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Saturday, May 30, 2015

What 'Ale's' You

   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

Putting the plan in action

           She tried not to concern herself with worry over how awful she must look.  Wisps of hair had escaped the ponytail, and the blunt ends of her self-induced haircut stuck out like porcupine bristles around her head.  There were clumps of dried blood stuck to her inner arms, and the whiff she caught of herself gave evidence to the exertion of the past several hours.  None of that really mattered.  In the next few hours, if Fate was on their side, the three of them would return to the life they owned, and the Patriot cause, as well as one Ian Sawyer, would be left to history books and memory.

          Roxanne tried to pull herself to a sitting position, but the pain stole her breath, and so she settled on propping up just her head, tucking the blanket tightly around her nakedness.  Ian stood just out of range, seemingly waiting for an invitation to approach, so she lifted the hand on the good arm and gave a small wave.

         He took a few steps forward, and taking advantage of the exposed hand, grasped it and gave a small squeeze.  "Miss Roxanne...it is good to see you awake and alert.  My poor heart nearly stopped to see you take such a direct hit.  I was afraid you were on a path to meet your Maker, all on my account."

        She tried to speak, but the words came out weak and breathy, and he stopped any further attempt.  "Do not waste your energy trying to push out the words.  You will surely have need for each breath later. Your brother has explained it all to me, and I must say, I hold you in the highest esteem to take such risks for the cause.  You are a true Patriot, Madame, and I am deeply indebted to you for saving my pitiful life.  I hope you will allow me to return the favor tenfold, as well as come to know you better.  You appear to be an amazing woman."

          They were beautiful words, each more painful than the next.   There'd be no returned favor.  No opportunities to spend time together.  It was as it was.  "Then you're not angry?  About us being less than honest with you?"

            He smiled, but tempered it with a look of firm resolve.  "These are dangerous times, Madame.  There are those that would agree to wear the yoke of tyranny.  I do not count myself among them.  If your deception has root in the cause, then I am happy to have served my part.  My only regret is that you yourself are in peril because of your action to save me.  I shan't forget my debt to you.  You have my word on that."

_______________________________________________

            The Sheriff had been honest about the level of pain the transport would involve, but she still wasn't ready for actuality of living through it.  Getting one of Paul Revere's cotton short over her bandaged arm and chest was difficult enough, the pain radiating clear down to her knee caps, and making her woozy on her feet.  But forcing her battered body into the tight confines of the wooden ale barrel was agony on a whole new level.  The shape required her to twist her right shoulder inwards, thus putting pressure on the wound, the searing pain so great at one point she had lost consciousness, and her comrades had seriously considered shucking the plan all together.

         But it was by far the best shot they had at getting to the spot they needed to be.  The bank itself, the one she and Kevin had transported from, had not yet been built.  It would not appear in that location until 1784.  But she felt she could recall the area from it's position adjacent to the Gardnier Building on the Long Wharf, home to John Hancock's counting house, and the oldest surviving building still in existence in the 21st Century.  If they were anywhere close enough to the spot, the watch would begin it's incessant humming, giving them the knowledge that they were moving in the right direction.  The plan was for Maureen to use the watch to transport first.  Once it was determined that she and Rachel Revere had switched bodies, Roxanne and Beckett would use the amulet to return to their correct place in time.

           What Beckett had told Ian, or how he planned to keep the brave young man out of their business, Roxanne had no idea.  Nor did she want to know.  The ache in her heart was in some ways more whole painful than the wound to her chest.  She had forged an instant connection with him the minute they had laid eyes on each other in the Green Dragon.  She thought perhaps there was something on his side as well, but it made little sense to dwell on that possibility.  She belonged in her time and space, he in his, and wishing otherwise was a fruitless endeavor.  The less contact she had with him in their final time to together was the prudent way to go, and so she worked at ignoring any attempts he offered to engage her in conversation.

           Getting herself into he barrel closed the door on any other contemplation.  She gritted teeth,  breathed heavily through her nose, and focused entirely on her life back in Dollyville.  Her new job as a deputy.  Her renewed friendship with Kevin.  The new apartment she'd get.  The wonderful people she was going to meet.  It kept her mind off the pain long enough to shimmy her lanky frame into the barrel.  There was a moment of panic when Ian laid the cover over her head, propping it open for the tiniest bit to allow air to enter, but she fought it down with the knowledge that the others were depending on her.

            She could hear shuffling and banging as Maureen and Beckett worked their way into their own barrels, and Ian moved additional filled kegs around them.  He delivered to the market around King's Street on a daily basis, and his presence on the road would hopefully go unnoticed as it did on most occasions.  But their informal run-in with Hollings had put the man edge, and they had only traveled a short distance, before the wagon came to a sudden halt.

              Roxanne strained to hear through the heavy wood, the smell of hops and yeast permeating the air inside, and making her more than a tad queasy.  She could hear three male voices, one of them being Ian's, jovial and light-hearted among the sullen responses of the other two.

               "Gentlemen, as you can clearly see, I am on my way to deliver a shipment of ale to market.  Best in the colonies, it is, and in great demand."

               "It matters little to us.  We've been ordered to search all wagons going to the wharf.  The Governor fears an uprising among the rebels, and their plans to ship weapons has become a principal problem for him.  We'll need to open all the barrels.  Check for ourselves what's inside."

               Fear clawed at her throat.  If the red coats found the three of them inside, they would undoubtedly be detained, even arrested, as their presence would look highly suspicious.  Her injury would be noticeable, and she'd be questioned as to how she came to be shot.  There was a shuffling at the end of the wagon, and she could hear the tops being pried off the barrels, and she began to pray to a God that had let her down on a number of occasions.

               "Gentlemen...I beg of you to cease.  No man in his right mind will purchase a barrel of ale with the seal broken.  He'd risk the possibility of spoilage.  Your actions will cost me a great deal of money, as well as waste a fine batch of ale.  Can we not come to a compromise?"

                From her spot at the back of the wagon, she could make out very little of what was going between the two red coats, though she hoped inherent greed would win out.  There was some type of discussion back and forth, as a few barrels were removed from the back of the wagon, the clank of tankards suggesting the wares were being sampled.  Sweat ran down from her forehead, tickling her nose and making her want to scratch.  She held her breath, daring not to move a muscle, until the wheels on the wagon once again began to turn.

Copyright Victoria T. Rocus  2015
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tits For Tat

   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


Injuries

        It was the elephant that brought her back, the one that if she opened her eyes, must be sitting on her chest, making each breath a monumental struggle. She needed to clear the fog rolling in her head, open her eyes, and push the damn thing off.  In her mind, she could see its gray leathery skin and wrinkled rolls heaped like dead weight atop her lungs, stopping any air she attempted to suck in.  How it had gotten there on top of her she didn't know.  Everything was confused and cloudy, her conscious thoughts lost like a pebble in quick sand.  Every time she grasped at reasoning, it slipped below the surface, out of reach.

        She thought she had been dreaming.  Still a child in school, playing at recess.  Her brothers were there, Gino and Louie.  They were shouting her name, over and over, calling her to join them on the other side of the playground.  That's how she knew she was dreaming.  Part of her was sure Gino was dead, his body broken and battered in a car accident when she was 16.  And Louie?  Louie was gone too.  Disappeared one day, never to return, the product of questionable friends, and shady business dealings.  But here they both were.  Alive in her head, and calling her name.  She tried to make her lips form the words.  Tell them she heard them.  But her mouth worked no better than her eyes, and the effort left her exhausted.

        "Roxanne...can you hear me?  Please, Roxie.  You have to be okay."

       No.  Not Gino.  Not Louie.  This was a woman's voice.  Not one she fully recognized, though something told her she should.  The need to know was great, and so with mental hands she waved away the fog, and forced open an eyelid.  The face above her was a woman with dark hair, both familiar and not, concern and fear etched in her expression.

        "Oh, Roxanne.  Thank God you're conscious!  I was afraid you'd fallen into some kind of coma.  We've stopped the bleeding, but Ted says he can't get the damn thing.  It's lodged in a bad spot."

         She ran a swollen tongue over cracked lips, too large for her mouth and getting in the way.  "What's lodged?  Where?"

        "The musket ball.  It's lodged in your chest somewhere, too close to your lungs for us to do anything about it.  You need a doctor. A modern one.  We have to get home."

         For several seconds, her words made no sense.  Musket ball. Doctor.  Home.  Then, the pieces begin to slowly drop in place like a mental game of Connect Four.  She was in the past.  Had time traveled.  It was Maureen O'Kenney talking to her, she who was currently occupying the body of Paul Revere's wife, Rachel.  It was total craziness, and still was the truth, obvious proof she was no longer dreaming.  "I've been...shot?"

        Maureen laid a cool cloth over her forehead, and reached for her hand, careful to keep her arm in the same position.  "I'm afraid so.  How much do you remember?"

        "Bits and pieces.  Of being in the shed.  That bastard trying to rape me.  Ian.  He was there.  Then...it all gets a little fuzzy.  Who shot me?  Not Ian?"

         "No, of course not.  From what Ian told us, he was worried about Hollings stationing those two thugs at the house, so he stayed put and hid out back in that copse of trees, just in case there should trouble.  He's the nicest guy, Rox.  So gentlemanly.  And very attractive, in a rugged, old fashioned way, don't you think?  Anyways, he saw the one soldier follow you into the shed, and he had a feeling the guy was up to no good.  He said he tried to rescue you, but that you were the one who took the shovel to the asshole's head.  Put him completely down.  But there was the second guy still outside, and he was aiming at Ian.  Apparently, you shouted a warning at Ian just in the knick of time.  He moved out of range...but unfortunately, you didn't.  The musket ball hit you just below the right shoulder."

          "And the other soldier?  Where's he?"

          Maureen looked away for a second before answering.  "Ted took care of him.  Had no choice. The man was reloading for a second shot."

           Both women went silent, each pondering the cause and effect of what had happened in the last hour or so.  They had changed the course of events in the time line, something Ted and Roxanne had been strictly warned against doing, and the consequences of their actions were sure to cause a problem somewhere through history .  In addition, her cover as a deaf mute was blown, and her injury was sure to hamper the success of their mission.  She could only begin to imagine how pissed the Sheriff might be with her.  Not wanting to contemplate his displeasure, she let her mind wander until a third issue reared it's ugly possibility.  She lifted the cotton blanket covering her, and peeked beneath.  Her entire right shoulder and breast were engulfed in strips of linen bandages, wrapped tightly to limit mobility of the right arm as well.  Her other side was bare, revealing a lot of pale skin and one very perky left breast.  The thought slammed to the front of her brain.

              "You cut off my clothes and bindings!"

              "Uhh...yeah.  You were bleeding all over the place.  Ted needed to see how deep the musket ball had pierced, and then, stop the bleeding.  We had to pack it with clean wool.  I'm sorry, Rox.  It's a pretty nasty looking wound.  I'm guessing it's gonna leave a scar of sorts."

             She hadn't even thought of that possibility.  "So...the Sheriff saw my boobs?  Ian too?"

              Maureen looked at her oddly.  "Well, yeah.  I suppose they did.  There really wasn't a choice, Rox.  You had just gotten shot.  We weren't thinking of that.  Only of saving your life.  Nothing else mattered."

               She knew what her friend was probably thinking.  Could imagine the things she wouldn't say out loud in fear of hurting her feelings.  What did it matter if they saw her tits? She had worked the past four years as an exotic dancer.  Lots of men had seen her boobs.  Half of Boston, for sure.  But she had mentally closed the door on that life, taken back her privacy, and it now deeply embarrassed her that Beckett had gotten a first hand look, up close and personal.  And then there was Ian.  Lovely, amazing Ian with the unforgettable green eyes.  In another place, another time, she would have invited all the attention he wanted to give those babies.  But here in this place, with things the way they were, it just seemed another slap in the face by the hands of Fate.  The things she wanted most always out of her reach, and that thought, more than the burning, throbbing hole in her chest, made her went to cry.

             Seeing the tears run down her face, Maureen gripped her good hand.  "Don't cry, Roxie.  Please don't cry.  It's going to be okay.  Ted'll think of a new plan.  He'll figure out how to get us all home.  He had to lie to Ian now that the truth is out about you not being a boy.  Or a deaf mute.  But like I said, Ian's a great guy.  He believes this all has something to do with us being Patriots.  That  this is all fodder for the cause.  Funny thing, he actually seems relieved that you're a girl.  He's promised to help us anyway he can."

             Her heart flipped at the mention of Ian, but it wasn't anything she wanted to share with Maureen.  Feelings for this man in 1775 were hopeless, an idiotic yearning for something she couldn't have.  Her focus needed to be on what Beckett had declared "the mission", and so she pushed any romantic thoughts out of her head.  "I'll be okay, Mo.  I'm sorry to be blubbering like a baby.  Weak moment.  Glad the Sheriff wasn't hear to see it.  He'd be second guessing his decision to make me a deputy."

           "Oh no, Rox.  He's been singing your praises since he's gotten here.  How you follow orders like a pro, and how you always give 100%, despite your lack of training.  He seems quite impressed, which is saying a lot for Ted.  He's...well...pretty demanding, you know."

            "Where are they now?"

            "They needed to do something with the two soldiers.  When they don't report back, someone is sure to come looking for them.  They were talking about burying them somewhere in back of the shed.  The ground is still pretty soft from all the rain."

            "So...they're both dead then?"

            "Yeah...afraid so.  You hit him pretty hard, Rox.  Shattered the whole back of his skull.  He was probably dead before he hit the ground."  She watched her friend's face for any indication of horror, and when none was present, continued.  "Ted mentioned that you had a lot more upper body strength than he'd of guessed.  I presume that's a good thing, as he made it sound like a compliment."

           She probably should have felt some remorse over killing the man.  Strangely, she didn't.  She who nursed stray birds and kittens back to health and cried over sad movies, couldn't muster a shred of pity or regret over taking the life of another human being.  She wondered what that might say about her moral code, but there was no time to weigh her thoughts, as Beckett and Ian chose that moment to return.

          Seeing her awake, he took her wrist to check her pulse, then pulled back her eye lids to check her pupils.  "Your pulse is strong and regular, and your color is decent, all things considered.  How do you feel?"

           "Like a truck hit me, Sir.  My shoulder hurts likes hell."  She kept her eyes on Beckett's face, and avoided Ian, who she could see from the corner of her eye was standing few steps to his left.

            "Understandably so.  You took a musket ball to the right chest region.  I won't lie to you.  There's a lot of tissue and muscle damage, and I don't like the position of the damn thing so close to your right lung.  If it had been a few inches more to the left, you'd be dead.  We cleaned and packed it the best we could, but you need professional medical attention, the sooner the better.  Do you understand me?"  He looked directly into her eyes, forcing her full attention.  "We are going to proceed with our original plans with just a few changes.   Instead of walking to the wharf area, we will be traveling in the back of Mr. Sawyer's wagon.  He's well known in the area for his ale, and so we will be hiding in empty barrels.  In your state, stuffing yourself into that tight position will probably cause you a lot of additional pain, and I have have little to offer in the way of analgesics.  It's the best shot we have, but if you don't think you can do it, I will try to find an alternative way."

        "No, Sir.  I can do it.  We have to proceed as planned.  There is no reasonable alternative."

        Beckett looked at her shrewdly, then nodded.  "Okay.  Then it's a go.  It will take Mr. Sawyer and I an hour or so to get things ready, then we will head towards the bank.  In the meantime, you rest as much as possible.  You'll need every ounce of strength to make this ride.  Mrs. Revere has a beef broth ready.  If you can get down a few mouthfuls, it would be helpful."

        "I'll try, Sir."

       "Good girl."  He gave her hand a little squeeze, a gesture she found strangely comforting, if not a bit odd.  "This will all work out, Roxanne.  You have my word that I will do everything humanly possible to bring this to a successful conclusion."  He lowered his voice, and whispered.  "I think Ian would like to speak with you as well.  Be careful what you say to him.  I've already involved him more than I ever intended.  I don't want to see any harm come to him because of us.  I respect the man's courage."

        She wanted to refuse.  Insist he send Ian away.  But the Sheriff was a man used to having his orders obeyed, and so she just nodded, suddenly feeling queasy and much too warm, her shoulder throbbing in unison with her pulse.  Beckett turned and walked away, focused now on moving his plans along.  For a minute or two, Ian stood in the background, and she wondered if perhaps he was angry at having been duped.  He would have every reason to feel he had been made a fool.  If that were the case, then the conversation would be much easier to handle.  A quick, regretful apology, and she'd be out of his thoughts. But as it went for all things in Roxanne's life, anger was the last thing on Ian Sawyer's mind.



Copyright 2015 Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved

     



         

         



       

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Straight to The Heart


       Roxanne felt a wave of panic rise in her throat, grabbing hold as if the man's hand were around her throat instead of on her shoulder.  She forced herself to breathe through nose and mouth.  This wasn't an entirely new situation.  There had been times at the club when she had needed to escape the unwelcome attention of a demanding patron, and this bastard didn't seem much different from his modern counterparts. She put the pail on the ground, freeing up both hands, and worked at relaxing tense muscles. She stopped fighting and become loose in his grip.

        "Good plan, boy.  No use making this harder than it has to be.  You and me are gonna have us a little fun."  He rubbed himself through his breeches with his free hand, and cackled, "Well...maybe it'll be me having' most of the fun.  You just stay nice and quiet."

        She wondered if she could reach the blade in her left boot, but decided against it.  Bending over to grab it would cost her precious balance, and likely put him on notice that she intended to fight back.  The element of surprise was an asset that was worth retaining, and so she eyed the small shed for an alternative weapon, spying the heavy iron shovel against the wall in the furthest corner.  She turned her face and gave the soldier a blank grin, taking a few steps in the direction of the shovel as she did so, and hoping he'd take her lead.

          So intent on his fun, the man followed, pushing her toward the corner with the shovel.  "You are mightily stupid, boy, and I'm glad of it." He gave a final push, and her face fit the rough wood of the shed wall.  With one hand still on her shoulder, he leaned his Brown Bess against the wall, and then began to fumble with the stays on his breeches, face turned downward.  Roxanne grabbed the shovel, but before she could swing, a second figure appeared at the shed entrance, musket pointed at them.

          "Take your bloody hands off that child."

            The red coat turned, his breeches slipping to his knees, leaving him exposed.  He didn't attempt to pull up his pants, but instead reached for his weapon.  Focused on the man in the doorway, he paid no attention to the boy behind him, leaving her free to grab the shovel and bring it down hard on the back of his head.  There was a heavy thump, and the soldier crumpled to the ground in front of her.  For several seconds, neither she or Ian moved, he shocked at the idiot boy's fortitude, she lost in the thought that he'd come to her aid.  Even if speaking were an option, she wasn't sure she could form the words that needed to be said, but Fate would decide otherwise.

           She didn't see the second soldier until he was directly behind Ian, musket pointed at his back.  She saw him pull the trigger, saw the puff of smoke, and screamed, "Ian...behind you!"

            The words coming from the mute boy's mouth startled him, but he turned in reaction, and the musket ball whizzed by him, catching Roxanne squarely in the chest, and knocking her off her feet. She fell to the ground, her head meeting the heavy timber of the wall.  Lights erupted behind her eyeballs like a Fourth of July celebration, and then everything went instantly dark, as if a button in her head had suddenly been pushed to the 'off' position.

___________________________________

         The first clear thoughts floated in her head, puffy clouds of consciousness you saw above you but couldn't reach.  She could hear someone calling her name, frantic, worried.  Her mother perhaps, a fearful soul without an ounce of hope.  She could hear her shouting over and over again..."Roxanne, Roxanne...can you hear me?"  Logic swam in threads through her thoughts.  No.  Not mother.  Mother was dead.  Mother couldn't be calling to her.  Unless, of course, she was as dead as her mother, a lost soul wandering between heaven and hell.  Which. of course, she refused to believe, especially as her body throbbed with a burning pain she couldn't identify. From everything she had read on the subject, pain was an impossibility when you entered the here after.  Or at least that's what everyone said.

       She willed her eye to open, if for no reason other than to verify the state of her being.  Maybe she'd see the famous white light, and know for sure she was truly dead.  Instead, she saw a blurry face, two eyes the color of June skies, and a mouth forming words she was only beginning to make sense of.

       "Robert...Come on, Rob.  Stay with us.  You're going to be okay.  Give me a sign you can hear me."

       No.  Not Mother.  Beckett.  The Sheriff was talking to her.  Calling her Robert. Why was he calling her Robert?  That wasn't her name.  Wait.  He was her boss.  Yes.  She was working undercover. Was Robert her name after all? But why was he looking down at her?  Why was she looking up at him?  There were other people too, and as the clouds cleared, she saw the woman with dark hair, something in the back of her brain realizing it was Maureen.  Yes.  Maureen, who was currently not Maureen.  And someone else.  With green eyes.  Ian.  She struggled to push words out of her mouth, but they came out a strange mix of consonants and vowels, and so she fought instead to stay awake. To at least listen to what was being said.

       "We need to see exactly where the musket ball entered.  How deep the wound is."

        There was a tug at her clothes, and then the sound of linen ripping.  Someone had balled up her coat, and stuck it under her head, and someone else held her hand.  A someone with hands much larger than hers.  She strained to make sense of the words.

        "You said he was a deaf and mute, but I heard him speak.  He saved my life."

        "I apologize for the lack of honesty, Mr. Sawyer.  As you well know, these are dangerous times, and one must be prudent with the sharing of truth."

        "Aye.  That they be.  And I must admit to being grateful for your brother's ability to speak."

         The pain grew in intensity as the clouds in her head began to reform, a searing, red-hot poker stabbing her in the chest, making each breath a challenge.  Again, she tried to speak, but the sounds gurgled off her tongue.  The movement of cloth being pulled from her skin made her arch her back in painful response, it hurting more than anything she could ever remember. More awful then the time she had burned her hand on the oven door.  Worse than the time she had run a nail through her foot. There was the feel of cool breeze on bare skin, and before she slipped back into the darkness, she heard a voice say...

          "Lord Almighty...he's a she!"

_______________________________________

       It would have worked out fine if it hadn't been for the paintings.  There hadn't been enough time before Patrick's arrival to tear them all down.  And so they stayed, hung in conspicuous places all over the flat.  It wasn't as if you could ignore them either, so beautiful and delicate in their nature they called you to their attention.  Fr. Kevin hadn't a clue how either of them would explain his sister's sudden emergence of talent, and he asked for additional forgiveness for the lies he would surely have to compose.

      It was Rachel who handled most of the fibbing for him, launching into a long story how she had taken a few lessons with someone she'd met in town.  He marveled at her given ability to create believable stories out of nothing, and the thought came to him that her special skill would certainly be required of her in the turmoil of her own time.  It also surprised him that Patrick believed the story
without hesitation.  Patrick, the brother made his living getting people to say things they didn't want.  He seemed most thrilled that his sister had developed this new hobby, and genuinely pleased when she gifted him with a few of his favorites.

       If his brother had taken the water colors in the spirit they were given, and had just been on his way, things would have been fine.  But Patrick being Patrick always made things difficult, and when he decided that since Beckett was "away" on business, and since Maureen was taking a few days off from the deli anyway, she should accompany him back to Boston to meet with a gallery owner he knew, things got decidedly more complicated.
Rachel's watercolors capture Patrick's attention


Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved

       

       

       

     

         

     

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Trouble

              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

Trouble


   Machines with engines he knew.   Motorcycles, all terrains, amphibious vehicles and such were things he’d dealt with on several occasions.   There was a level of confidence regarding his ability to maneuver them, or if be the case, completely shut down their efficiency.   Horses, on the other hand, were an entirely a different animal, both figuratively and literally.  They were unpredictable, at times stubborn and defiant, as well as skittish and prone to run at the slightest inclination.

       Hollings sat his horse like a man used to spending whole days in the saddle, a seasoned Calvary officer if Beckett had to guess.  As the small regiment rode closer, it was easy to see that the Captain’s body moved as one with the horse, rider and animal in perfect sync with one another.  Even if he were in possession of a mount, which it was unlikely he’d be, his skills on horseback were markedly inferior to those of his opponent, and it put him at an immediate disadvantage.  

       As a child of privileged upbringing, he had spent the required time in equestrian pursuits, though it was clear from the start it was not a hobby he enjoyed.  The large animals with their fearful, liquidy eyes and snorting nostrils seemed to him an untrustworthy choice of companion, and close-knit relationships with living things, two legged or otherwise, never came easy. But at his mother's insistence, he had tried the customary trappings of polo, though it was obvious he lacked any enthusiasm for the sport, and by the time he was sixteen, she'd given up on him, and had turned all attention to her younger son.

          All this ran through his mind as the regiment came to a halt in front of the Revere house.  Hollings slipped from his horse with ease, and made his way toward them, removing his hat as he did.  Upon closer view, he was younger than Beckett had first guessed, in his late twenties, with that air of smug confidence that he seldom found was warranted. He bent slightly at the waste, eyeing the group, and honing in Maureen, while at the same time giving he and Roxanne the once over.

              "Good Day, Madame.  I've come to see your husband.  Again."

              "I'm afraid it's for naught, Captain Hollings.  As I explained to you yesterday, my husband is away on business.  Connecticut, I believe, in search of a tea pot mold for a rather particular client."

              "And you continue to insist you have no idea of his return?"

              "It is far from my place, Sir, to question the business of my husband.  He knows best what needs to be done, and I trust that he will return as soon as is possible."

              "You certainly are a dutiful wife, Madame.  Mr. Revere is a lucky man." His eyes lingered on the swell of bosom over the ruffle of her blouse, and the corners of his mouth turned up in smile that  hid the beginnings of a smirk.  Turning his attention to her visitors, he questioned, "And who might these gentlemen be?"

             He stuck out his hand, and when the Captain reluctantly accepted it, gripped it harder than was necessary, an emotional mistake that wasn't his custom.  "Theodore Walker, Captain.  Mrs. Revere's cousin from Philadelphia.  I am most pleased to make your acquaintance."  He released his hold, and the Captain lost any remnants of a smile.

              "What brings you to Boston, Mr. Walker?"

              "No reason other than to visit my dear Rachel.  I act as a family emissary, bearing gifts in celebration of her marriage and the new child.  A joyful reason for a reunion, don't you think, Captain?"

               Hollings made no response, instead turning his attention to Roxanne.  "And you, boy?  You are here to 'visit' as well?"

              Roxanne grinned at the officer, but said nothing. 

             "Answer me, boy."

             "I'm afraid that is quite impossible, Captain, as my brother, Robert, is deaf and mute. And simple as well.  He means you no disrespect."

             Hollings stepped away from the boy, as if whatever had caused his disability was contagious. "Ahhh...an idiot.  I see.  Well, I suppose he can't answer me, then, can he?"   He returned his hat to his head.  "And just how long do you plan on staying, Mr. Walker, this being a family visit and all?"

            Beckett smiled warmly, though he registered an instant dislike for the man.  "I suppose that will depend on my cousin's good nature.  I surely do not wish to wear out my welcome, though I had hoped to meet Rachel's new husband.  It seems we both wait on Mr. Revere's return." 

           There was the sound of hooves on soft ground, and all heads turned to the east.  A single rider on horseback appeared on the horizon, and the mood of the situation suddenly became tense.  Beckett hoped it wasn't the man himself, as Paul Revere's presence would only complicate matters.  The fact that the patriot was away from the house had seemed like a blessing, a sign that Fate had sanctified this mission, but from past experience, there was always the chance Lady Luck was gonna turn around and shit on you instead.

              As he neared, it was obvious the rider wasn't Paul Revere, but rather their friend from the Green Dragon, one Ian Sawyer.  His addition to the mix wasn't a stroke of luck either.  The more people involved in the mission, the higher the odds increased for something to go wrong.  Sawyer had seemed an honest man, a decent man, and the thought of him ending up a casualty didn't set well with Beckett.

             Ian reined his horse, and slipped from it's back.  He tipped a head toward Maureen and Ted,  gave Roxanne a smile and a wave, and then confronted the officer.  "What is it you want, Hollings?"

            "What business is that of yours, Sawyer?  Get back on that horse, and return to your own farm.  This is none of your concern."

             "Mr. Revere is a good friend, and I gave my word I'd look after his affairs whilst he was away.  If you have a problem, Captain, you best express it to me."

             "I owe you nothing, Sawyer, but let it not be said I am an unjust man."  He reached into his breast pocket, and retrieved a stack of papers.  "I have orders from the Governor himself to keep a watchful eye on the comings and goings of one Mr. Paul Revere, and that is exactly what I intend to do."

           "But as you can see, Captain, Mr. Revere is not currently at home."

           "True, but it is my guess he will not leave his wife and family home alone too long.  These are, after all...cautious times."  He left the breath of a threat hang in the air, before continuing.  "There is no need for hostility on anyone's part.  I have orders that must be followed.  I will post a guard of two men to this property, and another two at Mr. Revere's shop.  They will notify me of his return to either place.  It is simply a watch, no hostile action to be taken."  He then bowed towards Maureen.  "I regret any angst this might have caused you, Madame.  You have my apologies."

             Without waiting for any replies, Hollings turned his back and walked over to his men, assigning two to remain here at the Revere home, and sending two off in the direction of the harbor area where the silversmith's shop was located.  He then mounted his horse, and set off in the same direction he had come.

________________________________

             They had little choice but to regroup inside the house, as the presence of the two soldiers outside left little privacy.  It took a great deal of conversation to convince Ian Sawyer that Theodore Walker was perfectly capable of looking after Mrs. Revere and her children, and that the brave young man should return to his own farm.  Sawyer reluctantly agreed, but not without making Beckett promise to send one of the children if trouble arose. 

             Their original plan of getting Maureen to the bank unseen was now useless, as they would surely be followed in an attempt to locate her husband.  Ideas were quietly bantered back and forth, until the appearance of the young girl, a wailing baby in her arms.

             "Ma'am...the babe is long due for a feeding.  Were you able to get some milk from that stubborn old cow?"

               "Oh, Lordy, I forgot the pail in the shed when Hollings showed up.  Sarah, dear, can you take the baby up, and change her nappies.  I'll go out and retrieve the milk myself."

                "Yes, Ma'am." The girl turned, and made her way back upstairs, but not before giving Beckett a long hard stare.

                When he was sure she was out of hearing, he stated,  "Not a good idea, love.  I don't like the idea of you out there alone with those two."

                "I'll be fine, Ted.  The baby needs to eat, and Sarah is already disgusted by my inability to nurse the poor thing properly."  She blushed a slight pink, and added, "It's way harder than you'd think."

                Roxanne rose from the bench she was sitting on near the hearth, and whispered, "I'll go, Sir.  I'm guessing they'll not bother with me.  It'll only take a few minutes, and I'll be right back."

                He thought it over, and agreed.  "That should work.  Just get the pail, and come right back here.  Pay the guards no mind at all."

                "Yes, Sir."  
_____________________________

    She left the building, the heat of a warm spring day making the sweat under her chest bindings tight and itchy.  Then again, it might have been the reappearance of Ian Sawyer.  Glorious, brave, hotter than hell, Ian.  It seemed like some terrible cosmic joke, she having the hots for someone other than the unattainable Kevin, someone who was in fact, just as unattainable.  The problem sat with her alone, she thought.  She purposely set her sets on men out of her reach.  That way, she could blame the hurt on things out of her control.  It seemed as good a reason as any.  Lost in soul-searching daydreams, she didn't notice the red coat guard until he stepped directly in front of her, blocking her way to the shed.

       "Well, well...look what has escaped from the house.  It's the idiot boy.  Are you lost, boy?"

       The second guard laughed.  "He can't hear you, Carter.  Or answer you.  You're as stupid as he is."

         "Stupid?  Bugger you, Mayer!  I aught to show you some manners."   
        
           While they argued between them, Roxanne slipped past, and walked quickly toward the shed.  Despite the fear that ran down her spine, she wasn't going back into that house without the pail, racking up yet another failure in the Sheriff's eyes.  She heard footsteps behind her, and grabbing the pail, angled herself closer to the exit.

          The one called Carter blocked the way with an extended arm. "That milk for you boy?  I thought maybe you still sucked on your mama's titties, being how you're stupid and all."

          Roxanne blankly smiled, though her first thought was to kick the leering bastard square in the balls. But doing so would escalate the situation, call more attention to them, a directive Beckett had ordered her to avoid at all costs. If she acted the part, maybe they'd get tired of no response, and just leave her alone.

          "You still talkn' to him, Carter?  I already told you, he can't hear a word you're saying."

           "I understand.  And of course, you know what this means, don't ya, Mayer?"  He leered at her, a thin sheen of sweat hanging right above his lip.  "If he can't talk, he can't tell anybody anything either." He put a hand on her shoulder, pushing her towards the back of the shed.  "I don't mind my fun being of the quiet, stupid sort.  You ever been buggered, boy?  I'm kinda hoping I'm the first."


Copyright  Victoria T. Rocus
All Rights Reserved



          

          

            


       



              

             

              


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Of Red Coats and Conversation





                     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

Mrs. Revere gets ready to meet Patrick O'Kenney

     If nothing else, Pat was consistent.  If you spent enough time with him, you usually knew exactly how he'd react in any given situation, and Fr. Kevin hoped this knowledge might give him an edge in this situation.   While his brother was busy sampling Mrs. Schiller's baked goods, he quickly tried to educate Rachel on the fine points of his eldest brother's personality, and a brief overview of the family hierarchy.  She listened patiently to his ramblings, nodding and agreeing with his suggestions on how to limit detailed conversation.

     When he finished his 5-minute tutorial, out of breath and flustered, she smiled, and tucked an errant curl behind her ear in a gesture that so mimicked Maureen it startled him.  "Have no fear, Reverend.  I am quite familiar with the type of man you describe.  Boston of my time is filled with much of the same, be they Patriots or otherwise.  I can't imagine that your brother is much different.  I shall engage him as I do those back home, as good proper woman should."  She squeezed his hand, and gave him a conspiratorial wink.

       He wanted to warn her.  Explain how Patrick had a way of making people feel small.  Of putting you on the spot, and cross-examining everything you said.  But there wasn't time.  The door at the foot of the stairs slammed shut, and they could hear Pat's stomping hit foot hit each of the steps.  He appeared at the top of them, shoving the last piece of strudel in his mouth.  He chewed the remaining bite, and brushed the crumbs off his suit jacket.  "That woman is a kitchen goddess. You can't find strudel like that anywhere in Boston.  I keep trying to convince her to market the stuff on a wider basis.  She'd make millions."

        Without missing a step, he dumped his brief case on the table, and shucked the jacket off his shoulders.  "Jesus...it's about a hundred degrees in here, Red.  Don't you have enough sense to turn on the air."  He didn't wait for an response, not expecting anyone to counter his comment.  Instead he went over to Rachel, who sat in a kitchen chair, her "sprained" ankle wrapped in support bandages,  propped up on the seat next to her.  He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek.  "How goes it, Mrs. Beckett?  I see the clumsy gene has gotten to you again." He pointed to Kevin, who had positioned himself and his crutches against the kitchen sink.  "Honestly, you and Kevin have some kind of strange symbiotic relationship.  Always on the same wave length.  You're like some kind of freaky twins, born six years apart."

           He was used to Pat's caustic remarks, and after so many years, had learn to let them wash over him without a reaction.  But this one cut deep in a new and strange way.  It was true.  He and Maureen were exceptionally close, the two youngest of eight, safety in numbers against of horde of older male siblings.  They always seemed to know what the other was thinking, an emotional pipeline back and forth, even as they aged.  Now, with Rachel Walker inhabiting his sister's body, he could sense nothing.  Not from her, nor any connection with Momo lost in the past.  It was distressing, making him feel oddly alone, and he wondered if his sister had experienced the same when he had traveled and left Fr. Murphy in his place.

           "I know Kev did his damage on a run.  Not much of an athlete.  But you, Red?  You're lighter on your feet than that.  Star of the high school soccer team. What happened?"

            She opened her mouth to speak, and Kevin held his breath.  Would she sound like Maureen to Pat's ear?  The speech pattern? The inflections?

            "You are most correct, dear brother.  Just a simple case of the 'clumsies'.  Carrying bags up those stairs, I missed a step.  Tripped and twisted my ankle   Silly of me for sure, and quite embarrassing.  I'd rather not relive the moment.  I'd much rather hear about what's going on back home.  In Boston.  How are your boys?"

             It was masterful in its simplicity.  If Patrick had noticed the formality of her word choice, it didn't show, as he jumped right in to answer her inquiries.  Despite his brother's callous killer instinct in court, he was a devoted and loving father, and his two sons were the center of his universe.  He spent the next several minutes regaling them with stories of Colin's victories on the rugby and lacrosse fields, and Ian's choices for law school.  Rachel was a pro at drawing out continued conversation on his favorite subject, and at least for the moment, Fr. Kevin could take a deep breath and relax.

____________________________________

             Beckett was right.  Milking a cow wasn't much different than milking a goat, a skill he had picked up years ago while on assignment in Afghanistan.  With a little effort, he'd replenished the bucket lost in their reunion, though he expected he'd be smelling like sour milk with each passing hour in the hot sun.  The time in the shed gave them an opportunity to catch up, and allowed him the opportunity to try and find his wife somewhere in that strange form.  She had taken the existence of the Fairy Queen with more acceptance then he would have imagined, seemingly passive about the discovery.  Her reaction set off a twinge of suspicion, and he wondered if there were things she was keeping from him.  His mind immediately went to the "fairy ring" she had made around a strange acting Kevin, who he had later learned wasn't really Kevin, but some strange personae from the past.  At the time, she had seemed convinced her actions would bring about the desired outcome, and no argument otherwise could shake her faith.

           Then, there was her horrified reaction to his revelation concerning the commitment to "She Who Was All".  The notion that he was now committed to serving the Fairy Queen indefinitely, in return for his ability to come retrieve her, left his wife in obvious distress.

            "Oh, Ted!  You have no idea what you promised!  Deals with the Fey are serious contracts, not to be taken lightly."

            Beckett stopped his milking, and turned to look at his wife.  "And you know this how?"

            Their was a faint blush to her cheeks, and she looked sideways, away from direct eye contact.  It was apparent that Mrs. Revere was a worse liar than his own little darling.  "I...I just know.  Granny used to tell Kev and me stories all the time.  From the old country, all about the Fey world.  Plus, I minored in literature as an under grad.  Took loads of classes on celtic lore and legend.  I remember reading all over the place that it was...well...unwise to make deals with the Fey.  They are notoriously bad about listing all the details upfront."

             He was no fool, and had made a career out of reading people's body language.  Maureen was obviously keeping something from him regarding her knowledge of the Fey world.  Now was probably not a good time to press her on the matter, as the focus needed to be on returning all three of them to their rightful time and space.  But he filed the information away for future retrieval, and if his wife had dealings with the fairy world, he needed to know what they were.

              He changed the subject to the task at hand.  "Never the less, what's done is done.  We'll deal with that problem later.  My only goal now is to see you and Mrs. Revere safely switched back to your own selves.  To do so, we need to get you to that spot in the bank, watch in hand.  Kevin and Rox swear that's all you need to do.  It seems the watch needs an extra boost to transport, and there are certain spots that provide that."

             "But why can't I just go back with you guys?  I'm scared, Ted.  What if I end up somewhere else?  A new time and a new body?  If I'm gonna be lost in time, I want it to be with you!"

             "It doesn't work that way, love.  You're tied up in this spell, Rox and I in an entirely different one.  They aren't interchangeable.  Or so I've been told."  He'd left out the part about his being dark magic, not wishing to upset her further.

              "I can't believe Roxanne was willing to risk another time travel experience, just to save my sorry ass.  I know we're friends, but jeez, Ted, that's a huge sacrifice.  I'm surprised Kevin didn't insist on coming."

             "It's not like he didn't want to come.  We felt it was best that he stay behind and take care of Mrs. Revere.  The less contact she has with the future, the better for us all."  He recalled that he had promised not to lie to her after the whole accident tragedy, but this was no time to be explaining to a Catholic girl who took her faith seriously that he had sacrificed part of his soul in his attempt to rescue.  One did what one needed to do.  Gratefully, he was saved from further interrogation and the continued need to lie by the appearance of Roxanne herself.

             "Sir...we have company.  A small group of Red Coats, coming up the road toward the house."  he stopped and shook her head.  "Wow...you know how weird that sounds?"  She looked over at the woman standing next to Beckett.  "Maureen?  Is that really you?"

               The brunette rushed to embrace her.  "Oh, Roxie!  It's so good to see you!  You look so...so different.  Like a cute, very hot, high school boy.  Thank you for coming to get me.  There's no way I can ever repay this debt."  She pulled at the small pony tail at the back of Roxanne's neck.  "Your hair!  You cut your beautiful long hair?"

                "It's not a big deal, Mo.  It'll grow back.  The Sheriff thought it best if I didn't travel as a female.  Less problems that way."

               "Ladies, I hate to interrupt this moving scene, but we need to deal with our visitors."  He turned to Roxanne.  "How many in all?  On horseback, or on foot?

              "Six, I think, Sir.  On horseback."

               "Could you see if one of them was on a large, black steed, with ribbons braided in its mane?"

         "Yeah, as a matter of fact, I think the lead horse did have red ribbons woven in its hair. Why do you ask?"

          "That's got to be Colonel Hollings.  Rude bastard.  Met him yesterday, when I first got here. He came by looking for Paul, and when I said he wasn't here, he got all pissy.  Kept insisting I must know the whereabouts of my husband.  I told him a good wife didn't ask after her husband's business, which just made him angrier.  Worst of all, he kept talking to my chest, staring at it like a hungry dog.  Totally creeped me out."

           Training had taught him to view any interaction with the enemy as nonemotional business. Defuse, disarm, or irradiate as the situation called for, without the added burden of personal feelings.  But the idea that this asshole had leered at his wife, in her body or not, bothered him more than he wanted to admit.  He forced the feelings of hostility down, and put on his best neutral demeanor.  "Well, ladies.  I do think it's best we remain pleasant and calm in our dealings with Colonel Hollings.
The less attention we draw to ourselves, the better."  Later, he'd think back on the details leading up to this moment, and wonder why he hadn't taken his own advice.
Meeting Captain Hollings

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Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved