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.
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. "Uhmmm...so 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 it...is 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 later...as 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
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