused him to run late, miss his breakfast, and worst of all, it was the catalyst for small disagreement between he and Maureen.  Yet another way her interfering, self-righteous brother had come between them.

      Things at the station hadn't gone any better.  The wi-fi was down for over an hour, delaying an attempt to catch up on the pile of paperwork that seemed to grow daily.  His secretary had called in sick, and it was on those days, when she wasn't around, he realized how much he actually depended on her.  Plus, he was due in court to testify regarding a case that shouldn't have even made it this far, except for the fact that the State's Attorney in charge was a complete fuck-up.

       The last thing he needed was a call from the Powers That Be, and in accordance with the fates, it was exactly what he got.  They were pushing him to accept an assignment, a follow-up to the job he had worked last December.  In the past, he would have jumped at the opportunity.   Been jubilant over the chance to even an old score.  But it was too soon after Maureen's accident.  Too soon after the baby, too soon after their separation, to consider leaving for an indefinite period of time.  There were things that needed to be put in order before considering such a risky assignment, and so he begged off  with a promise that he would be available in a few months.  They had conceded, but he knew they would not take no for an answer a second time, and that thought lay heavy on his mind.

        It was simply the kind of day that brings no good, and if he had been a superstitious man, he would have knocked on his wooden desk, and thrown salt over his left shoulder.

______________________

       After a great deal of discussion in the rectory driveway, it was finally decided that they would bypass the hospital ER.  It was the area's only trauma center, and was always backlogged with a constant stream of waiting patients.   A quick google search revealed an emergency walk-in clinic that boasted X-ray service located on the east side of town, and it became their destination of choice.  That section of Dollyville was considered by its residents to be the "shady" part of town, but the promise of quick attention was a big draw, and they decided to try it despite some initial misgivings.

       Maureen had offered to call Ted, and have him meet them there, but one look at Kevin's face was enough to change her mind.  He was already miserable, and if her husband's presence made things worse for him, then they would go it alone.  They did have Dollyville's newest deputy with them, and the two women felt secure in their ability to weather the situation.

       Maybe if he had felt just a tiny bit better, Fr. Kevin would have been of the mind to talk them out of their decision.  But he was in a great deal of pain, the movement from the sofa and into the car being an experience he hoped never to relive.  So when they announced where it was they were going, he could only grunt between gritted teeth.

        The east side of town was a portrait of the declining economy.   Many of the businesses lining its streets were abandoned and boarded up, their doorways littered with papers and garbage.  The clinic was located on 23rd and Roscoe, the only commercial building of its kind, surrounded by two large apartment buildings, and an auto junk yard across the street.

          It was Kevin who first voiced any concern.  "Ya know...maybe we should just turn around, and head back to the hospital?  This place looks...a little...unsettling."  The words took forever to leave his mouth, pushing them through teeth clenched in pain.

         "Don't be ridiculous, Kev.  It's obvious you're in a tremendous amount of pain.  We're already here.  Let's just get you inside.  It will be fine."

          He looked to Maureen for support, but she had made up her mind as well.  "It will be okay, Kevin.  We have Roxanne.  She's a deputy now."  Before he could interject, she added with perfect confidence, "Besides, you're a priest, the Pastor of Holy Family, for Pete's sake, and I'm the Sheriff's wife.  No one's going to bother us.  They wouldn't dare."

          Fr. Kevin tried to see the logic in her statement, but couldn't find any.  He certainly didn't look like a priest, dressed as he was in gym shorts and a t-shirt.  And how the hell was anyone supposed to know that she was Sheriff Beckett's wife?  It wasn't like she was wearing a big sign on her chest that said as much, even if that fact could derail a crime.  He wanted to argue her statement, but saved his strength for the move from the car to to clinic's waiting room, an experience he knew would be exceedingly unpleasant.

           He and Maureen waited in the car, while Roxanne went in to retrieve a wheel chair.  She returned shortly, and with much maneuvering, they managed to get him into the clinic's waiting room.  The inside of the facility did little to alieve Kevin's fears.  The walls were painted a grimy yellow, faded to a sick gray color in several spots, and covered with stains of mysterious origins.  The molded plastic chairs were bolted to the floor, and in the far corner, a TV blared afternoon soap operas through a smeared screen.  The clinic was empty, except for a homeless man sleeping across three of the seats, and young Latino man holding a bleeding hand wrapped in several soaked towels.

            Roxanne signed him in, the attendant taking the clip board through a closed plexi-glass window, and the three sat together, waiting for his name to be called.  They had been in the clinic for only ten minutes when the mechanical door slid open, and two young men wandered in, hoodies zippered closed despite the warmth of the September afternoon.  Roxanne saw them the same time Kevin did, and stiffened beside him.  The men lingered around the doorway, eyeing the people present in the room, obviously calculating their next move.  Kevin knew better then to look at either of them directly, and wondered if he could reach the cell phone in his pocket without being seen.

           The taller of the two looked over to the shorter man, as if for direction, and while the two focused on each other, Fr. Kevin took the opportunity to glance at their faces.  The short man must have felt his stare, as he turned and met his gaze.  For a second their eyes locked, and Kevin had an overwhelming feeling that he had seen those eyes before, but there wasn't time to ponder the notion.
The man pulled his eyes away, and reached into his pocket.  Brandishing a gun, he announced to all present,  "Hands where I can see 'em.  Nobody has to get hurt."

        And the kind of day that can bring no good, suddenly got a whole lot worse.

             
Trouble at the clinic

Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2014
All Rights Reserved





     

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Run, Kevin, Run

      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 decides on a morning run

 

    He spent a restless night, alternating between bouts of insomnia, and crazy nightmares centered on a dancing baby with the face of a clock.  By 4:00 AM he gave up, and padded down to the kitchen with no real purpose in mind.  The fluorescent ceiling light turned the bay window into a murky mirror, and the lanky reflection frowned back at him in obvious distress.  Despite being three floors down, Fr. Kevin was sure he could still hear the low humming sound of the wretched thing, and clicked on a small radio in hopes of drowning out the sound.

      There he sat for nearly an hour, nursing a tepid mug of instant coffee, and agonizing over the events of the past year that had wrecked havoc on his life.  He had long gotten over the desire for a larger, more affluent parish in the Boston area.  Dollyville had become home in his mind, and the people of Holy Family his flock and family.  The thought of possibly leaving them some day made him morose, and he pushed it out of his mind, focusing instead on the problems at hand.  When a sliver of light appeared on the eastern horizon, he dropped the empty mug in the sink, and made his way back upstairs to change.

      At a quarter to six, he was dressed and waiting on the steps of the church.  The Sheriff was a creature of habit, and he had run with him enough times to know the routine.  It was Thursday, which meant that at exactly 5:50 AM, Beckett would make his way down the back stairs of the flat above the deli, steer toward the front street, make a sharp right, and trot past the church before rounding the corner and heading east.   He was sure the man saw him the moment he hit the sidewalk, but Beckett being Beckett gave him no indication he was noticed, and so when he ran past Holy Family, Kevin jumped in along side him without a single word.  They ran for nearly four blocks before the Sheriff acknowledged his presence.

        "Didn't expect to see you this morning, O'Kenney.  Have a change of priestly heart, did we?"

        He could hear the sarcasm in the man's voice, just waiting for him to take the bait, but he was up for the game and so ignored it, shrugging his shoulders before answering.  "You were on the mark last night, Sheriff.  If I'm gonna run the Patriot in the Spring, then I need to stick to my training."

         There was a low chuckle, and the man picked up his pace, forcing Kevin to double time his efforts.  As they passed the B and B, Roxie joined them, and if she was surprised to see Kevin, she gave no clue, instead engaging both men in general chit chat and questions about the town.  Eventually, the conversation ended, as each runner saved their breath for the purpose of moving.  Beckett kept the pace, holding a watchful eye on his newest deputy to check her progress. When she seemed winded, he'd slow the pace, letting her catch her rhythm, then would slowly increase the speed as she could handle.  At the five mile mark, he noticed the Sheriff checking his watch, a sure sign that he intended to  push for a late burst of speed in the final minutes.  Not wanting to look like the weakest link, Fr. Kevin gathered his last reserve of adrenaline, and raced forward.  As he ran, he felt himself breaking free, determined to reach the church before the other two.  And he would have, if had not taken a glance backward to see the expressions on the faces of the other two runners.  He then would have seen the small pile of wet grass someone had pushed off the curb, and into the street.  Before he knew what was what, the ground under his feet moved, and he was airborne for what was surely a record of several seconds.  He came down with a thump, his teeth slamming together when his head hit the pavement, his knees and shins slicing across the gravel like cheese on a grater.  For awhile he lay there, looking up at the blue September sky, mentally taking inventory of all the parts that hurt like hell.

              He could hear the other two calling out to him, but there wasn't enough wind in him to answer back.  Soon, both their faces hovered over him, shouting at him for some kind of response, and he took a silly moment of pleasure in the fact that even the oh so cool Beckett seemed a bit rattled.  Roxie kept suggesting they call an ambulance, a reaction Kevin wanted no part of.  There was no way he was explaining to anyone in the ER that he slipped on a pile of wet grass because he wasn't watching where he was going.  Somewhere in that conversation, he'd have to admit to "showing off", and he'd bury himself six feet under before he ever did that.

             They tried to get him to his feet, but it was obvious the swelling ankle wasn't going to make the eight blocks back to the rectory.  Since his injuries didn't appear life threatening, it was decided that Beckett would sprint back to his home, pick up the patrol car, and come back for the other two.  He wanted to entreat the Sheriff not to tell his sister what had happened, but that would have seemed like begging, and there was no way he was going to lower himself to ask a favor, so he ate his words and said nothing.  Roxanne fussed over him, stemming the blood running down his legs with the bandanna off her head, and picking the grass clipping out of his hair.  He assumed she had figured the whole scenario out...the how and why he had fallen in the first place, but gratefully, she didn't mention anything of the sort, instead checking the rest of him for possible injuries.

              He liked the feel of her hands on him, and promptly shoved that thought from his mind.  The pounding in his head increased, in what he believed was divine pay back for letting his thoughts wander in that particular direction.  Beckett returned with the car, and the two of them maneuvered Kevin into he back seat, careful to keep the damaged ankle immobile.  With the Sheriff and Roxanne holding him up on each side, they managed to get him inside the rectory, and onto the parlor sofa.   Both did their best in trying to convince him that a trip to the ER was required, but he refused with ungodly stubbornness.   His brother-in-law gave up, and with a reference about someone being a pig-headed bastard, left him in the care of his new protégé.

             She waited until the patrol car was out of the drive way and heading down the street before she launched into her own tirade.  "You know you're being a complete ass, don't you?  You need to have this ankle looked after, not to mention that gash on your shin."

           "It's nothing.  Just a sprain.  I'll ice it, and it'll be fine by tonight.  Trust me."

             Roxie shifted the leg a quarter inch, and he gasped.  "Fine, huh?  I don't think so, Kev.  If you ask me, you fractured a bone somewhere in this foot.  The sooner you have it x-rayed, the better."

             He shook his head and tried to breath through the throbbing.  "If it doesn't get better, I'll call one of my parish council people, and have them drive me.  They're all retired anyway.  I'm not asking that pompous asshole for anything.  Couldn't stand having to look at that smug, self satisfied expression for the twenty minutes it would take to get to the ER."

            She made a face, and put a throw pillow under the foot.  "At least let me help you get a bag of ice on it.  Do you have any plastic baggies?"

            "First drawer... next to the sink.  There should be a whole, unopened box there."  He heard her rummaging around the kitchen...first the drawer open and close, and then the cabinets and the fridge, and wondered what she was doing.  When she returned, she came out holding a tray with some juice and cookies, as well as the needed bag of ice.

            "I made us a snack.  Hope you don't mind.  I'm needing something with sugar right about now."    She propped the tray on a table, and set the ice on his ankle, watching him grimace when she did so.  "Stupid, Kev.  Really stupid"

           "Don't need a lecture, Rox.  I'll be fine.  Don't want you fussing over me.  It's ...it's just...unseemly"

             She swung back around, and gave him a look that would melt stone.  "Really, Kevin O'Kenney?  You can say that to me?  Me?  After the whole time travel shit?  Everything we went through together.."  She plopped in the chair across from him, and glared.  "I would have thought you'd gotten over that sanctimonious crap."

             It was obvious he hurt her feelings, and so he changed the subject to one he hoped would occupy her thoughts.   "So...you have any idea as to where you want to live here in Dollyville?"

             She saw through his attempt to bring the conversation back to a neutral subject, but let it pass.  "I'm not sure.  Maureen has offered to shop around with me after she finishes her shift today.  She says she has ideas in mind."

             "I'd advise caution then.  My sister's ideas tend to be out there."

              "I disagree.  I love their apartment.  It's so charming and cozy.  Like a little love nest."  She reached for a cookie, and saw the look of horror on his face.  "Not the love nest part, Kev.  The cozy, charming thing.  I adore the peaked ceilings.  The cute little bathroom.  The vintage kitchen fixtures.
It's just...well...so pleasant."

              "You should have seen it before the remodel.  You would have had a totally different opinion.  The bathroom didn't even have walls, for Pete sake!  The place was filthy.  Paint peeling, and drafts from every window."

              "Wow!  Really?  Then I'd have to say your little sister is a miracle worker."

               "Yeah, well...Mo added some nice touches, but the bulk of the work was done for her.  By a so called 'secret admirer', who we all knew was Beckett, despite him refusing to admit it.  They weren't even a couple yet, and he was already interfering in our lives."

                "I think it's sweet.  The way he wanted her to have a nice, safe place to live."

                 Kevin snorted, and succumbed to the call of the cookies.  "Yeah...real sweet.  Two weeks later he was living there himself... on a regular basis.  You're gonna tell me he didn't have that in mind all along?  I'm not that naïve, Rox."

                 "Look, Kev, you have to admit, the man's crazy about her.  No doubt about it.  You can just look at them, and see how much in love they are."  She sighed.  "I think you're sister is one hell of a lucky woman.  Sheriff Beckett is a total catch.  I'm kinda jealous."

                 Her words made him feel lousy, and the reasons why even worse.  When he didn't answer, she dropped the line of conversation, and gathered up the empty glasses and plate.  As she made her way back to the kitchen, she stopped near the staircase, and cocked her head, straining to listen.  He started to speak, only to have her hush him.

                 "Do you hear that?"

                 "Hear what?"  He silently prayed she wasn't talking about the noise from the attic, hoped she couldn't hear it.

                 "That strange noise.  Like humming or buzzing."

                  He mentally crossed his fingers, and lied. " I don't hear anything."

                  She took the first two stairs, and squinted, intent on making out the sound.  "There's definitely something humming upstairs.  I better go check.  Make sure its not something that's gonna start an electrical fire."

                  If he could have gotten off the sofa, he would have physically stopped her.  Gone up there himself to put a stop to her investigation.  But any movement of his ankle sent rays of pain straight through his leg, so he was left with the truth.  "Rox...please.  Don't go up there."

                 She stopped and stared at him, trying to read his expression.  "Why?"

                 "It's best if you don't go up there.  Ever.  I know what's making that noise.  I was hoping you couldn't hear it."

                  Interest piqued, she stepped down, but left a hand on the bannister.  "You're not telling me something, Kevin.  And don't try to lie.  What's upstairs?"

                  He hesitated for a moment, but knew she deserved the truth.  IT'S upstairs.  The watch.  That's what you hear."

                   Initial confusion gave way to understanding, and then shock.  "THE watch?  The time travel watch?  You still have it?  You told me you were going to get rid of it.  Dump it in Nantucket Sound.  Why the hell do you still have the damn thing?  Are you out of your frickn' mind?"

                 He couldn't fully explain without telling her all of it...the warnings from Brian, the power the wretched thing had over him, and now it appeared, over Roxanne as well.  He wanted to tell her everything.  Spill every last bit of the gnawing truth from his belly.  But just how did one go about telling a sane human being that his mentor... this source of knowledge...was a figment of Celtic legend?
             
Fr. Kevin tries to keep Roxanne out of the attic



Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2014
All Rights Reserved









                





               



           

           

       









     

 




Saturday, November 8, 2014

Temptation in Time


     

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 and Roxanne have words

        It was Roxanne who reacted first, the words finally sinking in, and with a shriek of joy, bolted upward.  "Do you really mean it?  You'll hire me?  For a position in the Sheriff's office?"

         Beckett leaned back in his chair, a self satisfied grin turning up the corners of his mouth.  "Welcome to the force, Deputy.  Though, you do realize that there are some formalities that precede your actually going on active duty.  The state requires both a written and physical fitness test, as well as a complete background check.  Then, your hiring must be approved by the Town Council, though I don't see that as much of a problem.  Until everything's complete, you'll be assigned to desk duty.  Without a fire arm, of course."   He took a sip from his glass, the cuts in the crystal catching the light from the kitchen window, sending rainbow prisms across the face of his brother-in-law.  "I presume you have some experience with fire arms?"
     
           "I do, Sir.  Belonged to a local gun club back in Boston.  We went to the range several times a month."

           "Excellent.  Then I think things should go rather smoothly.  I suggest we set a date for your physical test in the next four to six weeks.  Give you some time to train.  You can schedule the written test with the county office.  In the meantime, why don't you take the rest of the week to settle in, and report on Monday.  Call Melanie at the station.  She'll give you all the information on your paperwork, as well as the name of the company that does our uniforms.

             Her first instinct was to hug him, so thrilled at the opportunity to see a dream realized.  But he was her new boss, Maureen's husband, and well, just more than a bit on the imposing side, so she settled for a proper handshake, and instead bestowed her hugs on her friends.

             "Oh, Rox!  Congratulations!  This is the best news ever!  You here in Dollyville!  It will be like old times...when we were kids.  I've missed having someone to hang out with.  This is just...just awesome!"  She turned to her brother, who as of yet, hadn't said a word.  "Kev...isn't this great for Roxie?"

                 The priest pushed out a weak smile, one that stretched across his face more as a grimace.  "Yeah...great.  Congratulations, Roxanne.  I know how important this is for you."

                She knew from the moment she'd left Boston that he wouldn't be pleased.  The last time they had spoken, it had been decided that for a myriad of reasons too complicated to discuss, the two of them should keep their distance.  At the time, she had heartily agreed with that conclusion. The two of them needed time and space to deal with the odd things that had happened, and the intense feelings they'd invoked.  So she went at it alone in Boston. And it wasn't as if she hadn't tried her damnedest to make it work in the city.  She had used every connection in law enforcement she knew, but the door was virtually shut in her face each and every time.  And there was no way in hell she was going back to dancing.  Her days on the pole were permanently behind her.  No. It was time that she finally got a shot at her dreams, and no one, not even Kevin, was going to keep her from it.

                 Still, his lack of enthusiasm, and obvious disapproval, stung more than she cared to admit.  She hadn't expected him to roll out the red carpet for her.  Throw a party because she was back in town.  But he didn't have to sit there, in the midst of the best thing that had ever happened to her, and act like she had stabbed him in the heart.  If she meant anything to him at all, even as an old friend, the least he could do was be happy for her good fortune.

________________________________________

          The news about the job had come like a brick to the head.  It had been a shock to see her again in Dollyville, in his own sister's flat, so soon after their soul-baring conversation, but never in a million years would he figure she had come with permanency in mind.  She had promised.  They both had.  Now here she was, back with some crazy notion that everything could be "normal" again.  That they could continue to go on despite the fact that they'd been to cosmic hell and back.

         A quick look at Beckett's face, and he realized that he had been set up.  This was pay back for what his brother-in-law perceived as Kevin's intrusion into his private business.  The priest's insistence on the truth had put both his sister and her husband through a miserable separation, and when they finally reconciled, he had breathed a genuine sign of relief that it had, in time, worked out for the better.  But it was clear the Sheriff was not the type to forgive and forget, and in Roxie, the man had found the perfect weapon.

           He wasn't sure how Beckett knew about his feelings for Roxie, or why he took such pleasure in teasing him about them.  From the first day her name was ever mentioned, Beckett had zoned in on the angst she caused him, and used it as a club.  As an arm chair psychologist, he assumed this need to pick on he and his vocation was a result of some deep rooted insecurity, but what that might be was beyond him.  To all visible humanity, Theodore Beckett was a living, breathing embodiment of rugged self confidence.   But it gave him some small pleasure to know that the his sister's husband might have a few chinks in his soul.

          In his need for revenge, the Sheriff had given Roxie her heart's desire, and there was a part of him that was over joyed for her.  However, his use of her as bait to tempt Kevin from his vows both sickened and angered him, not to mention the fear that their combined proximity to that damn watch caused him.  There was never a day that he wished he had not dropped the wretched thing in the ocean like he had planned.  Gotten rid of it once and for all.  But Brian had been adamant that he not do it, citing all kinds of cataclysmic prophecies should the thing fall into the wrong hands.  So it remained hidden in the rectory attic, buried in a non-descript shoebox under a pile of old account books, a constant source of fear and anxiety above his very head.

          The rest of the evening was a blur, conversation he didn't hear, food that tasted like sand in his mouth.  He nodded and smiled when he thought it appropriate, fidgeted in the straight back chair, and tried not to look at the clock above the kitchen sink.  At some point, once dessert was served, he could politely excuse himself to business at the church, and flee to worry and hand wring in the privacy and solitude of the rectory.  But before he could make his standard excuses, Roxanne rose from the table.

         "Well, I hate to be the party pooper, but I think I'm going to call it an evening.  It's been a long day, and I want to be up early for a run.  I have to start thinking about training...thanks to you Sheriff."

         "That's what I like to see...ambition and fortitude.  Perhaps, I should join you."  He turned to Kevin.  "What say you, Fr. O'Kenney?  Up for a run tomorrow morning?  That is, unless you've given up on the idea of running the Patriot in the Spring."

          He wanted to reach across the table, and pop the smug bastard squarely in the nose, but instead rose from the table, and politely pushed his chair into the table.  "I'm afraid I have quite the full schedule tomorrow, Sheriff.  Maybe my sister can join you."

         Beckett laughed.  "I'm afraid my bride likes her morning exercise a little closer to home, so I guess it will be just you and I, Deputy.  Unless, Father Kevin can find some extra time in his... busy schedule."

         Refusing to be baited, Kevin ignored the comment and headed toward the stairs, leaning in to kiss his sister on the cheek.  "Thanks for dinner, Mo.  It was...very nice."

          "I'm gonna get moving too.  Thank you so much, Sheriff, for the opportunity.  You have no idea how much this means to me."  She shook his hand again, and gave Maureen a hug.  "Mo...thanks for everything.  I'll call you tomorrow.  Maybe you can help me find an apartment?"

         "Sure, Rox, I'd be happy to.   By the way, where are you staying now?  Can Ted give you a lift?"

         "No, I can walk.  I'm staying at the Band B on Pleasant and 5th.  It's only about four blocks from here."

         "Okay...if you're sure.  Maybe Kevin can walk you over there."  She handed her brother a bag of leftovers, as was her custom.  "Can you, Kev?"

         There was no escaping the request without looking like a complete asshole, so Fr. Kevin nodded his agreement.  "Sure.  No problem."

         Good-byes and good nights completed, Kevin and Roxanne made their way down the narrow steps, and out into the muggy evening air.  Neither said a word, and Kevin knew if he looked behind him at the windows to his sister's apartment, he was sure to see his brother-in-law watching their departure.  They were a good two blocks away before Roxanne broke the silence.

        "Okay.  I know you're angry.  You might as well get it all out."

        "I'm not angry.  Just disappointed."

         It was the wrong thing to say, and she stopped dead in her tracks.  "Disappointed!?  What...I'm a misbehaving five year old that disobeyed?  You can take your self righteous indignation, and shove it, Kevin.  I don't owe you anything.  This is a wonderful opportunity.  Something I've been dreaming about for years. You could at least be happy for me."

         "I am happy for you, Roxanne.  Honestly, I am.  But you being here in Dollyville, you and I crossing paths all the time...well...we've already been through all this.  You said it yourself.  It's a train wreck waiting to happen.  Painful for us both.  I just don't get why you came back here.  This is a small town...not much happening in the way of law enforcement.  Wouldn't it have been better to stay in Boston?"

          "I tried, Kev.  I really did.  But I couldn't catch a break anywhere.  It's hard enough getting a foot in the door.  The police department in Boston is still an ole' boy's network, despite all their talk about diversity and equal opportunity.  Plus, well...my past as an exotic dancer doesn't make it easy for people to take me seriously.  I'd be languishing on their waiting list for ten years just to get a shot at the Academy.  The chance Sheriff Beckett is giving me is a gift, Kevin.  A fabulous, wonderful gift.  And believe me...I realize he did it just because I'm a friend of the family.  But I'll take it anyway.  It's a start, Kev.  A real start.  He sees that I have what it takes, and is giving me a chance."

          He wanted to tell her the horrible, awful truth.  That Beckett was only using her as a weapon against him.  But he knew it would only hurt her, and put them more at odds.  And in that moment, he heard the man's tirade against "the truth" banging in his head, and guiltily shoved it to the side.  He wouldn't shake her confidence to prove his point.  Sighing, he began to walk, and she followed, continuing her defense.

         "There was nothing for me in Boston, Kev.  That woman...the one I traded places with...she wrought havoc on my life.  Alienated my friends, borrowed money from the wrong people, cost me my job.  She was some piece a work, though in hindsight I feel kinda sorry for her.  I got to come back to my old life, and she got sent back to hers.  I got the better deal."

           They stopped in front of the stately old home that housed the Band B, and she shifted from foot to foot, before blurting out the words.  "I found his grave, you know."

           "Whose grave?"

           "His.  Father Murphy's.  He died.  That day in the bank."  She scrunched up her face, but refused to cry in front of him.  "That could have been you, Kevin.  If things hadn't worked out the way they did.  If that watch hadn't worked in reverse...well...you'd be dead, and I'd be alone in a time that wasn't my own."  She looked away.  "She was pregnant.  12 weeks.  That could've been my life."

________________________________


           He walked for nearly an hour after he left her.  Nowhere in particular, just hoping for exhaustion to set in.  The dark emptiness of the rectory offered no solace, and he tossed and turned in his bed, despite a heavy finger of Jameson.  The revelation about Father Murphy...about the woman in his life...left him him with a heavy heart and a churning mind, and above his head, the watch hummed in its box.

               
The watch in the attic

Copyright 2014 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved

       

     

     

       

     

         



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hello Dear Readers...

           Yesterday, my mom had a heart attack during what turned out not to be a routine stress test.  She was in the right place when it happened, and underwent emergency angioplasty.  This morning, she is doing well and resting comfortably, and we expect a solid recovery.  Unfortunately, I will not be posting this week.  Just too busy and crazed to concentrate right now.  The story will pick up again next week.  My apologies for leaving you hanging.

        I would like to take this opportunity to remind women everywhere to take their heart health seriously.  My mother had tightness in her chest, constant "indigestion", and unusual fatigue for two weeks before she decided to mention it to her doctor, who sent her for the stress test.  She may have been able to avoid any heart damage at all if she had taken her symptoms seriously when they first appeared.  I had my heart attack at 53 yrs of age with no obvious markers or symptoms until that day, but because I reacted immediately, I am still here to tell you about it.  Ladies and Gents...if you don't feel right...listen to your body and seek immediate medical attention.  Heart Attacks are the LEADING killer of women...heads above cancers of any kind.  Heed your Heart!

Best to you all,
Vicki