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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Past, Present and Everything In-Between

Ian's story

       Maureen's blurted comment seemed to horrify him.  Ian dropped the chicken leg back on the plate, and pushed himself up off the floor, pacing the room from one corner to another before he spat the words out.  "You greatly misunderstand me, Madame.  I am no nobleman.  My father gave me his name, but little else, and I have no claims to land or this time... or any other."  He was silent for a moment, staring out the window at the peaceful summer street below, then added,  "Here in this place I will rest on my own merits, be what may come."

      Embarrassed, Maureen attempted to gloss over her faux pas.  "Geez, Ian.  I'm sorry if I struck a raw nerve.  I didn't mean to pry.  You see...I was just teasing, Roxie.  It's the way we are, she and I.  We kid each other all the time.  I most heartily apologize if I offended you in any way."

     He waved off her apology, helping himself to another bottle of Guinness.  "No, Madame.  It is I who should ask forgiveness for my lack of... clarity.  You have opened your home to me, been nothing but kind in spite of strange circumstances, and I repay your kindness with falsehood."  Perching on the edge of the bed, he spoke directly to Roxie.  "Miss Roxanne, I had hoped to speak the truth to you privately, once you had gotten to know the man behind the name.  Alas, I believe I must now reveal all if I am to court you in the most honorable tradition you deserve."

      The young man took a large gulp of the ale, as if to steel himself, and then continued.  "I am a man born outside of wedlock.  A bastard.  My dear mother, God rest her soul, was Beresford's nanny, hired to care for his children after the death of his first wife."  He hesitated, rubbing his hands against the glass, speaking each word as if he were pulling a bandage off a healing wound.  "I want nothing more than to say that he forced himself on her, that she had no choice but to accept his lecherous advances.  That too would be a lie.  It was obvious she loved the man.  Adored him, in fact, and was willing to accept whatever bones of perceived romance he tossed at her.  And yet, I do believe he held her in some regard of affection, however self involved it might have been.  My birth was acknowledged, and I bore his name, though he, of course, would never conceive to marry below his station."

        No one in the room said a word, riveted as they were to the man's story.  It was as if a Bronte novel had come to life in the rectory bedroom, and they waited patiently for the man to continue, losing all interest in the picnic feast or the ale.

        "Life in the early years was pleasant enough, though I did not share my mother's fondness for the man.  From my first memories, I believed him to be cold and demanding.  He accepted my presence, but took little joy in it, though I enjoyed the company of my half brother and sisters, and thrived heartily under my mother's tutelage and devotion."  He stopped for a moment, the memories running like a picture book in his head, and his voice cracked on the words.  "Things changed when I was nearing my fifth year.  Sir Beresford deemed it necessary to take a second wife, and the new Lady Beresford had no patience for her husband's paramour and bastard child under the same roof as she.  We were quickly uprooted from the estate, and exiled to a surrounding village, one of many in the years to come.  For a short while afterward, Beresford would send an allowance, most of which my mother would spend on my education.  She believed until to her last breath that he would send for me, welcome me into his family, and give me the life she's so richly believed I deserved."

     Ian raised his glass in toast to his mother, and the others in the room followed his lead.  When he continued, his voice held none of the melancholy it had in the earlier telling of the story.  His words were steely, the disdain and anger apparent in every syllable.   "Alas, her greatest wish was folly.  I went to see the man after she died, to tell him of her passing.  He was gruff and impatient, embarrassed by my presence in his drawing room.  It was his suggestion that I attempt to make a life for myself in the Colonies, going so far as to offer me the funds to make it happen, so desperate was he to be rid of me.  Despite my disgust at the thought of accepting anything from the pompous ass wipe, I had no desire to stay in England.  I took his damned money to finance my passage to the colonies, changing my name to Sawyer, and seeking my destiny far from the shores of England."

         He moved closer to Roxanne, and took her hand. "And destiny it was, my dear lady.  Had I not done so, I would have never been in position to experience the unimaginable. The unbelievable.  That I, lowly bastard, farmer and ale maker, without means or titles, would have the opportunity to win the heart of one such as yourself..."  Looking suddenly somber, he added, "That is, Miss Roxanne, if you still wish to consider my company, despite my disgraceful birth and station in life.  I shall understand if my revelations makes further contact impossible."

            The lady at the heart of the discussion was near tears herself, embarrassed by the close, personal attention, and moved by the young Patriot's soulful declaration of his feelings.  She weakly squeezed his hand back, the exhaustion of the day beginning to take its toll.  "Oh, Ian.  No one in this time period cares about the hows and whys of someone's birth.  It's what you make of your life that counts, not how it started.  Some of the greatest heroes in our nation's history came from humble beginnings.  That's why people call the Unites States the land of opportunity.  It's because everyone has the right to make the best life they can here, and people come from all over the world to do just that.  And I suppose, if that's what you really want, you can do so as well."

       "Miss Roxanne, it brings hope to my heart that you say so, but if you yourself do not see a future for the two of us, then it is all meaningless to me.  Say that you return my feelings, and I shall be the happiest man alive."

          Across the room, Maureen blow her nose in a paper napkin, wiping at her eyes and sniffling.  "Oh Lordy, this is just so damn romantic, I can't stand it.  It's like some made for TV movie, only much better because it's happening right here and now, and I know all the actors personally.  Oh, Ted, isn't it just"

          Beckett didn't answer, instead busy watching Fr. Kevin's stricken face.  The priest hadn't said a single word throughout Ian's story, though at times he had seemed as if he were fighting an inner battle, the expressions on his face changing from one emotion to another.  He was as curious as the others to know how Roxie would answer the young man's request.  He had only known the young deputy a few short months, but in that time, had found her to be more like him when it came to revealing personal feelings.  She kept her thoughts tightly locked in her head, allowing very little to escape into the general public, a skill he could both understand and respect.

          Roxanne herself blushed a deep pink, the most color anyone had seen in her complexion since she had returned the day before.  She began slowly, measuring each word carefully.  "Ian, I am very grateful for..."

         Before she could continue, there was a low rumbling in the room, and the over powering scent of fresh cut roses.  All five of them froze in their places, knowing full well whose arrival was imminent.  A sprinkle of light hovered above the bureau, slowly floating down until She Who Was All appeared on the top of it.  She had changed colors, her golden hair now the color of fresh cut grass, her wings a diaphanous collection of greens, golds and blues, her tunic made of sparkling jewels that looked suspiciously like spring rain drops.  The Fairy Queen was a sight to see, undeniably beautiful, and every bit the royal.  She pointed a tiny finger at Beckett, the nails painted a deep sea foam green, and demanded, "Come Ridre Dubh, I am in need of assistance."  With a snap of her fingers, they were both gone, leaving two empty spots, and a multitude of questions.

She returns

Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved.




Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Family Tree

 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 Family Tree

          He was dreaming again.  This time lost in a maze of marshmallows, each rounded corner revealing another path of chalky white walls that pushed back when he touched them.  He could hear someone calling his name, but when he tried to answer, mini marshmallows, of the hot cocoa and Hawaiian salad kind, fell in a stream from his mouth.  Upon closer examination, he discovered they weren't marshmallows at all, but his teeth, round, pearly and loose in his hand.  Panic rose in his chest.

          "Kevin.  Wake up.  You're having a nightmare."

         He awoke with a start, banging his head against the wall in the process.  Maureen's face hovered over him, concern etched in her expression.  With a great deal of difficulty, he tried stretching his tall frame from its cramped position on the floor, finding it painful to shift his casted foot.  His sister stuck out a hand, and with a great deal of awkwardness, he pulled himself to a standing position.  They were alone in the hallway, his house guest no longer in the spot in front of the bedroom door.

           "Where's Ian?"

         "He's downstairs in the kitchen, watching the coffee maker.  I put a pot on when I let myself in.
I was surprised no one was up yet."  She brushed some dust off the back of his shirt, and added,  "You do know it's ten to seven, right?"

          "Shit!  Is it that late?  I have Mass in ten minutes!"  He looked down at the clothes he was wearing the day before, and then at the door of the bedroom.  The thought of having to face Roxanne this early in the day was daunting, and he considered just going over to the church in what he had on. Chances were no one would see them under his vestments.

        As if she could read his mind, a skill he was sure she always possessed, Maureen gave him a nudge toward the bathroom down the hall.  "At least go shave, brush your teeth, and comb your hair.  I'll grab some fresh clothes from the bedroom.  If you hurry, you won't be too late."

        He mumbled some thanks, turned and made his way toward the bathroom, his body stiff and achy from the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.  Before he could escape into solitude, his sister called to him.   "And Kev...later I expect you to explain to me why the two of you were sleeping on the floor outside Roxanne's room."


       Fr. Kevin wasn't sure which saint he should offer his thanks to, but he owed one of them a great debt of gratitude.  By some divine intervention, one thing after another kept him busy at the church for most of the day.  Mrs. Arturo had fainted at the end of Mass, and by the time the paramedics arrived, and the decision to take her to the hospital was made, it was after 9 AM.  A budget planning meeting with the Parish Council took nearly two hours, at which time afterward, it was decided the group should celebrate their success over lunch at the the Happy Crab Cafe a few blocks away.

      Sated with his fair share of chowder and lobster rolls, he returned to the church just in time to meet with the parish youth group who were replacing the rickety back fence as part of their summer service project.  Rolling up his sleeves, he joined them in their work, happy to fill his head with teenage chatter, and enjoying the camaraderie of physical labor.  At 3 PM, he left them to finish up and headed back over to the church to hear Confessions, as was his routine on Wednesday afternoons.  It was apparently a slow day for sin sharing, as the summer months usually were, and after a few visits from penitents at the top of the hour, he was left to doze in the quiet calm of the confessional for nearly an hour, awoken by a text from his sister inviting him to dinner back at the rectory.

        Fr. Kevin headed home, tired but peaceful in the way his vocation often left him.  The first floor of the rectory was quiet, though the kitchen showed signs of his sister's culinary magic.  He could hear laughter from the second floor, and figured they must all be visiting with Roxanne, which in his mind meant she was well enough for such festivities.  He hesitated a moment, contemplating what he'd say when he saw her.  Maureen stuck her head over the banister, and called to him.

        "Hey, Kev...I'm glad you're finally home.  We're all up here having a picnic in Roxanne's room." She giggled, and added, "I mean your room.  Come join us."

         There was no way he could ignore her invitation without looking like a complete jerk, so he lumbered up the stairs, stopping in the doorway to ponder the scene in front of him.  When his sister had mentioned picnic, she hadn't been joking.  The furniture in the room had been pushed against the wall, a checkered blanket covering the empty space, providing a resting place for a summer feast. Beckett sat in the arm chair next to the bed, a loaded plate balanced in his lap.  He acknowledged the priest's presence with a wave, and continued his quiet conversation with the current duty nurse, a bland young man who apparently had replaced the scary woman with the Glock.

        Ian sat on the floor, his back resting against the bed, a chicken leg in one hand and a glass of Guinness in the other.  He tried a congenial smile, and when it wasn't returned, shrugged instead.  Pointing to an empty glass, he offered a try at conversation.  "Grab a pint, Reverend.  We are toasting Miss Roxanne's excellent recovery.  The doctor says she shall be up and around in no time."

        Maureen was already on it, pouring him a glass, tilting it at a 45 degree angle, and allowing the surge to settle, in the manner they had all been taught by their father.  He smiled at the memory, and took the glass, more relaxed then he imagined he might be in a situation such as this one.  Ian was right.  Roxanne did look truly excellent.  She was sitting up in bed, wearing a refashioned Boston College sweatshirt over her hospital gown, her dark chopped hair combed back and held in place with a green polka-dotted head band he was sure he had seen once on his sister.  There were dark smudges below her lashes, and her coloring was a shade paler, but there was a sparkle to her eyes, and just the tiniest bit of blush to her cheeks.

         She raised a plastic cup with a straw, obviously filled with lowly tap water.  "No Guinness for me yet.  You'll have to drink my share, Kev."  Her light hearted expression grew a tad more somber, and she added, "It's really good to see you, Kevin.  For awhile there, I thought I might have to wait until the here after."

           Her honest affection caused his throat to tighten, and it felt as if he was choking on his words.  "I'm happy to see you too, Rox.  You look...well...awesome."

          She waved her hand in the direction of the IVs still running from her arms, and laughed.  "You're being far too generous, O'Kenney.  Unless you're into the Frankenstein look, I'm a complete mess."

            Ian wiped his mouth a paper napkin.  "I am unawares of this Frankenstein person, but if she bears a resemblance to you, Miss Roxanne, then surely she is a beauty you supersede ."

            Roxanne turned a darker shade of pink, and Maureen giggled.  Seeing Ian's confusion at their reaction, the patient explained.  "Actually, Ian, Frankenstein is the main character in a classic horror story about a monster made up of dead body parts.  But I do appreciate the compliment."

           The young man made a face, suddenly looking far more serious.  "It seems I have much to learn of your time and ways if I am to properly court you, Miss Roxanne."

           There was an awkward silence, at which time Beckett suggested to the nurse that he take a much deserved break, though not before Maureen fixed him a heaping plate of food to take with him.
He waited until the man was safely out of ear shot before he continued.  "This seems as good time as any to discuss some plans going forward.  If Ian stays here in 2015 like he proposes, then arrangements and precautions need to be made."

           The man at the center of the conversation stood up, and brushed the crumbs off his clothes.  "Aye, Constable.  I am committed to making a life here in your time.  I do not wish to impose on the good nature of you all, but I would be entirely grateful for whatever help you could offer."

          The  direction of the discussion was more than Fr. Kevin could bear on an empty stomach, so he helped himself to a hunk of sub sandwich, and refilled his empty glass.  He had his piece to say, but would hold those cards close to his chest until the right moment. In the meantime, he perched himself on the edge of his dresser, and listened to the debate.

         Ever practical, Roxanne stated the obvious.  "Well, he can't live here in the U.S. without some type of proper identification.  He'll need a birth certificate...a social security number, and such, if he ever hopes to have a job of any kind."

          Beckett nodded.  "I agree.  I can take care of that for him.  It's not as difficult as one might think. I think it best we keep everything as close to the truth as we can.  It will be easier for Ian to avoid slipping up when questioned." He took out his phone, adding the information to some kind of app as he asked the questions.  "What's your full name?  The one you were born with."

             " Ian Thomas Beresford."

             The group looked at him oddly, and Beckett continued, "You told us your name was Sawyer.  Ian Sawyer."

              "Aye.  I meant no deception.  It is now for all purposes indeed 'Sawyer'.  I took my mother's name when I came to the colonies.  It is my way of cutting all ties to my life in England."

              There was more to the story than what the young man was saying, but the Sheriff was familiar with cutting ties, and so he let the statement go, cutting in before any of the group could further the discussion.  "Date of birth?"

           "February 20th, 1753.  I am sure of it, as it was recorded in our family Bible, though my father was not a believer of frivolous celebration."

            There was another moment of silence as everyone scrambled to do the math.  Beckett was first.  "So...that means you are currently 22 years of age."

           "Aye.  That would be correct."  No one spoke, and the young Patriot could see the rest of the group look at one another.  He sensed his age was in some way a problem.  "Is something amiss?"

           Maureen jumped in.  "Not 'amiss', Ian.  We're just...surprised is all.  You seemed...well...older."

          "Is my youth a problem?  I can be whatever age you wish."  It was his turn to be curious.  "How old are the rest of you."

            Maureen offered, "I was 26 in May."

            Beckett continued, "Currently 36."

            Fr. Kevin took a slug of his Guinness, the "I told you so's" bouncing around in his head.  He forced them back in his mouth, simply adding, "I'll be 33 in a few weeks."

            They all looked at Roxanne, who sat picking at a stray piece of lint on her blanket.  She said nothing at all, and to save her from the moment, Beckett continued his informational quest.  "Let's move on.  The more information I can use, the better.  Your father's name, Ian?"

            He seemed to spit the words out, rather than let them roll off his tongue. "Sir Tristram Beresford, 1st Baronet of Coleraine."

            Maureen stopped chewing, words spilling out before she could reign them in.  "Holy shit, Roxanne, your new boyfriend is English nobility."

Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved

Dollhouse Chit Chat...

     For those of you who started following this blog for the photos of miniature scenes, I apologize for the lack of them in the past few months.  The remodeling of my RL house has put the mini world in storage for the time being.  Lest you think I've given up on my mini passion, I'm posting a few photos of things going on here.

     The dollhouses...all nine of them...have been moved out of storage, and are being displayed in the two bedrooms that were once occupied by my sons.  They have since grown up and moved out, though youngest son has returned to us for several weeks as he transitions from one job out of state to another here, and finds a new apartment.  He hasn't said if he enjoys waking up to this view every morning.


    In the meantime...

           I need to start unpacking the dozen RubberMaid totes that contain all my furnishings, a huge job that took me several weekends to pack up.  I suppose I should start in the room youngest son is not occupying, but we will see how it goes.  
           While I waited for the remodeling to be finished, I was busy adding to my mini collection.
My sons presented me with this selection of goodies for Mother's Day, the result of several afternoon shopping trips to the antique malls of Bloomington, Indiana, by my youngest and his girlfriend.

      It is a lovely assortment, and the gramophone, by Bodo Henning, actually plays music when you crank the handle.

       On my recent road trip to Lake Geneva, I found this darling table and chairs, a vintage Strombecker piece from sometime in the 1940s.  Too cute!  I also bought the little Basset Hound under the table.  Couldn't resist his soulful expression.  Ian will surely need a dog companion, don't you think?



      I have been busy at work on a new needlework rug for a house I'm currently decorating.  Can't say more than that, as it will be revealed in a future storyline, and I wouldn't want to spoil anyone's read..

       This is what the finished one will look like, the pattern most graciously designed and offered by  Thanks Casey!  Here is my work on it so far this summer!  Only 14,000 stitches left to go!


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Kevin and Ian

        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

    With Maureen and Beckett gone, the silence in the room was overwhelming, going way beyond the awkward moniker to physically uncomfortable.  Ian said nothing, preferring to look engrossed in a catalogue selling liturgy vestments, while he himself thumbed through a pile of old junk mail.  There was a knock at the door, and for a moment, Fr. Kevin had a tiny glimmer of hope that his sister had returned to take possession of her newest friend.  It was, however, just a new duty nurse, changing shifts for the night, this one unbelievably more surly than the one currently in attendance.

         He wondered if all Beckett's acquaintances were of the same nature, as if being chilly and brusque were prerequisites to joining his inner circle.  She asked to be pointed in the direction of the patient, and without any other interaction, made her way upstairs.  A few moments later, her counterpart joined them in the parlor, and with barely a nod, was out the front door, leaving the two men once again in each other's company.

          Looking for any type of distraction, he picked up the TV remote.  " Ian...would you like to watch television?  It's quite a unique piece of...well...machinery."

         The young Patriot glanced up from the catalogue in his hand.  "Are you speaking of the talking black box?  Madame Beckett showed it to me while you were gone.  Very loud it is.  Everything happening at once.  Gave me a headache of sorts.  I don't think I'm much for it."  Then seeing the look on the priest's face, added, "But please, Reverend, if you do enjoy it, then certainly you go ahead.  I do not wish to make things difficult for you."

           Fr. Kevin tossed the remote on the sofa, and lowered himself next to it.  Make things difficult? Well, there was an understatement.  The man's very presence was a problem.  How were they going to explain the sudden appearance of this stranger?  Where was he going to stay?  Certainly not here at the rectory.  That was never going to happen, no matter what his sister or Beckett argued.  How was he supposed to earn a living?  No Social Security number.  No references. No permanent address.  According to every record that counted, the man didn't exist!  An illegal alien in the truest sense of the word.  Or was he?  The whole discussion made his head ache, weary of yet another disaster dropped at his door.

          The young man must have sensed his discontent.  He put the catalogue on the table next to him, and stood.  "No disrespect intended, Reverend, but I am well beyond exhausted.  If it's all the same to you, I'd like to retire for the evening.  I saw a fine barn outside the scullery window.  With your grace, I think it would make excellent shelter for the night."

          "Barn?  Outside what window?"  The man was making no sense, and the pounding orchestra in his temples had added a bass section.

         "The wooden building out back.  With the red shingled roof."

          It dawned on him in one swell swoop.  "The garage?  You want to sleep in the garage?"

         "Aye.  If that be what you call it.  It looks to me a barn, but I guess it's purpose is similar."

         "Don't be ridiculous.  You can't sleep out there."

          Ian's face turned a light shade of pink, but he did his best to remain polite.  "Aye.  I understand, Reverend.  Then I shall make well with a spot under that large elm out back."  With that he abruptly turned, and began to head into the yard, forcing Fr. Kevin to get up and trail after him.

          "Ian.  You don't understand.  The garage is no place to sleep.  It's dirty, hot and full of junk.  You'd be miserable."

          Standing next to each other, they were nearly the same height, with Kevin besting him by a slight inch and a half.  Ian looked directly at him, and the priest could see the man was doing his best to remain calm in an utterly impossible situation.  Still, the strain of the day was etched in the tightness of his jaw, and the weariness in his expression.

          "I understand perfectly, Reverend.  My being here disrupts your life.  I understand that.  But, you too must understand that I will not be deterred.  As the wee creature explained, it is my choice.  One I make of my own free will.  If there is a chance that Miss Roxanne will return my feelings, then I must stay and seek my destiny in your time and place.  The Good Lord has provided me with this opportunity.  I shall not waste the gift."

         It wasn't the conversation Fr. Kevin wanted to be having.  Not this late in the day.  Not standing in his dark kitchen, both of them bone tired and distraught.  There would be time later to discuss things logically and calmly.  He needed to talk to Roxanne.  Make her see how weird and unnatural this all was, how she needed to convince Ian to return to his own  place in history.  Until then, he needed to swallow his feelings of jealousy and ill will, and act the within the confines of the Spirit.

        "I do understand, Ian.  And I sympathize with your plight.  I only meant that the garage...the barn as you called not a very hospitable place.  Please let me offer you a spot in my home.  I apologize if I seemed...well...abrupt.  It's been a trying day."  He took the man by the arm and led him back into the living room.  "I have an extra bed in the attic room.  It's not luxurious by any means, but it is a whole lot more comfortable than the garage... or the yard."  For an instant, he had a mental picture of Ian, asleep under the elm tree, as the ladies of the parish made their way to morning Mass, and shuddered.  "Please...accept my hospitality.  At least for the night.  We can make other arrangements necessary."

          "That is most kind, Reverend.  But I will not be a bother, nor will I take your bed for the night. I know that Miss Roxanne rests in your room, and that there is no other spot in the house.  I can make do outside."

            "No, I insist, Mr. Sawyer.  I am sure Miss Roxanne would expect no better from me.  I will take the sofa here in the living room.  You take the attic bed."  Pointing to his casted foot, he added, "You'd be doing me a favor.  Getting up and down three fights of stairs with this foot is rather difficult."

             He could see the indecision in the man's eyes, see him wrestling with what to say next, and before he could begin another argument, Kevin jumped in.  "Good.  Then it's all settled.  Pardon me for not showing you the way, but I'm truly not up to the climb.  It's two flights up.  The door at the top of the stairs.  There are fresh linens on the bed.  I suppose you already know where the...the facilities are?"

              Ian smiled, the first time he had seen him do so, making him appear much younger than Fr. Kevin had first imagined.  "Aye, Madame showed me.  Quite remarkable to have such things right in one's home.  Hot and cold running water by just turning a knob.  Very handy."

             Kevin smiled back.  "That it is.  Please make yourself at home.  Towels in the closet to the right.  Plenty of soap and such on the sink.  If you need anything else, just come down and ask."

            "That I will do, Reverend."  He stuck out a hand, waiting for Kevin to grasp it.  When he did, the man pumped it heartily.  "Thank you again, Fr. O'Kenney.  For your hospitality.  And your understanding.  I think you will find that when we get to know each other better, we can be good friends.  Good night, Sir."

             Fr. Kevin watched him make his way upstairs.  Ian Sawyer seemed like a very honest, responsible young man.  Pleasant and polite.  But as far as them becoming friends, well, he didn't expect the Patriot to be around long enough for them to find out.

         He wasn't sure what woke him.  It might have been the crazy dream he was having.  The one in which the big elm in the yard was transformed into a large sailing ship, Ian and Roxanne sitting in the crow's nest, waving at him and throwing slices of pepperoni pizza.  It might have been his uncomfortable position on the couch, his six foot plus frame jammed into five and half feet of sofa.  Or it might have been the bumping and banging going on above his head.  None the less, he found himself suddenly awake.  A glance at his cell phone told him it was a little after 3 AM, hours too early to rise.  Try as he might, he could not get back to sleep, and so he found himself wandering the house, checking the fridge, watching out the front window, and finally making his way up to the bathroom on the second floor.

           It was a moonless night, and the hall was darker than normal.  He thought about turning on the light, but knew it shined directly into the room at the top of the stairs.  Not wanting to wake his guest, he stumbled around in the dark, feeling his way against the wall, dragging his casted foot behind him.
The washroom was across the hall and down a ways from his bedroom, where Roxanne lay recuperating from her surgery.  He regretted not talking to her earlier, and in his head, worked over his part of the conversation they'd surely have in the morning.  Lost in his planning, he didn't notice the obstacle in his path until he found himself tumbling over it, banging his funny bone against the door jam, and hitting his head against... another head.

         "Holy hell, Reverend!  Are you alright?"

          It took a moment or so for him to catch his breath, pain shooting through both his foot and his elbow.  "Damn it, Ian!  What are you doing sleeping on the floor of the hallway?"  Looking up, he saw that they were smack dab in front of his bedroom door.  As if on cue, the door opened a crack, and the scary looking duty nurse poked her head out at them.  Why she had a Glock in her hand, he wasn't sure, though all of Beckett's friends seemed preoccupied with weapons.

          She scowled at them.  "Gentlemen, I have an injured young woman in this room trying to recuperate from a serious surgery.  I suggest you take your nonsense somewhere else."  As added reinforcement, she waved the gun in the direction of the stairs, then firmly closed the door.

          They waited until they heard her footsteps retreat, then in a harsh whisper, Kevin complained.  "I said to use the bedroom in the attic.  Why in God's name are you sleeping here on the floor in the hall?"

          His face was lost in the dark, but from his sheepish tone, Kevin could tell the young man was embarrassed to have been caught being sleeping outside Roxanne's room.  "I apologize most heartily, Reverend.  I could not sleep worrying about Miss Roxanne lying helpless in her bed.  I thought if I came out here, maybe the nurse would let me see her again."  He pointed toward the door, "As you can see, I was not very successful.  That woman is most disagreeable."

           Fr. Kevin, annoyance and pain making him sound sharper than he intended, shot back.  "Well, now that you know, can we try to get back to sleep?  I have Mass to say in four hours.  I need to get some rest."

          "Again, I apologize, Fr. O'Kenney.  But if it's all the same to you, I'd rest better right here, knowing if Miss Roxanne asks for me, I can respond quickly."

         There was nothing more to say.  It was clear that Mr. Ian Sawyer was one stubborn bastard, not easily dismissed from his own agenda.  And if he thought an O'Kenney was an easy mark, then he had a shock coming his way.  Dragging himself across the floor, Kevin propped his back against the wall, resting his head on the leg of the antique side table.  Between the dark airless hallway, and the rhythmic swishing of the hospital machines, both men found themselves unable to stay awake.  There they remained, until well after dawn, when Maureen discovered them both sound asleep, mouths open, snoring away, outside of Roxanne's door.

Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved





Saturday, July 4, 2015

House Guest

   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

A Toast to Fate
        The four of them stared at each other in uncomfortable silence, no one wishing to make a statement they might later be held to.  The grandfather clock in the corner ticked away the minutes, the sound bouncing around the quiet room. Finally, with a sigh of fortitude, Ian pushed himself off the arm of the sofa.  "I have no answers for any of the problems my presence here causes you, dear friends. I am sure that with hard work...and the grace of the Almighty...I can make a fruitful life for myself here in your century.  But in this moment, I am more concerned with the condition of my Miss Roxanne.  I'd like to see her, if you please."

        Ian posed the request toward Beckett, and his action rankled Fr. Kevin.  This was, after all, his home, and the patient herself was recuperating in his bed.  It was obvious the young man pegged the Sheriff as the person in charge, and Kevin could feel the bitter stirring of jealousy swishing around in his head.  He opened his mouth to express his disapproval, but his brother-in-law cut him off.

         "Let me check with the duty nurse on call, Ian.  If she gives approval, we'll all have a quick visit."   He turned and made his way up the stairs, leaving Kevin alone with his sister and their unwelcome guest.  Maureen must have sensed her brother's dark mood, for she threw her arms around his waist and hugged him.

          "Oh, Kev!  You have no idea how happy I am to be home!  I can't began to tell you what a
nightmare it is to look in a mirror and see someone else's face."  The irony of the statement hit her, and she made a face.  "Oh gosh, I forgot.  The same thing happened to you too, didn't it, so you know exactly how it feels.  It's just the worst."  She then launched into her second hand rendition, regaling Ian with the time her brother and Roxanne had traveled to the 1800s.

           Kevin only half listened, his thoughts a jumbled mess.  The Fairy Queen was wrong. This Ian person couldn't stay.  Not here in this time, not here in this place.  He had his own destiny somewhere else.  With someone else.  He had no business claiming feelings for Roxanne.  Theirs was a chance meeting, and it should have stayed in the past where it belonged.  He could see this as plain as the hand in front of his face.  Why couldn't the others?  Surely Beckett could see the problems his being here caused.  Why wasn't he speaking up?

           Beckett chose that moment to reappear with the news that if they promised to be quick and quiet, they could see the recovering patient.  Kevin and Ian both raced toward the stairs, but because his foot was still in a cast, the priest found himself several steps behind the young Patriot.  At the Sheriff's request, the nurse stepped out, giving the group privacy, but admonishing them about the need to respect the condition of the patient.

           The four of them crowd into the small space, now looking more like a hospital room than the private quarters of the parish pastor.  Roxanne lay nestled in sterile white sheets, pale and still, tubes and lines connecting her to a panel of machines pushed to the side of the bed.  Seeing her that way put a somber cast to the visit, the four of them standing silently at the foot of the bed.  She appeared to be sleeping, her lashes dark smudges against ghostly skin, her chest rising and falling in labored breathing, and Maureen, her voice cracking, touched her hand, and whispered her name.

           "Roxanne.   Can you hear me?"

            Her eyes lids fluttered a bit, and then she opened them in a tiny squint.  Seeing them standing there, she smiled and closed them again, as if the effort to stay awake took monumental effort.  But in an instant, they flew open, and blinking several times, she stared wide eyed at the scene in front of her, her brain finally catching up to the vision.

            "Ian?  Is that you?  Oh my God, what have we done?"

            In that same moment, the machines next to the bed let out a symphony of beeps, alarms and angry buzzing.  The duty nurse barged into the room, shoving them all out the door until she could stabilize her patient.  After a quick scolding, she allowed them the opportunity to return, although now, one visitor at a time.  As was expected, Beckett went in first, spending nearly twenty minutes with Roxanne in an effort to explain what had transpired since the moment in the warehouse.  He left the room grim faced, sending Maureen in next with the warning not to promise things she couldn't deliver.

        The three men on the other side of the door strained to make out the conversation between the two women, but failed to hear much other than an occasional giggle, the sound a beacon in an otherwise stressful day.  She came out eyes red, but grinning, with the order that Roxie wanted to see Ian next, and Kevin last.  Ian's face was a clear picture of everything he was feeling inside.  Giddy yet apprehensive, he was the caricature of a young man totally smitten, and for Kevin, it was hard to watch. Beckett and Maureen moved away from the door, and when he didn't follow, his sister came over to take him by the arm.

          "They need some privacy, Kev.  This has been a shock to both of them, and Ian is just an innocent bystander in all of our issues.  We're the reason Roxie is in his life.  We need to let the two of them work it out."

            He shook her hand off his arm, ignoring the look he got from her husband.  "Innocent is not a word I'd use to describe your 'tag along', Mo.  He'd have himself right next to Rox in that bed if he could."

          "Aww, come on, Kevin.  You're being terribly unfair and judgmental. He'd do no such thing.  He's a very honorable young man, and the only reason we made it back here.  If it weren't for his help, we'd probably still be stuck in 1775.  We owe him a huge debt of gratitude, and if he thinks he has feelings for Roxanne, it's between the two of them.  We have nothing to say on the matter."

           "That's where you're wrong, Maureen.  We can't let Roxanne get silly over some guy she knows nothing about, especially one that needs to go back to his own time in history.  We have to look out for her best interests."

            Beckett leaned against the wall, and folded his arms across his chest, though there was nothing mocking in his tone or expression.  "Her best interests, or yours, Kevin?"

            There they were.  The words out loud.  He wanted to argue with the man, stammer out a wealth of accusations, and declare his comments off base.  But the truth was, he wasn't so sure the man was wrong.  He could see the painful look of sympathy in both Maureen and Ted's eyes, and knew they could see right through his protests, and so he said nothing, instead thumping down the stairs, and out the front door, running like he always did when it came to Roxanne.


           It was dark already when he returned to the rectory.  He could smell signs of Maureen's cooking through the open windows, and hear the three of them chatting in the parlor.  He had spent the better part of three hours walking, praying, pleading for answers, and was no closer to peace of mind then when he'd left.  Tired both physically and mentally, he prepared himself for the lecture he was sure to get from those he held nearest and dearest, so he was surprised at the normalcy of his homecoming.  No one said a word about the fact that he had stormed out like a petulant child, nor did they mention the reason he fled in the first place.

           "Hey, Kev...I hope you don't mind.  I scavenged your fridge and put together some dinner.  We were all starving.  I left you a plate in the fridge.  Just some burgers and fried potatoes.  You can warm it up in the microwave when you want."

             He could only mumble a few words of thanks, standing awkwardly in the doorway.  Seeing him there, Beckett stood up and poured three hefty shots of Jameson's from the glass decanter on the side table, the special reserve that he himself had procured for Kevin directly from a source in Ireland. He handed one to Kevin, one to Ian, and kept one for himself.  Raising the glass, he toasted, "Here's to Lady Fate.  She's one mighty bitch."

             The three men looked at each other, subconsciously nodding in unison, then threw back the whiskey in a single gulp.  It burned hot and smooth in Kevin's empty belly, and he could feel the warmth spread from his fingertips to his toes.

             "Fine whiskey, indeed, Reverend.  You are a most gracious host."

              He couldn't bring himself to speak, so he just nodded again, not sure what he'd say to the stranger sitting in his favorite chair.  Beckett put his glass back on the tray, then put a hand out to his wife.  "Well, my friends, it's been an exceedingly long day.  I think I will take my wife, and depart for home.  Her Royal Highness needs her beauty sleep."

             "That's not funny, Ted.  Don't start teasing me about that fairy shit.  It's freaking me out already."

              "If the wings fit, my dear, you should wear them proudly,"

               She made a face at him, but dropped the conversation, as not to encourage him.  The two of them headed for the door, hand in hand, Ian still firmly ensconced in the parlor easy chair.  The light bulb blinked on in Kevin's mind, and he stopped them, pointing at the man, "Hey wait, isn't he going with you?"

              Maureen looked at her husband, and then at her brother.  "With us?  Kev, we live in a one room apartment.  We don't even have a sofa.  Where would he sleep?"

               "Not to mention the privacy issue, O'Kenney.  You heard what Her Majesty said.  Gotta get to work on that royal blood line.  No time but the present as they say."  He gave his wife a leering wink, to which she blushed.

               He wasn't going to let them side track him with Beckett's off colored bullshit.  "Well, he certainly can't stay here.  Roxanne is already upstairs.  There's only the bed in the attic left.  There's really no place for him here."

               "You'll figure it out, O'Kenney."  Maureen added a quick hug, and the two of them were out the door, leaving Fr. Kevin with the weight of the world, an injured woman, and a time traveling Patriot in the center of his universe.

Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved