Saturday, December 5, 2015
Of Love...and Other Diseases
The immense size of Beckett's property made solitude easy, though Fr. Kevin knew that if She Who Was All required him, he'd be found in an instant. Still, his flight gave him some level of privacy, and a chance for his beleaguered mind to slow down and contemplate the sure lunacy of the past few days. The sword was hidden somewhere near the house, and the further away he moved, the less influence it seemed to have over him. His head felt less fuzzy, and for the first time in nearly a week, he could actually think about something other than its divine presence.
He'd left with the excuse that he was looking for his sister who had fled in to the woods in search of her husband. They'd both been gone for more than four hours, and the level of concern about their whereabouts was beginning to rise. Or not. Frankly, it was only he that seemed worried about the safety of both Becketts, his counter parts duly lost in their own affairs. Strangely enough, Roxanne had taken an immediate shine to the ancient Irish legend, laughing and blushing over ridiculous stories that couldn't possibly be true. Cu-Chulainn fawned and fussed over her to the point of nausea, though in truth, it was Roxie's obvious attraction to him that made Kevin the most uneasy. And he wasn't alone in his feelings. Ian had become a "third wheel" in the conversation, and it was clear the young man was less than happy about losing Roxanne's attention.
Reason spoke to his staying and monitoring the situation to assure that the two men didn't come to blows, as there was no doubt that poor Ian would come out on the losing end. But at the moment, he had no inclination to play the role of mediator in their little love triangle, and so without much explanation, he'd left the cabin for a search of the property, knowing that if he could find his sister, at least one of his worries would be put to rest.
The late afternoon sun made only a dappled appearance through the canopy of trees, making the woods cooler and darker than what one might expect in late August. It was eerily quiet, the only sounds coming from the rustling of leaves in the wind, and an occasional bird flying from one branch to another. It was less scary than he thought, and in many ways, rather peaceful. With his head clear of the sword, he worked his way through one decade of the rosary, and then another, pleased with the total sense of normalcy. He was winding down the last Joyful Mystery when he heard a low humming sound coming from a spot a few yards in front of him, interrupting both his prayers and his peace of mind.
Fr. Kevin hesitated a moment, and then quietly made his way toward the direction of the sound, deciding it might be best not to give away his presence if that were possible. Up ahead was a small clearing, disguised by low hanging branches giving it the appearance of a small tepee. As quietly as he could, he parted the leaves and peered in, and what he saw left him with his mouth hanging open. In the center of the clearing was his sister, cross legged on the ground, with two gray squirrels curled up asleep in her lap. On her shoulder sat a magnificent blue jay, its black bead eyes focused on four tennis balls hovering on their own in front of his sister, which apparently was cause of the hum he heard. Maureen, a crown of woven leaves on her head, had her eyes closed tight, her lower lip bit in serious concentration.
If there had been instead a three headed dog shooting rays of flame, Fr. Kevin would have not been more surprised. His baby sister looked like something out of a Disney cartoon, an enchanted forest nymph, and not the woman who cussed like a sailor, and left gobs of toothpaste in the sink every morning. He battled in his mind as to whether he should say something, or just turn around and pretend he was never there, and the sensible side of him, the years of being an older brother, won out. "Maureen?"
Startled, she opened her eyes and turned in the direction of the voice, the four tennis balls immediately dropping to the ground and rolling away in different directions. The squirrels sat up in her lap, and then scampered off, the blue jay following suit and winging toward one of the taller trees.
There was a blush of pink around her neck, a sign of embarrassment at being caught off guard. "Kevin...what are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same question." He waved his hand in the direction of the clearing, and pointed at one of the neon green tennis balls. "What's going on? What's with the...floating balls? And the squirrels? Squirrels have rabies, you know."
She sighed. "It's...complicated, Kev."
"How 'bout you try un-complicating it, and explain."
The tone in his voice made her narrow her eyes. "Don't you pull that Big Brother shit with me, Kevin O'Kenney. I am a grown adult. A married woman. I don't answer to you...or Patrick, or any of the others any more. I make my own decisions."
He pushed aside the branches and entering the clearing, plopped down beside her. "Come on, Mo. You know I don't deserve that. We've been like two peas in a pod our whole lives. Why are you shutting me out now?"
"Because you won't understand."
"Try me. We could always tell each other everything. Why is this different?"
She looked away, then went to retrieve the four tennis balls. When she had gathered them up, she sat back down next to her brother, taking his hands in hers. "Ok...so you understand about the Fairy Queen, right? That we...you and I...are the last in a long line of her descendants."
"Yeah. You've explained that. I still find the whole thing...well...weird. Unbelievable, frankly. We're two of eight children. Why just us, and not the rest of them?"
"Luck of the genetic draw, Kev. That's how it works. For the same reason that some of us look like Ma's side, and a few of us look like Dad's family, even though we all have the same parents. Everyone always said how I resembled Granny when she was younger. It's just how the gene pool shakes out. Out of the eight of us, only you and I have red hair and the same green cat eyes like Granny did. That apparently is from the Fay blood line."
"You're telling me that you believe all this...fairy talk? You believe that you're...part Fay? Come on, Mo! We've had a perfectly normal life until the last few weeks. Granted, I can't explain any of it, but it doesn't change who we are. Maureen and Kevin O'Kenney. Human beings."
She pulled her hands from his, and folded them across her chest. "I knew you wouldn't understand. I'm just wasting my time here."
"Please, Maureen. I'm trying to hear what you're saying. It just doesn't add up. And what does this all have to do with you sitting out here with rabid animals in your lap? And that whole creepy thing with the tennis balls?"
"I'm trying to find out who I am, Kev. You of all people should understand that."
"You already know who you are. Maureen Margaret O'Kenney Beckett...wife, daughter, sister. You're beautiful, smart, creative and kind. Why isn't that enough? Why do you need to go searching for something else that isn't there?"
She was angry now, and near tears. She stood up, the tennis balls in her hand. "Damn you, Kevin! Because there is something else there, and you're too frightened...too close minded...to admit it." She closed her eyes, and tossed the balls in the air, They hung in a neat line between the two of them, and biting her lip again in concentration, she reversed their position from horizontal to vertical, and then back again. She opened her eyes and let them drop to the ground. "I can do these kind of things, Kevin. Maeve is showing me how."
He picked up one of the balls that had rolled near his feet, and flung it as hard as he could into the woods. "So that's what this is all about. She's filling your head with nonsense about magic. You know it's pagan, right? This whole magic crap she's selling you. It's a sin. What happened to your faith, Maureen?"
She reached down, and lobbed one of the balls at him, catching him at the side of the head.
He flinched at the contact, but didn't say a word, the expression on his face telling her all she needed to know. "Don't you go worrying about my faith, Fr. Kevin. My faith is MY business, and it's just fine. There's no such thing as "magic". All I'm doing is manipulating energy and matter, something science and manufacturing does every damn day. And if you believe it's so evil, so contrary to our faith, then what the hell are you doing here? Explain to me how you time-traveled? How I managed to be stuck in revolutionary Boston? And while you're at it, tell me why that damn sword has such a hold on you? Because...lets be honest here... whenever you're near it, you're like some moon-eyed zombie!"
He sat on the ground, silent. She was right...and wrong...about so many things, but in truth, he didn't have the answers to any of her questions. She must have sensed that she hadn't changed his mind, the knowledge coming from years as loving siblings rather than from any source of magic. They were at polar opposites of opinion for the very first time in their lives, and that realization cut both of them deeply.
She brushed off the seat of her pants, and offered him a hand up. When he wouldn't take it, she dropped it back at her side. "I guess we've said it all then, Kev. Go ahead and judge me if that's what you want to do. I can't change who I am, any more than you can change who you were born to be. We'll just leave it at that, but I want you to know I still love you as much as I always have." Then she turned and headed back to the cabin, the neon tennis balls following in a line behind her.
Maureen went ahead and started dinner as planned, despite the fact that no one had seen her husband since the early part of the day. She returned to the cabin tense and red-eyed, followed shortly by her brother, who appeared as if he had swallowed a large boulder and was now physically ill. Roxanne thought about trying to speak to either one of them, and then changed her mind. She was the last person on Earth who should expound on damaged relationships, her track record on the subject soundly dismal. Whatever had gone down between the two was their business, and knowing both of them as she did, she was sure they'd fix it before the night was over.
Instead, she had chosen to escape to her room, now standing in front of the mirror coaxing her chopped up hair into some kind of style. That alone should have been proof that she had lost her mind entirely. Here they were, in the middle of the woods, preparing for some cosmic battle between good and evil, and she was worried about how her hair looked. Worse yet, she'd tried on several blouses and a variety of t-shirts in search of something that covered the bandages on her chest, and didn't leave her looking bulky, yet another sign there was something deeply wrong with her.
She was surprised, and secretly pleased if the truth be admitted, when Cu-Chulainn accepted Maureen's invitation to stay for the evening meal. She wasn't even sure what the whole Fay protocol was regarding things like eating and drinking, and... other unsaid habits of human kind. She pushed aside the thought, her insides doing a strange little flip, much like when the legend had pressed his lips to her hand before they departed, or when Ian kissed her cheek before she headed upstairs to change for dinner. Damn it! What the hell was wrong with her? She hadn't even cared that Kevin was so distressed, and obviously in need of a shoulder to cry on.
Settling on a red top with a low scooped neckline, she pulled her hair back in a short pony tail at the back of her head, letting a few tendrils escape around her face to soften the look. A thought jumped out of nowhere to the front of her brain, an idea that a ribbon or hair band might add some color to what she considered a sallow complexion. Maybe even a dab of blush and maybe some lipstick, neither of which she'd ever considered packing. Her brain, however, would not be deterred, and she realized that Maureen was sure to have brought an abundance of both accessories and make-up, as was her way, and perhaps she could discreetly borrow some.
She considered going down and asking her permission, but then dismissed the idea. Going all the way downstairs where both men probably were already waiting, then back up again to finish dressing, seemed silly. She decided she'd just sneak upstairs, grab what she needed, and tell Mo about it later. Her friend never seemed the stingy type, and she doubted this occasion wouldn't be any different.
The hall in front of the Master Suite was deserted, the French doors not fully closed. She paused a second, then pushed them open and made her way across the room to the large antique dresser in the corner. The top was littered with an array of costume jewelry, and hair ornaments, and picking through them, she found exactly what she needed. To her disappointment, there was no make-up in sight, logic being they were probably on the vanity in the bathroom. Common sense suggested she do without it, but the fact that she was not thinking clearly had already been established. She made a quick dash to the the suite's bathroom, turning her head to keep an eye on the open French doors, and then running smack into something hard. And wet.
Startled, she looked up into Sheriff Beckett's piercing blue eyes, his dark hair plastered across his forehead. The Ridre Dubh, was wet and almost completely undressed except for the short towel he held around his waist with his left hand, and the Glock in his right For a second, she was completely paralyzed, pressed against his chest, and locked onto his face. Her stomach flipped again, and no words would leave her mouth.
He looked at her, and frowned. "Can I help you find something, Deputy?"
She turned several shades of red, and try as she might, she could not tear her eyes away. They seemed frozen on the drops of water that slipped from his hair and traveled down his freshly shaved cheek. She stepped back, hoping that would break the trance, but instead it put her eye level to his chest, the small scratch from the morning's debacle a thin red line from clavicle to shoulder. She had an overwhelming need to trace it with her finger. No. Not her finger. Her tongue.
He laid the Glock down on a nearby chair, and put a hand on her arm, still holding up the towel with the other. "Roxanne...are you alright?"
The physical contact was enough to break the spell, or whatever the hell was wrong with her.
Embarrassed, she stepped several feet back, her face, as well as the rest of her, sweaty and much too warm. "I'm fine, Sir. I...I came in here to borrow some..." The correct words wouldn't come, shriveling up and evaporating like rain drops on a hot summer day. She felt ill, mortified, confused.
Aroused. She turned away, afraid he'd see all those feelings in her face, and headed out the door and down the stairs to the second floor. She raced into her room, and slammed the door shut, locking it behind her. She tugged at the clean clothes she'd just put on, dropping them in a heap on the floor, and fled to the bathroom, reaching for the knob in the shower, and stepping under the icy stream of cold water.
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved