Excerpt: Once Wild

* * * *

Victor Bellicia tossed a manila folder across the kitchen table and blurted, “Maria, what in-the-hell is this all about?”

Her eyes darted from her father to the printed name on the folder tab. “What do you want to know about Shaun MacGregor?” she casually asked while bringing her coffee cup up to her lips. She took a sip and then set the cup down before picking up the folder. Maria steadied her hand, nervous by the fact that her father had already found out. Maria knew it was only a matter of time before her father got wind that she’d hired him, but never imagined it would be so soon, and not to mention being confronted with the matter at 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning.

“Why did you hire him, Maria?” her father groused.

She coolly gazed at the newspaper on the table, not wanting to discuss anything about Shaun MacGregor, and then picked it up coolly as though a particular headline intrigued her. Her eyes lifted from the paper, knowing she couldn’t avoid his question.

“He applied, and I hired him. With prior experience in mining procedure, I thought we could use someone experienced in the field. He has worked several years inside anthracite mines, and from what I heard, at seventeen, Mr. MacGregor, could have been a good candidate for becoming a certified Drilling Machine Operator.”

Her father grumbled a few choice words, knowing she might be right, but clearly wasn’t the point.

“Is it the felony, Father, or his last name?” she asked, adding more cream into her coffee cup.

“Maria, you know why?”

“No, I don’t, so please enlighten your most devoted employee,” Maria cynically inquired.

“Okay, it’s both.”

“Yes, your right, but don’t you think he would like another chance, maybe even deserve another?”

“Chance for what? He isn’t someone who would fit back into society, Maria. He’s no good.”

“Is that your opinion or the town’s, Father?’

“Again, both.” His tone suddenly lowered, realizing how he was addressing a daughter and not just another employee.

“Giving a felon responsibility for drilling holes and placing explosives would be a foolish move on our part. The man can’t be trusted, even if that could have been a consideration back then,” Victor added.

“I believe you aren’t being very open-minded, and you aren’t giving my management skills any credit. I’ve been keeping close tabs on his work performance, and the mine foreman says Shaun MacGregor’s work is top-notch. Works hard, and as for breaks, seldom takes them. Actually, the foreman has required he use them for safety reasons.”

For several moments, her father was hushed. “Maria, the kid’s bad news, and killing a man proved that,” he reminded.

“Father, he isn’t a kid anymore, and when I interviewed him, he didn’t come across as that irresponsible, unbalanced person you presume him to be.”

“Maria, there was a time when he was thrown out of Connerton… that tells me what kind of person, your MacGregor, is.”

“And, what was that reason exactly?”

“Mercer informed me that he was involved in numerous fights, and the kid was only sixteen back then.”

Maria was quite familiar with Mercer Davenport, Chelsea’s father. Mercer was Mayor of Connerton when his sixteen year old daughter had been caught up with Shaun MacGregor. Chelsea wasn’t that innocent teenager, and today, just as rebellious and conniving. When her father was alive, she would have done anything to infuriate him.

“So, was that the real reason?” Through the grapevine, Maria already heard the entire story in why Shaun had been thrown out. Shaun was caught making love to Chelsea in the front seat of his truck. Maria figured that Chelsea wasn’t that blameless youth, since it usually takes two to tango.

“Does it matter? The kid caused trouble, and if I’d been town mayor, I would have done the same thing to protect you from some goddamn Irish punk.”

“Father! I’m surprised at you!” Maria appallingly snapped, and rather disappointed with him.

From his grumble, Maria knew that her father realized that he’d been completely out of line. It wasn’t the first time he’d talked to her this way, and over the last couple of years that had placed a strain on their relationship. But, Maria was weary of the subservient attitude in order to appease him. Maria was a mature, responsible woman, but lately, she sensed her father viewing her differently. Her judgement was either trivial or not the right one. When would she be good enough in her father’s eyes? All her life, she’d made the right decisions―so she thought―and when it came to hiring Shaun, Maria couldn’t see the wrong in it, only the right.

Maria reiterated, “Like I said, I believe Shaun MacGregor has changed from that kid of so long ago.”

“And how can you tell from one application, Maria?” her father grilled with an arched brow and waiting for an answer.

Maria could never disclose the fact that she and Shaun had a few sexual encounters of the most amazing kind. His kisses were soul-searching and incredible. “You use to trust my judgment, Father. And I don’t feel that I’ve ever let you down whenever it came to Bellicia business.”

Her father dismissed her statement. “Listen Maria, if the man makes one mistake, I will have him out so fast, he won’t even know what hit him, and that one screw-up will have the local police on the premises and escorting him off my property.”

“Well Father, I don’t believe when I hired Mr. MacGregor that I was careless in my judgment.”

“You better be correct with this one, because the way I see things, MacGregor was high-strung and unmanageable, and not prison or time, will change that sort of man. I believe he has you fooled. He’s no different than his ol’ man,” Victor curtly stated.

“Well, I believe, we’ll just have to see then, won’t we?” Maria replied with a confident smile, and feeling Shaun wasn’t any longer that man her father had described. The Irish youth had grown into a man determined to stay changed.

* * * *

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