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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Comings and Goings, and Everything In Between











     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 Green Dragon Tavern 1775

       Until this moment, she had considered herself in great physical shape.  Her career as a dancer...three shows a night...had demanded it.  Now, away from that life for nearly four months, it was obvious a short run a few times a week wasn't cutting it.  Beckett was several feet ahead, and she was struggling to not fall further behind.  He had needed to stop and let her catch up once.  To have him do it a second time was...well...embarrassing.

    The man had hired her without even looking at her resume, fresh out of Boston College, Criminal Justice degree in hand.  It had been contingent on her passing the physical fitness test, and a clean background check, but Maureen's disappearance had put that all to the side.  This mission, in all its strange craziness, was to her mind a test of sorts.  She needed to prove to him that he hadn't made a mistake in placing his trust in her, here in the past, as well as when they returned home.

      Roxanne pushed hard, wringing the last bits of energy from tired muscles.  The time travel had been more physically taxing this time around.  Her head felt foggy and her muscles rubbery even though she'd been conscious for a better part of an hour.  When she had been swept away with Kevin, it had been the complete opposite.  She'd come to with an enhanced sense of clarity, as if she was viewing the world through a powerful lens.  Now, it seemed as if she had to fully concentrate just to put one foot in front of the other.

      Beckett held out a hand, motioning her to stop, and putting a finger to his lips to warn of silence.  Straining, she could just make out the sucking sounds of wheels in the mud, and the banging of wood against wood.  The Sheriff pointed to a small patch of dense brush near the rutted road they'd been following for the past thirty minutes.  The night sky had begun to lighten to the purple gray of early dawn, and she was able to make out the wagon full of barrels and the driver, his head hanging so low on his chest, he almost appeared asleep.  From the cover of the foliage, they watched the short parade, and when the man was a hundred feet ahead, Beckett signaled again for her to follow him.  Without a sound, the Sheriff caught up to the back of the open wagon, and hoisted himself up onto its back end, motioning to her to do the same.  She tried to move as quietly as he, but the sounds of her feet in the mud sounded as loud as cannons to her ears. Still, she moved forward until she reached the wagon, though getting on the back of the moving vehicle, which was a good four feet off the slippery, mucky ground, proved more difficult for her than it had for Beckett.

            He watched her struggle over and over again, first trying to hoist herself backwards, and then forwards, but offered no assistance, which both pleased and pissed her off at the same time.  It took her running after the damn wagon for nearly a quarter of a mile before she managed to hook a foot in the side paneling to finally pull herself up.  Out of breath, she leaned against the barrels and wiped the sweat from under her hat, in return receiving a thumbs up sign from her boss.  It was a simple gesture, barely noticeable and without much fanfare, but in her mind, as good as Olympic gold.

_____________________________

         Not surprisingly, he slept poorly.  His mind refused to shut down, images of the contents of the hidden box making a permanent home in his brain.  He had a pretty good idea of what he was looking at, though necessity forced him to play dumb in front of Mrs. Revere.  Question and oddities about Ted Beckett began to connect.  His obsession with privacy.  Short, curt answers to direct questions.  Unannounced and unplanned disappearances.  And that uncanny ability with languages.  Lots and lots of them.

       It was clear there was more to his brother-in-law than the personae he wanted everyone to believe. What he did for whom was still sketchy, but there was little doubt that Ted Beckett worked for more than the town of Dollyville.  This should have alarmed him more than it did, but in Fr. Kevin's mind, it made him feel better about the success of returning Maureen to her own body in her own time.  If the man was trained to do the impossible, then he surely had the biggest test in front of him.

      Most of the anger from the day before had left him.  Maybe it was the result of several hours of prayer, or maybe just the realization of what really mattered.  He cared for all of them deeply, even Beckett, who despite sometimes being a genuine asshole, treated him more like an equal than any of his brothers.  And then there was Roxanne.  Roxanne, who held a large chunk of his heart.  He couldn't even begin to consider what it would be like to never see her again.  His wounded pride was nothing compared to how much these people meant to him, and his selfish tirade about being left behind shamed him.  He had only one prayer now, that the good Lord would see fit to return them all safely.  For that, he would be more than eternally grateful.

        His focus needed to be on keeping things normal here at home.  Helping Mrs. Revere adjust to life hidden in the flat, staying ahead of any issues, and trying to act as if life was perfectly normal when it was not.  Kevin checked his iPhone for the day's schedule.  A meeting with the parish finance committee at 11:00, an appearance at the Rosary Society's Annual Fashion Show at 2:00,  followed by an appointment with the heating and air conditioner guy about the church's furnace.  Being busy was a good thing.  No time to worry about what might be going on in 1775.

      When the front door bell rang at 10:45, he expected to see Bill Sykes, the finance chairman of the parish council.  Sykes was a pompous, cantankerous old coot who held an opinion about everything, and Fr. Kevin found him difficult to work with.  But when he opened the door, he would have traded anything he owned for it to actually be Bill on his porch.

        "Shit, Kev.  You still haven't gotten that first stepped fixed?  I told you about it when I was here for Red's wedding.  That's a frickn' law suit waiting to happen.  All you need is for some yahoo to trip on the damn thing, and he'll be suing the diocese for half a mil.  Not good for your career, Kev. Not good at all."

        If the good Lord had any intention of answering his prayers, it was clear He wasn't going to make it easy.  "Morning to you too, Pat.  What bring's you to Dollyville?"

________________________________

     The swaying of the cart, and the exertion of the past few hours, lulled her into a light doze,  so when the Sheriff tapped her on the shoulder, she jumped, startled to have been caught napping on the job, and banging her head on a barrel in the process.

     If he noticed, he didn't mention it.  Leaning in, he whispered, "I can smell salt water and fish.  We must be getting close to Boston Harbor.  Time to get off."

      She nodded, and watched him easily slide off the back of the cart with nary a sound.  He put a hand out to assist her, but she ignored it, instead trying to match his exact movements.  She plopped to the ground with only a small thump, secretly congratulating herself on not face planting, and then followed him.

      They walked about a mile before Boston Harbor came into view.  The water sparkled like a sea of diamonds in the early morning sun, and the breeze carried the stench of rotten fish, wet hemp and unwashed bodies.  Growing up in Boston, she had seen the Harbor a million times, but never once had it instilled such awe as it did now.  Ships of all kinds bobbed in the water, shouts and conversations surrounding her with the business of workday efficiency.  Beckett moved like a man who knew exactly where he was going, and thus, no one seemed to pay him much mind.  Roxanne tried not stare, but her sense were overwhelmed.  Here she was.  In the center of everything she knew about Revolutionary history.  It was almost too much to take in.

      The Sheriff stopped, as if to get his bearings, and then made an abrupt turn left.

      "Where are we going first?"

      "This is the North End.  Union Street is up this way."

      "How do you know that?  Nothing looks the same as it does now."

      "I memorized an old copy of a 1775 map I found on the Internet.  Couldn't risk taking it with me.  Be hard to explain if we were searched, especially during these times."

      "The Revere home is on North Square, not Union. I'm positive.  I remember taking the house tour as a kid."

      He gave her a look that suggested her opinions were not necessary, unless he requested them.  "I'm aware of that.  But we can't just wander over to North Square, snatch up Maureen, and head for that spot in the bank.  Not here in 1775.  These were difficult times.  The British were keeping tabs on every one's comings and goings, especially those suspected of having anything to do
with The Sons of Liberty.  I have no doubt the British are keeping a close eye on Revere's shop and home, and we as strangers would garnish too much attention.  From both sides.  I think its best we casually 'introduce' ourselves in town.  Make it known that we're no threat to anyone.  Just here from Philadelphia to visit our dear cousin, Rachel."

     "I guess I understand your reasoning, but didn't the Fairy Queen insist we stay to ourselves?  Not interact with anyone from this time period?"

      He gave her another look, this one a tad more scary.  "This is my mission.  We'll do it my way.  Are we clear on that, Spinelli?"

      "Yes, Sir."

      "Glad to hear it. We'll be heading down Union Street.  I'm looking for the Green Dragon Tavern."


Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved

   

 

     

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Happy Spring Dear Readers!
        Due to an impossible work load for the "Day Job", there will be no new post this week.  Wish me luck as I give my first professional development work shop today, as well as get the book my students are writing to press.  It's crazy around here!!!
      I invite you all to come back next week to learn first hand how Beckett and Roxanne are faring in Pre-Revelotionary Boston, and what Fr. Kevin has to say about the strange discovery he's made.

As always, I appreciate the loyal support of my humble literary endeavors.
Until next week,
Vicki










Saturday, March 14, 2015

Keeping Secrets


           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

Ted and Maureen's kitchen


      The period clothes felt mortifying, in the manner of a girl who eventually realizes her prom date has stood her up.  He trudged the stairs to his bedroom where he stripped them off in anger, throwing the entire collection into a heap on the closet floor.  It was still quite humid, and so he shunned the dark suit of his profession for a comfortable pair of khakis and polo shirt.  To Fr. Kevin's mind, responsibility owed that he should walk down the street and check on Mrs. Revere.  She deserved an update on the current state of events, or at least the information that the Fairy Queen's spell had seemed to be successful.  Embarrassment stood in his way.  She'd immediately recognize there had been a last minute change of plans, and somehow he'd have to explain that he'd been purposefully left behind.

           Still, the empty quiet of the rectory seemed worse.  Jamming his cell phone and keys in his pocket, he ambled out the front door and down the street toward the deli.  Now that Roxanne was gone, the woman's safety and well being had become his concern.  Part of him found comfort in that notion.   Even though his head understood that the woman was not truly Maureen, she looked like the little sister who held his heart, and just viewing her face made him feel better.  He knew it was a silly notion, but secretly hoped his extra kind treatment of Rachel Revere would result in mirror treatment of his sister, alone and lost in that strange body.

            Upon arrival, there was no way to escape the third degree questioning by Mrs. Schiller.  It was several minutes and two homemade crullers later before he could make his way upstairs to Ted and Maureen's flat.  As planned, the woman was stretched out across the bed, right foot wrapped up to look as if she had suffered a bad sprain, the consensus being that the less interaction the fake Maureen had with the life of the real one, the better.  She looked up from the book she was reading, and it was was obvious from the expression on her face she was not surprised to see him.

            "Good Evening, Reverend.  I surely hope you bring good news."

            "You don't seem very shocked to see me, Mrs. Revere.  I'll take that as a sign that you were part of the conspiracy to make a fool of me."  He hadn't intended to be so harsh.  The woman was as much a victim in all of this as Maureen was.  Maybe even more so, since she didn't even have knowledge of the watch.  But it galled him beyond belief that he was so gullible, so out of touch, that all this subterfuge could go on behind his back and he'd been none the wiser.

                His words apparently touched a nerve, as she blushed, looking downward and fingering the weave of the comforter.  "I can see we have hurt your feelings, Reverend O'Kenney.   Believe me when I say that was never our intention...your friends and I.  Mr. Ted...the Sheriff I mean...he made some valid points.  A man in your position, a servant of the Lord Himself, has no business being involved in things of a wicked nature.  Fairy magic and such.  I must admit to agreeing with his feelings on the subject."

            Fr. Kevin dragged a kitchen chair out with his foot, and dropped into without ceremony.  "Please, Mrs. Revere.  I've heard this lecture more than enough times.  It doesn't excuse the fact that you all plotted against me.  Against my wishes.  I'm quite capable of making up my own mind on decisions that affect my life."

           "It was the very point of that life we expressed concerned over, Reverend.  There was no telling how the loss of any part of your soul might damage your vocation.  It was a risk your dear friends were unwilling to let you take, despite your misguided decision to do so."  She sighed, and closed the book in her lap.  "I think it was ever so generous of them to make such a sacrifice on your behalf.  I should count myself lucky to number them among my dearest comrades.  I hope someday you can understand the monumental gift they've given you."

            It was her honest emotion that made him feel guilty.  Here she was, stranded in a body that was not her own, ripped from the life she knew, but expressing only concern for his bruised feelings.  It made him feel small and petty.   "I suppose I'll get over it, Mrs. Revere.  At some point."  He rose and rummaged through the fridge in search of something he might call dinner.  "Are you hungry?  Can I fix you something?  A sandwich or snack."

           "Much thanks, Reverend.  But I am far too worried to eat.  You have yet to tell me how the two brave souls fared in their attempt to time travel.  Did the fairy spell work?  Have they gone to set things straight?"

             "I wish I could tell you how it all happened.  Unfortnately, the Sheriff's punch to the head knocked me out cold.  I never saw them leave.  But I have it on good authority that the spell was successful.  We can only hang on to hope that they find my sister and get her to the right spot in time.  If that should happen, you and she should return immediately to your rightful bodies."

             Rachel clapped her hands together.  "Oh, I can only pray for a such a positive outcome.  If this doesn't work, I am not sure how..."  Her voice trailed off, and she looked away, unable to formulate the awful words.  "We must be optimistic, Reverend.  All shall work out fine.  And in the meantime, you must tell me all about your dear sister.  I think I would very much like her."

             It was in that way they passed the rest of the evening, sharing stories of family and events as if they were old friends catching up after a long absence.  The young woman was easy to talk to, and there was something strange and fascinating in hearing of the country's early struggles for democracy from a first hand perspective.  For awhile, he was able to forget his long list of self doubt and worries, and when Maureen's small table clock chimed 10:00 PM, he was shocked to find it that late.

             Fr. Kevin stood up, and pushed away from the table.  "It's getting late, Rachel.  I should really head back to the rectory.  There's a few things I need to take care of before I turn in.  Will you be alright in the flat by yourself?"

             "I shall be fine, Fr. Kevin.  I have enjoyed your company greatly."

             "And I yours, Ma'am.  I will be back to check on you after morning Masses."

             "Thank you, Reverend.  I am grateful for your kindness.  Though, I wonder if I may ask a favor before you leave?"

             "Sure.  What do you need?"

             "I almost hate to trouble you, but there seems to be a leak of sone kind under the water cabinet."  She pointed to the floor next to the kitchen sink, where a large puddle had formed.  "I wipe it up, and it soon returns.  I would be most upset to have your sister return to find her beautiful floor damaged.  Do you think you might see if you can fix it?"

             "Not a big problem.  Let me take a look.  Maybe just a loose pipe or something. I'm sure I can find some temporary fix for tonight.  Tomorrow, if it's still leaking, I'll have to call a plumber."  He took a towel and wiped the puddle, then knelt on his hands and knees and peered under the sink.  It was a difficult spot in which to manuever his 6 foot plus frame, and in an attempt to get at the pipe, he banged his elbow hard against the back of cabinet.  Expecting solid wall, he was shocked when the wooden panel gave way, exposing a gaping hole beyond the cabinet.

                Something shiny caught the light.  Curiosity got the best of him, and he pulled more of the wood away, revealing a small "hidey hole" containing a metal box, much like the kind fisherman used for their tackle.  At this point, it seemed silly not to at least check what was inside.  He'd heard stories about people who squirelled away money inside mattresses and closets.  Maybe a previous tennant had hidden something away and forgotten about it?

                 Fr. Kevin pulled the box out, and un-cramped himself from the tight spot under the sink.  Standing up, he placed the box on the table.  "Look at what I found in a hole behind the sink."

                 "Found?  It was hidden?"

                 "Seems like it.  Shall we see what kind of treasure's inside?"  The box was unlocked, and so he easily flipped open the latch.  For a second or two, he just stood there, unable to process what it was he was seeing.  Large piles of currency from all over the world, held together with thick, gummy rubber bands.  Four cell phones.  The kind you buy over the counter in convenience stores.  Two small hand guns. A switchblade.  And a stack of passports from two dozen countries.  Each with a different name, but all with Ted Beckett's somber face staring up from them.


A secret stash catches Fr. Kevin off guard


Copyright  2015  Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved


         
   
           

           

           

         

         

Saturday, March 7, 2015

In a Huff, and In a Hurry

          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 contemplates being left behind
        He sat that way for a long time, head pressed against the sofa cushion, plastic dish pan in his lap. Brian observed him in odd forlorn silence, which gave credence to his theory that the wee man was somehow involved.  At this point, it didn't matter who was to blame.  It all came down to the fact that none of the people he cared about most, felt he was worthy of their confidence.

       It wasn't a big surprise that Beckett felt this way.  He never hid the fact that he found Kevin's vocation absurd, and his spiritual beliefs naive.  But before Maureen's accident, and the ensuing argument over the psycho woman, he was pretty sure they had been...well... friends, if you could describe a relationship with the Sheriff in such generic terms.  He was the type of person who could  make you feel like you were the only person in the room, while systematically holding you an arm's length away.  Outwardly charming and personable, there was something menacing and grim about his general nature, and when the Fairy Queen had given him the moniker "Dark Knight", the priest was certain it wasn't the man's brunette locks she was describing.

       His brother-in-law's deception had not been a complete shock, but Brian's revelation that Roxanne had traveled in his place cut deep, a total breech of loyalty that hurt more than he would ever admit to anyone, expect ironically, to Roxie herself.  They had experienced the curse of the damned watch together, been sucked into time, and returned unscathed.  She had witnessed first hand how he had done everything possible to get them back home, even to the point of possibly sacrificing his own life.  And now, with Maureen's safety at stake, Rox's lack of belief in him, and the betrayal that went along with it, was worse than the punch Beckett took at his head.

         Kevin tried to push himself up from the floor, and grimaced.  His head still swam, and the rolling in his stomach had taken on a whole new dimension.

        "Best be you stay put, Laddie.  No sense in making things worse."  The clurichaun slid down off the sofa arm to join him on the floor.  "I could help with the ache in your belly, I could, with a fine pot of spearmint tea."

         "I'm fine.  I'm a grown man.  I'll handle it on my own.  You can be on your way now.  No reason for you to be hanging around here.  Nothing to see.  Nothing to say."

        "Ach, Lad, I know you be angry.  And not so well to boot.  But you're lettn' your head lead ya in the wrong direction.  'Tis for the best, and if ya jest spell it all out, you'd be seeing it in the same manner."

         Kevin held up a hand.  "Stop.  Just stop there.  You said your piece earlier.  I don't need a repeat. Especially from someone I can't trust."

         The little man narrowed his eyes, and with a flick of his wrist, the dish pan in his lap flew across the room, and banged into the leg of his desk, splashing vomit in its wake.  "You be actn' like a spoiled bairn, Kevin Seamus!  Not seein' the gift your friends gave for your sake.  They sacrificed themselves...a piece of their immortal soul...so yours could stay clean and whole.  You, who claim belief in all things unseen, did not believe so much as your friends.  They wisely took She Who Was All at her word.  Believed her when she said the dark spell would be costly.  Too costly for one in the service of the Creator.  And when you yourself would not listen to reason, they had little choice be to save you from yourself.  Ach!  You have a head made of saw dust, Lad.  I be shamed for your lack of gratitude."

        The Fey's words both alarmed and embarrassed him, and he knew somewhere in all of this was one of those life changing moments.  Yet, with his head pounding, and his puke puddling in spots on the carpet, he wasn't ready to crawl into the concept that what his friends had done was an act of pure selflessness and love.  What he wanted at the moment was solitude.  The quiet space of self pity where he could lick his wounds in total abandonment.  He pushed himself up from the floor, disregarding the groaning of cramped muscles, and facing the little man, gave a careless wave of his hand. "Well, by all means then, maybe you should be on your way, Brian.  Wouldn't want you hanging around here all ashamed of me, would we?"

        Brian frowned, and shook his head sadly.  "As you wish, laddie.  As you wish."  With a snap of his fingers, he was gone, leaving Fr. Kevin alone in the room with a mess and his thoughts.

______________________________

        Where they would end up had been one of his biggest concerns.  He liked his missions planned in detail, and the Fairy Queen had been less than forthcoming with the incidentals of where and when.  Beckett couldn't imagine what they would do if they appeared out of nowhere in front of people.  It would put them at a disadvantage, a scenario he wanted to avoid at all costs.  In the basics, it was a very simple plan.  Arrive.  Seek out Maureen.  Find the spot in the bank.  Verify that Maureen and Mrs. Revere had switched.  Then, use the amulet to return home.  The key was avoiding contact with other people of the time.  Not so much because of the Queen's warning about changing the nature of time, but simply because in his line of work, contact usually meant conflict.  The more conflict, the messier the job became.  Easy in-easy out worked best, and this mission was no different in most ways than the hundreds he'd undertaken before.  Except, maybe, that the stakes were higher.  More personal

       As it was, he had worried for nothing.  One moment he and Roxanne had been hand-strapped together in the rectory parlor, and the next conscious moment had him on his back starring up at a night sky, his new Deputy lying slightly on top of him, her eyes still closed.  He could feel her breath on his neck, so he knew she was alive and fine, though not yet conscious. Shifting his weight to his right shoulder, he moved her to her back, and with his other hand, unlaced the cord tying their hands.  He pulled the length of cord through the bail of the amulet, then knotted the ends together tightly, and placed the whole thing over his head, tucking it under his clothes.

        Next to him, Roxie groaned, her eye lids fluttering as she fought through the fog of time travel.  Beckett took the time to scope out his surroundings.  Luck on their side, they had landed in a dense spot of trees and foliage, and by the position of the moon, sometime around 4 AM, under the cover of pre-dawn darkness.  He could smell smoke in the distance, and knew there must be others fairly close by, but for the present, it appeared he and Rox were alone.

       It would be best to take advantage of the dark to make their way into the Boston proper as quickly as possible, and so hoping to speed up her full consciousness, he gave Rox a shake, lightly tapping her cheeks.  "Deputy.  Roxanne.  Are you awake? Rise and shine.  We gotta get moving."

         She groaned again, but did not open her eyes.  Beckett checked her pulse, finding it strong and steady, and gave her another hard shake.  "Deputy Spinelli...can you hear me?"

        There was no response.  She seemed to be out cold, unaware that their opportunity for stealth travel was slipping away.  He made a face, but having no other choice, clamped a hand firmly over her nose and mouth.  It took a few seconds, but she began to stir a bit, then struggle, her arms flailing about, until finally her eyes opened wide in terror.  Seeing she was fully awake, he removed his hand.  She shot to a sitting position, coughing and sputtering.

       "What the fuck?!  Why were you tryn' to suffocated me?!"

       "I wasn't.  You were out cold.  I couldn't wait for you to regain consciousness on your own.  Time's slipping away."

        "You could have killed me!"

        "No.  The brain's set for flight or fight.  I knew as soon as I cut off your breathing, it would take over, and force you to fight for survival.   You'd have no choice but to get the adrenaline pumping.  I wouldn't have let you suffocate."

        "Well isn't that fucking nice to know!  Hell, Sheriff...that's pretty extreme, don't you think?"

         He shrugged his shoulders.  "Actually, it's a pretty common technique."  He stood up, and offered her a hand.  "Now, if you think you can stand, I suggest we be on our way."


Beckett and Roxanne arrive outside Boston




Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved